By Brian Keogh
Rory McIlroy can inspire his team mates to singles glory at Royal County Down.
The Holywood hero has been handed the task of leading Great Britain and Ireland into the battle in the afternoon singles with skipper Colin Dalgleish gambling that the roars of the 10,000 crowd will spread through the rest of the team like wildfire.
Dalgleish said: "I thought it was appropriate to recognise Rory's role in this Walker Cup and have him out first on the first day in the singles. If the roars are going in the right direction then I think everyone draws inspiration from that."
McIlroy will go head-to-head with Billy Horschel, the player who shot an 11 under par 60 in the US Amateur last year, at the very top of his form. And he's determined to get the crowd going by racking up a rash of early birdies.
"If that's what I'm there for then I'm going to do my best to deliver," McIlroy said. "If I can get the crowd going then the team will just feed off that. I am playing well and I made seven birdies out there today. Billy is a good player and I am sure he will be a tough test. But I know this track very well, so I am quietly confident."
McIlroy raised the Irish tricolour at the opening ceremony and confessed that the excitement of the Walker Cup has already exceeded his expectations.
He said: "It has been everything I imagined it would be and more. I was quite scared about raising the Irish flag and getting it wrong. But the realisation that you are going to be playing in the Walker Cup is fantastic. It is just going to be electric tomorrow."