McIlroy, who was scheduled to play a singles tie against Keegan Bradley at 11.25am Chicago time on Sunday , turned up at the Medinah course in the back of an unmarked police car at 11.14. He was greeted by a bank of American fans chanting "central time zone", McIlroy spreading his arms to acknowledge them.
The world No1's father, Gerry, said that McIlroy, who in the end beat Bradley 2&1, had believed his tee time was an hour later and calls from the course to the player's hotel room initially went unanswered.
Television bulletins on Thursday evening consistently reported McIlroy and Bradley as playing as 12.25; that was the schedule for the match in Eastern Time, one hour ahead of Chicago, which seems to have fooled the player.
Of an embarrassing episode for the European team, their captain José María Olazábal said: "I didn't have this in mind. We suddenly realised that Rory was not here and we finally got hold of him." McIlroy arrived on the practice putting green clutching energy bars and a bottle of water.
After his match had finished the Northern Irishman said: "It's the most nervous I have ever been driving to a golf course. If I was playing for myself it would be fine – it would be my own fault. But if I let down these other 11 boys and vice-captains and the captain and everyone supporting us this week, I would never have forgiven myself. I am just so happy to get the point and help the cause out a bit today.
"I was in a police car, beside a policeman. He was getting through traffic. I got here with about 10 minutes to spare, put my shoes on, couple of putts. Just your average monthly medal back at the course."When I saw the match-up I liked it. I liked that I was playing one of the strongest players – put a point on the board early for the team."
McIlroy has previous for poor timekeeping. Despite cantering to an eight-shot victory in this season's final major, the USPGA Championship, the 23-year-old later explained how it took parental intervention to ensure he made his final-round tee time. Due to weather delays, McIlroy played 36 holes on that Sunday.
"Something that people don't know is that I went back home [between the third and fourth rounds]," McIlroy explained. "Everyone was talking about how I showed back up about half an hour before my tee time on the last day.
"I actually took a nap and my dad had to come wake me up because I overslept. He said to me, 'Rory, you realise you have to play some golf this afternoon.' I was like, 'I didn't know where I was.'"
Olazábal paid tribute to the United States captain, Davis Love, who agreed to Europe's request for the donning of navy and white colours on Sunday. That outfit was picked in tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, in what is the first Ryder Cup since the legendary golfer's death.
"Davis was extremely understanding because he had it in mind for the United States to wear blue on the last day," Olazábal said. "But when we explained the reason for wanting to wear navy blue he immediately accepted our reasoning. It was a terrific gesture on Davis's part and one all of Team Europe appreciated."
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