Brian Keogh

Bjorn’s picks no walk on the wild side for Rory

Brian Keogh
Bjorn’s picks no walk on the wild side for Rory
Rory McIlroy speaks to the media ahead of the BMW Championship

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media ahead of the BMW Championship

Rory McIlroy dismissed talk of Sergio Garcia as a risky Ryder Cup pick and insisted the great intangibles for the outside world —  the Spaniard's experience and his infectious enthusiasm in the team room — will be a huge assets to Europe in Paris.

Like Graeme McDowell, who described Thomas Bjorn's choice of Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey as a vote of confidence in "quality, experienced, passionate, team players," McIlroy had no doubt yesterday that Garcia was the right choice.

"I feel with the five rookies we have, experience will be a big thing, especially at home," the world number eight said ahead of the  BMW Championship at Aronimink in Philadelphia.

Describing Poulter, Stenson and Casey as certainties for a pick, the Co Down man felt that quite apart from Garcia's record — he's Europe's fifth biggest points winner behind legends Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer,  Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros — it's the intangibles that make him a priceless Ryder Cup asset.

"It's the things people don't see that he does in the team room," McIlroy said. "He's made my experiences at Ryder Cups better.  He's been a great partner for me.  Obviously, his record speaks for itself but the stuff people don't see is basically what got him this wildcard pick."

With McIlroy, Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari the only veterans inside with five rookies in Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Jon Rahm and Thorbjorn Olesen, Bjorn decided to take no chances and steel his line up with experience.

McIlroy believes he has got it spot on.

"I think it creates a really good team dynamic," McIlroy said of a quartet with an average age of 41. "It's a continuity that's within the team. If you have experience, guys that have been there before, they know what goes on.

"You've got all this stuff to do, like gala dinners and opening ceremonies and this and that and it's like, 'Really?'

"All of that stuff you don't expect when it's your first one but at least whenever you have experienced guys. everyone knows what to expect, and they know that the first few days are long and you need to pace yourself, and you can't wear yourself out, you can't play too much or practice too much.

"All the guys know what they need to do to prepare the best way to play their best. But I just think continuity in the team room and knowing what to expect as the week goes on is a big thing."

Bjorn justified his choice of Garcia in glowing terms.

"The one thing about Sergio is he's the heartbeat of the team," the Dane said. "I've always said that about him. It's like a football team going without their captain. That's what he is.

"He comes in the team room, and people that have experienced Sergio in the team room and around The Ryder Cup Team realise how much he brings to it. 

"Not only is he a fantastic golfer and goes out on the golf course and does what he does in Ryder Cups and we've seen it time after time but what he also brings is that he makes everyone around him better. He is just everything that that team room is."

Rose was especially pleased to see two former partners in Stenson and Poulter get the nod.

As for Garcia getting the fourth pick, he said: "Many players deserve a spot in the Ryder Cup team, but no one is here to do anybody favours, either. 

"It's about how can you assemble 12 guys to put points on the board when it counts on Friday, Saturday, Sunday in a Ryder Cup and Thomas obviously felt Sergio was more likely to deliver a point when needed."

Both McIlroy and Rose tee it up at Aronimink looking to make the top five in the FedEx Cup standings so they can go to the Tour Championship in a fortnight with their fate in their own hands.

Rose is already there following his runner-up finish to Bryson DeChambeau on Monday but McIlroy needs a good week and he's targeting a win that could turn a "nearly" season into a memorable one.

While he was frustrated to let solid rounds peter out at the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston last week, finishing tied 12th, he feels no sense of urgency about his game

"I know my game is going in the right direction and it's just a matter of letting myself go out there and just do it, I guess," he said, sounding like an ad for his apparel sponsors.

Whether Garcia can still do it remains to be seen but Bjorn, crucially, is sold.