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The two-time major champion and No. 1-ranked player in the world apparently got confused when he saw his tee time listed as 12:25 p.m. ET. Medinah is in the Central time zone, and McIlroy was scheduled to tee off at 11:25 a.m. CT.
"I was just casually walking out of my hotel room and got a phone call saying you've got 25 minutes until you tee off. I've never been so worried driving to the golf course," he said. "Luckily, there was a state trooper outside who kind of gave me the escort to here, and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have got here in time. So I just ran into the clubhouse, got my shoes on and picked it up on the first tee."
Word spread around Medinah that McIlroy was not on the property as the second twosome was teeing off. McIlroy was in the third group.
American fans began chanting "Where is Rory? Where is Rory?'' and serenaded him with "Central ... time zone" as he was spotted getting in some warm-up swings on the putting green. McIlroy did not have time to go to the driving range to hit practice balls.
Had McIlroy arrived five minutes or less late to the first tee, he would have been assessed a loss of hole, as the Ryder Cup is contested as match play. Had he arrived more than five minutes late, he would have been disqualified.
McIlroy came off the stairs leading to the first tee -- at 11:22 a.m. CT -- with a sheepish grin on his face and had no time to warm up. He promptly launched his opening drive well right of the fairway, the ball coming to rest in a nest of TV cables.
McIlroy recovered quickly, however. His approach shot landed just short of the green, and he chipped to within inches. He and Bradley gave each other their short putts and halved the hole with pars.
McIlroy won the match, beating Bradley with a 2-and-1 victory.
"I played great. I was very solid out there today," he said. "Didn't really do much wrong. He made a few mistakes and I took advantage of that."Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.