Wolstenholme backs McIlroy factor

By Brian Keogh

Walker Cup wonder Gary Wolstenholme believes Rory McIlroy can blow the Americans away in September.

The English ace, 46, looks certain to grab his seventh Walker Cup cap at Royal County Down as he continues his amazing career.

And he's convinced that young gun McIlroy has the talent and the charisma to make Colin Dalgleish's side an unbeatable force on his home turf, proving he struts his stuff with even more confidence.

He said: "I've played with Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Graeme McDowell and they were outwardly very confident and knew their ability.

"Rory doesn't pervade that particularly and yet you know that it is there. There is a steely quality to him - almost like the steel hand in the kid glove.

"Perhaps it is something he has got to think about and be a little more outwardly confident and steely.

"Having said that, he will be a very hard man to beat on this golf course. A: he knows it well. But B: there is the fact that he is going to have such massive support.

"It can swing both ways because it is a pressure situation, but if he gets a point early on hopefully we will go out and get four points. And if you have got one guy who makes four points, then you are not far off being halfway there.

"I am sure that Colin will be thinking exactly on those lines when he picks the side. Rory will be the talismanic figure and fortunately he has got three or four other guys who are going to be able to combine to make a winning team."

Only legends such as Joe Carr (11 caps) and Michael Bonallack (nine) have played more Walker Cups for GB&I than Wolstenholme.

And the Kilworth Springs grinder knows that McIlroy is a diamond in the rough who will make the GB&I side a massive force.

He added: "Rory is such a natural kid and he doesn't present himself as being cocky or anything else. He is self-assured, but there is nothing wrong with that because he has such great ability.

"He is such a nice kid and I get on very well with him and I know all the other players do, too. He has that naturalness that comes across as an endearing quality.

"He can hit the ball long. He chips and putts well. He has got a good solid swing that is repetitive.

"Winning a tournament outside of Ireland was huge for Rory last year and he won it comfortably. He didn't let anybody creep in at the European Individual Strokeplay and that must have given him confidence."

The US will be going for just its second Walker Cup win in the last six matches.

And Wolstenholme is convinced that they will struggle to conquer the links challenge of Royal County Down against one of the strongest ever GB&I sides.

He said: "We've got five guys that played on the last team and if they get back again we have a good base for a very strong side.

"I think the likes of Nigel Edwards and myself can give some of the young guys a little bit of a lead and some confidence.

"You've got Rhys Davies, who has been winning tournaments in America on a regular basis for the last three years.

"In the past we have had one or two guys who have lead the team with their experience and quality. People like Luke Donald and Paul Casey when they played.

"I think this time we have got four or five guys who can lead and that is a hell of an advantage.

"You have got guys like Lloyd Saltman, Rory, the world No 1 Jamie Moul and the US Amateur champion in Riche Ramsay.

"There are a hell of a lot of good things that you can already say about the team.

"The US is not this faceless, unbeatable enemy. And they are certainly not going to be as used to this type of golf as we are.

"But it is not just the good venue. It is the fact that the support is going to be so good. The weather is going to be a bit tricky in September and the Americans are not going to like that.

"And they are not going to like blind shots you get here. And what we have to do is not give them any sort of an edge to allow them to get into the match, which is so crucial as well."