In the third of our series profiling the players confirmed a place in Darren Clarke’s European side for The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National, we take a closer look at four-time Major Champion and three-time Ryder Cup player, Rory McIlroy.
Born and raised in Holywood, Northern Ireland, he was introduced to the game at a young age by his father, Gerry. A glittering amateur career followed, in which he contested the Junior Ryder Cup in 2004, reached the top of the World Amateur Rankings and played against the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Billy Horshel, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson in the 2007 Walker Cup at his native Royal County Down. Finished third in his second event as a professional in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship of 2007, earning him enough money to claim his full playing rights on the European Tour. Since then, he has won 13 times on the European Tour – including four Major Championships – and has topped the Race to Dubai on three occasions, in 2012, 2014 and last year, when he sealed the title with victory at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
European Tour appearances: 166
European Tour wins: 13
Top ten finishes: 82
Career earnings: €29,698,635
Ryder Cup record
Appearances: 3 (2010, 2012, 2014)
Overall record (W-L-H): 6-4-4
Total points: 8
Point percentage: 57 per cent
Ryder Cup highlights
• Almost missed his Sunday singles match against Keegan Bradley in 2012 after a mix up with his tee time. Arrived 12 minutes before the tie was due to begin and promptly went on to defeat the American 2 and 1 to help seal the Miracle at Medinah
• Comprehensively defeated good friend Rickie Fowler 5 and 4 in the singles match on Sunday at Gleneagles
2016 Qualification highlights
Got his bid for a fourth straight appearance in the blue of Europe off to a blistering start with a run of sixth, 11th and first place finishes in the Race to Dubai Final Series at the tail end of last year. Since then, he has only finished outside the top ten once in ten appearances in 2016, including a victory in the tournament he presents – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation. All-but nailed on to finish in first place in the Ryder Cup Rankings for the third straight edition of the biennial clash.
McIlroy’s form during the points race:
“Coming in off the back of wins at Celtic Manor, Medinah and Gleneagles, we are confident and we are certainly looking to make it four in a row at Hazeltine which would be awesome – but it’s going to be tough.
“I’d say this year is going to be very evenly matched but if anything I’d give the USA team a slight advantage in terms of who you would say is the favourite. They are a young side, hungry, and they are motivated to go out there and beat us. But we don’t mind that, we don’t mind being the underdogs.
“Hopefully we can go in with that mentality and try to get another one.”