Rory McIlroy shares how Europe’s Ryder Cup stars bonded to down USA in style

Rory McIlroy on Ryder Cup

If a picture tells a thousand words then Team Europe’s Ryder Cup unity was perfectly summed up on Saturday during an iconic moment in the morning foursomes session. The final pairing of the third session in golf’s biennial team matchplay event saw Spain’s Jon Rahm and England’s Tyrrell Hatton paired against the American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

As the two teams stood on the first tee waiting for the announcer to introduce their match the USA pairing stood motionless looking dead ahead. In stark contrast world No 3 Rahm, with a smile on his face, linked arms with his team-mate Hatton.

This was Europe’s well-crafted bond in perfect illustration. Rahm and Hatton eventually won the match 2&1 as Luke Donald’s team took another step closer to regaining the trophy they had so miserably lost at Whistling Straits two years ago.

The togetherness of the 12 players appeared at odds with the USA team and Europe’s talisman Rory McIlroy has now revealed how a trip to Rome just two weeks before the Ryder Cup itself was the key to their solid bond.

Captain Donald had got his team to sit around a fire pit at night, sharing stories about their upbringings – many of them humble – and how they had risen to the top of the sport.

McIlroy’s own story is one of relative rags to riches. The Northern Irishman has won over £66m on the PGA Tour and flew to the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club last week on his private jet.

But before the four-time major winner hit the big time, his father Gerry worked as a cleaner and a barman and in order to help pay for his golf development his mother worked extra night shifts in a factory in Belfast.

McIlroy explained how he got to know the back stories of other players in the team around the fire pit and was surprised to discover how similar some of them were to his own.

He said: “I got to know the other guys. I didn’t know how Jon Rahm got into golf. I didn’t know some of the backstories to why these guys love the game so much and why they love the Ryder Cup so much.

“It was the ’97 Ryder Cup that got Jon’s dad into the game, which then got him into the game. It’s just really cool to hear everyone’s stories and in fairness, a lot of our stories are very similar with our working-class backgrounds.

“Having parents that sacrificed a lot for us to go and do what we were able to do. Stuff like that I think bonded us together as well.”

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Golf is often perceived as a sport for rich kids but McIlory dismissed that notion, instead drawing attention to the hard work and sacrifice that is required to make it to the top.

“No, because I think I think the people that succeed and get to the highest level and anything that they do, they need that sense of urgency and that sense of drive and I think sometimes when you grow up being a little too comfortable, it diminishes that sense of drive a little bit,” McIlroy said. “It was really very interesting to hear how many of our stories were very similar.”

Donald’s groundwork on team unity paid off for Europe. The captain is a former world No. 1 and has seen it all in the game, but even he recognised that he needed to give it absolutely everything to wrestle the Ryder Cup back from the USA.

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