Furyk ready for McIlroy

By Brian Keogh

Jim Furyk hopes Rory McIlroy makes next year’s Ryder Cup - so Europe lose!

Colin Montgomerie predicted that a fearless McIlroy could be an inspirational figure at Valhalla, just as a 19 year old Sergio Garcia was at Brookline in 1999.

And that’s just fine by world No 3 Furyk, who was a member of the US side that produced a stunning final day comeback to win in Boston eight years ago.

Garcia won three and half points out of four on his Ryder Cup debut before Furyk crushed him 4 and 3 in singles in an amazing American rally.

Smiling, Furyk said: “Well then I hope Rory makes the team and pulls it together just like Sergio did at Brookline. ‘Cause that’s the only one we can grasp and hang onto in the past 12 years.”

The 2003 US Open champion hasn’t seen much of the Holywood star but confessed that he was impressed by McIlroy’s performance at Carnoustie, where he was the leading amateur.”

He said: “I don’t know Rory but he seemed very mature for his years and I was very impressed with the way he handled the media.

“Obviously being so young and being able to compete at that level means he’s pretty special.”

Furyk had no idea that McIlroy turned professional in September and earned his European Tour card in just his second start with that stunning third place finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

He added: “To be able to come out and win your card in just a few events, he’s got to be some player. I wish him very well.

“It’s good for the sport to get some fresh faces and obviously he’s got a ton of game.”

Apart from predicting a 2008 Ryder Cup debut for McIlroy, Montgomerie also warned that a US team with four captain’s picks will be stronger than ever.

Monty said: “There was three people won their singles in 2006, there was Tiger and the two picks. The two picks are the strength of the team in my opinion. So to have four picks would be even stronger.”

But Furyk reckons the veteran Scot’s theory is too far fetched as Europe bids for an unprecedented fourth win in a row.

He said: “You’re looking too deep now. But I like the fact that our points system is based more on ’08 than it has ever been.

“I like the four picks. That will put more heat on the captain but, you know what, it’s easier to pick four than it is two. I like the way we’ve done the format.”

McIlroy would love to follow his 2007 Walker Cup appearance with a Ryder Cup debut next year.

Asked to choose his top goal for 2008, he said: “Probably make the Ryder Cup team.

“To play the Junior Ryder Cup in ‘04 and four years later to play the Ryder Cup would be absolutely phenomenal.

“It would be a great way to start my career. To play Walker Cup in ‘07 and Ryder Cup in ‘08 would be special. I don’t think anyone has done that before.”

One man who certainly wants to be there again is big-hitting American Brett Wetterich.

A rookie at the K Club last year, he was the only player on the US side not to get on the scoreboard.

Thrashed 5 & 4 by David Howell in the singles, Wetterich is up to 31st in the world and gunning for revenge in Kentucky.

He said: “I played so badly the last time that I really want to get back again. It’s right at the top of my list of goals for next year.”