McIlroy unperturbed by target status

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

McIlroy unperturbed by target status

McIlroy: "This week I'm not the Number One player in the world.. I'm one person in a 12-man team and that's it."

If the Americans want to target Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup in Chicago then that is perfectly fine with him.

"This week I'm not the Number One player in the world," McIlroy said on Wednesday. "I'm one person in a 12-man team and that's it.

"It's a team effort. There are 12 guys striving towards the same goal. I'm just part of that."

Yet there is no doubt many Americans feel that if they can bring down the 23 year old – who has claimed three wins in his last five starts, including his second Major Championship – then they will be a long way towards winning back the trophy.

The United States’ Jim Furyk said last week that McIlroy was "obviously a marked man”, and compared his circumstances to those that continue to surround 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods in terms of hype and expectation while former Captain Paul Azinger was also quick to suggest that stopping McIlroy was the key.

McIlroy, who had one win, two halves and one loss on his debut  at Celtic Manor two years ago, is widely tipped to partner compatriot Graeme McDowell again. They were together in practice for the second day running on Wednesday.

"I don't think I have a bulls-eye on my back," McIlroy added. "I think it's a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me; whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on.

"I just want to go out and get a point for the team and whether that's going out first or fourth or in the middle really doesn't make a difference to me.
"And it doesn't make a difference who I play. I'm going to go out there and give it my best."

Given his recent form and his position in the game it would be a huge surprise if European Captain José María Olazábal rests McIlroy from a session.

But on that the US PGA Champion said: "I want to play as much as I can. I want to help the team out as much as I can - I feel I can do that.
"I'd also be very comfortable if he wanted to rest me or leave me out one or two of the sessions."

McIlroy, of course, is playing a Ryder Cup in America for the first time.
Nobody knows yet just how boisterous the Chicago will turn out to be, with McIlroy also asked how he would react if somebody heckled him.

"There's not much you can do. Emotions run high here and obviously the majority of the crowd are going to be pulling for the American team.

"You've just got to get on with it. Hopefully I won't get heckled, but if I do then you've just got to stay calm and be focused on the golf."

On whether he had ever experienced heckling he smiled and replied: "Just because of my haircut - nothing insulting!"