Rory McIlroy is one of the experienced Ryder Cup participants. Shortly before the start of the Ryder Cup 2023, the Northern Irishman spoke in an interview about the special atmosphere at the continental competition and the absence of great players who have long characterized the European Ryder Cup teams, such as Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter or Lee Westwood.
Campfire feeling at the Ryder Cup 2023
I’m joined by Rory McIlroy from Team Europe. Rory, remarkably, your seventh Ryder Cup.
Rory McIlroy: Thanks, Steve.
That’s all right. We saw a video last night talking through being in the team environment. How has the team environment been this week.
Rory McIlroy: It’s been fantastic. Everyone knows this is a bit of a transitional period for The European Team and there’s people that have been part of The European Team for a long time that aren’t here this week. But I think the guys that we brought in are going to be awesome. Nicolai, Ludwig, Bob, that’s the future of our team and the future of the Ryder Cup.
I think we came here to Rome a couple of weeks ago for a practise trip, and I thought that was incredibly important. Honestly I couldn’t believe that we’ve never done it before. We played a practise round and we got familiar with the golf course but then the sort of time we spent off the course I thought was great. Just sort of sharing stories around the fire pit and sort of describing our journeys in golf and what the Ryder Cup means to us. Sort of just getting to know one another a little better, even people that I thought that I knew for a long time, sort of getting to know them a little better, too, was wonderful.
I think Luke and his vice captains have really sort of tapped into that emotional connection around Team Europe this week, and we have all bought into it. It’s been an amazing experience so far, and it’s only Wednesday. There’s a lot of great things to come. But couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the team, and to have those other 11 guys be my teammates.
Just on the fans, you’ve obviously experienced the odd rogue fan at the Ryder Cup and thinking of Brian Harman getting heckled, do you think it might go too far here?
Rory McIlroy: No because I think that’s all part of the Ryder Cup. There’s not a lot of other instances in the game of golf where that happens but there’s certainly a line. Most fans that come out to watch golf are very respectful and they know what that line is.
Rory McIlroy: ” It’s certainly a little strange not having them around”
A lot of water under the bridge in the last couple years, but in this week of all weeks, do you actually miss guys like Sergio, Poulter, Westwood?
Rory McIlroy: I mean, it’s certainly a little strange not having them around. But I think this week of all weeks, it’s going to hit home with them that, you know, they are not here, and I think they are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them, so — and I’m not saying that that’s like — it’s just more I think this week is a realisation that the decision that they made has led to not being a part of this week, and that’s tough. The landscape in golf is ever-changing and more dynamic, and we’ll see what happens and whether they will be part of it in the future. I always thought leading up to this week is when it’s going to hit home that they are not going to be here.
We obviously don’t know the pairings yet, but assuming you might have to use a different golf ball. I’m just wondering if you can discuss the challenges that brings with it, and how much time you would devote to maybe practising with another ball in the lead up to that.
Rory McIlroy: Yeah, I guess the nice thing is that you can do it in way where — I think all these golf balls react pretty similar with a driver. It’s more the iron shots and around the greens. If I’m playing with a guy that uses a different golf ball, I can just hit his golf ball off the tee. He’s able to hit it into the green and we go from there. Vice versa; he can hit my golf ball off the tee, and I can hit my ball into the green and do that. Yeah, it can get a little tricky and you’re chipping and putting and different feels of balls.
I think a couple of days, hitting some, getting numbers with that golf ball. Spin rates is a big thing. Especially in the wind gets up in some of these elevations. Just if you’re into the wind, and, say, the other golf ball minutes 200 or 300 more RPMs more than your golf ball, that makes a huge difference into the wind. So just trying to get comfortable with that in some ways and trying to be mindful of it.
But I don’t think it presents a huge challenge. I think guys are pretty much adaptable. We have 24 of the best players in the world here. If we can’t adapt a little bit to a slight change of the golf ball, the game is certainly not going in the right direction. So I think we are all okay.
Rory, thank for joining us. Enjoy your week.