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September 10, 2014

Rory McIlroy


THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll get started.テつ We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy into the interview room.テつ He's making his second start at the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola, and he enters the week No.4 in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Rory, comments on being back at East Lake.
RORY MCILROY:テつ Yeah, really glad to be back here.テつ Missed out last year, which obviously wasn't what I had hoped for.テつ I had a great chance the year before that, in 2012.テつ I came in here, I think I was No.1 after a couple of wins.
And it's good, being in the top 5, you know what you need to do.テつ You need to win, and that takes care of everything and it takes anything out of anyone else's hands.
So being in the top 5 was important.テつ Coming in here I would have liked to have been a little higher on the list.テつ But just haven't played quite well enough over the past few weeks to do that.テつ But even though I'm still in the top 5, and a win this week takes care of everything else.

Q.テつ You've had 20 starts this calendar year.テつ I think you had 25 last year.テつ For you, what would be the optimum‑‑ in a perfect world, what would be the optimum number of tournaments you'd play in a year?
RORY MCILROY:テつ Yeah, I think last year I played‑‑ I think it's going to be the same this year.テつ I think it's going to be 25 individual events and Ryder Cup makes it 26.
So over the next few years I'll probably let it come down a little bit, maybe make it between 20 and 23, something like that, 20, 22.
Just to try and stay as fresh as possible and give myself the best possible chance each and every week that I tee it up, the best possible chance to play well.
I've never been a guy that likes to play too much.テつ I'll never get above that 25, 26 sort of number.テつ But at the same time it would be nice to shave a couple of events off a year and try and get it down to like 21, 22.

Q.テつ What's the hardest part of managing that?テつ What's kept you from just going right to 22, 23 right now?
RORY MCILROY:テつ I think sometimes you feel like you need to play.テつ Sometimes you feel like you need to play the week before a major.テつ There's a couple of events during the year that you feel obliged to play just because of where you're from or support different Tour, whatever it is.
So there's always events that sort of creep up on you.テつ In a perfect world you might not play.テつ But it is what it is.テつ And you have to do your best.
And I know being the No.1 player in the world, you have a responsibility to play around the world and try and grow the game.テつ I'm playing places that they don't necessarily see you play throughout the year.

Q.テつ Given the schedule, I guess, one, do you feel fresh coming into this week?テつ And, secondly, would anything short of a win be a disappointment for you?
RORY MCILROY:テつ It's amazing what a night in your own bed can do.テつ I mean, just one night.テつ It's funny, I was standing in the shower on Monday morning in Denver and I was thinking to myself:テつ Why am I going to Atlanta today?テつ So I didn't.テつ I changed and I'm going to go to Florida.テつ I'm going to go home for a day and a half.
And it was really good.テつ It was refreshing, just to spend a little bit of time at home.テつ Dump a little bit of luggage I've been carrying with me the past four, five weeks.テつ It was nice.
I had a great practice session yesterday at The Bear's Club, and I was able to work out at home in the gym.テつ And it was a real nice, relaxing day.テつ So I feel good coming in here.テつ I really do.テつ I feel like that sort of day and a half at home will definitely help.
And anything other than a win here would be a disappointment, yeah.テつ After I finished the PGA, all my focus was on the FedExCup and trying to win this.
So anything other than a win this week, if that means that obviously if I finish second or third and end up winning the whole thing, then that's cool as well.テつ I mean, I want to win.テつ I only have to beat 28 other guys.テつ It's not like a regular field where you have to beat 155.

Q.テつ $10million is an eye‑watering amount of money probably for everyone else.テつ When you get to your kind of status, what does it mean?テつ Does it mean anything?テつ Do you think about it?テつ Has that changed?
RORY MCILROY:テつ I don't think it will make me any more nervous on the golf course on Sunday.テつ It's not like it's going to do that to me.
But $10million is a lot of money to anyone.テつ And if I'm thinking of getting myself something or if I'm thinking‑‑ I don't know, whatever it is‑‑ it's a nice bit of extra money to have for whatever, I don't know, whatever that may be.
I'm not saying that I'm not motivated by the money in any way.テつ It's obviously nice, and I've made a lot of money over the past seven or eight years that I've been on TOUR.テつ But it's one of the only things that I haven't achieved in the game of golf, is a FedExCup.
And that's the real reason that I want to win this week.テつ I just want to finish the year off well.テつ The money's nice.テつ It's great.テつ But at the same time it's the title that would mean more to me.

Q.テつ You talked about how important winning the FedExCup is to complete this season.テつ Does Player of the Year factor in here at all?テつ Where would that rank?
RORY MCILROY:テつ I guess because I've won that, and I guess because the Player of the Year is a vote and you get voted by your peers, it's very important and it's important that they feel that you've had the best year as well.
But hopefully by the end of this week there shouldn't be any doubt about the Player of the Year award.テつ But depending on who wins this week, you never know.
But I feel like I've had a good enough year to‑‑ a couple of majors, World Golf Championship, a big event over in Europe as well, even though that might not count for PGA TOUR Player of the Year, having finished outside the top 25 on TOUR this year.
It's been a good season for me.テつ It's been consistent.テつ I've had big wins.テつ Like I said, I'd love to finish it off well with a win this week.

Q.テつ You spoke about the responsibility you have to grow the game and to the game.テつ You've experienced this year both the highs and lows of being a very prominent public figure.テつ But how deeply do you feel that responsibility to grow golf and to use your position toward that end?
RORY MCILROY:テつ Yeah, you know it's something that I was asked‑‑ I just did a breakfast inside for the sponsors here this week.テつ And it was something that I was asked on stage, when did I feel like I had that responsibility, when did that start?
It was probably when I won the U.S. Open in 2011, and I got a really nice handwritten letter from Jack Nicklaus.テつ And it said in it now as a major champion you do have a responsibility to take this game forward.テつ So it really hit home with me then.
And as I was saying previously there about playing all over the world and playing in places that people don't necessarily see you that often, I think it's important.テつ And I think it's important to set an example for kids.テつ It's important to carry yourself in the right way.
So, yeah, these are things I've had to learn over the past few years.テつ But something that I've tried to embrace and something that I feel it just comes as part of what I do.

Q.テつ Rory, you were on the field during play of the Broncos game on Monday night.テつ What are your thoughts now on the NFL after seeing what you saw?
RORY MCILROY:テつ Some big boys on that field.テつ Some big boys.テつ It's incredible.テつ The hits.テつ The speed.テつ I mean, there's no‑‑ like, it doesn't surprise me that you probably see two or three guys a game get injured or if it's an ACL or whatever it is.
I mean, they're just in my mind the most impressive athletes and sport in the world definitely.テつ Some of the running backs and wide receivers, it really is.テつ You have to have it all in that game.

Q.テつ When you're playing with somebody, whether on a Saturday or a Sunday or whenever, can you tell if they're nervous?テつ And can you tell if they're maybe intimidated by you?テつ Is that something that you can sense?
RORY MCILROY:テつ No, not really.テつ I mean, you can tell when guys are uncomfortable in situations or if it's their first time or if they're not experienced in some way.
I guess last round of the PGA playing with Bernd Wiesberger who hadn't been in that position before, last round of a major championship in the final group, you can tell they're nervous, but I don't think that was because of me, it was because of the situation he was in.テつ It would be very hard for me to be that intimidating figure that makes people nervous, I feel.テつ That's just the way I feel.
But maybe people see me different.テつ I don't know.

Q.テつ Have you ever been intimidated by another golfer early in your career, ever?
RORY MCILROY:テつ I wouldn't say intimidated, no.テつ I'd say in awe or star struck.テつ Maybe not star struck, but in awe.テつ And sometimes to a fault where I'd watch them too closely and watch what they do on the golf course and really‑‑ when I was coming up, 18, 19, first couple of years on TOUR.テつ I remember playing with Ernie Els in Singapore first year on TOUR and really just looking at what he was doing.
That I get because‑‑ but I wasn't intimidated.テつ It was my first year on TOUR and playing with someone like that who had won three major championships at the time.テつ And that was something‑‑ I remember even going back again, I remember playing with Aaron Baddeley in the Australian Masters in '07 and he went on a good run and he was 18th in the world.テつ I was like, oh, my God, this guy's 18th in the world.
But to think about it now it's seven years ago and I'm sitting here the No.1, it's pretty funny to think back on.

Q.テつ You said you had a good practice session The Bear's Club.テつ I wonder how much of that was putting?
RORY MCILROY:テつ A good bit of it.テつ No four‑putts on the practice green.

Q.テつ Those four‑putts, you just seemed able to shrug it off.テつ Would you have been able to do it as easily a year ago?
RORY MCILROY:テつ Yeah, I think so.テつ It's not something you do on a regular basis.テつ It's just a complete anomaly.テつ I don't know if it was just‑‑ I don't know.テつ I can see where I lost concentration on the third putt on Saturday.テつ But like I grinded over every one of those four‑putts on Sunday.テつ It doesn't come down to lack of concentration or lack of focus, it's just one of those things.
Hopefully I'll‑‑ the greens are a little bit smaller here, even though that doesn't need to be smaller.テつ Four‑putts from four feet and 15feet, so doesn't matter how close you hit it.
Hopefully no more of those this week.

Q.テつ Following up on the football question, would you still prefer that they didn't wear pads?
RORY MCILROY:テつ I was just making a comparison to rugby.テつ But I guess seeing‑‑ I guess because the hits are so big and the speed is so‑‑ obviously you see why they need pads and need helmets.テつ Especially as well, I guess, with rugby‑‑ in football as well, you're not allowed to go in with your head, but you hear the helmets crash together and it's like aah.テつ But I can obviously see the reason why.

Q.テつ If I could follow up with the question about going around the world, can you say what you're doing after Ryder Cup, I guess China's probably on the European Tour schedule?
RORY MCILROY:テつ After Ryder Cup I'm going to play the Dunhill Links with my dad.テつ It's going to be my dad's 55th birthday on Sunday.テつ Hopefully we're playing St. Andrews on that day if we make the cut in the team event.
Then I'm taking‑‑ sort of taking three weeks off.テつ I'm playing the Grand Slam in Bermuda that sort of weekend between.テつ I'll be there sort of four or five days.テつ And then the week before I go to China I'll be in Dubai.テつ I'll do a practice week in Dubai.
And then I'll play the two events in China, BMW, HSBC; I'll take a week off; play Dubai; and then go back down to Australia and defend.テつ And that brings me up until the last week in November.テつ And then I'm done for the year.

Q.テつ This is the first time since 1992 that Tiger and Phil have not played in the TOUR Championship.テつ Do you feel like that symbolizes a changing of the guard?
RORY MCILROY:テつ Not really.テつ I mean, Phil has played well in parts this year.テつ He came really close to winning the PGA.テつ He's had a few good‑‑ I feel like he's gotten a little better as the year has went on.
But it's a lot of golf for him to play in such a short space of time.テつ So you could see he was getting a little tired the last couple of weeks.テつ And, I mean, Tiger's not here just because he's been injured or he is injured.テつ He hasn't had the opportunity to play.
But I think if he gets back and when he gets back to full fitness, you'll see him back here again.テつ So I'm not sure‑‑ they're just getting older.テつ Phil's 43 or whatever he is and Tiger's nearly 40.テつ So they're getting into the sort of last few holes of their career.テつ And that's what happens.テつ You get injured.テつ Phil has to deal with an arthritic condition as well.テつ So it obviously just gets harder as you get older.テつ I'll be able to tell you in 20years how it feels.

Q.テつ Do you remember what you were doing in '92?
RORY MCILROY:テつ Getting ready for kindergarten, I guess.テつ (Laughter.)テつ Parents were getting me ready for that.

Q.テつ I wanted to know, when did you first start playing golf?テつ Who introduced to you the sport and why did you choose golf as your career?
RORY MCILROY:テつ I first started playing golf when I was two years old.テつ Golf was always in my family.テつ My dad was a good player, and he was the one who introduced me to the game.
I grew up five minutes away from my local golf course.テつ So seemed like any time I didn't have to do anything I was there.
And, I mean, basically chose golf as a career path because it was the only thing I was good at.テつ But, no, I love the game.テつ I loved the game from a very early age.テつ And I worked hard at it.テつ And ever since I was nine or ten years old, all I wanted to do was play golf and try and be the best player in the world.
And it's pretty cool that I'm able to sort of live my dream.テつ So it's been a fantastic journey so far.テつ And hopefully there's a lot of new good things to come in the future.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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