'Rocky' McIlroy's big prediction: Europe will win at Bethpage
With experience comes wisdom. Rory McIlroy, now a seven-time Ryder Cup veteran with a 5-2 record, has been a part of the five-straight five-plus-point blowout wins by the home team, a streak dating back nearly a decade to 2014, and understands the challenge of a road victory in the current era.
"I've said this for the last probably six or seven years to anyone that will listen: I think one of the biggest accomplishments in golf right now is winning an away Ryder Cup," McIlroy said.
However, his following sentence, possibly dripping with the confidence of victory, was a proclamation setting the terms for 2025 back on the U.S. Team's soil.
"And that's what we're going to do at Bethpage."
Coming off the high of a 4-1 week, the four-point performance the best-ever for McIlroy in his career, the 34-year-old showed a stalwart faith in his team. After all, they just coalesced through a changing of the guard, with four rookies debuting in Rome, Italy. The five-point win continued the European Ryder Cup Team's home winning streak dating back to 1993, a 30-year-run of dominance older than half of this year's team.
However, McIlroy's breadth of thought went from declaring a win next year to pondering his Ryder Cup mortality, expressing uncertainty about how much longer he might be part of Team Europe's group.
"I think as time goes by, this is my seventh Ryder Cup; am I going to play in another seven?" McIlroy pondered. "I don't know. I'm probably on the back nine of my Ryder Cup career, and everyone that I get to play in from now on is very, very meaningful."
For now, it's hard to imagine the Irishman with one of the longest resumes in professional golf history to be away from the Ryder Cup anytime soon. McIlroy led Team Europe in points this week, prowling Marco Simone with a stoic focus fueled by redeeming his 1-3 performance in 2021 at Whistling Straits. McIlroy closed out his three team-match victories without getting to the 18th hole, delivering body shots to the Americans rolling into Sunday.
"The boys are calling him Rocky McIlroy," Justin Rose joked.
Possibly throwing McIlroy off might've been the frustration he expressed towards Patrick Cantlay's caddie Joe LaCava, who celebrated his player's birdie on the 18th by waving his cap towards the fans surrounding the green at the end of Saturday's fourball session. That boiled over into the parking lot, where McIlroy yelled at Jim "Bones" Mackay, Justin Thomas's caddie, before entering his car to head home.
But instead of the argument getting in McIlroy's mojo Sunday, he turned to the 1,900-year-old teachings of former Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelieus's meditations on stoicism. After texting Mackay to apologize in the morning, McIlroy won his singles match 3&1 against Sam Burns.
"I was hot coming out of that yesterday," McIlroy said. "I was pretty angry. I didn't agree with what happened on 18, but I think I let it fuel the fire today and it focused me and I was able to go out there and get my point."
His continued Ryder Cup success makes McIlroy closer to threatening Phil Mickelson's record 12 appearances, the most of any player in Ryder Cup history, than exiting the stage anytime soon. For Team Europe to follow through on McIlroy's bold prediction in 2025, they'll need him to continue being a stand-out star at Bethpage.