Rory McIlroy will adopt a calmer tone for this week’s Ryder Cup than his emotional high-energy style from 2016 as he wants no repeat of an energy fade.
McIlroy will try to help Europe reclaim the trophy starting Friday at Le Golf National after a 17-11 loss to the Americans two years ago at Hazeltine in the biennial golf matches.
The 29-year-old from Northern Ireland makes his fifth Ryder Cup start after losing an intense singles match to 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed at Hazeltine that featured loud screams, teasing with American spectators and a lesson for McIlroy.
“I could play it for nine holes, and then it suddenly hit me. The level sort of declined after that, sort of reached its crescendo on the eighth green and the last 10 holes wasn’t quite as good,” McIlroy said.
“Surprised I had a voice left at the end of the week. It looked tiring (on video) to have to play golf like that for three days.
“I learned a lot from that. It’s good to get excited but at the same time, if I have to be called upon to play a late match, I want to have all my energy in reserve so that I can give everything for 18 holes because I did hit a wall that back nine on Sunday, and it cost me.”
Europe tries to reclaim the trophy with a ninth win in 12 attempts while the Americans seek their first win on European soil since 1993.
“I’ve been excited for this for basically since the last day in Hazeltine when we weren’t the ones spraying champagne for a change,” McIlroy said.
He’s not putting any special importance on facing 14-time Tiger Woods, who snapped a five-year win drought Sunday at the US PGA Tour Championship for his 80th career title.
“This week, he’s one of 12. We’re not looking at any individuals,” McIlroy said. “It’s great what he did on Sunday. It brings a lot of excitement to the game.
“It’s great for the US team he’s in the mix and it’s great it has given their team a little bit of momentum. We’re looking to beat the US team. We’re not looking to just beat Tiger Woods.”
McIlroy downplayed walking alongside Woods in the final pairing as they were mobbed by excited spectators, saying:
“I didn’t actually have quite a good view from the trees Sunday. I couldn’t really see what was happening too much.”
Americans have become better at following Europe’s team model in the Ryder Cup after dropping eight of 10 events before Hazeltine.
“The strength of Europe has been we all get behind one another and even whatever differences we may have, we put them to the side and we’re a cohesive unit. I think that has obviously served us well.
“The dynamic of the American team has become a little more cohesive in the last few years and I think that’s to do with the younger guys coming on board and really embracing the Ryder Cup.
“It seems like the togetherness is just a little bit more there than maybe it used to be back in the ’90s and early 2000s.”
The four-time major winner says he gets nervous on every opening tee shot but there is nothing like one at the Ryder Cup, especially with a huge 6,900-seat grandstand.
“It’s nerve-wracking. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there,” McIlroy said.
“It’s a huge grandstand. Playing a practice round yesterday, there was basically no people in it, and I still got goosebumps looking at it and thinking, on Friday, this thing is going to be packed.
“I’m excited for that. One of the very special things about the Ryder Cup is that first tee experience on Friday morning.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits by Joseph McBrien)