“Where is Ro-ry!” chanted the American fans in the grandstand surrounding the first tee at Medinah Country Club.
Word had traveled fast, even faster than Rory McIlroy had, arriving at the course in an unmarked police car about 15 minutes prior to his tee time for Sunday’s singles matches at the Ryder Cup.
It’s a familiar scene to almost anyone who has ever been late for a tee time, but this was McIlroy, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, nearly forfeiting a match at the Ryder Cup. And boy, wouldn’t that have been something? The fans sure had fun with it, turning the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” into a sarcastic serenade: “Rory, Rory, where are you? Rory, Rory, where are you? Rory, Rory, where are you? Your tee time is right now.”
Well, he made it. But just barely, trotting up the stairs out of the clubhouse with less than 10 minutes to spare. Just enough time to swing a couple clubs beside the practice green, hit a few putts, wolf down a breakfast bar, and then walk across the bridge to the first tee for his match against U.S. rookie star Keegan Bradley in the third match of the day.
What happened? Apparently, McIlroy mistakenly thought his tee time was at 12:25 p.m., as he’d seen it listed on the Golf Channel on TV. Problem is, that was the Eastern Time Zone listing. Medinah is in suburban Chicago – in the Central Time Zone.
“All of the sudden we realized Rory was not here and we started to look for him,” said Jose Maria Olazabal, the European team captain. “We finally got a hold of him.”
McIlroy’s first tee shot found the right rough, but he and Bradley both parred the first three holes Sunday. McIlroy then birdied the next two holes and led 1-up through five holes.