McIlroy on the Ryder Cup: Where's the controversy?

May 14, 2009

Rory McIlroy is taking some heat for dismissing the Ryder Cup for what it is, an exhibition, albeit at times an exciting one.

"It's not a huge goal of mine," he said. "It's an exhibition at the end of the day. In the big scheme of things it's not that important an event for me."

Among those to take exception was European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie. "It's not an exhibition and it never will be. It's a unique, special event and much more nerve-wracking than a major," Montgomerie told the Mirror.

Where's the controversy? Bigger names than McIlroy have downplayed the importance of the Ryder Cup, Woods and Nicklaus among them.

Nicklaus, at the Memorial last year: "Give me a break. I mean, is it a nice event? It's a great event. Is it different? Absolutely it's different. Is it exciting? Absolutely it's exciting. But it's a goodwill event. It's for bragging rights. I think the U.S. Open or the Masters or British Open, it's a little bit more than bragging rights. You go back and tell me who won the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup ten years ago, or whatever it is. Who was the star player? You couldn't. Not even close."

Woods, meanwhile, when was asked in 2002 whether he'd rather win the Ryder Cup or the WGC-American Express Championship, he cited the latter. "Why? I can think of a million reasons," he said, referring to the $1 million winner's prize.

At the Ryder Cup in 2004, Woods downplayed the importance of the Ryder Cup compared with major championships in a news conference.

"I'm sure all of you guys probably know what Jack's record is in the Ryder Cup, right?" he asked the assembled media. "Anybody? No? How many majors did he win?''

-- John Strege