Rory McIlroy has increased confidence about Europe’s Ryder Cup chances and has backed the selection of Swedish youngster Ludvig Aberg.
McIlroy admits earlier this year he had concerns about Europe’s prospects in the match against the United States.
“I thought we were going to have a really tough time but the closer we’ve got to the cup, the more I’m liking what the team has become,” he said.
McIlroy described 23-year-old rookie Aberg “as an unbelievable player”.
The Swede only turned professional in June but victory at the European Masters in Switzerland – a week after finishing fourth at the Czech Masters – convinced Europe’s captain Luke Donald to name him as one of his six wildcards.
“There were a few of us who were saying that it was a no-brainer but people hadn’t seen him play in Europe and then he comes over and finishes fourth and wins in Switzerland,” added McIlroy in an interview with BBC Sport Northern Ireland on the eve of this week’s Irish Open at The K Club.
“The people over here who maybe were a little bit sceptical about it all realised what the hype was all about. He’s probably got one of my favourite swings in the world.”
With the likes of Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood not eligible for selection following their move to LIV Golf, McIlroy added that this year was inevitably going to be a “transitional time for Europe”.
“There was going to be a lot of rookies on the team with a few of those older guys making some decisions that didn’t allow them to be a part of it any more.
“Someone like Ludvig, Nicolai Hojgaard and Bob MacIntyre – I think it’s great to have them on the team because it injects a fresh, youthful exuberance into the whole dynamic of the week which is really cool.
“I think we’ve got a great chance. There’s a really good mix of experience and youth in there. I think we’re in a really good spot heading to Rome.”