Ryder Cup: Rory McIlroy happy to be in US sights at Gleneagles

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McIlroy happy to be United States' number one target
2014 Ryder Cup, Gleneagles
Dates: 26-28 September. Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, highlights on BBC Two and live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website each day via desktop, mobile, tablet and app.

Rory McIlroy says he is relishing the prospect of being the European player that America will be gunning for at this week's Ryder Cup.

McIlroy, 25, may play all five sessions and the US are likely to feel early wins over the world number one would represent a psychological blow.

"Any time the opposition starts to talk about you, that's a huge compliment," said the Northern Irishman.

"I don't mind that at all. They can come at me."

Last week American captain Tom Watson revealed he will emphasise to his players how significant victories over McIlroy would be in the visitors' bid to regain the Cup.

And in his first press conference at Gleneagles on Monday, Watson added: "When you beat the stud on the other side [McIlroy] it gives a boost to your team."

Given his status after back-to-back major wins in the summer, McIlroy accepts he has a big responsibility in Europe's team - but says he is comfortable with that role as he prepares for his third Ryder Cup.

"It gives me a little bit of a boost to try and go out there and play well," added the Northern Irishman, who is the reigning Open and US PGA champion.

McIlroy was one of the first European players to arrive at Gleneagles on Sunday, ahead of the first official team meeting on Monday evening.

Over the weekend, McIlroy announced that his charitable foundation would be the official hosts of next year's Irish Open at Royal County Down and the four-time major champion is hoping to continue that link-up with his national open for "years to come".

McIlroy revealed he has already spoken to a number of big-name players from both the PGA Tour and European Tour about next year's event at Royal County Down.

"I am pretty close with a lot of guys on tour and I'm sure I will persuade a few of them to come over to play, which is going to be a huge deal.

"A lot of the US Tour guys played in the Walker Cup [at Royal County Down] in 2007. I've already talked to a few of them about coming over and obviously a few others as well."

That US Walker Cup line-up from seven years ago included Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson, who will be in action for Tom Watson's team at Gleneagles this week.

Recent FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel also played in the Royal County Down match, as did Dustin Johnson and Chris Kirk.

McIlroy also said on Monday that he would be making efforts to attract further sponsorship for the Irish Open.

In recent years, the event has been mainly bankrolled by the European Tour although a number of companies have also provided financial backing.

"We're trying to get some companies on board and just trying to make it a bigger and better tournament. I'm excited to be involved and it shows my commitment to Irish golf and the European Tour."

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