Rory McIlroy reckons there’s no better incentive for the likes of Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry to fight their way into the Ryder Cup team than having Irishmen Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington as Versailles vice-captains.
McIlroy tees-up in today’s commencing BMW PGA Championship as the highest world-ranked player in the Wentworth field.
The current World No. 8 is also a former BMW PGA winner, having turned around on the eve of the 2014 event and made the shock announcement of ending his impending marriage with Danish tennis ace, Caroline Wozniacki. He then came from seven shots back to win at Tour HQ.
There are no such concerns this year as McIlroy strives to win for a second occasion this season following a similar ‘come-from-behind’ success in winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
And while singling out Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington for praise in being selected by Thomas Bjorn as Versailles vice-captains, McIlroy says it can help but inspire the likes of Dunne and Lowry to break into the team.
“It’s just great to have GMac and Padraig on the team as vice-captains in France,” he said. “I had a chat with Thomas (Bjorn) a couple weeks ago, before he announced the vice captains and the only thing I said to him was, you know, what if one of these guys plays their way on to the team.”
“Thomas said, “Well, that would be a great problem to have.”
“But it’s just great that G‑Mac’s involved in some way. All the guys Thomas has chosen are so passionate about The Ryder Cup and they will help in any way they can, whether it’s playing on the course or being a vice captain on there.”
“I had dinner with Luke Donald last week in Florida and he’s excited about fulfilling that role, as well. Having those guys that have got recent Ryder Cup experience, whether it be playing or vice captains, I think that’s pretty important going into the matches.”
“But yeah, I’m obviously delighted that G‑Mac is going to be there. It will be great for me and maybe great for some of the other guys if, say, I don’t know, Paul Dunne or one of the other guys makes the team, you know.”
Ever since 2006, with the exception of 2008, there’s been an Irishman either as captain and/or vice-captain in five of six Ryder Cup’s, and Europe’s record in that time is won four and lost two.
McIlroy also admitted that he presence on the team of Harrington and McDowell also all bodes well for continuing an Irish presence as Captain of Europe in the years ahead.
“The five vice-captains Thomas has chosen are very comfortable being a vice captain and will be appreciative of the opportunity. As well some of may take on the leadership role in years to come,” he said.
McIlroy’s focus this week is closer to home and he is looking to win on European soil for the first time since capturing the 2016 Irish Open at the K Club. And after his success earlier this year in suburban Orlando, McIlroy will not hear of talk of any lingering Augusta National meltdown legacy.
“Not at all and if anything, the further the year goes, the more the Masters is in the rear-view mirror and the less you think about it and the more you’re able to take the positives from it,” he said.
“As I’ve said, I played myself into the final group and I got it going on the Saturday. I didn’t quite have it on the Sunday. These things happen. It’s not as if I had the lead. I was three shots behind. It was always going to be a tough task to make that up.”
“But I gave myself a chance at the first major of the year. It didn’t happen. I’ve got three more to go this year, and you know, I think if I could add to my major tally this year, that Sunday afternoon at Augusta would be long forgotten and you know, you’d move on and just concentrate on next year.”