GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- If the pre-event motivational speeches are of much impact, then Rory McIlroy is 1-up headed to the first tee at Gleneagles.
The world's No. 1-ranked player called it the "highlight of the week so far" to be in the presence of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson at a European team function on Tuesday night in advance of the Ryder Cup.
"Not everyone in that room is a Manchester United fan, and they made that known. But [it] was very useful, because we got to ask some questions, just about what he thought was the key element to being successful and successful as a team."Rory McIlroy, on former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson
Ferguson, who retired last year after much success leading one of the world's most famous football clubs, was invited to speak to the team by European captain Paul McGinley.
"I was just sitting there and looking up at him and I didn't take my eyes off him," McIlroy said Wednesday at Gleneagles, where practice continued for the 40th Ryder Cup, which begins Friday. "I was sort of in this trance just listening to everything that he was saying and I'm sort of thinking, this is all the stuff that he's probably said to Manchester United teams over the years.
"He told us a couple stories just of past experiences in some big game and big matches, and some of the players that he managed, and it was a great evening. It was a really cool thing to be a part of.''
Ferguson led Manchester United for 27 years -- or more than the lifetime of McIlroy, 25, who grew up in Northern Ireland.
When he won the Open at Royal Liverpool in July, McIlroy referenced Manchester United and was booed.
"Not everyone in that room is a Manchester United fan, and they made that known," McIlroy said. "But [it] was very useful, because we got to ask some questions, just about different things and what he thought was the key element to being successful and successful as a team.
"He's a very inspirational sort of man when he talks. He's got a lot of authority and the room just goes quiet and everyone listens."
McIlroy likened the favorites' role and home advantage that United has typically had as it relates to the Europeans playing in Scotland.
"United were obviously favorites and whenever he was managing, they made Old Trafford [United's home stadium in Manchester] a bit of a fortress," McIlroy said. "And when teams went there, it was very hard to compete against United. He was just talking about that.
"We're slight favorites [in the Ryder Cup] for a reason. We deserve to be. We've played well this year. It's not something that we should shy away from. It's something that we should embrace."