McIlroy Leads European Ryder Cup Hopes

Northern Irish golf will receive yet another international boost when Ulster golfers Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell tee-off Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup today.

The 39th Ryder Cup begins at Medinah, Illinois at 07:20 - 13:20 BST - and the two Northern Irishmen are to get Europe’s campaign underway when they pair against America’s Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.

The bi-annual golf tournament sees the best 12 professional golfers from Europe take on the best 12 from the US.

Europe has won four of the last five, including two years ago in Wales when the final tally was 14 ½ - 13 ½ in favour of the Europeans.

World number one McIlroy, who hails from Holywood in County Down, commented on his American opponents yesterday.

"To be honest, they are not the opponents we were expecting", he said.

"We know that their team is so strong all the way through, but it was a little surprise to see a rookie (Snedeker) in their first group."

The 23 year old is considered a major addition to the European team, having won three times in his last five events, including the US PGA Championship.

Commenting on the beginning of the Ryder Cup today, he said: "I can't wait. Leading the side off we are going to go out there and get the blue on the board early."


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