McIlroy's stunning season and rise to No1 in the world renders him the most prominent member of the European side. Furyk, who earned a wild-card pick for the United States, will also line up against the 23-year-old during this week's Tour Championship at East Lake.
"He's the number one player in the world," said Furyk. "He's going to garner all the attention, as he well should. He has played phenomenal this year. He won his last two events and no matter how he plays here at the Tour Championship, right now he's the present-day Tiger Woods, where everyone's eyes are on him. Tiger is still Tiger; I think everyone would love to see that pairing in the Ryder Cup."
Furyk added: "It's a whole new dynamic, a whole different type of game in matchplay. But he is the best player in the world right now and he's going to be the toughest guy to beat."
Greg Norman has offered a damning critique of Woods' current position by claiming the former world No1 is cowed by McIlroy. "What I'm seeing is that Tiger's really intimidated by Rory," said Norman. "When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never. But I think he knows his time's up and that's normal; these things tend to go in 15-year cycles. Jack Nicklaus took it from Arnold [Palmer]. I took it from Jack, Tiger from me and now it looks like Rory's taking it from Tiger."
There is thought to be little love lost between Norman and Woods but the Australian's sentiment is still notable. "I used to say in my early or even mid-20s that it doesn't take long for a Rolls-Royce to warm up. But the older you get, you can't do that any more," Norman said. "By the time you get to your mid-30s, the repetitive motion of hitting a golf ball leads to all kinds of issues and, if you look at Tiger, you can see that's true. He's got achilles problems, knee problems; the signs are all there of a decay that's inevitable.
"Everyone needs a mentor in life and his dad was his. You can lose your direction – and he did, especially off the course – because your go-to person is not there. I think his real problem now is: Who does he go to? Who does he lean on? Look at Tiger's putting stroke. It used to be rock solid. Now, it changes from Fridays to Saturdays. And that comes from pushing too hard, wanting to win that major so badly."
Davis Love III, the United States captain, has admitted his steps to give Medinah a slightly easier set-up will favour his team.
"I told them to cut the rough," said Love. "Our guys are long hitters, kind of free-wheeling players, so I didn't want there to be rough that you had to just chip out of. It's going to look like a major, but it's going to play probably easier than a major. That benefits our team."
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image: © Ed McDonald