Ryder Cup extra special for McIlroy under captain Clarke

Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:14pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has added motivation playing for Europe captain Darren Clarke at this week's Ryder Cup, having first met his fellow Northern Irishman by chance on his 10th birthday 17 years ago.

While McIlroy readily concedes that he has been lucky to represent his continent under three superb Ryder Cup captains in Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley, he says this week at Hazeltine will be extra special.

"I've been very fortunate, everyone in Europe has been very fortunate, to play under some great captains," McIlroy said on Tuesday before heading off for team practice with Englishmen Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan and Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

"McGinley at Gleneagles (Scotland, in 2014) was the best captain that I had ever played under. I had a very special relationship with Paul," he said of of the Irishman.

"I've always wanted the win for the captain, but probably even more so this year just because of Darren and the relationship that we have."

His relationship with Clarke dates back nearly two decades ago to the Valley Course at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland where the young McIlroy had been taken by his father, Gerry, to play golf as a treat on his 10th birthday.

By chance, he ended up practising his chipping very close to Clarke and the two struck up a conversation.

"I remember I got a new wedge, the Cleveland Rusty Wedge," McIlroy, 27, recalled during a news conference at Hazeltine National. "So I was chipping around the chipping green, and that's where Darren was.   Continued...

Sep 27, 2016; Chaska, MN, USA; Europe team player Rory McIlroy addresses the media at Hazeltine National Golf Club ahead of the 41st Ryder Cup. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports