Rory McIlroy has dismissed the Ryder Cup as “an exhibition” that’s way down his list of priorities.

But Irish Ryder Cup legend Christy O’Connor and 2010 skipper Colin Montgomerie reckon it won’t be long before he changes his tune.

Christy O'Connor played in 10 Ryder Cups.The Ulster ace, 20, surprised everyone yesterday when he insisted: “It's an exhibition at the end of the day. In the big scheme of things it's not that important an event for me.

“If you play well enough, you are going to get on the team. That’s the simple fact. But if I’m struggling to get on the team I’m not going to play two more events.

“If I play well enough,I play well enough. And if I don’t, so be it. In the Ryder Cup,it’s a great spectacle for golf, but an exhibition at the end of the day and it should be there to be enjoyed.

“If you get on you enjoy the week and if you win or lose, it’s a great experience and you move on from it.”

But shocked Montgomerie believes it is only a matter of time before the young Ulsterman realises that the Ryder Cup is “a very unique, special event and much more nerve-wracking than a major.”

Warning reporters not to turn his words into a “war” with McIlroy, Montgomerie said: “It's not an exhibition and it never will be. It's a very unique, special event and much more nerve-wracking than a major.

"When you play in it you want to be there again and again.  Please don't say that Monty and Rory are having a war here. I haven't said that. I haven't heard what Rory said, so please don't start a big war.

"Rory will understand when - and it's not an 'if' - he is a Ryder Cup player. He'll understand the pressures involved and the whole scenario of the Ryder Cup will hit him very hard.

"He is a great player and he's a very exciting player and one of Europe's best young talents in many, many a year."

Montgomerie played eight Ryder Cup matches between 1991 and 2006 without losing a singles.

But he’s only a beginner compared to O’Connor, 84, who will become just the second Irishman to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in November.

A veteran of 10 Ryder Cup matches - a record that was beaten only by Nick Faldo in 1997 - the Royal Dublin maestro believes McIlroy will change his mind on the Ryder Cup when he finally gets to play.

Christy said: “He will find that it is not an exhibition match when he starts playing in it. The Ryder Cup IS golf. It is matchplay. It is top pro v top pro. It is very exciting and a great crowd puller.

“I am very surprised that he would say something like that. But he is only a kid. He is in for a pleasant surprise.”