Like Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s decision earlier this year to separate, their statement unleashing the above phrase on an unsuspecting public, McDowell said yesterday that Europe captain Paul McGinley had been right to suggest he and McIlroy might be better off apart when the 40th Ryder Cup matches get under way on Friday morning.
Though he insisted his friendship with McIlroy remained intact after a year of tension stemming from their involvement in a legal dispute between the world No 1 and their management company Horizon, he had seen the beginning of the end of their partnership in fourballs two years ago at Medinah when they were beaten 2&1 by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on the first afternoon.
This time around the better ball format is first up on Friday morning at Gleneagles and McDowell agreed with McGinley’s assertion made on Monday that tactically, the team may be better served by separating a partnership forged five years ago at the Seve Trophy in Saint-Nom-La Breteche.
“There’s no doubt our personal issues have been well documented over the last couple years. And I believe that we’ve both come out of the other end of that probably better friends than we were going into it. So our personal issues are not a problem this weekend, so that’s a fact.
“Tactically, Rory and I’s golf dynamic has changed significantly from the first time we played together back in 2009 at the Seve Trophy, when perhaps the older brother/younger brother leadership role that maybe I had with him, that’s changed.
“He’s the world’s No 1 player. He’s a four-time Major champion. The dynamic between him and I is changed forever. He would now be the leader of the two of us and perhaps the dynamic doesn’t work as well as it did in the past. Perhaps I’m the kind of guy that needs that leadership role a little bit, who needs to feel like he is on at least a level with the guy he’s playing with. I’ll be the first to admit it.
“Medinah a couple years ago, and Rory and I spoke about this, I found the better ball format very difficult with him because he likes to go first, I let him at it, and I kind of come second. You know, he’s standing there beating it 350 down the middle, and I put my tee in the ground thinking there’s not really a lot of point in me hitting this tee shot.
“Foursomes I think is different. I think we could still play foursomes really well together.”