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McIlroy relieved to dodge 'abuse'
Rory McIlroy shudders to think what the reaction would have been if he had missed the Ryder Cup singles in Chicago and Europe had lost by a point - both of which nearly happened.
Instead the world number one, given a police escort from the team hotel after believing he was teeing off an hour later on the final day than he actually was, was able to celebrate arguably the greatest ever victory in the history of an event that has served up one pulsating contest after another in recent years.
"I don't want to imagine what it would have been like if we'd lost by a point and I'm glad that I'm not - but of course it crossed my mind," said McIlroy as the magnitude of Europe's recovery from 10-4 down to win 14.5-13.5 began to sink in. "The abuse that you guys would have given me in the papers, but I'm just glad I got here, I won my point for the team and we ended up winning."
The 23-year-old then gave a blow-by-blow account of his pre-round drama, adding: "I woke up at nine to call Caroline (girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki) in Beijing and after that I was just hanging around.
"For some reason I had it in my head I was playing at 12.25 instead of 11.25. I read the tee times on my phone - they are obviously on Eastern time and it's Central time here.
"I got a couple of missed calls from a funny number about half 10 and was thinking 'who's that?', so I didn't answer. Then I got a call from Conor Ridge, my manager, at 11 asking if I was at the golf course yet."
The Northern Irish superstar, due to play unbeaten Keegan Bradley in the third game, admitted he instantly realised the consequences of not making it in time - five minutes late and he would have been disqualified, handing America the first point of the day and a five-point lead.
"I was just lucky there was a State Trooper downstairs who could take me, get his lights on and pass all the traffic," he said. "Once we got off the highway it would have taken 10 minutes without him to get through that junction.
"I've never been so worried going to a golf course. I got to the course at 11.14, so I had 11 minutes to get ready and had just enough time to put my shoes on, have a couple of putts and go to the first tee.
"In a way it wasn't a bad thing because I didn't have time to think about it - and I played probably the best I played all week. Once I got out on the course I calmed down a bit. Keegan asked if everything was okay and I said 'it's fine' - we had a laugh."