Rory McIlroy is ready to ride a wave of team adrenaline and help Europe snatch back the Ryder Cup.
The Holywood hotshot admits that individual success in Majors and World Golf Championships is more important to him than Ryder Cup glory.
But the world No 8 confessed he’s been slowly been touched by Ryder Cup fever and he’s convinced that Europe’s famous team spirit will help him shake off his rookie nerves and help him do the business for skipper Colin Montgomerie in Wales next week.
Dismissing any thoughts of burnout after a hectic summer, McIlroy insisted: “I’m really looking forward to being part of a team again. I forgot how good it was until I played in the Vivendi Trophy for GB&I last year.
“It was great that we won but it was great to be able to share a win with 11 other guys. I think that’s what I am looking forward to most, just being part of that team environment again.
“Getting out there to play for a team is the most pressure packed situation I have ever experienced.
“So to be on the course with all that adrenaline as well should be a good time and hopefully that adrenaline will make me play better.”
McIlroy turned heads last year when he insisted that the Ryder Cup was “a great spectacle for golf, but an exhibition at the end of the day.”
Just days ago, he added: “If somebody asks me whether I’d rather sink the winning putt in the Ryder Cup or win a major, it’s the major every day
“World championship or Ryder Cup? Win a world championship.
“At the end of the day you’re going to be remembered for what you achieve in an individual sport.
“When I was a kid growing up practising I never had a putt to win the Ryder Cup. I always had a putt to win the Masters or the Open – it’s just the way I feel.”
But as he counts down the days before he joins his team mates at Celtic Manor, McIlroy confessed that becoming more and more excited about the chance to spank the Yanks.
McIlroy said: “I made those comments about the Ryder Cup last year when I was in the middle of the season and it was the last thing that really could have been talked about.
“Now that it’s coming closer and the excitement is building, it is going to be fantastic.
“It is definitely not an exhibition but it is good for golf and it is a great spectacle.
“All I was trying to say is I just want to go there and enjoy it and that’s what I am trying to do.
“I could go out next week and win one out of five matches and still win the Ryder Cup, so I might not actually play very well but still be part of a winning team. Whereas in a major, you have got to play well to win.”
Expected to partner Graeme McDowell at some stage, McIlroy expects Ryder Cup nerves to kick in soon.
He said: “There is still a lot of time between now and when the matches start, I will get a feeling next week when I get there about what to expect.
“I’m going to be very nervous over my first tee shot and everything but once I get that out of the way all you are thinking about is trying to win your match.
“Everyone has a role to play. Once the gun goes it is more up to myself to hit the shots and keep my nerves and emotions under control and if I can do that, that’s all I can really ask of myself.”
McIlroy is still waiting for his first major win after finishing tied for third in this year’s Open at St Andrews and the US PGA at Whistling Straits.
He had hoped to make up for those near misses by claiming the megabucks FedEx Cup on the US Tour.
But he crashed out after the third leg of the play-offs and failed to make the top 30 who will chase a $10m payday in this week’s Tour Championship finale in Atlanta.
Initially disappointed to miss out, he now believes that his FedEx Cup cloud has a silver lining as it has given him time to recharge his batteries and get his game razor sharp for the Ryder Cup.
Confessing that fatigue was a factor that will make him rethink his 2011 schedule, he said: “I wasn’t my normal self for the last few weeks in America and I just needed a couple of days at home to recharge and refresh the mind and get ready to go for the Ryder Cup.
“I definitely feel as if I will be going into the Ryder Cup with my game in better overall shape than if I had been playing in the Tour Championship.
“It’s actually been great having last week and this week at home to practice. I think that’s when I get my best work done and I think I play better coming off a week off.
“I am very happy with how it all went and I can concentrate on getting my game in the best shape possible going to Wales.”
“I was talking to my manager Chubby Chandler about it this morning on the range and we are going to look at the schedule next year and where I went wrong basically this year and set a better schedule for next year.”
While he’s still only 21, McIlroy has been on tour for more than three years and won titles on both sides of the Atlantic.
He’s one of six rookies on the European team but he reckons that with seasoned campaigners like Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington in the side alongside pal McDowell and with stablemates Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley as assistants, he won’t be short of support.
He said: “Everyone’s talking about the rookies on the team but you know there is still a lot of experience in there with Westwood, [Miguel Angel] Jimenez and Harrington. Even [Ian] Poulter.
“GMac has played one before. Then you have the vice-captains, [Darren] Clarkie, Sergio, Thomas Bjorn, Paul McGinley. It is great to have people like that around the team and in the team.
“They will have a big role to play during the week. I don’t know how I am going to be in the team room but I am definitely listening to these guys and trying to learn a few things here and there.
“Martin Kaymer is a rookie in the Ryder Cup but he is a major champion and I have played decent enough this year.
“There are rookies on the team but it is not like it is our first experience at a big event. I am sure we will be fine and perform very well.”
US skipper Corey Pavin has made Europe favourites and McIlroy does not disagree with the fiery American captain.
Pointing to home advantage as Europe’s biggest asset, Rory said: “Europe probably has a slight advantage with it being played in Wales. I’m not sure if they will be used to the conditions.
“We have got a very, very good chance to win and the US the same, but I’d be confident that if everyone plays the way they have been playing this year we will have a great chance to win the Cup back.”