MEDINAH, Ill. – Rory McIlroy came within a few minutes of missing his Sunday singles match at the Ryder Cup after an incredible mix-up regarding his tee time.
The world No.1 arrived at the course 11 minutes before he was scheduled to face Keegan Bradley in the second of 12 singles showdown that will determine the destiny of the trophy. McIlroy had become confused after watching the Golf Channel on Saturday night, where the schedule stating he would start his clash at 12:25pm ET was repeatedly broadcast. That information was correct, however, McIlroy forget that Illinois is in the central time zone, meaning he needed to begin at 11:25 a.m.
His no-show earlier in the morning had sparked concern in the Europe team, which desperately needs a big performance from its biggest star if it is to overturn a 10-6 deficit going into the final day.
"I had been watching television and it kept saying how I would start at 12:25," McIlroy told reporters as he hurried to the tee box. "It kind of threw me off and I have had to hurry to make sure I got here on time. It is pretty embarrassing and Sergio [Garcia] has already given me some stick about it. It is the first time that has ever happened in my career but I'm feeling pretty good still and it's going to be a good match."
Despite a wayward tee shot, McIlroy was able to halve the first hole when Bradley missed a putt that would have given the American an early lead.
Europe team captain José María Olazábal was confident McIlroy would not be affected by the race against time. "He is not the kind of guy who will be bothered by that," Olazabal said. "I expect a good round from him.
"We did start to get a bit nervous when we were hanging around the locker room and then someone realized Rory was not there," he continued. "We had a look around for him and then called to see where it was. Of course it would have been bad if he had missed it, but it all worked out and he got here just in time."
No European team has ever overturned a four-point deficit heading into the final day and won the trophy. Olazábal packed the top of his order with Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, McIlroy and Justin Rose, his four most in-form players, in an attempt to turn some momentum in his team's favor.
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