MEDINAH, Ill. — Next time the Illinois State Police need donations, their first call should be to Rory McIlroy.
The world’s No. 1 golfer needed a police escort to make it to the first tee on time Sunday after mixing up his time zones. He made it with 10 minutes to spare, giving him just enough time to scarf down an energy bar, take a few strokes on the putting green and hustle to the tee.
“I’ve never been so worried driving to the golf course before,” McIlroy said. “Luckily there was a state trooper who gave me the escort to here. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have got here in time.”
McIlroy was reading tee times on his phone and saw that his match with American Keegan Bradley was teeing off at 12:25 p.m.
One problem: That was Eastern time. Medinah Country Club, near Chicago, is in the Central time zone.
“All of a sudden we realized Rory was not here, and we started to look for him,” European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said. “Nobody knew.”
Getting a lift in an unmarked squad car, McIlroy pulled up at the Medinah clubhouse 10 minutes before he and Bradley went off.
Fans were well aware of his gaffe, and they serenaded him with chants of “Central time zone” and “What’s your tee time?”
“It’s my own fault, but if I let down these 11 other boys and vice captains and captains this week I would never forgive myself,” McIlroy said.
After McIlroy launched his opening drive well to the right, he recovered for a 2-and-1 victory to help fuel the Europeans’ victory.
SNEAKING A PEEK
Englishman Luke Donald looked. American Dustin Johnson tried not to.
Only the Europeans were glad they peeked.
Scoreboard-watching turned into a competition of its own Sunday. Some players avoided even one glance, admitting they were afraid of the added pressure it might pile on their match.
“I tried not to look all day,” Johnson said after his 3-and-2 victory over Nicolas Colsaerts. “I had a tough match as it is.”
Donald, who went off in the opening match against Bubba Watson, knew he’d be the first one finished and that he’d have plenty of time to see how things were going for the Europeans. Still, he couldn’t resist.
“I had a sneak peek at the board,” he said, “a couple of times.”
He could afford to. The Englishman built a lead at the second hole that he never relinquished before taking a 2-and-1 triumph.
Tiger Woods’ record in Ryder Cup singles is 4-1-2, and both halves came against Italians. He halved with Costantino Rocca in his first Ryder Cup in 1997, and with Francesco Molinari in Sunday’s final match. … Phil Mickelson set the U.S. record for matches played, at 38. He also set a record for most singles losses, with five. … Steve Stricker was the first U.S. captain’s pick to go 0-4. Curtis Strange was 0-3 in 1995.