Rory's got his gun

Rory McIlroy hits off the eighth in practice. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieTop gun Rory McIlroy insists he will take off the safety and come out with pistols blazing this week.

The world No 1 confessed that he was too conservative when he made his Ryder debut as a nervous rookie alongside Graeme McDowell in Wales two years ago.

And while he will still be nervous in Friday morning’s foursomes opener, he plans to let loose and lead Europe on the course this time around.

Plainly a far better and more confident player, the two-time major winner said: “I was nervous at Celtic Manor.  I was a rookie.  

“We played the first four holes, and then we got called in because of the rain and then we went back out and played another seven or whatever it was that day.  

“But I remember after those first 11 holes, I was thinking to myself that I was very anxious.  I was very tentative.  

“I was trying not to make a mistake instead of just going out and freewheeling it and playing the way I usually do.

“I think it’s going to be different this year.  I’m going to go out and just give it a go, enjoy it, play the way I play.  

“I definitely have more confidence in myself as a player than I did two years ago, a lot more certain of myself and sure of my ability.

“So I think the feeling will be a little different going on to the first tee on Friday here.”

Since that soggy Ryder Cup debut in Wales, McIlroy has won two majors by eight shots and become the best player in the world.

And while he is still one of the least experienced men on the team, he plans to act like a leader on the golf course instead of the team room but winning five points out of a possible five.

Rory McIlroy signs a Donegal GAA jersey during Wednesday’s practice rounds. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieHe said: “I think there’s leaders on our team that will lead with experience.  I feel like with the way I’ve played the last couple of years, I don’t think my role is a leader in the team room.

“I think it’s more a leader out on the course and trying to lead in that way.  Try to put points on the board and try to get my point.

“There’s a lot more guys that have played more Ryder Cups than me and are more experienced in the team room and know when to speak up and have different views on things.  

“This is only my second, so I’m still getting to know and still learning about The Ryder Cup.”

Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods reckon McIlroy will be targeted at Medinah because he’s the world No 1 and the man to beat.

But while the 23-year old Co Down man does not feel he will be singled out, he’s happy to take on all comers and try and put maximum points on the board for skipper Jose Maria Olazabal.

He said: “I don’t think I have a bullseye on my back.  I think it’s a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me and whatever.  

“Whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on.”

McIlroy has changed totally over the past few years and now loves the Ryder Cup having declared in 2009 that was an overblown exhibition match.

And admits the can’t wait to get going on a course that will suit his game to a tee.

Reflecting on his debut, when he got two and a half points out of four, he explained: “Being part of a team, not playing for yourself, playing for your 11 other teammates, your captain, your vice captains, your country, your continent; it’s a big deal.  

“I sort of realized that last time in Wales. It definitely opened my eyes.  It’s just different atmosphere.  

“I just want to go out and try and win all my points.  That’s all I’m thinking about.  I don’t have a number.  I don’t have a total.

“With the US playing here at home, I think they are the favourites.  It’s a very strong team.

“So we know we have got to go out there and play very, very well to have a chance.  

“If I play on Friday morning, I just want to go out there and get my point and then take it from there.”

He also loves the golf course, which has been set up for long hitters with virtually no rough.

He said: “We got our first look at the golf course yesterday.  It feels like it sets up well personally for me, sets up well for most of the guys on our team.  

“So I think now, it’s just about finalising the pairings and getting ready for that, and once Friday morning comes, it should be great.”

As for a potential singles clash with Tiger Woods on Sunday, he said: “ I’m just going to go out and try and win my point.  

“Whether that’s against him or against someone else, it really doesn’t matter.”