Stenson hails McIlroy magic

Henrik Stenson has added his name to those predicting a Ryder Cup debut for 20-year-old Rory McIlroy next October.

Henrik Stenson has added his name to those predicting a Ryder Cup debut for 20-year-old Rory McIlroy next October.
“I would expect him to be on the squad, he’s playing fantastic,” said Stenson in Paris after Britain and Ireland’s fifth successive Vivendi Trophy victory over Continental Europe.
The Swede should know. He had just been beaten on the last in the lead-off singles, match with McIlroy going round in a six-under-par 65 for his fourth win in five games.
Not that he was the top scorer. That distinction went to 21-year-old Chris Wood, who might have become the first player to take a maximum five points from the match if he had not conceded Peter Hanson a six-foot par putt on the final green of the final game.
That made it 16½ -11½ for the third contest in a row, but Paul McGinley’s side were so dominant the first three days that victory was theirs once McIlroy and fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell had won the top two singles.
The week served a useful purpose for watching Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie in many ways, not least because McIlroy is now itching to face the Americans at Celtic Manor.
In May he had said it did not feature highly on his list of priorities, even calling it an “exhibition”, but all he needed was a reminder of how different team golf is.
“I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t make it,” said the youngster, who this week switches back to his bid to be Europe’s number one this year at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
“The whole week was fantastic. All the boys got on really well and I think it showed in our play on the course.
“I’ve sort of forgotten how good the team environment and the team atmosphere was (even though it is only two years since he played the amateur Walker Cup).
“Hopefully if I can keep up with the way I’m playing, I should be there and I can’t wait for it.”
Montgomerie is not ruling out a lead role for McIlroy should be earn a debut and will draw only comfort from the fact that every time Britain and Ireland captain Paul McGinley put him out first he won.
“If I’d played number one in the second series I would have been five out of five!” he joked.
McDowell, his partner on the first three days and a member of Nick Faldo’s team a year ago, sang McIlroy’s praises too.
“Rory’s one of the most talented young players in the world right now and it’s been a pleasure to play alongside him.”
There was praise too for McGinley – most notably on Saturday from Montgomerie, who definitely wants the Dubliner as one of his assistants if he cannot make the team.
With Jose Maria Olazabal expected to be in charge in America in 2012, McGinley seems a natural choice for Gleneagles two years later when he would be 47.
McDowell was enthusiastic there too.
“I think Paul would make a fantastic captain,” he commented.
“He’s very methodical in his preparation and understands what players need and want.
“I think Paul and Monty are very much in the same mould – very intelligent and articulate guys who will put a great team together and motivate the guys well.”
To this, McGinley said: “I’ve just done what I believe in and what I’ve learned from experience over the years.
“I’ve acted on instinct and I’ve been very, very fortunate in the captains I’ve played under.”
Sam Torrance, captain for McGinley’s debut at The Belfry in 2002 when he was, of course, the match-winner, was given special mention.
“To be honest, most of the stuff I’m doing in captaincy I’m doing from Sam. I’ve learnt more than him than the rest.
“Not that the others were wrong, but the others did what Sam did. He was my first introduction to captaincy.”