- Associated Press - Sunday, September 30, 2012

MEDINAH, ILL. (AP) - Next time the Illinois State Police are looking for donations, their first call should be to Rory McIlroy.

The world’s No. 1 golfer needed a police escort to make it to the first tee on time Sunday after mixing up his time zones. He made it with 10 minutes to spare, giving him just enough time to scarf down an energy bar, take a few strokes on the putting green and hustle to the tee.

“I’ve never been so worried driving to the golf course before,” McIlroy said. “Luckily there was a state trooper who gave me the escort to here. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have got here in time.”

McIlroy was reading the Ryder Cup tee times on his phone and saw that he and Bradley were teeing off at 12:25 p.m.

One problem: That was Eastern time. Medinah Country Club, outside Chicago, is in the Central time zone.

“All of the sudden we realized Rory was not here, and we started to look for him,” European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said. “Nobody knew.”

Finally, at 11, someone called McIlroy.

Getting a lift in an unmarked squad car, McIlroy pulled up at the Medinah clubhouse 10 minutes before he and Bradley went off.

“At least I wasn’t in the back,” McIlroy joked.

He was on the first tee at 11:22 a.m., a sheepish grin on his face. Fans were well aware of his gaffe, and they serenaded him with chants of “Central time zone” and “What’s your tee time?”

“It’s my own fault, but if I let down these 11 other boys and vice captains and captains this week I would never forgive myself,” McIlroy said.

The fashionably late arrival didn’t seem to bother him. Though he launched his opening drive well right of the fairway, he quickly recovered and was 1 up on Keegan Bradley after the fourth hole. His 2-and-1 victory delivered the third point in what would be an improbable comeback for the Europeans, who erased a four-point deficit to win the Ryder Cup.

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NO SECOND GUESSES: A lot of people might second-guess U.S. captain Davis Love III for sitting his hottest team Saturday afternoon.

Phil Mickelson won’t be one of them.

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