Rory McIlroy 'just part' of Europe

Updated: September 26, 2012, 6:47 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- At 23, Rory McIlroy is three years younger than any other player in the 24-man field in the Ryder Cup, and the one, currently, with the most accolades. He has won four times this year, including a major championship, and holds the No. 1 ranking, which brings an added burden of expectation.

This week at Medinah, though, McIlroy sees himself as nothing more than one spoke in the European team's wheel.

"This week I'm not the No. 1 player in the world," McIlroy said Wednesday morning before a practice round with his European teammates. "I'm one person on a 12-man team, and that's it. It's a team effort. There's 12 guys all striving towards the same goal. I'm just part of that."

If nothing else, McIlroy is learning to not stir things up at one of golf's biggest events.

Two years ago, on the eve of his first Ryder Cup in Wales, McIlroy tried to downplay its significance when he said it meant less than individual glory.

"If somebody asks me whether I'd rather sink the winning putt in the Ryder Cup or win a major, it's the major every day," he said "World championship or Ryder Cup? Win a world championship. At the end of the day you're going to be remembered for what you achieve in an individual sport."

McIlroy later backtracked to say his perception of the event changed after playing in the European victory at Celtic Manor, where he had a 1-1-2 record.

"I had played team golf before, but I had never played in a Ryder Cup," he said. "To me, the majors are still the biggest tournaments in golf and the tournaments that I want to win. But I got here, and my perception did change.

"To see everything ... I'd been to Ryder Cups before to watch, and I know how exciting they are and how special they are. But until you actually are involved and you play and you stand on that first tee on Friday morning, everyone screaming your name, and you see how important it is to everyone else ... as I've said before, you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for a lot of other people. I think that's what makes it so special and important."

McIlroy, who is expected to partner with fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell on Friday, said the Ryder Cup is different than any other event.

"You see that by the celebrations when someone holes a putt and the emotion that is generated just by this tournament," he said. "You don't see anyone getting this animated or this excited about any other golf tournament. I think that's what makes it so special."

McIlroy did get a bit testy when it was suggested by a questioner that he was moving to Florida because it was reported last week that his home in Northern Ireland is for sale.

For some time, McIlroy has made it clear that he will have a U.S. base near the Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla.

"I never said I was moving to Florida," McIlroy said, interrupting the questioner. He admitted he is selling his home, which also has a practice facility, in Northern Ireland.

"Doesn't make financial sense," McIlroy said of his keeping his home near Belfast, where his parents also have a home. "I don't spend enough time at home to warrant the running costs of a home like that and the practice facility."

The Press Association in Dublin reported last week that McIroy's five-bedroom house is on the market and being listed for 2 million pounds (about $3.2 million U.S.). The property includes a putting green, driving range and gym. The house was built in 2006 -- McIlroy bought it in 2009 -- and the property sits on 14 acres.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com