McIlroy's watch on Central time before Ryder Cup

And then there were the comments USA captain Davis Love III made last week in a radio interview.

"I've always wanted the win for the captain, but probably even more so this year just because of Darren and the relationship that we have".

This sentiment has not gone unnoticed.

"All of a sudden, I meet Darren Clarke", McIlroy said Tuesday at the Ryder Cup.

"As you know, shoulder to shoulder with the rugby background that I have as well, it resonated with me".

"Hopefully, I can continue to play the way I've been playing and produce quality shots under pressure like you need to in a Ryder Cup", McIlroy said.

Favored Europe, of course, tallied just 11 and a half points to the 16 and half by the greatest golf team Azinger ever assembled-but didn't speak of as such. "When I found out what UCLA really stood for, it nearly scared me to death".

"The guys have seen everything that has been said", Clarke said.

"I think we try to be ... especially our top five or six guys ... we try to be better than we are or do something extraordinary, and I think we get in our own way".

One man who should be bursting with self-belief is Rory McIlroy, who took the Tour Championship after a play-off at the weekend, and in doing so landed the richly-endowed FedEx Cup.

"You combine that with all the experience and with all of the rest of the team and the way those guys have played, I don't really need to respond to that. So that's what we'll see, which team is the best".

It's Dustin Johnson's time to lead the Americans
Only five players were on that 2012 team - Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Snedeker and Kuchar. He is not lacking for confidence at Hazeltine, where he tied for third in his PGA Championship debut.

"We waited until the last minute to catch a hot player, and Ryan week after week after week after week was the hottest player ... he's just been right there at the forefront for us".

"And if you look at worldwide wins this year, Europe have 12; America have 10". So our team is good. We already had pictures of him in our locker room and team room, and we'll add a few more.

"I think it's special for both of us, that he is now a Ryder Cup Captain and I'm a player under him", McIlroy said.

"But I still didn't feel like it was my place to be a leader on the team".

The phoney war is nearly over and come Friday the real Ryder Cup battle will commence. His three appearances have all coincided with European victories.

"I don't think it's hard for us to find motivation". Palmer went 4-2 that year. We're not thinking about it too much.

"That's what Nick Saban would tell his team when they're getting ready to go play Ole Miss", Love said about how the hugely successful University of Alabama coach would operate.

"I underestimated what it was going to be like", McIlroy said. Watson won the most recent of his nine US PGA titles, including the 2012 and 2014 Masters, last February at Riviera. "Obviously it's awesome. But it's a little bit, I would say, less personal than The European Tour".

It's Alabama coach Bear Bryant saying of UCLA before the 1976 Liberty Bowl: "I thought they meant the University of Central Louisiana". Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, they have all spent quite a lot of time together, obviously for this reason.

"Any good team will use anything they can to their advantage", said Paul Casey, a member of three previous European teams, including two winning ones in 2004 and 2006.

"We are always the underdogs, aren't we?"

  • Lawrence Cooper