McIlroy In Agreement With Harrington Over Strength Of European Ryder Cup Team

The 34-year-old agrees with Padraig Harrington's assessment that Europe has "the best players in the world"

Rory McIlroy talks to the media before the Horizon Irish Open
Rory McIlroy likes the look of the European Ryder Cup team
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy will make his seventh Ryder Cup appearance at Marco Simone at the end of September as the Europeans look to regain the trophy they lost to the US at Whistling Straits two years ago, and he thinks the team is looking in good shape to achieve it.

The 34-year-old will compete in the Horizon Irish Open this week just three weeks before the biennial match gets underway, and he agrees with Padraig Harrington about the strength of the team. The three-time Major winner has said Europe has “the best players in the world” and likened the strength to teams from the 1970s and 1980s.

McIlroy was happy to go along with that opinion. He said: “Yeah, I would have to agree with that. You look at Viktor end of the season; with what Jon Rahm as has done this year; myself; Tommy Fleetwood back to playing some of the best golf he's played in a while; Tyrrell; Shane; Rosey. I think you've got a nice blend of experience and youth in the team.”

As well as the impressive experience on the team, which includes a total of 20 cumulative appearances in the Ryder Cup, Donald has also turned to some rookies to help return the trophy to Europe. 

Among them is Swedish star Ludvig Aberg. The 23-year-old only turned professional three months ago but has already made a big impression on both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, including a win in last week’s Omega European Masters.

Despite becoming the only player ever to make a Ryder Cup team without having played a Major, McIlroy has no doubt Aberg has the ability to step up to the big occasion. He continued: “I think everyone who has followed golf over the last few months has known the potential that someone like Ludvig has had. You just have to watch him hit balls on the range at a PGA Tour event.

“I mean, he's special, he really is. He's an unbelievable ball-striker. I don't think people maybe from this part of the world recognised it because he's played all of his golf in college and in the States and then played a lot of PGA Tour stuff.

“But he came over here and finished fourth in Czech Republic and won in Switzerland. He proved to a lot of people that he's worthy of a pick. I honestly think Luke was going to pick him regardless but he obviously his job easier when he won on Sunday.”

'I Didn't Feel Like I Did What I Was Supposed To'

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

Rory McIlroy had a frustrating time during the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As for what McIlroy can bring to the team, he’s hoping it is an improvement on his performance in 2021 when, by his standards, he fell short, with a 1-3-0 record. 

He admitted: “I think it's important to feel like you're doing your bit for the team. As everyone saw last time, I didn't feel like I did what I was supposed to, and obviously trying to put that right this year.”

Overall, though, the Ulsterman said he’s happy with his record in the match. “I feel over the course of the six Ryder Cups that I've played that I made a good contribution to most of the Ryder Cups that I've played,” he explained. 

“I think last year was the first time that I had a losing record in any Ryder Cup that I played. I think even going back to France, Hazeltine, Gleneagles, Medinah, Celtic Manor, I'd won more than I'd lost, which was good.”

The Ryder Cup runs from 29 September to 1 October.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.