McIlroy relishing senior player role
Rory McIlroy is relishing his role as one of Team Europe's more senior players as he prepares to make his sixth Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits this week.
The Northern Irishman has been a permanent fixture in the European Team since making his debut at Celtic Manor in 2010, becoming the first player to win four Ryder Cups before the age of 30 in France last time out.
But McIlroy, now 32, is not the only player in Europe's team this week who possesses plenty of experience, with Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter all boasting more appearances.
And McIlroy believes the number of leaders in Europe's team is one of their strengths.
He said: "I think I've already tried to evolve into that role. This being my sixth Ryder Cup... 2014 I felt like was the year that I embraced the role of being a leader, and then going on from then.
"But yeah, I think that's one of the great things about the European team. It's not as if we're just looking to one guy.
"There's a collection of very experienced players there that some of the younger guys and the rookies can look at.
"And then you look at our Vice Captains, as well, and you look at all the pivotal roles they've played in Ryder Cups over the years. We have no shortage of leaders on our team.
"There's a lot of continuity in our team, and I think that's been part of the reason for our success. That's something that I hope never changes because it's worked very well for us."
The youngest player on Europe's team this year is rookie Viktor Hovland, who turned 24 last weekend.
McIlroy has hailed the Norwegian as one of the world's best players and has encouraged him to just be himself this week.
"I think the thing that I'd say to any rookie is the reason you're on this team is because of the golf that got you here," he added. "For Viktor I'd just tell him to be himself.
"He's one of the best players in the world. He's already been a wonderful teammate, and the energy and enthusiasm that he brings into our team."
World Number 14 Hovland is pleased to be surrounded by such experienced players as he makes his debut in the showpiece event.
He said: "Obviously it's a very big stage and you know what it means to people. That's why I think it's extra comforting when you get into a team room and you have not only veteran players, but also Vice Captains and the Captain.
"I feel like just the whole support team and the players and everyone around it just have so much experience that they're having fun, but at the same time they're very at ease.
"I think that kind of rubs off on not only me but also the rookies, and just makes everyone feel a lot better.
"We've only been here for 24 hours and our chemistry is good, so I just try to learn as much as I can from the guys that have been here five, six, seven times.
"They have so much experience, and I'm just trying to be around it."