Rory McIlroy and now USA Ryder Cup rival Tony Finau are set to renew their rivalry, 14-years after being members of the Junior Ryder Cup.
The then 15-year old, curly-haired McIlroy was a member of the six boys and six girls in the European team who travelled to Ohio in September 2004 to tackle a USA Team boasting Finau, who turned 15 two days after the event.
McIlroy helped steer Europe to an 8 ½ to 3 ½ triumph and while he and Finau did not face each other, he is keen for a similar winning result with his Ryder Cup team-mates later this month in France.
“It doesn’t seem like it was 14-years ago I played in the Junior Ryder Cup there in Ohio,” said McIlroy.
“The organisers then took us up to Detroit for the Ryder Cup that next week at Oakland Hills and I remember walking inside the ropes for one of the practice rounds with the European Team.”
“So, just to think what can happen in such a short space of time as I am now heading into my sixth Ryder Cup since then.”
“I’ve been fortunate to play in three winning Ryder Cup’s and looking forward very much to being on a fourth winning European Team.”
For Finau, it will be a first appearance and both McIlroy and Finau now find themselves members of what now will also be a very unique staging of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
For a first time in 32-years, since the inauguration of the World Rankings in April 1986, the leading top-10 players on the rankings will be teeing-up later this month at Le National.
And if you look at the rankings of all 24 players as things stand right now, the 2018 Ryder Cup will boast 14 of the top-15, 17 of the top-20 and 20 of the top-25.
The only player outside of the top-25 heading to Versailles will be the present World No. 34, Ian Poulter.
Stopping a Europe/USA dominance since Bernhard Langer was the very first World No. 1 has been the likes of long-time No. 1 Greg Norman along with Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and more recently the Aussie duo of Adam Scott and Jason Day.
Day has now dropped to World No. 11 and McIlroy jumped two places to return to World No. 6 but only after his putter again let him down when it counted most.
His fifth-place finish in suburban Philadelphia was his ninth top-10 in 21 worldwide starts this season with just one victory – the Arnold Palmer Invitational – to show for his efforts.
In fact, it was posting nine straight Aronmink pars while his rivals took to the over-taking lane that jolted success from McIlroy’s hands as he had birdie putts over his outward nine holes ranging from 34-feet to seven-feet and he holed none.
A look at the ultra-comprehensive PGA Tour stats can reveal a source of McIlroy’s putting problems.
Putts from 3-feet is ranked 34th (480 putts measures)
4 feet – 79th (92 putts)
5 feet – 108th (75 putts)
10 feet – 64th (87 putts)
10-15 feet – 141st (114 putts)
15-20 feet – 137th (83 putts)
20-25 feet – 41st (72 putts)
25-feet + – 101st (136 putts)
Longest putt – 50-foot 7-inches final round 2018 PGA Championship.
McIlroy will head to next week’s season-ending Tour Championship lying 17th on the FedEx Cup standings and needing to win in Altanta and for the following to unfold:-
* No.1 Byrson DeChambeau finishes T11th or worse
* No. 2 Justin Rose finished in a three-way ted for 4th or worse
* No. 3 Tony Finau finishes T3rd or worse
* No. 4 Dustin Johnson finishes three-way T2nd or worse
* No.5 Justin Thomas finishes T2nd or worse
* No. 6 Keegan Bradley finishes T2 or worse.