Exhausted Rory McIlroy turns focus to Paris in 2018

Rory McIlroy left Hazeltine exhausted on Sunday after the most emotionally draining week of his career but in positive mood for the end of the season and a Ryder Cup renewal in Paris in 2018.

Exhausted Rory McIlroy turns focus to Paris in 2018

Having emerged as Europe’s team leader he believes America’s 17-11 victory at the weekend has kept the contest “very interesting” after three straight American defeats and he is relishing a chance for revenge on home soil.

And despite losing his singles showdown with Patrick Reed — when he admitted he ran out of steam after a supercharged two and a half days in front of massive and fervent US crowds — McIlroy is hoping to continue his excellent form into the rest of his 2016 campaign as he aims to complete a FedEx Cup-Race To Dubai double at next month’s DP World Tour Championship.

McIlroy, 27, will take three weeks off after a run of success last month that saw him win the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and the PGA Tour season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta to land his first FedEx Cup and a $10m (€8.9m) bonus on top of his winners cheques for $1.5m (€1.33m) each. It had taken its toll by Sunday night.

“I was running on fumes,” McIlroy said. “Gleneagles (in 2014), everything that could go right did go right. You were sort of cruising. Medinah (2012) was my first Ryder Cup in the US, I wasn’t a rookie but felt there wasn’t as much responsibility on my shoulders but coming in this week after having done what I have done in the last few weeks I wanted to lead by example.

“I tried my utmost and I won three points. I wish it had of been more. I did all that I could. But I can take a lot from it. I played great for the last few weeks, I’ve played well. I feel like I’m on the right track with my game and I just looking forward to a few weeks off to regroup and recharge. I’ve won the FedEx Cup and I’m trying to stay focused to try and win the Race To Dubai.”

Calling Europe’s team at Hazeltine a “transitional” one with six rookies in Darren Clarke’s line-up, he had great optimism for his side, not least in Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters, one of Clarke’s wildcards who won a European record four points, three of them in partnership with McIlroy.

“I’m excited. Thomas was a last minute pick by Darren and he went out there this week and showed everyone how good he is.

“I hadn’t played him in a match before and we go out and it wasn’t really a planned pairing but we went out there and he was unbelievable in the fourball and then Darren puts us back out there in the foursomes and I’m like, ‘fine, let’s go with this’ and he’s the best partner you could have.

“He didn’t act like a rookie out there, it just seemed so natural to him”

McIlroy praised Clarke’s captaincy, adding: “I don’t think Darren could have done anything else. He has been a fantastic captain. I wanted to win so badly for him. If you could have seen him in the team room all week and the things he was saying. How great of an atmosphere he created. It was fantastic.

“That’s why even in defeat, we were still quite jubilant, we’ve had a great week and regardless of the result of course but that’s disappointing.”

As for a successor to captain Europe in Paris, McIlroy floated several names for the European Tour to consider with a new skipper set be announced by them before this Christmas.

“It depends on who feels they are ready for it. I don’t know. You have got someone like a Lee Westwood, you’ve got Thomas Bjorn, you’ve got Pádraig (Harrington) obviously. He might be trying to go for it, that would be three Irish captains in a row, I don’t know how that would feel. Anyone of those guys who are there.

“I think the culture of the European Tour in including everyone in the team (as vice captains) .... because there is so much support around us we obviously need a captain, need a leader, it could be any one of a number of guys.”

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