McIlroy mesmerized by Ferguson pep-talk

Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:15am EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy is the world's number one golfer, a four-times major winner, multi-millionaire and the focal point of Europe's Ryder Cup team, but he was like a wide-eyed schoolboy in the presence of former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

The all-conquering Scot, who led United to 13 Premier League titles and a host of other trophies in his 26 years at Old Crawford, gave the team a pep-talk on Tuesday night and McIlroy, a United fan, said it was the highlight of his week so far.

"I was just sitting there and looking up at him, and I didn't take my eyes off him," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I was sort of in this trance just listening to everything that he was saying and I'm thinking, 'this is all the stuff that he's probably said to Manchester United teams over the years'.

"He told us a couple of stories just of past experiences in some big games and big matches and some of the players that he managed and it was a great evening. It was a really cool thing to be a part of.

"Not everyone in that room is a Manchester United fan, and they made that known, but it was very useful because we got to ask some questions, about what he thought was the key element to being successful, and successful as a team.

"He's a very inspirational sort of man when he talks. He's got a lot of authority and the room just goes quiet and everyone listens."

Bringing in outside help has become part and parcel of a Ryder Cup captain's planning these days. In 2010 U.S. captain Corey Pavin used Iraq war veteran and fighter pilot Major Dan Rooney while Welsh rugby's favorite son Gareth Edwards addressed Colin Montgomerie's European team.

However, it was a conference call with Seve Ballesteros, seven months before the Spaniard's death from a brain tumor, that hit home for McIlroy, somewhat nervously awaiting his Ryder Cup debut four years ago.   Continued...

European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy smiles during a news conference ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 24, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh