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August 20, 2014

Rory McIlroy


DOUG MILNE:  Rory McIlroy, thanks for joining us for a few minutes prior to the start of the 2014 Barclays.
Obviously not a lot needs to be said.  Just a few comments from you on being back here at Ridgewood this week and kind of how you're feeling as you're heading into the week.
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, it's good to be back at Ridgewood.  I played here in 2010.  Sort of got to the refamiliarize myself with the golf course this morning and it's in beautiful shape.  You know, it's presented really well and it should be a great week for us.
Obviously I'm coming off the back of a few good weeks and I'm just trying to keep it going for as long as I can, try and keep the momentum going, and actually I'm happy to be back on a golf course and into sort of a regular routine again.  The last week or so has been pretty hectic.
It's nice to get back to what I do and get back into some routine, and excited to get playing again tomorrow.

Q.  With the session earlier with Tiger this week, we haven't spoken to him since the PGA when he withdrew, do you get a sense that he misses The Ryder Cup and did you talk about the fact that he's not going to be present?
RORY McILROY:  Not really, not particularly.  We didn't really touch on The Ryder Cup whenever we spent a bit of time together earlier in the week.
Yeah, look, a healthy Tiger Woods is obviously going to be an asset to the U.S. Team.  He just thinks that he's not healthy enough to play and doesn't feel like he can contribute to the team.
So it's best for the U.S. Team for him not to be there.  It means that another guy or another couple of guys can step up and try and win some points for the U.S.

Q.  Just talk a little bit about putting up the last little dare with Tiger, the activity, Fallon, how enjoyable that was or any anecdotes or something like that.
RORY McILROY:  It was really good.  It was good to catch up with him.  Haven't really seen him much for a few months really.  It was good fun.  It was a good day.  Actually I came here on Monday early to get some practice in.
So I spent three hours here at the golf course and then I went into the city, did the Fallon thing, which was good fun, and then we spent a few hours at Liberty National unveiling the new Nike irons.  Spent a good bit of time with him and it was good fun.  Kept telling me he wasn't done yet.
It was good.  He really wants to get healthy and really looking forward to getting back out there.  Obviously he believes he's still got some of his best golf left.

Q.  Do you put more pressure on yourself to succeed after you haven't won for a while or after you're on a run like this and you want to keep it going?
RORY McILROY:  I think both scenarios bring their own sort of pressure.  I think whenever you're on a run like this, your expectations are obviously sky high.  That's what you're expecting of yourself.
But saying that, you are sort of feeling the pressure; haven't won for a while and you're almost trying too hard in a way, where it seems when you get on a run like this and momentum is on your side, you can sort of just‑‑ everything just sort of falls away.¬† Like a lot of things fell my way at the PGA a couple weeks ago that helped me win there.
Both scenarios bring their own pressures, but I think it's definitely when you're on a run like this, it's definitely easier to get the job done rather than if you haven't won in a while.

Q.¬† You've always had a really keen sense of history.¬† Are you aware that the last guy to win back‑to‑back Majors didn't even make it to the tire championship?
RORY McILROY:  That's not going to happen.  (Laughter).

Q.  From your perspective, do you have a good sense of what it means to win a major, and the difference in value, I guess, of trying to win a FedExCup, how that differs from winning one of the other four.
RORY McILROY:  For me, it would just be very gratifying to know that I finished the season off well and the way that it should be finished off.
I think it would be a shame if I'm playing this good golf and to‑‑ I could just say, look, you know, I've had a great year, it's been an awesome summer.¬† I'm going to just see what happens for the next few weeks and not really work hard.
But I want to finish the season well.¬† I want to be up there in contention week‑in, week‑out.¬† I feel like the season I had, it deserves a finish like that.
So I'm going to just grind out every week that I can until I get a little bit of a break after The Ryder Cup.¬† But it's a big four weeks coming up.¬† It's one of the only things that I haven't achieved in this game is winning the FedExCup.¬† I came close in 2012.¬† It would be great to finish off what has been my best year‑to‑date with a victory there.

Q.¬† Is there any‑‑ bitterness is probably too strong a word about 2012, to win back‑to‑back like that and still not win the thing, but did that give you any type of balancing expectations knowing how goofy it gets?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, I mean, I still got three million for my second, so it's not too bad (laughter).
It creates excitement.  It is volatile, but it creates excitement at the end of the season when previously, there wasn't as much excitement.  So I don't mind how loaded it is, especially going into The TOUR Championship.  Just means you have to play well right until the end.  I don't mind that.

Q.  Do you feel you have a target on your back, and if so, do you embrace it?
RORY McILROY:¬† I don't know if I've got a‑‑ I mean, I think more, maybe going into The Ryder Cup, I would say I would feel like I have more of a target on my back.¬† But competing week‑in and week‑out on the PGA TOUR, no, I don't think so.
Everyone starts as equal on the first day, and you know, it's not like everyone is gunning for me.  We are just trying to go out there and shoot the best score possible.  I don't feel like I have a target on my back at all, but obviously that changes when we go into The Ryder Cup or that sort of scenario.
But I think everyone just goes out to try and shoot the best score they can, and if that means I get into contention or other guys get into contention, then so be it.

Q.  In terms of the FedExCup, how has your attitude changed toward it now that we are into a few years into it?  And by that, is there any greater importance given the run you're on and finishing off the season and maybe having a bigger emphasis than in the past?
RORY McILROY:  It's my next goal, it's next, so I'm going to put everything into that.
As I said I've had a great summer and this is the next challenge and this is the next goal.  Instead of dwelling or looking back on what you've done, look ahead and try and achieve the next goal.  So regardless of it was the FedExCup or another major championship or whatever it is, the next goal is always the most important one.
But yeah, it is, it's important.¬† It's a season‑long race.¬† Obviously as I said, it's quite volatile at the end but you look back historically on it and the best players do come out on top; the players that win THE TOUR Championship, the players that have been successful through the season or have got on‑‑ obviously Henrik got on a bit of a hot streak the last six months of last year.
But I think every winner of the FedExCup has been deserving of it.

Q.  What do you think about the course and what kind of challenges does it prepare?
RORY McILROY:  Ridgewood, it's a great golf course.  It's playing a lot differently than it did in 2010 just because it was so wet back then.  It's playing a little shorter I noticed.  But it's a great collection of par 3s.  The par3s on this golf course are very strong.  A couple of really tough par 4s where usually they would be par 5s for the members and you've converted them into par 4s and the greens, they are par 5 greens, so they are very small targets for such long holes and such long second shots.
And obviously the rough is really thick.  So there's a premium on putting your ball in the fairway but you have to be really accurate because the greens are pretty small, as well.  It presents a great challenge.
There's a lot of variety.  I don't think it really suits any sort of player, a long player, a short hitter.  It sort of seems like any style of golf can win around here.

Q.  You said you wanted to be the guy to step forward out of the pack and start dominating.  Are you now comfortable with the suggestion that the torch is being passed from Tiger to you?
RORY McILROY:  I'm not comfortable because I know that he's working his butt off to get back here and get back to where he wants to be.
Look, I'm just going to keep playing my golf and play as good as I can, and I'll see where that takes me.  But I don't think any torch has been passed and I don't think any torch will ever be passed because I never think of myself in that way.  I never see myself like that.
I see myself as a golfer on the PGA TOUR that wants to win tournaments and wants to be the best that he can be, and I don't see the need for me to carry any sort of torch.  I just want to win golf tournaments.

Q.¬† Through the years with golf, so many of the stories are told in pairs, whether it's Tiger and Phil, or going back, Nicklaus and Palmer.¬† Do you see‑‑ would you like that scenario if somebody sort of emerged like where the fans watch a one‑on‑one with you battling for Majors, and do you feel like somebody has, any names you could mention?
RORY McILROY:  In a way when you talk about it, you have Arnie and Jack, Phil and Tiger and even like Greg Norman and Nick Faldo.
Yeah, there's a bunch of young guys that could break through and become legends of this game, Rickie Fowler being one of them.  You just have to look at how he's played the majors this year.  Jordan Spieth is another.  There's a lot of great, young players that will be playing in Majors for the next sort of 20, 25 years that can really make their mark on the game.
So, yeah, I wouldn't mind if I was always compared to someone‑‑ or not compared to someone else, but if my name was mentioned and the other one was‑‑ that just seems how golf is, and rivalries, it didn't work too badly for players in the past.

Q.¬† Piggybacking off that, how important is it for that other person to be as competitive and winning Majors and FedEx Cups?¬† It sort of doesn't really become a rivalry if one person is winning all the majors, does that other person need ‑‑
RORY McILROY:  That's the plan.

Q.¬† ‑‑ to be as competitive as you?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, of course, but saying that, we say Tiger and Phil.¬† But then if you look, Phil's won 40‑plus PGA TOUR events, which is an incredible career and five major championships.¬† But then he's sort of been unlucky in the way that he's played at the same time as Tiger who has won 79 and 14.¬† But still, Phil has been competitive.
If you think about it, over the past 15, 20 years, how many times have they actually went head‑to‑head?¬† It's not been that many.¬† So golf, it doesn't create like, say a Federer/Nadal or a McEnroe/Connors.¬† It doesn't create maybe what tennis would or some of the other sports.¬† But there are still going to be guys coming through that are going to break through and win.
Of course it's important.  If you guys or the public want to build a rivalry between people, the credentials have to be pretty similar.

Q.  You talked about the last couple weeks being a whirlwind.  How does this compare, the off the course kind of stuff, to the first two times you won a major?
RORY McILROY:¬† I think the first one was a big deal because it's your first one and you try and take it all in.¬† I've always said Kiawah was sort of lost in, it was the Olympics that year and I didn't go back home after I won.¬† So it was sort of‑‑ it was great to win and it was another major championship but it wasn't obviously not as big as what's happened the last few weeks.
Yeah, I noticed it straight after, especially from where I'm from winning The Open Championship, going back home and seeing the importance and how big it was back there; and then to win the major straight after that as well and do that, yeah, I feel like my life has changed a little bit again.  But it's great.  I'm in a great position and I'm enjoying it and I'm trying to embrace it as much as I can.

Q.  When you talk about Tiger's killer instinct, it's obvious on his face, he has that fierce look and you look a little bit nicer.  But it still comes out at the end of big tournaments.  So the question is:  When you have a private moment with Tiger like you had this week, do you recognize a kindred spirit in the sense of someone who is super competitive, even beyond what other normal professionals are?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, in some ways, yes.¬† I mean, we were ‑‑ yeah.¬† We talked about a few things and he's telling me like I'm not going to let you win a green jacket next year and I'm not going to, because he's super competitive.
I might not look it but I'm the exact same way.  I've got a very competitive spirit but it would only be on a golf course.  Like I'll let you win in a game of pool.  I don't care about that.  But golf it's my thing to be competitive at and it's my thing to succeed in, so of course I'm really competitive, and even if it doesn't look it, on the inside I'm trying to beat those guys to death on the course.

Q.  Is it a different level with Tiger?
RORY McILROY:  I think Tiger has just got a more competitive spirit, period.  Like he'll want to beat you at cards.  He'll want to beat you at anything you're playing him against.  I'm a little bit different in that way in that golf is my vehicle to be competitive in something in life, and that's why I sort of put everything into that.
RORY McILROY:  Thanks for your time.  We appreciate it.

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