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THE IRISH OPEN


June 18, 2014


Rory McIlroy


FOTA ISLAND, IRELAND

STEVE TODD:テつ Thanks for joining us.テつ Always a special week for the players playing in The Irish Open.テつ I know it's a venue that you haven't been too before but just your thoughts on The Irish Open coming to Fota Island and the new venue for you.
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, as you said, it's a completely brand new place for me.テつ I've never been here before.テつ So not really sure what to expect.テつ I've heard a few good things about the golf course.テつ Obviously with the great weather, they have got it in good condition.テつ Looking forward to going out and seeing the place this afternoon in the Pro‑Am.
It's a special week for the Irish guys.テつ We all make an effort no matter where we are playing or where we are to come back and support this event, and it's shaping up to be a good week.
STEVE TODD:テつ It's a tournament you would obviously like to win at some point in your career.テつ Safe to say the game is in good shape coming into this week?
RORY McILROY:テつ It has been.テつ It's been getting there.テつ It's not exactly where I want it to be.テつ The win at Wentworth a few weeks ago was great.テつ The last couple tournaments, Memorial and U.S. Open were, again, flashes of good stuff, and you know, fell away over the weekend at the U.S. Open which was quite disappointing.
But I've got a new events right now I focus on The Irish Open and there's a lot to play for me this week personally.テつ I've got a chance to go to the top of The Race to Dubai and a chance to get back into the top five in the world, so it's not a week I'm taking lightly.テつ I want to come here and put my best foot forward and try to get another win.テつ

Q.テつ Did you manage to get your clubs back?
RORY McILROY:テつ I did.テつ They arrived this morning.テつ Yeah, they got in at 7.00 this morning and then got them couriered down here.テつ So reunited with them, which is good.

Q.テつ Winning The Irish Open, where does it rank for you?
RORY McILROY:テつ It's important.テつ I've been disappointed with my performances in The Irish Open up until this point.テつ I think I've managed a couple of Top 10s, and that's really been it.
So it would be good to give myself a chance to win at least and feel like I have a real chance going into the last couple of days.テつ And it's important; I think anyone, whether you're Irish or Spanish or French, your home title is always very important to you.テつ It would be great to win it one day.

Q.テつ And you're going around with Pテδ。draig Harrington tomorrow and you're going to have quite the following?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it's going to be great.テつ There's a couple of good groupings for the Irish guys.テつ I see G‑Mac and Shane are out together, as well, which will be another popular group.テつ Looking forward to and off early in the morning.テつ Hopefully get off to a good start in the tournament.

Q.テつ U.S. Open, very important tournament to you‑‑ does that make you all the more determined to do well here?
RORY McILROY:テつ In a way I think just that whole period last year wasn't very good for me.テつ I didn't play well, you know, from The Irish Open through to The Open Championship there, either.テつ Missed the cut there.テつ Just wasn't playing my best at that point but obviously feel like I'm coming in here with a nice bit of form and game is in much better shape.

Q.テつ Having played on the baked fairways and brownness of last week, is it nice to see some grass?
RORY McILROY:テつ It is nice to see some greenness.テつ Even I spent the day at Old Head yesterday, planning to play, didn't have my clubs.テつ So just drove around in the buggy and enjoyed the scenery and watched Sean and JP hack it around.
It's nice; coming off a week like last week at Pinehurst, coming onto a golf course, any sort of golf course I guess, is going to seem relatively simple compared to looking at your yardage book and thinking, where can I actually land this to get it somewhat close to the pin.
Being able to fire at a few more pins and have the ball stop a little quicker, it's going to be nice.

Q.テつ One of the advantages of The Irish Open, it's almost like a major week because of all of the attention, and he said that's actually a help.テつ Has that been your experience?
RORY McILROY:テつ In the past, I've sort of shied away from it or I saw it as being a little bit of a hindrance but the last couple years, I really tried to just relish it and take it on board.テつ It's a great position to be in.テつ We only get a chance to play here once a year, really, like competitively.テつ You want to try and use all these things to your advantage if you can, and you know, having the support of the home crowd is definitely a help, especially if you're in contention and you have a chance to win over the weekend.テつ So as I said, I used to view it as a bit of a hindrance but now I'm trying to welcome it and take it on board a little bit more.

Q.テつ Inaudible.
RORY McILROY:テつ I think so.テつ As I said, I haven't been out on the golf course yet but it does look quite lush and quite green, and they are expecting similar weather over the next few days, which will dry the course up and maybe make the greens a bit firmer, which isn't a bad thing.

Q.テつ I understand the International Golf Federation next month announced the conditions of eligibility of the Olympics for 2016.テつ Are you any closer to or have you actually made your mind up on who you are going to play for at the Olympics?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, actually I've been thinking about it a lot.テつ I don't know whether it's been because the World Cup has been in Brazil and I've been thinking a couple of years down the line.テつ Thinking about all the times that I played as an amateur for Ireland and as a boy and everything; I think for me it's the right decision to play for Ireland, so I'm going to play for Ireland in 2016, and yeah, it's something that I have been thinking about for a while.テつ I feel like it's the right decision for me (applause).
It's more just because now that I'm playing golf for money and I'm a professional, I'm supposed to have this choice or this decision to make where, you know, if you look at the rugby players, you look at cricketers or hockey players, their sports are viewed‑‑ they view Ireland as one, the same as we do in golf.テつ I don't think there's any point to change that or any point to go against that just because it's a different event or it's the Olympics.
I was always very proud to put on the Irish uniform and play as an amateur and as a boy, and I would be very proud to do it again.

Q.テつ Inaudible.
RORY McILROY:テつ More worried about what other people would think, rather than me.テつ But you've got to do what's right for yourself and what you feel most comfortable with, and ultimately that was the decision that I made.

Q.テつ In terms of the timing of that decision, is it a conscious thing to get it out of the way and just get it done with?
RORY McILROY:テつ I think so.テつ There's no point in delaying it and letting it linger any longer.テつ And as I said, watching the World Cup in Brazil, thinking about Brazil in a couple of years' time, it just sort of got me thinking, maybe I should just go ahead and get it out of the way, and really look forward now to the Olympics in a couple years' time.

Q.テつ Obviously a good week to make such an announcement.テつ Did you go and ask anyone's advice?
RORY McILROY:テつ No, it was just something that I've had a lot of time on my own by myself the last few weeks and just sort of been thinking about it a lot.テつ It's something that's been quite important to me and something that I needed to make some sort of decision or some sort of stand on it.テつ Just weighing up everything, and thinking back about the times that I played for Ireland and won The European Team championship with Ireland, won a lot of great amateur titles representing Ireland, I just thought, why change that.テつ Basically it's just a continuation of what I've always done.

Q.テつ Can you remember the first time you got the Ireland shirt or the little GUI logo and what it felt like?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it felt great.テつ It seemed like all the new guys that just got their uniforms and everything were wearing them all the time, wearing them at the championships and the boys events and stuff.
But yeah, it feels good.テつ The first time you make like a panel to go down for a weekend to Carton House or whether it's your first time at home internationals or your first time on a six‑man team or whatever it is, it's always a great thrill to get the call or get the letter from the team captain.
Obviously some great memories I've had in that shirt.

Q.テつ Have many people tried to bend your ear on this in the last couple of years?テつ Have you felt much pressure, perhaps?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, there's been a lot of people sort of giving their opinion and what they think I should do.テつ But at the end of the day, it's a decision that I had to make for myself.テつ It's not something that anyone could make for me.テつ I didn't want anyone to make for me, even when Peter Dawson came out and said whatever he said last year, you know, I still didn't want the decision to be made for me.テつ It was a decision that I felt I needed to make myself, because it's something that you have to live with.テつ It's something that you have to, it's your own right to have that decision.
So basically all mine, and it's taken me long enough to sort of get over the hurdle, but it's definitely the right decision.

Q.テつ Inaudible.
RORY McILROY: テつNot really.テつ As I said, it's nothing really to do with anyone else apart from myself and just thinking back of all the times I've played in an Irish t‑shirt or put on the Irish uniform or whatever it is, and how happy and how proud that I've been to do that.テつ As I said, it's just a continuation of what I've always done, which is play for Ireland as a boy and as an amateur, and obviously now in the professional ranks.

Q.テつ
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, so I've heard.テつ I've heard you can be aggressive off the tees and hit drivers and everything.テつ And, I mean, I'll have to see the golf course today, but I'm sure something 15‑, 18‑under par is probably going to be around the winning score this week.
So you're going to have to play well and make birdies, and, yeah, I mean, I'll be as aggressive as I can.テつ I'm not going to be stupid.テつ I'm not going to go at things or hit driver off the tee when you really shouldn't.テつ But it's definitely going to be a different test than it was last week.
But yeah, it will be nice to make some birdies again.テつ I made nine total last week, which I actually thought was pretty good.テつ It was pretty average if you were Martin Kaymer.テつ It's going to be nice to be able to make some birdies and shoot some low scores.

Q.テつ Did they not have hire sets at Old Head or could you just not be bothered?
RORY McILROY:テつ A bit of both.テつ They do, but there's no point in me trying to play a round of golf where I have a regular shaft and trying to hit‑‑ it just wouldn't have been great for me.テつ I hit a couple of shots with JP's clubs.テつ Hit a couple of good ones, actually.テつ But yeah, there wouldn't have been much point in me trying to play with anything else.テつ Just enjoyed the scenery and enjoyed the beautiful weather and put the shorts on, tried to get a bit of colour on the legs.テつ It was good.

Q.テつ Does a week like last week knock you out of good form or do you just take it as a tough week and move on?
RORY McILROY:テつ I think you just take it as it was a tough week.テつ I don't think it can really knock your confidence in any way because you see all the guys that struggled, as well, and finishing over par.テつ I played with Adam Scott on the last day and we were talking about how tough it's been and what a grind it is.テつ Best golfer in the world in the minute talking like that, obviously you know it's a tough test.
It didn't knock my confidence.テつ It didn't really knock me out of form in any way.テつ I still feel like I'm playing good enough to win this week.テつ Like I said at the start, there's a lot to play for. テつI could get to the top of The Race to Dubai and could probably break into the top 5 in the world again.テつ There's a couple of big incentives there for me.

Q.テつ In relation to your decision to represent Ireland, where would an Olympic medal rate in your achievements?
RORY McILROY:テつ Still not as big as a major championship but it's up there.テつ The Majors in our sport are the biggest and best prizes in the game.テつ But as hopefully golf grows in the Olympics and becomes‑‑ maybe give it four or five Games down the line, it might become sort of‑‑ I mean, it's a tough one because you never know how it's going to evolve and how it's going to, but for me, the four major championships are the biggest prizes in our game, and maybe one day the Olympics will be able to get up to that level now.テつ With the first one now, it's not quite up there, but it would still be a huge achievement.

Q.テつ Big week for Irish golf and even bigger now but I'm sure you're delighted that Portrush has finally got the invitation to host The Open Championship?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, something that I had to sort of keep close to my chest for a few months.テつ Obviously there's guys that knew.テつ I feel proud that I'm from Northern Ireland, and I feel proud that I was I feel in some way a part of getting The Open to Portrush.テつ I know G‑Mac and Darren are more from there and they have more association with the place.
But it's great that it's back on the rota, and you know, 2019 is going to be‑‑ I never dreamed that I would be able to play an Open Championship at home.テつ It's going to be incredible.
You saw what the crowds were like at The Irish Open a couple years ago.テつ They will be even bigger and even better for an Open Championship.テつ You know, happy for Portrush.テつ Happy for everyone involved, and I think the R&A made a very good decision.

Q.テつ What do you think of Old Head?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it was beautiful.テつ It was my first time down there.テつ Absolutely stunning scenery.テつ Couldn't have got a better day for it yesterday.テつ They were very‑‑ they couldn't have made us feel more welcome.テつ It was a pity I didn't get to play because I was really looking forward to it.
You know, hopefully somewhere down the line I'll be able to get there again and play and see what sort of challenge it presents. テつBut watching the two boys yesterday, it was challenging enough for them, so it was good.

Q.テつ Of course there was a third option on the Olympics.テつ Did you ever consider that?
RORY McILROY:テつ Which was?

Q.テつ Not to play?
RORY McILROY:テつ Not to play?テつ It would have been a very selfish decision.テつ It wouldn't have been good for the game of golf at all.テつ If we as a golf community want golf to succeed in the Olympics, you need to have your best players playing.テつ I realized that pretty quickly.テつ Obviously it was an option but was it ever going to be an option that I would decide to choose; no.テつ Because ultimately, what we want is to grow the game and make the game better and make the game‑‑ expose the game more to more people around the world and not having your best players play at the Olympic Games in its first year back in over a hundred years isn't something that is good for golf.
So it was an option but it was never an option that I would have taken.

Q.テつ The concept of actually playing in such a huge sports arena must be very exciting.
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, of course.テつ I had a taste of it in 2012 when I went in the village and stuff.テつ It will be‑‑ yeah, being able to I think share stories and share experiences with athletes from different sports; I've always said, I feel you sort of go in there a little guilty because these guys are training for our years for this one week, whereas we are just getting started.テつ We have other events that we practise for during the year.テつ It's the pinnacle of their lives, of their sporting careers.
It will be great to share some experiences and stories with them on how hard they train and what they have gone through just to be there.テつ But, you know, first I need to qualify for it, too.テつ I need to make sure I'm there for a start.

Q.テつ Inaudible.
RORY McILROY:テつ No, actually it was one of the only things I had clean to be honest.テつ I had some laundry done, so this is the only thing I had.

Q.テつ Shane Lowery said yesterday thatwinning your national open ‑‑
RORY McILROY:テつ I have not.テつ I have two Top 10s, though.
It would be great.テつ It would be huge.テつ I think more so just being able to do it in front of your home crowd and in front of‑‑ you know, because you're going to feel a lot more pressure than maybe a guy that isn't from here or isn't being willed on by the crowd.テつ It would be great to do it and I would love to do it this week, but if it isn't this week, hopefully one day.
But yeah, of course, it's I think a big goal in any golfer's C.V., being able to win your National Open is huge.

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