Rory McIlroy said this clutch Ryder Cup shot was among his all-time best
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Friday morning at the 2023 Ryder Cup was a story of European dominance across the board, with Luke Donald’s team trouncing the Americans to a clean 4-0 sweep in foursomes.
Rory McIlroy was a big part of that torrid start, but his opening match alongside teammate Tommy Fleetwood wasn’t a sure thing all morning. In fact, their win was in doubt as they faced the final holes against U.S. rivals Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
An American birdie at the par-4 16th cut the European lead to 1 up with two holes to go. At the 17th, Cantlay had the honors and hit a good tee shot at the par-3 to birdie range.
But just when things looked to be falling apart, McIlroy stepped up to the tee and stuck a beautiful, high cutting iron to two feet, punctuated with fist pumps and an eruption from the boisterous European crowd.
The ensuing tap-in sealed a 2 and 1 victory for McIlroy and Fleetwood, putting the final nail in the coffin on the Americans’ fruitless opening session.
After the match, McIlroy and Fleetwood were jubilant about their hard-fought win. When asked about his clutch tee shot on 17, McIlroy suggested it was one of the best of his life.
“I have hit a lot of good shots in my time. That’s right up there,” McIlroy said on Friday. “I didn’t know how close Patrick [Cantlay] had hit his, but I just wanted to give Tommy [Fleetwood] a chance to at least stay 1 up going down the last. I was pretty certain we weren’t going to go down the last, but if I keep hitting iron shots like that, then I’m going to have a pretty good week.”
As for how he approached the crucial moment, McIlroy revealed that he tried to keep it simple.
“Yeah, if anything, my poor shot recently has been a right shot. So I kept it simple: Keep a strong clubface going back, and fully release it on the way through, aim at the target and it never left the flag.”
As for Fleetwood’s opinion of Rory’s sparkling iron on 17, he kept it simple, too.
“It’s really cool,” Fleetwood said. “Rory is an unbelievable golfer.”