Europe’s 13th team member, the man who helped Rory McIlroy avoid a potentially embarrassing (and costly) situation at the Ryder Cup, said he was “just glad I could play my small part.”
Pat Rollins, the deputy chief of the Illinois Lombard Police Department, was the man who rushed McIlroy to Medinah Country Club on Sunday.
On Saturday night, McIlroy had read the tee times on his phone and mistakenly thought his starting time was 12:25 CT, not 11:25. It wasn’t until his manager, Conor Ridge, called to wish him good luck that he discovered the error.
Fortunately, Rollins was waiting downstairs at the team hotel. McIlroy hopped into the front seat of the cop car and said, “Just get me there. Just get me there.”
“Do you have motion sickness?” Rollins asked.
“No, I don’t care,” McIlroy said. “Just get me to that first tee.”
The world No. 1 arrived at the course 12 minutes before his tee time. He put on his shoes, scarfed down an energy bar, stroked a few practice putts and hurriedly walked to the first tee.
McIlroy’s opponent, Keegan Bradley, the U.S.’s hottest player, asked him, “'Is everything OK, no one’s hurt or anything?’ I told him everything was fine.”
“He was nervous,” Rollins said of McIlroy, according to BBC Radio 5 Live. “If I was in his shoes I’d have been as well. I had gone to the hotel to check in with our officers. I realized that one player had not come down from their room to get transported by the drivers to the course. He rode in the front passenger’s seat with me. We whisked him away up to the course. I had radioed ahead, just to make sure certain lanes of traffic were opened for us so we could make it to the course with time to spare.”
Despite the anxious start to his day, McIlroy still won the match, 2 and 1. And the Europeans, of course, staged an incredibly rally and retained the Ryder Cup, 14 ½ to 13 ½.
“They jokingly said if I hadn’t, the U.S. would have won the Ryder Cup,” Rollins said, according to the Irish Times. “But the Ryder Cup should be settled on the course, not in traffic. We would have done the same for any American or European player, though I must admit it was extra special that he is the world No. 1.”
On Monday night, McIlroy tweeted (the picture can be seen here):