Rory McIlroy was brought to Medinah in a police car – as Europe stole the Ryder Cup from under American noses!

The world number one almost missed his tee-time after failing to grasp the time difference in Chicago on Sunday.

McIlroy had to get a police escort to the course and arrived with  10 minutes to spare ahead of his 12.25 start against Bradley Keegan.

He came perilously close to being disqualified from the tournament and costing Europe victory but that drama was nothing next to the scenes that followed on Sunday evening.

The 23-year-old McIlroy recovered from his late arrival to beat Irish American Keegan Bradley on a dramatic day.

By close of play they were calling it the Miracle at Medinah after Germany’s Martin Kaymer landed the putt that retained the Cup for Europe before Francesco Molinari beat Tiger Woods to ensure an unexpected European win.

McIlroy then revealed that he had misunderstood the difference between America’s Eastern and Central time zones.

Television coverage listed his start time at 12:25pm but that referred to Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is 11:25am Central Time (CT).

He said: “I was just casually strolling out of my hotel room when I got a phone call saying you have 25 minutes.

“I have never been so worried driving to the course. Luckily there was a State Trooper outside who gave me the escort, if not I would not have made it on time.”

Officials confirmed that if McIlroy was two minutes late he would have forfeited the opening hole while five minutes late, he faced disqualification.

McIlroy blamed his phone for the error. He added: “I read the tee times on my phone, and they are obviously on Eastern time and it’s Central time here.

“At least I wasn’t in the back of the police car. We got here as fast as we could.

“I did a quick warm-up as soon as I got here. If I warm up for 40 minutes it’s a long time anyway. I warmed up for 25 minutes before I won the US PGA this year. It was nearly a good thing because I did not have to think about it too much.

“It’s my own fault. If I let down these 11 other boys and vice captains and captains this week, I would never forgive myself. I’m just obviously happy to get the point and help the cause out a little bit today.”

Europe’s victorious captain Jose Maria Olazabal was worried by McIlroy’s late show. He said: “I didn’t have this in mind. We suddenly realised Rory was not here. He arrived by police escort with about 10 minutes to spare.”

As news broke on live television of McIlroy’s dilemma, former European captain Colin Montgomerie said: “That is absolutely ridiculous at this level. It’s quite unbelievable for the world number one golfer. How this happened I do not know.

“Where is the captain? Where are the vice-captains? Where is his caddie?”