McIlroy relishing being Ryder Cup target; compares Horizon to "brick wall"

McIlroy relishing being Ryder Cup target; compares Horizon to "brick wall"

Rory McIlroy at Tower Bridge on Thursday

Rory McIlroy has one reaction to Tom Watson's call to take him (and Ian Poulter) down in the Ryder Cup - bring it on.

After hitting balls on a barge on the Thames in a promotion for one of his sponsors, Santander, McIlroy spoke to members of the media, including the Daily Mail, The Times, BBC and Sky.

He welcomes the responsibility to leading Europe from the front as world No1 and explained that he's still close to Graeme McDowell despite their involvement in his court battle with Horizon Sports Management.

"I’d love to play with G-Mac," McIlroy told the Mail. "I think everyone can see the chemistry we have together and there’s no reason why it can’t be the same this time. This whole thing about our friendship has been blown up so much. We were both playing in Denver two weeks ago and went out to dinner together. There’s no problem between us."

As for his legal battle with Horizon and calls from a Commercial Court judge this week for both sides to stop the discovery war and to sit down for mediation talks, McIlroy was perfectly willing to comment on the case for the first time.

"We welcome what the judge had to say," explained McIlroy. "It’s what we have been trying to do for the last six months but it’s been like arguing with a brick wall, so it’s great he has ordered the two sides to get together. It needs resolving, because it has gone on for far too long. It’s the one distracting thing I have left behind the scenes although, thankfully, I’ve made sure it’s not been that distracting. But when that’s gone, that’s everything."

McIlroy left Horizon to go it alone in the middle of 2013 and sued them on 14 October, more than 11 months ago.

We may never know just who was the "brick wall" for how long and why unless the case goes to trial on February 3. But given the animosity between the sides, it's no surprise that they have failed to find any common ground so far and will find it difficult to do so within the 28 day limit set aside by the judge for meditation before trial proceedings resume.

That battle goes on but next week, McIlroy will be expected to lead Europe by winning points  — a reprisal of the Tiger Woods role, but in blue. The opposition will be trying to do what Europe did so well for years and deny the Holwyood star and damage Europe's morale.

McIlroy is aware he'll be under pressure but he is taking a "get me if you can" attitude.

"I know what a huge fillip it would be for them if I lose but it is up to me to make sure it doesn’t happen. I’m a double major champion this year and it’s important that I embrace that and step up and take on the responsibility.

"I know I will have a target on my back but I love that and I am going to play up to it as much as I can.

"Whoever they want to send out against me, it’s no problem to me. I want to lead from the front and by example, and I’m confident enough in the way I am playing right now to do that."

McIlroy is not quite in the Woods league just yet, as he acknowledged to The Times' Rick Broadbent when asked if he's the Lionel Messi of golf.

“I don’t need another year like this one,” he says. “I need  another ten.”

That is if he is to reach his stated aim of becoming “one of the best that’s  ever played”. On a pontoon beneath Tower Bridge, he is swinging with one of  the worst, Boris Johnson, the messy of golf. The stunt is to launch  Santander’s 123 World. This is McIlroy’s life now.

Incidentally, if you were curious about McIlroy's coffee table reading...

...perhaps he's thinking of a quite cruise somewhere after the Ryder Cup: