(CNN) — While the sporting world awaits confirmation of his mega-money new sponsorship deal with Nike, Rory McIlroy has deflected attention to one of the other big stories on golf’s horizon this week — the naming of the next European Ryder Cup captain.
The world No. 1 was part of last year’s winning team, famously triumphing in his final-day singles match after needing a police escort to get to the Medinah course on time.
Jose Maria Olazabal stood down after guiding the Europeans to a remarkable come-from-behind win over the U.S. — and his assistants Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley were initially frontrunners for the 2014 role at Gleneagles in Scotland.
However, that changed when the Americans turned once again to Tom Watson, the last U.S. captain to triumph on European soil in 1993 and who won four of his eight major titles at Scottish links courses.
Tiger Woods, right, congratulates Rory McIlroy after Europe’s remarkable victory over the U.S. on the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup in September. The two are big rivals on the golf course, but a friendship has also blossomed this year.
Golf great Nick Faldo has questioned whether they should be so close. Sports psychologist Dan Abrahams says they would benefit from keeping a bit of distance. “In the heat of battle it becomes more difficult to emotionally detach yourself from that person’s performance if you’re good friends with that person,” he told CNN.
McIlroy has admitted idolizing Woods as a boy, but has now usurped him as golf’s No. 1. “Once they step on the first tee, those competitive juices are flowing and they’re focused either on their own game or beating each other,” Abrahams said.
They are following in golf’s great tradition of rivalries — most notably Jack Nicklaus, left, and Arnold Palmer. “The power of the mind and the capability of that mental discipline is what separates the good from the great,” sports leadership expert Khoi Tu told CNN. “That might allow them to become friends with people off the course, but not on the course.”
Formula One’s greatest rivalry was between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. “They absolutely detested each other,” Tu says. “They were two very different personalities, and often that’s one of the features of great sporting rivalries: Fire and ice.”
Fernando Alonso, left, has now twice been beaten to the F1 championship by Sebastian Vettel — who is widely rumored to be his teammate at Ferrari come 2014. “When you get two No. 1 drivers together with no team rules, then the sparks can really fly,” Tu says. “It’s rare for them to be good mates. They may get along, they may trust and respect each other in a professional capacity, but hanging out is a different issue.”
Former world champion Jackie Stewart, seen here playing with the children of F1 rival Graham Hill, was remarkably friendly with his peers, Tu says. “He was incredibly fond of a number of people who drove with him. That partly is because there was a clearer distinction of him being a number one and them being number two drivers.”
A new rivalry has grown in tennis this year between U.S. Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray, left, and childhood friend Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1. “People say that Murray and Djokovic are close but I think it’s rare,” Tu says. “The best sporting rivalries are the ones where there are these very distinct, almost opposite personalities, but they’re very close in terms of their competence.”
Rafael Nadal, left, ended the tennis dominance of Roger Federer but they have publicly expressed their friendship despite reports of arguments about on-tour issues. “As people get older they’ve done so much, broken lots of records, I think that competitive edge is slightly dulled,” Tu says. “That makes it easier to be friendlier. You can keep your dignity if you’re not crying every time you lose to a younger, faster athlete.”
Martina Navratilova, left, and Chris Evert had one of the biggest rivalries in women’s tennis. “They ended up as good buddies, but that was when the battling had been done,” Tu says. “All of the respect and friendship you get in sport comes through competence first — ‘ I know how hard it is to be this good, so I respect them for that.’ “
Fiery American John McEnroe, left, and ice-cool Swede Bjorn Borg created an iconic tennis rivalry. “When those two collided, at the height of tennis perfection, that’s when the audience is really enthused and enthralled,” Tu says. “To get that rivalry, they have to leave any friendship on the sidelines.”
Sometimes you get two great athletes, but they are too close to be proper rivals — such as tennis star Serena Williams, left, and her sister Venus. “The great things about sport is the sense of competition, the uncertainty of the outcome, the fairness of the playing field,” Tu says. “You might be able to suspend enough of your fraternal or sisterly love to play a decent game of tennis but it won’t reach the heights of the rivalries that make the sport.”
Muhammad Ali, left, “demonized” Joe Frazier to hype up their fights despite being showed respect outside the ring by his rival. “He came up with the gorilla term to create a spectacle, which he knew was important, but it revved himself up too,” Tu says. “He needed to have a real enemy. By the end of the (Manila) fight, he said that Frazier brought out the best of him.”
Then there’s modern football’s greatest rivalry — Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. “I’m not sure Messi is a rival with anyone, he still has that unique joy of just playing,” Tu says. “But I think with Ronaldo, the truth is Messi is his nemesis — and the fact that Messi doesn’t care makes it even worse.”
Great sporting rivalries
Dustin Johnson won the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii after finishing 16-under-par at the reduced three-round event on Monday. Play was abandoned the previous three days due to high winds.
Masters champion Bubba Watson pretends to tee off as his caddy Ted Scott holds a finger on the ball to keep it from blowing away during Sunday’s delayed opening round of the Tournament of Champions.
Charlie Beljan leans into the wind after taking a rehit on a tee shot on Sunday, when play was called off for the third day in a row in the PGA Tour’s season-opening event.
Winds reached almost 50 miles per hour at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii.
Scott Stallings shields himself from the wind and rain as he attempts to putt on the second hole green on Friday.
The $5.7 million tournament, which features 30 winners from the 2012 season, has been put back to a Tuesday finish with only 54 of the 72 holes potentially to be played.
PGA Tour’s 2013 opener hit by winds
Miguel Angel Jimenez celebrates with a glass of red wine and a cigar after becoming the European Tour’s oldest winner with victory at the age of 48 in November’s Hong Kong Open.
Jimenez and Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood toast Europe’s victory in the 2010 event at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales.
Jimenez sprays Jose Manuel Lara of Spain with champagne after his compatriot wins the 2010 Austrian Open.
Jimenez, puffing a trademark cigar, celebrates after winning the French Open in July 2010.
2010 was a big year for Jimenez, who won the first of three titles that season at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
Jimenez with ex-wife Monserrat after winning the European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship event in 2008.
He won the Hong Kong Open for the second time in 2007, having also triumphed at Fanling three years previously.
Jimenez won five tournaments in 2004, the last of which was the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany.
In 1997 Jimenez was assistant to team captain Seve Ballesteros as Europe retained the Ryder Cup at Spain’s Valderrama Golf Club — the first time it had been played outside of the U.S. and the UK.
His 1994 triumph at the Dutch Open was his second of 19 titles so far on the European Tour, having won his first in Belgium two years earlier.
Jimenez: Golf’s great celebrater
Since then Colin Montgomerie has been widely tipped to repeat his 2010 role, when Europe won at Celtic Manor, and the eight-time European Tour money list winner confirmed last week that he would be interested in the leading the team in his home country.
Read: Jamieson climbs out of ‘abyss’ to live the dream
“I thought it was between Darren and Paul until Darren said something, then my name was mentioned,” Montgomerie said ahead of the Volvo Champions event in South Africa, where he finished 18 shots behind Sunday’s victor Louis Oosthuizen.
“I’ve never canvassed, as I didn’t last time. I’ve not spoken to anybody about this. But I’ve always felt that if I was asked I would do it and that’s still the case.”
However, McIlroy — who played under Montgomerie — has firm opinions about who should be captain.
“Ryder Cup captaincy should be a 1-time thing,” the Northern Irishman said on his Twitter page.
“Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on. Would love to play under Paul McGinley in ’14.”
Bernard Gallacher, the last man to captain Europe more than once, agreed that Montgomerie should not return.
“Colin said himself, when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, he intends to compete on the American seniors tour the moment he turns 50 this summer,” the 63-year-old, who was skipper in 1991, ’93 and ’95, told the Scottish Daily Record newspaper.
“So he will very quickly become out of touch with the players on the main tour. What message would that send to the other worthy candidates who are queuing up for the job, having earned their right to the captaincy just as much as Colin?”
Read: Oosthuizen digs out a lead in Durban
One of the signatures holes on a new fantasy course at Mission Hills in China will see players attempt to hit a green surrounded by a noodle-style hazard complete with chopsticks.
A view from the tee of the shot facing the golfer on the chopsticks and noodles hole.
The Great Wall of China hole will provide a challenge with a difference for the golfers who play the new course.
A sketch of the design work behind a hole on the course, in which a mock-up of the Great Wall of China is threaded throughout its entire length.
A par 5 on the new course is dedicated to the ancient Mayan civilization, but golfers will have their work cut out if they stray off the fairway.
One of the holes is dedicated to the most popular animal in China, the giant panda, and this sketch illustrates the design features.
Work is well under way on the hole named “Panda-monium” ahead of the course opening in 2014.
The Birds Nest Stadium which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics is the inspiration for one of the greens on the new course.
This year the Mission Hills group hosted a World Golf Championship tournament, the HSBC Champions, on a bunker-laden course at its Shenzhen complex designed by former Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal. Ian Poulter is seen here on his way to winning the title.
Conventional golf tests such as the daunting 17th island hole at TPC Sawgrass in Florida often rely on water to provide the challenge with a small green to aim at.
President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and daughter Sasha tried their hand at mini golf on a holiday in Florida in 2010.
China’s crazy fantasy golf course
Rory McIlroy capped a sensational year with victory at the Dubai World Championship on Sunday. The Northern Irishman won five tournaments in 2012, including his second major, topped the money list on both the PGA and European Tours and ended the season as the world’s No. 1 player.
After a solid start to the season McIlroy’s year took off with victory at the Honda Classic in March. By holding off a chasing pack that included Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley, the 23-year-old became world No. 1 for the first time in his career.
After a mid-season slump, McIlroy roared back to form with an eight-shot victory at the PGA Championship to seal his second major triumph. It was the biggest winning margin in majors history, as he took the record from Jack Nicklaus — the game’s greatest ever player.
McIlroy was almost unstoppable now as he secured victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship to take the lead in the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup — the finale to their regular season.
The following week the 23-year-old was in the winner’s circle again, this time taking top honors at the BMW Championship. He became the first player to record back to back victories on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods in 2009.
McIlroy’s friendship with Tiger Woods blossomed during the 2012 season. The two even took each other on at an exhibition tournament in China in front of a huge crowd. McIlroy won by one shot. Both players reportedly shared $3 million for taking part.
If McIlroy was on song in the individual stakes, he more than played his part in Europe’s stunning comeback to win the Ryder Cup at Medinah in Chicago. McIlroy nearly forfeited his singles match by missing the start due to confusion over time zones, but earned a vital point for his side by beating Keegan Bradley as Europe eventually came back from 10-6 down to win 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.
McIlroy was watched every step of the way in Dubai by his girlfriend — tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
McIlroy on top of the world
Paul Lawrie, who tied for seventh at Durban Country Club on Sunday, has also spoken out against the chances of his compatriot Montgomerie.
“He’s had his go. One time job for me,” the 1999 British Open champion wrote on Twitter.
However, fellow professional Henrik Stenson, who was on the committee that first appointed Montgomerie, said the 49-year-old might yet be picked again on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
“No-one would question his passion for the Ryder Cup and the effort he put into the captaincy in 2010 and I am sure he would do the same and maybe more this time around if he was to be asked. So that might be a possible scenario,” the Swede told the Scotsman newspaper.
Olazabal, who finished joint last in the 33-man Volvo Champions tournament, said he would not be interested in taking the job again.
“First of all it’s a lot of energy and time, a huge demand and the pressure is quite big,” the Spaniard told the UK Press Association.
“Even if it was held in Spain again somewhere down the line I wouldn’t do it. Monty has also done it and was successful too. If I was him I wouldn’t do it again, but Monty is his own man.
“I am a strong believer that we have a generation of players that deserve the captaincy — and some might miss out because there are just too many. I think it’s right to give those guys a chance.”
Read : Colsaerts’ driving length stuns rivals
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods look on in amusement before banging a ceremonial gong to mark the start of their “Duel at Jinsha Lake.”
Both McIlroy and Woods, pictured above, had their handprints immortalized in clay as a lavish ceremony featuring drum majorettes and fireworks preceded their clash in the Chinese city Zhengzhou.
World No. 1 McIlroy cannot keep a straight face as the players pose at the first green, ahead of a clash reported to be paying the pair a combined total of $2 million.
“The scene was barely-controlled chaos,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck. “Some 3,000 fans streamed across the fairways, with soldiers locking arms in a human fence to keep the throngs off the greens.”
A course marshall practices kung fu as she awaits the golfers’ arrival.
“On the tee boxes there were so many camera clicks it sounded like machine gun fire,” Shipnuck wrote.
Local golf fans talk with one of the models who inhabited the greens in their evening wear in scenes seldom seen on any golf course.
Woods tries to maintain focus as a luxury boat passes by, with the clubhouse car park also boasting a collection of Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, Aston Martins and Maseratis.
Young fans show their support for McIlroy and Woods in a country that is seen as the next great market for golf to conquer.
McIlroy never trailed Woods after starting with a birdie, going on to card a five-under-par 67 — one less than the world No. 2.
McIlroy awaits his trophy on a day that coincided with the launch of the multi-million-dollar “Golf Villas” to be built around the Jinsha Lake course.
Duel at Jinsha Lake
Peter Hanson, center, and Francesco Molinari of Europe celebrate their team winning the 39th Ryder Cup on Sunday, September 30, in Medinah, Illinois. Europe produced the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history to defeat the United States and retain the trophy. See more of the best of CNN’s photography.
Nicolas Colsaerts, left, celebrates with fans after Europe beat the United States on Sunday. The biennial competition pits the best pro golfers from the United States against their European counterparts.
European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal holds the Ryder Cup at the closing ceremonies on Sunday.
Martin Kaymer is mobbed by the European team after he made the winning putt on the 18th green on Sunday to cinch the Ryder Cup.
Martin Kaymer of Europe celebrates making the decisive putt.
Martin Kaymer sets up the final putt on the 18th green.
Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrates after Martin Kaymer sinks his putt on the 18th green Sunday.
Martin Kaymer putts on the final hole Sunday to secure Europe’s win.
A U.S. fan high-fives Team Europe’s fans after their Ryder Cup victory on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy of Europe greets Tiger Woods on the 18th green after Europe defeated the United States 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup.
Europe’s Sergio Garcia, left, and Ian Poulter celebrate Sunday.
A European supporter watches the play during the singles matches on Sunday.
Justin Rose of Europe celebrates a birdie putt on the 18th green to defeat Phil Mickelson on Sunday.
Jason Dufner of the United States, left, shakes hands with Peter Hanson on the 18th green after Dufner defeated Hanson.
Davis Love III waits with some of his team on Sunday at the end of the singles matches.
Ian Poulter of Europe hits a shot from the rough on the 18th hole Sunday.
Europe’s Francesco Molinari celebrates with his caddie, Jason Hempleman, on the 18th green Sunday after his match with Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods waits on a hole during Sunday’s singles matches.
Fans reach for a golf ball Sunday on the 17th green.
Steve Stricker of the United States reacts to a missed putt on the 17th green as Martin Kaymer of Europe looks on during Sunday’s competition.
Jim Furyk of the United States lines up a putt with his caddie, Mike Cowan, on the 17th green.
Lee Westwood of Europe, left, shakes hands with Matt Kuchar on the 16th green after defeating him Sunday.
Steve Stricker of the United States lines up a putt on the 16th green during a match Sunday against Martin Kaymer of Germany.
Keegan Bradley of the United States plays a bunker shot on the 14th hole on Sunday.
Luke Donald of Europe hits from the drop zone Sunday on the 13th hole.
A message of support for Team Europe is written in the sky during the Sunday’s single matches. The United States started the day with a seemingly insurmountable 10-6 lead.
Graeme McDowell of Europe crosses a bridge during the singles matches on Sunday.
A U.S. fan watches the matches on Sunday.
Webb Simpson of the United States hits his tee shot on the 13th hole Sunday.
Luke Donald of Europe celebrates after saving bogey Sunday on the 13th green.
Martin Kaymer of Europe plays a bunker shot on the ninth hole Sunday.
Zach Johnson of the United States reacts to a shot on the ninth hole Sunday as Graeme McDowell, right, and his caddie, Ken Comboy, of Europe look on.
A U.S. team caddie wears patriotic shoes on Sunday.
Ian Poulter of Europe plays a bunker shot Sunday on the fourth hole.
Luke Donald of Europe watches his tee shot on the third hole Sunday.
Fans watch the play on the first tee during the singles matches of the Ryder Cup on Sunday.
Bubba Watson of the United States, left, greets Luke Donald of Europe on the first tee Sunday in Medinah.
Bubba Watson of the United States watches his tee shot on the first hole Sunday.
A sea of fans crowds around the first tee near the clubhouse Sunday.
Luke Donald of Europe plays a bunker shot on the fifth hole on Sunday.
Tiger Woods of the United States watches from the fairway on the first hole Sunday.
Tim Finchem, from left, Jack Nicklaus and Jeff Sluman watch the action on the first tee Sunday.
Keegan Bradley of the United States hits his tee shot on the first hole Sunday.
Rory McIlroy of Europe lines up a shot with his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald on the third tee on Sunday.
Team USA Assistant Captain Fred Couples stirs up the crowd during play Sunday.
Team Europe’s Luke Donald tees off from the first hole Sunday.
Ian Poulter of Europe celebrates after making a birdie on the first hole Sunday.
European fans cheer at the start of the final day of play at the 39th Ryder Cup on Sunday.
Keegan Bradley rallies U.S. fans on the first tee at the start of the day Sunday.
Team USA fans cheer from the stands Sunday.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush shakes hands with Fred Couples, assistant captain of Team USA on Saturday, September 29.
Bush reaches to shake the hands of spectators at the tournament Saturday.
Tiger Woods of the United States scopes out a putt on the 17th hole during four-ball play Saturday.
Team Europe’s Rory McIlroy laments a missed putt on the seventh hole during foursomes on Saturday.
Dustin Johnson of Team USA contemplates his next play on Saturday.
Webb Simpson of the United States waits in the fifth fairway with his caddie Paul Tesori on Saturday.
Team USA’s Phil Mickelson, left, and Team Europe’s Lee Westwood of England study the fifth green during a morning foursomes match on Saturday.
Ian Poulter of Europe lines up a putt on the 16th green on Saturday.
Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits his tee shot on the first hole Saturday afternoon.
Zach Johnson of American team reacts to a putt on the 12th hole on Saturday.
Webb Simpson of the United States plays a bunker shot on Saturday.
A crowd gathers at the 17th green on day two of the competition.
Sergio Garcia of Europe hits the second shot on the third hole on Saturday.
European fans watch the play from a golf cart during day two.
Keegan Bradley of the United States stares down a putt on Saturday.
A fan of the U.S. golfers watches the action.
Team Europe’s Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits out of the eighth hole’s tee box on Saturday.
Phil Mickelson of the United States drives with his wife Amy Mickelson on the 16th green.
Ian Poulter of Europe celebrates after holing a putt on the 12th hole Saturday.
Poulter and Justin Rose of Team Europe embrace after winning their match on Saturday.
Two U.S. fans watch the competition on Saturday.
Webb Simpson of the USA waits in the fifth fairway with his caddie Paul Tesori.
USA fans cheer on the first tee on Saturday.
Golfer Justin Rose of Europe lines up a putt on the first green.
A fan looks at a map on Saturday.
American Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the fourth hole as Lee Westwood of Europe looks on.
Graeme McDowell of Europe hits his tee shot on the first hole on Saturday.
Bubba Watson of the USA watches his tee shot on the second hole.
Keegan Bradley of the USA reacts after putting on the fifth green on Saturday.
A message is written in the sky in remembrance of Spanish golf legend Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer last year, during day two of the competition.
Keegan Bradley of the USA hits out of the bunker on the 16th green after defeating Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on Friday, September 28.
Keegan Bradley of the USA urges a putt to drop on the 15th green during the afternoon four-ball matches.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, right, jumps in the air while speaking with teammate Sergio Garcia of Spain, ssecond left, on the 10th fairway on Friday.
Americans Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson were paired in the afternoon four-ball matches on Friday.
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley celebrate on the 17th green with Amy Mickelson and Jillian Stacey after defeating Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell 2 and 1 during the afternoon four-ball matches on Friday.
McIlroy and McDowell, both of Northern Ireland, wait on the first tee on Friday afternoon.
McIlroy and McDowell walk across a bridge ahead of the gallery on Friday.
McIlroy reacts with dismay to his shot from the 10th fairway on Friday.
Fans watch the play on the 17th hole on Friday.
Tiger Woods makes birdie on the 16th hole in Friday’s afternoon matches.
Peter Hanson of Europe plays a bunker shot on the second hole during the afternoon four-ball matches on Friday.
Tiger Woods of the USA reacts to a poor tee shot on the 15th hole on Friday.
European fans watch the actiion in flamboyant outfits on Friday.
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley celebrate on the 15th green after defeating Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia during the morning foursome matches on Friday.
Martin Kaymer plays a bunker shot on the third hole during the afternoon four-ball matches on Friday.
European fans get into the spirit during the afternoon four-ball matches on Friday.
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker line up a putt during the morning foursome matches on Friday.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell of Europe get a ruling on their ball on the 18th hole Friday.
Team Europe’s Graeme McDowell chips onto the second hole’s green Friday.
Fans watch during the morning foursome matches Friday at the Medinah Country Club.
Keegan Bradley of the United States reacts after putting on the 14th green Friday.
Team Europe’s Graeme McDowell drives off the 15th tee Friday.
Luke Donald of England, left, and Sergio Garcia of Spain look over their putt on the sixth hole Friday.
Tiger Woods signs his glove for a fan who was struck in the head during his drive off the seveth tee on Friday.
Phil Mickelson plays a bunker shot on 10th tenth hole on Friday.
Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia of Europe line up a putt on the seventh hole on Friday.
Graeme McDowell of Europe watches a shot during the Morning Foursome matches of the Ryder Cup on Friday.
Phil Mickelson hits a shot on the fifth hole on Friday.
Keegan Bradley celebrates on the 15th green after he made birdie to defeat the team of Donald and Garcia during the Morning Foursome matches on Friday.
Rory McIlroy of Europe hits a shot onto the green on Friday.
Justin Rose of Europe celebrates on the fourth hole after a long putt at the 39th Ryder Cup Friday at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois.
Lee Westwood of Europe watches his tee shot on the first hole Friday.
Phil Mickelson of the United States kisses his wife Amy on the first tee Friday.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan waits on the first tee during the matches.
A fan of the European team watches the play.
USA fans cheer the players on the first tee Friday.
American golfer Tiger Woods chips on the first hole.
Steve Stricker of the United States hits a shot from the rough on the first hole.
Luke Donald of Europe hits his tee shot on the first hole.
Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia of Europe celebrate on the fifth green on Friday.
Phil Mickelson of the United States plays a bunker shot during the fourth and final preview day of the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on Thursday, September 27.
A Team Europe supporter watches the action Thursday.
Dustin Johnson, left, and Tiger Woods of the United States laugh during a practice round Thursday.
Phil Mickelson, left, was paired with Keegan Bradley on Thursday.
Fans wait for autographs during Thursday’s practice round.
Rory McIlroy of Europe kicks a PGA ball in between play of the practice round Thursday.
McIlroy takes a bow Thursday.
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Europe watches the play Thursday.
Ian Poulter of Europe stands over a ball in the fairway Thursday.
2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson, center, walks with U.S. teammate and U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson during a practice round Thursday.
McIlroy talks with vice captain Darren Clarke during the final preview day Thursday.
Zach Johnson, right, and Jason Dufner of the United States pratice putting on the 17th green Thursday.
Zach Johnson signs autographs for fans after finishing the 18th hole on Thursday.
Members of Team Europe practice Thursday.
Matt Kuchar chats with U.S. teammate Webb Simpson on the practice ground on Thursday.
Team U.S.’s Tiger Woods reaches for a golf ball on the practice ground on Thursday.
U.S. players Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson hit shots on the practice ground Thursday.
British fans wear their loyalties on their sleeves Wednesday, September 26.
Ian Poulter of Europe practices near his teammates’ golf bags Wednesday.
U.S.’s Jim Furyk plays his approach shot to the 12th green on Wednesday.
A U.S. fan takes photos Wednesday.
Members of the U.S. team practice Wednesday on the 13th green at Medinah, outside Chicago.
Patriotism is on display across the course Wednesday.
Jose Maria Olazabal serves as captain of the European team for this year’s Cup.
Photos: Best of Ryder Cup
The debate, which comes ahead of this week’s Abu Dhabi Championship featuring McIlroy and Tiger Woods, has taken some of the attention off Oosthuizen’s remarkable come-from-behind victory in Durban.
The South African has risen to a career-high fourth in the world rankings after wiping out Scott Jamieson’s five-shot lead within the first 11 holes of the final round.
The 2010 British Open champion shot six-under-par 66 to win by one stroke, denying the Scot his second win in the city in the space of a month.
It was his sixth victory on the European Tour, lifting him up to second in the Race to Dubai standings behind world No. 100 Jamieson, and his seventh top-10 finish in his last eight starts.
“It’s a great start to the year, I knew I had to come out and get my name up there,” the 30-year-old said.
Jamieson, who won the Nelson Mandela Championship in December to qualify for the limited field, almost forced a playoff when his eagle chip attempt at the last hole stopped just short of the hole.
“Louis’s a major champion — there’s no shame in losing to him,” the 29-year-old said.
Meanwhile, rookies Russell Henley and Scott Langley took a three-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday.
The Americans were being chased by South African Tim Clark, while another newcomer — Australian Scott Gardiner — was tied for fourth with U.S. tour stalwart Charles Howell.
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