Northern Ireland

Rory McIlroy's Ryder Cup escort policeman has no regrets

Europe's Ryder Cup winning team has many heroes, but an American policeman hailed for his major role in the remarkable comeback says he has no regrets about his unlikely starring role.

Pat Rollins, deputy chief of Lombard Police Department in Illinois, is the man who Rory McIlroy can thank for getting him to the course in the nick of time, after he almost missed his singles match.

The Northern Ireland golfer needed a police escort to dash to the course after confusion over when he was supposed to tee off.

Mr Rollins said he had gone to the player's hotel to speak to some colleagues when they realised McIlroy still had not come down to be taken to the Medinah course, near Chicago.

"He was nervous, but appeared to be focused and knew what he had to do," he told Colin Murray on BBC Radio Five Live.

"If I was in his shoes, I would be nervous as well."

While McIlroy sat in the front passenger seat of the patrol car, Mr Rollins, who is a golf fan, said they did not have much time to chat about the sport.

"He was receiving a lot of phone calls and keeping them updated, so we had minimal conversation back and forth, but he was a great gentleman," he said.

"I had radioed ahead when I got closer to the course to let officers working the traffic detail know to keep certain lanes open so we could make it there with time to spare."

The US team were winning 10-6 at that point, and if McIlroy had not made it in time, there is every chance Europe's stunning comeback would not have happened.

If McIlroy was two minutes late, he would have forfeited the opening hole against Keegan Bradley; if he was five minutes late, he faced disqualification, but he made it with 10 minutes to spare.

Despite the United States team's loss, Mr Rollins said he would do the same thing again.

"The competition was on the course, not the road," he said.

"I'm getting ribbed on both sides of it, but in the end I'm proud of the Lombard Police Department.

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Media captionGolfing legend Gary Player talks to BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme.

"We did the right thing and we would have done it for either team."

The rest of the European team had spent at least an hour at the course preparing for their matches, but Mcllroy's late arrival meant he was only able to hurriedly eat an energy bar and take a few practice swings to loosen up before having to dash to the first tee.

"I was just casually strolling out of my hotel room when I got a phone call saying, 'You have 25 minutes'. I have never been so worried driving to the course," McIlroy explained.

"Luckily there was a State Trooper outside who gave me the escort. If not, I would not have made it on time.

"I had read my tee time on my phone, but it was just one of those things. I got here in the front of a police car, at least it wasn't in the back!"

In the end, the Holywood golfer just made it in time to see off Bradley, sealing a 2 and 1 victory.

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