• Ryder Cup

Westwood dismisses talk of McIlroy grudge

ESPN staff
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Lee Westwood insists he and Rory McIlroy remain good friends © Getty Images
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Lee Westwood has moved to dismiss ongoing speculation of a rift between him and Rory McIlroy - saying he would be delighted to play with the world No. 1 at the forthcoming Ryder Cup.

Reports of a disagreement between Westwood and McIlroy began after the Northern Irishman left ISM, the sports agency that represented both players, in late 2011. Westwood subsequently branded the decision "bizarre", as both players - previously thought to be close - began to keep their distance.

Westwood, however, has denied that there was ever any personal animosity - insisting that the pair remain good friends after catching up at the recent BMW Championship.

"There is nothing there," Westwood told the Daily Telegraph. "Fans must watch us having banter on the course thinking, 'So where is this grudge?' So he left the management company I'm with. So what? It was a business decision. There is nothing personal with me."

The news might come as a relief to European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who may have wondered how the two men might react around one another during the three-day event in Chicago.

"We were talking about it as we were going around Crooked Stick," Westwood said. "I said to him, 'Have you had any thoughts about who you are playing with at Medinah? Because if nobody else wants to play with you and you're desperate, I really don't mind filling in'. We had a laugh about that."

He added: "There's nothing between us personally that would get in the way [of playing together at the Ryder Cup]. Who wouldn't want to play with Rory when he's in this nick? I'd love to. It would be good.

"In fact, it would probably be way better than good, particularly in the four-balls. We'd make a ton of birdies."

McIlroy is the in-form player in world golf at the moment and Westwood, not usually known for praising his rivals, admitted the 23-year-old had come into his own as both a golfer and a man.

"We had a right good battle in Indiana [at the BMW] and I did come away a little disappointed as I hit it inside Rory for most of the day. But I'm impressed with Rory," said Westwood. "He's learned to believe in his own talents and has plainly worked hard to get there.

"You can't play the young, immature card with him any more. Rory's a man, he's 23 and he's a mature and rounded golfer. Winning is a habit and he's obviously addicted at the moment. It's good to see."

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