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updated: 9/26/2012 8:29 PM

Rory McIlroy a marked man at Ryder Cup

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  • Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Team Europe line up a shot on the third green during practice Wednesday for the Ryder Cup. McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, finished 1-1-2 in his Ryder Cup debut in 2010.

       Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Team Europe line up a shot on the third green during practice Wednesday for the Ryder Cup. McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, finished 1-1-2 in his Ryder Cup debut in 2010.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Rory McIlroy of Europe says he isn't concerned about playing a match against Tiger Woods. "I'm just going to go out and try and win my point. Whether that's against him or someone else, it doesn't really matter."

       Rory McIlroy of Europe says he isn't concerned about playing a match against Tiger Woods. "I'm just going to go out and try and win my point. Whether that's against him or someone else, it doesn't really matter."
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

There's a new sheriff in town this week at Medinah Country Club and he goes by the name of Rory McIlroy.

Four victories in 2012, including the PGA Championship and a pair of wins during the FedEx Cup playoffs, plus coming into the week as the world's No. 1 ranked golfer will do that to a guy.

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Despite the gaudy resume, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland isn't buying all the hype.

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

That's all well and good, but it still doesn't keep him from being a marked man by the U.S. squad this week.

"Rory is the guy that's playing the best golf in the world right now, and I agree, he's a guy that we all want to beat," Steve Stricker said. "He's always had this talent, but I think his ability to win and win a couple of majors, he's just gained all this confidence in the world that he can do it, and he's shown it."

"I don't think I have a bull's eye on my back," said McIlroy, who was 1-1-2 in his Ryder Cup debut two years ago in Wales. "I think it's a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me and whatever.

"Whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on."

One guy who no doubt is itching for that chance is Tiger Woods, a player who knows a little bit about coming into big events as the man to beat.

"It's part of being ranked No. 1. It's part of being consistent. It's part of winning major championships," Woods said. "You're always going to want to try and take out their best player, that's just part of the deal.

"I certainly have relished it over the years, and I'm sure he's going to relish it this week."

As for the chance to go up against Woods this weekend? Again, McIlroy wasn't biting.

"I'm just going to go out and try and win my point," he said. "Whether that's against him or someone else, it doesn't really matter."

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal isn't biting either, particularly when it comes to a possible McIlroy-Woods showdown in singles play on the final day of competition.

"Sunday will be what it will be," Olazabal said. "I know that all of you are very eager to see that match played, but we'll have to wait and see what happens … how the matches develop the next few days.

"We are all guessing here, and my guess is as good as yours.

"I know you're eager to see it, but I think the Ryder Cup is more important than that single match."

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