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Ryder Cup Diary McIlroy remembers first Clarke meeting

Rory McIlroy recalled a fond first meeting with Darren Clarke while celebrities took to the course at Hazeltine.

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With the 41st Ryder Cup matches now just three days away, anticipation is hotting up ahead of this week's proceedings at Hazeltine.

The two captains - Darren Clarke and Davis Love III - faced the media as did the likes of Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth on Tuesday.

Here we look at some of main talking points from the day's build-up in Minnesota.



Those keen to get a window into possible selections for the foursomes and fourballs were provided with an opportunity to speculate as the players hit the course for practice rounds.

For the United States, Rickie Fowler was joined by Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker. Dustin Johnson went round with Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Spieth while J.B. Holmes, Brooks Koepka, Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker practiced together.

Meanwhile, for Europe, Martin Kaymer spent his day practicing with Rafael Cabrera Bello, Danny Willett and Lee Westwood.

Thomas Pieters, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick formed the second practice group with McIlroy, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan and Sergio Garcia also going round as a quartet.



Camaraderie is a key part of any team's success, but, if you believe world number three McIlroy, Cabrera Bello and Garcia have taken their friendship to another level.

Asked to name the two guys who are in the biggest bromance on the European team, McIlroy replied: "Rafa and Sergio."


Bubba Watson missed out on the final wildcard spot in the American team as Love plumped for Moore instead.

Watson was however picked as a vice-captain by Love and the two-time Masters champion seems happy with that consolation.

The world number seven posted a picture on Twitter of himself smiling at the first tee with the caption "1st tee Ryder Cup!!! #GoUSA".


For McIlroy, playing under compatriot Clarke at the Ryder Cup holds a special significance.

McIlroy first met Clarke on his 10th birthday and remembers the encounter fondly. "I was in awe, he'd just won the matchplay from that year against Tiger, he'd been on a great run, he was a top-10 player in the world," McIlroy said. 

"First time to meet him it was a great birthday for me, I was chipping around the practice green and so was he and I remember him saying: 'practice, practice, practice' that's always been his motto.

"That day has always stuck with me and this week all those memories come rushing back of the times we spent together. Here we are on the biggest stage, able to play under him as Ryder Cup captain, I'm very much looking forward to that."



Tuesday also saw the USA and Europe battle it out in a celebrity match, with famous faces from sport and entertainment on show.

One Direction star Niall Horan formed part of the European contingent, but was unable to keep his tee shot at the first straight, his effort pulling to the left.

Horan was joined by former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, tennis legend Martina Navratilova and World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero among others.

Swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, headlined the US team, with musician Huey Lewis and actors Kurt Russell and Bill Murray playing alongside him.

The Americans will be hoping to avoid another Ryder Cup groundhog day on Sunday.

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