Rory McIlroy drops retirement hint at Ryder Cup with one eye on the future of Team Europe

Rory McIlroy plans to play in at least a “few more” Ryder Cups with Europe going through a changing of the guard this year.

Rory McIlroy has ruled out retiring any time soon with hopes of being part of the next generation of European stars to take the Ryder Cup by storm in the next few years. At 34 years of age, McIlroy is now one of the more senior players on Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

The old guard of Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have all been moved on – involuntarily due to their involvement with LIV Golf. Only Justin Rose, 43, and Shane Lowry, 36, are older than McIlroy on Luke Donald’s squad of 12 for this year’s Ryder Cup team.

It’s also McIlroy’s seventh consecutive Ryder Cup having made his debut in the biennial competition back in 2010. Most players are fortunate if they get to feature in one Ryder Cup in their careers but McIlroy is well on his way to breaking records.

Phil Mickelson holds the record for most Ryder Cups played in [12] while Nick Faldo and Westwood played in 11 each. For McIlroy to get close to matching that tally he’ll need to play in the next four Ryder Cups taking him to his 42nd birthday.

Europe’s changing of the guard this year has made McIlroy take stock on his own career. But the four-time major champion is hopeful that he can still play a part of the new-look European squad.

‚ÄúThere was a bit of fresh blood came in and they were embraced,” McIlroy said. “We know the future of this team is Bob MacIntrye, Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard.

“Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm are going to be leaders of the team for a long time so it was a bit of a changing of the guard this year but the new guys were embraced by the group that were here already. There was one eye on this week but also one on the future of this team and I just hope I can play a few more alongside them.”

McIlroy ended the 2023 Ryder Cup with four points – more than any other player on either team. His only loss came in Saturday’s fourballs alongside Matt Fitzpatrick as he played a huge role in Europe regaining the Ryder Cup.

The golfing superstar is often a picture of emotion at the Ryder Cup as he wears his heart on his sleeve. A confrontation with Joe LaCava on Saturday evening saw McIlroy boil over into a fit of rage that threatened to derail his weekend.

But McIlroy was able to refocus heading into Sunday and was delighted that his time saw out the result. He added: “I came out here with a different level of focus, a different level of determination – I think, in a way, it gave the whole team a bit of fire in our bellies and I just wanted to win another point for Europe.

“Ever since Whistling Straits, I was so disappointed in my performance there, so to come here to Rome and win four points, it means a lot to me so hopefully we can get it done.”

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