Azinger - We must stop McIlroy
America's last victorious Ryder Cup captain, Paul Azinger, insists stopping Rory McIlroy will be the key to a US win at Medinah.
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK
Last Updated: 21/09/12 12:31pm
Paul Azinger, mastermind of the last US Ryder Cup victory, insists stopping Rory McIlroy will be the key to America regaining the trophy at Medinah next week.
Azinger received widespread acclaim for his captaincy of the US side at Valhalla in 2008 when he ended a run of three straight European wins with a 16½-11½ triumph.
The 52-year-old was hailed as having outfoxed counterpart Nick Faldo after devising a 'pod system' which involved splitting his 12 players up into three groups of four like-minded players.
Azinger's victory remains the only one achieved by the Americans this century and he feels world number one McIlroy must be nullified if that statistic is to change.
"The key to this Ryder Cup is Rory McIlroy," Azinger stated. "Just like we used to do with Seve Ballesteros, and Europe has done with Tiger, the US has to find Rory.
"Figure out what slot he's in, either teaming up with Graeme McDowell or in the singles, and put our hottest players against him.
"And if they aren't our biggest names, all the better, because then they'll have everything to gain. If we can beat Rory, we win this Ryder Cup."
McIlroy's stock could not be higher at present given that he has won three out of his last four events, starting with the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island last month.
Back-to-back victories in the FedEx Cup play-offs have followed and at East Lake this week he is bidding to secure a $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship.
The Americans certainly appear to have the Northern Irishman in their sights with Ryder Cup veteran Jim Furyk this week insisting that the 23-year-old will be a "marked man" in Chicago.