Golf - McIlroy to avoid crowd interaction and conserve energy at Ryder Cup

FILE PHOTO: Aug 27, 2021; Owings Mills, Maryland, USA; Rory McIlroy walks to the first green during the second round of the BMW Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has a reputation for animated celebrations during Ryder Cup competition but the Northern Irishman said on Tuesday he plans to dial it down this week in a bid to conserve energy when holders Europe face the United States.

The last time the Ryder Cup was played on U.S. soil McIlroy could not help but get riled up by the patriotic Americans in attendance and spent time interacting with the galleries in what was a hostile environment for Team Europe.

McIlroy enjoyed the villain's role at Hazeltine in 2016 and was perhaps as animated as he's ever been on the course, whether when he cupped his ear in a goading gesture to the spectators or bowed to the crowd after an eagle put to secure a match.

"I certainly will try to not be as animated and I'll try to conserve some energy," world number 15 McIlroy told reporters at Whistling Straits where play begins on Friday.

"It's a long week. Whether I play all five again, we'll see, but it's a lot of golf. It's a lot of energy just playing, then trying to beat who you're playing against. If you try to beat the crowd, as well, it seems like a bit of an impossible task."

The 32-year-old McIlroy admitted he learned a valuable lesson about conserving energy following the 2016 Ryder Cup and admitted he 'hit a wall' on the back nine of his loss to Patrick Reed in singles on the final day.

McIlroy, a four-times major champion, will be making his sixth Ryder Cup appearance and has become one of Team Europe's most accomplished Ryder Cup players with an overall record of 11-9-4.

Containing emotions could prove a tougher challenge this year during the three-day competition since travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic will make for a decidedly pro-U.S. crowd that will be trying to get under the skin of Team Europe.

"There's something more there when you're playing as part of a team, and everything you do doesn't just affect yourself but affects the other 11 players, the captain, the vice captains, all the support team," said McIlroy.

"There's a lot of emotion that comes out, but you still have to try to control that as well."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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