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March 4, 2015
PAUL SYMES:¬† Thanks for joining us, as always.¬† Coming here on the back of a slightly disappointing week but we can forgive you that for once.¬† Have you been working hard on your game since and rectified a few of the faults?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, I guess after coming off a three‑week break, you never quite know how your game is going to be when you come back.¬† It wasn't a bad week to see where I was.¬† I identified a few things I needed to work on over the weekend, and feel like I've addressed those.¬† And it was mostly just to do with playing in the wind.¬† I wasn't comfortable playing a few shots that I needed last week at PGA National.
Luckily it was still pretty windy over the last couple of days at home, so got to play in the wind and even the practice round out there earlier, the wind got up on the back nine, so it was nice to be able to come and play some of the shots that I think I'll need this week.
But yeah, I just practiced and played a little bit, and at least I know going into this week where my game is.¬† So even if things maybe don't go my way at some point during the round, I'll know how to manage it a little bit better.¬† Excited to get back at it this week and obviously try to putt in a better performance than last week.
PAUL SYMES:¬† The course, a lot of the guys are saying it's the best condition they have seen, would you go along with that?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, for sure.¬† I mean, I felt even last year, with it being so new, the course was in fantastic shape.¬† But the fairways, the greens ‑‑ the greens are very firm again, which going to make it tough.
But yeah, fantastic shape.¬† I think since the course was re‑designed, the last couple of years the course has been in fantastic shape.¬† The previous years it had been a little bit scraggly and sort of messy in places.¬† But they have done a really nice job with it.¬† Yeah, looking forward to getting out there.
Q.¬† When you got home after the few miles drive on Friday, how did you react?¬† Did you kick the cat or‑‑ have you got a cat?
RORY McILROY:¬† If I had one, I would of (laughter).¬† No, saying that‑‑ that's animal cruelty, I don't do that, that's bad.¬† (Laughter) I'll retract that comment.
It was okay.¬† Look, in fairness, if I was going to miss a weekend, it wasn't a bad one to miss, being at home and with all the delays and everything.¬† It gave me a bit of time to work on my game and work on what I needed to.
So yeah, I was fine.¬† Friday night it was my mom's birthday, so we went out for a nice dinner and had a nice time, and got back to work on Saturday, practiced as much as I could in between all the weather.¬† And then Sunday, I had a good day.¬† Yeah, just worked on my game.¬† Played the Seminole Pro‑Member on Monday and came down here yesterday.
So I feel the last few days have been good, very productive, and I feel in a better place and probably a little more prepared than I was last week.
Q.¬† And shooting that 63, what did that do for you?
RORY McILROY:¬† It was good.¬† I played really well on Monday at Seminole.¬† I think I hit every green.¬† The course was soft, so it wasn't playing like it usually does.
But to shoot a score like that around that calibre of golf course is always nice.¬† I guess it just shows, my game is there.¬† I just struggled a little bit in the wind last week, but I feel like I've rectified that since.
Q.¬† Just following up on the Seminole question, what does that do for you, just having your name on the wall there and having that kind of round, that kind of performance, given all the history there and so forth?¬† And secondly, did you take anything out of last week, or is it just, flush it away and move on?
RORY McILROY:¬† It is, it's nice to have my name up on the board.¬† I would play Seminole quite a lot when I'm at home, probably once a week.¬† So to walk into that locker room all the time and have your name up there on the board‑‑ that Pro‑Member board, it's a pretty cool board to look at.¬† You have all the greats of the game are basically up there.
So that's nice.¬† And from last week, I mean, I took a little bit from it in terms of where I made mistakes and what I needed to do differently.¬† My second shot on 6 in the second round, which would have been my, what, 15th hole, that sort of summed up my‑‑ pin was on the left, wind was hard off the left, water was left.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† And justusually for me, it's just a nice held draw into that wind to the middle of the green.¬† And just this ‑‑ yeah, hit a shot that isn't really like me.¬† So I knew there was something not quite right there.¬† Just went and worked on it at the weekend.
I took a little from it in terms of what I needed to do coming into this week, and as I say, I feel like I've worked on it and it should be better.
Q.¬† Can you describe your level of anticipation going into the Masters?
RORY McILROY:¬† I mean, it's always exciting.¬† I'm not‑‑ I don't really feel any more anticipation this year than I do any other year.¬† I'm really just focused on the next couple events that I'm playing and try and play well there, and then after that, all I'll be working on is getting ready for Augusta.
But right now, I guess I'm just taking it week‑by‑week, and then after Bay Hill, then I'm sure I'll start to think about it a little bit more and start to, every practice session will be, you know, looking ahead and what shots I'll need, and even asking the guys at The Bear's Club to speed the greens up and cut the aprons at a certain height and all that sort of stuff.
But right now, I'm just focused on this week and Bay Hill in a couple weeks' time and try to play well in those events.
Q.¬† You've been with JP a long time.¬† You're a different golfer, a different person than when you guys started out.¬† What do you think is the key to the longevity of that partnership?
RORY McILROY:¬† I think we have a good chemistry.¬† JP's been with me from the start.¬† He's seen it all, basically, from I was 18 years old and 200 in the world to obviously where I am today.
You know, he knows my game as well as I do, really.¬† He's with me a lot of the time.¬† I never really get sick of‑‑ you know, you're spending eight hours a day with someone.¬† There is going to be times where you feel like you just need your own space, but I've never really felt that with JP.¬† It's always been quite a good relationship that way.¬† Maybe he feels about me sometimes, I don't know (laughter).
But it's just, it's worked well.¬† We've had a lot of success together, and when we click, we know what works.¬† I've never really seen any reason to change.
Q.¬† Obviously, probably at this point you can't go into any major anymore under the radar.¬† Obviously with what's at stake at the Masters and what you achieved last year, it's even ratcheted up even more and you've been getting questions about it since the PGA.¬† Does it make it more difficult, or is it something you prefer that you didn't have these kind of questions all the time, or is it just part of it; nothing you can do.
RORY McILROY:¬† I'd rather have‑‑ I think I'd rather have the questions, because it's obviously a great position to be in going into Augusta and having it be the only major that I haven't won.¬† It's not a bad position to be in.
There's always excitement and anticipation and hype that surrounds Augusta every year, and I feel it regardless if I'm going in as the favorite or under the radar or whatever.¬† Still, it's the first tournament, first major tournament of the year.¬† Really, the start of the golfing season for the general public.¬† Augusta is the kick‑off, really, even though we've got some great events leading up to it.¬† For the general public that don't tune in to watch golf that often, Augusta is sort of the start of the season.
There's always hype.¬† There's always buildup.¬† My name is getting thrown around a little bit more than it used to, but I'm okay with that.
Q.¬† Just sort of going back to what happened last weekend, given the run of success that you'd had particularly in Europe where you started first or second, when that sort of thing comes along, is that a jolt that actually you need and you can turn into a positive?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, as I said, I could have approached it two ways.¬† I could have really got down on myself and sort of wondered, where did that come from, or look at it and say, okay, well, this was the first event from a three‑week break, and there was a few things in my game that weren't quite sharp enough; and I went away and worked on those, and hopefully make sure that it doesn't happen again this week.
But sometimes you need a little, you know, kick in the backside to make you realize what you need to do.¬† So as I say, it wasn't a bad thing.¬† I mean, I wasn't‑‑ I mean, I was disappointed, but I feel like it's given me clarity on what I needed to do with my game going into the next few weeks.
Q.¬† Which is significant given the weeks that are ahead?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, exactly.
Q.¬† Despite your own disappointment last week, how pleased were you for P√°draig to win, and how much has he been a source of encouragement and inspiration in your own career?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, it was great to see P√°draig win, after everything that he's been through.¬† You know, it just shows like perseverance and working hard and just having the belief that things will turn around.
It was, it was great to see.¬† It was great to see him win.¬† It will get him into the Masters again and all that sort of stuff.¬† It was great to see.
I haven't spent that much time with P√°draig over the course of my career to be honest.¬† I've spent a little bit of time with him but when I was starting my pro career back in‑‑ I won the Silver Medal at Carnoustie when he won his first Open, and then watching Birkdale, and then Oakland Hills on TV when he won The Open and the PGA back‑to‑back, that was very inspiring.¬† And I think that inspired a lot of, not just Irish golfers, but a lot of European Tour players, as well, give them the belief.¬† I know it gave G‑Mac a lot of belief to do what he did at Pebble.¬† It had sort of a bit of a knock‑on effect, P√°draig doing that, and I guess me seeing G‑Mac do what he did, and then I did it and having Darren see what we were doing and he went and won The Open in ¬Ď11.¬† I think that's where it all started for us.¬† P√°draig was the guy that sort of kick started that run of great golf by the Irish guys.
Q.¬† When you get past Bay Hill, what specific shots will you work on with Augusta in mind?
RORY McILROY:¬† I think obviously the draw is important, which is something that I struggled to do last week, to hit the ball right‑to‑left and to hold it up in the strong left‑to‑right winds, that was something I really struggled with.¬† Which usually isn't a problem for me but just with how I'm swinging at the minute.
Without getting too technical, it's just getting a little too far away from the plane on the way down.¬† Predominant ball flight for the last few weeks has been more left‑to‑right.¬† So working on getting comfortable with just turning the ball right‑to‑left for a start.
Then, Augusta is all about the greens.¬† It's all about being comfortable on greens that are that fast and that undulating.¬† A lot of the run‑offs are sort of tight lies.¬† So I guess getting comfortable with maybe a variation of shots around the greens where it's sort of hard to bump the ball up at Augusta because the grass is so sticky, it doesn't really try to go up the hill for you.
But just get as comfortable as I can around the greens.¬† Tell the guys at The Bear's Club to try to get the greens as fast as they can and cut the aprons down so that when I get to Augusta, I'm comfortable playing all the shots that I really need that week.
Q.¬† Will you prepare differently this time around?
RORY McILROY:¬† Not really.¬† I'm going to go up there next week for a couple of days to play it.¬† But it's more I'm going up with my dad and a few friends, so it's more of a social thing rather than anything else.¬† But at least it will be good to see it.¬† I don't think there's been any changes this year, so just re‑familiarize myself with everything.¬† Obviously the course will be playing a lot slower and a lot longer as it does during the week but it's always good just to get up there and feel comfortable with the place again.
Q.¬† Some of the strongest lessons you've learned on the golf course, do they come more out of winning or from failures and can you give us an example?
RORY McILROY:¬† Definitely from failures.¬† I don't really‑‑ I don't feel like you learn that much with your wins or success.¬† I think you learn about yourself and you learn that you can handle the pressure or you can do certain things under pressure that you mightn't have done before.
But definitely during your losses is where you learn the most.¬† I've always said that the last round at Augusta in ¬Ď11 was a huge learning curve for me and I took a lot from that day, just how I approach final rounds, and especially when you're in the lead and there's a bit of pressure there.
But yeah, I think you learn a lot more from your mistakes, you always do, because you make a mistake and you try to make sure that you don't make it again.¬† That's sort of‑‑
Q.¬† Do you win Congressional without the failure at Augusta?
RORY McILROY:¬† No.¬† No way¬Ė
Q.¬† Maybe a different score --
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, maybe (laughter).¬† No, I put a lot of that win has to do with what happened at Augusta a couple of months previous.
Q.¬† When you were younger and watching golf, did you appreciate and enjoy rivalries?¬† And now that you have a strong hold on No. 1, do you feel there's a lack of that for you from No. 1 to the next tier down?¬† Do you feel your contemporaries are potential candidates for that?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, I always enjoyed a good like duel on the back nine of a Sunday, no matter who it was, whether it was Tiger and Phil, or Phil and Ernie, or Vijay and Tiger, whoever it was.¬† I guess even back ten, 15 years ago, they were the guys that were‑‑ I mean, you've got the whole Tiger/Phil rivalry, and again, it's hard to call that a rivalry just because of the records.¬† I know they had a great battle here in like ¬Ď04 or ¬Ď05.
But yeah, I mean, in other sports, there's been some great rivalries.¬† You've got Federer, Nadal.¬† It seems like in tennis, you've had a lot of Sampras, Agassi, a lot of those sort of rivalries.¬† In golf, I feel like there hasn't been as much of that, just because of the nature of it.¬† It's not like you're playing against the guy.¬† You're playing the golf course and you're trying to shoot the best score.
So it's very hard that ‑‑ everything has to fall into place that you get maybe the two guys that everyone wants to go head‑to‑head against each other; I think it only happened to Tiger and Phil a handful of times in their career.
So I said it last week, I think golf is in a great place.¬† There's a lot of great young players that are coming through, along with still the veterans that have been doing it for 15 or 20 years.
You know, maybe one day‑‑ there's obviously a lot of guys that could put their hand up and start to win some majors, and whether Jordan or Rickie or Patrick Reed or Jason Day or Hideki Matsuyama, there's a lot of guys that could potentially get their hands on some majors, and then it would be a nice little group going forward.
Q.¬† Provided you stay No. 1 as long as you like or whatever, would you embrace a Jordan coming up so you did have a Tiger, Phil, going back to the Jack, Arnie days, would you embrace that for yourself and the game?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, of course.¬† I think more for the game rather than myself.¬† I think any time that we can have some extra exposure for the game or make it more exciting, I'm all for it.¬† But again, for myself, it's not like I would say I had a rivalry with someone.¬† That's not what I'm thinking about on the first tee on Thursday.¬† I'm just thinking about going out and shooting the best score that I can.
Q.¬† The Masters is the first major you nearly won.¬† Are you surprised it's still the last one that you need, and if so, why?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, if you had of told me that I'd won a U.S. Open before a Masters, I'd have been surprised.¬† But, the U.S. Open that I won was quite different than what U.S. Opens usually are.
But yeah, it sets up well for me.¬† I'm very comfortable at Augusta from tee‑to‑green, and as I was saying to Alan earlier, it just being comfortable around the greens and making sure that you're comfortable with every shot that you're going to face that week, and being comfortable with the pace of the greens, the undulations.
So I'm not‑‑ it just so happens that this is the one that I haven't won yet.¬† It's not a bad thing.¬† It's a nice position to be in going into Augusta this year, but if it doesn't happen this year, I've got hopefully a lot of years to try and do it.¬† So I'm not putting too much pressure on myself.
Q.¬† We've seen players win the Masters while showing little form going into it, and then others like Tiger, who feed off victories going to Augusta.¬† Which category would you place yourself in, and if it's the latter, what are you looking for from these next two events?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, it's funny, with my four majors, I had a little bit of form going into Congressional.¬† I was playing well, but I didn't have any other victories that year going into it.¬† Kiawah, I wasn't playing very well going into that.¬† I had a good week the week before, which gave me some confidence.¬† I mean, I had some good form going into The Open last year, but I mean, it was coming off the back of a 23rd at the U.S. Open and a 14th at The Scottish Open, so it wasn't like my form was stellar.¬† And then the PGA, obviously I had won a couple of times going in there.
So seems like they have all been sort of different.¬† I think the best way to go in is to have confidence and have some good results leading into it.¬† I mean, I think that's the best way to go in.¬† But sometimes if you go in with low expectations, that can help, as well.
So I don't know, there's many ways to do it, and I really‑‑ if things were to go the right way at Augusta, I wouldn't care if I was going in there with two wins or two missed cuts or whatever.
But I want to play well the next couple of events, and at least give myself some confidence going in there.
Q.¬† Because we've been talking about this ever since you walked off the course at Hoylake, is there almost a false sense of urgency about trying to win this career slam this year, and is that maybe more because you won the PGA, as well and you're going for three in a row and do you have to guard against that?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, I think there is a bit of that, a bit of a false sense of urgency, because this isn't going to be, touch wood, if this table's wood, it's not going to be the only Masters I play in for the rest of my career.¬† So I will hopefully have many more opportunities to try and win it.
But yeah, after my previous couple of performances in the majors, I can see why it has got like this.¬† I mean, I'm going for three majors in a row, going for my first Masters.¬† If I win Augusta, I have the chance to hold all four at one point.¬† There's a lot of story line.¬† I know there's a lot, but it can be talked about but I'm trying not to think about it too much.¬† Just go in there and prepare as best as I can, and try and execute the game plan as well as I can, and if I can do that, then hopefully all those shots at the end of the week add up to a score that's lower than everyone else's.
PAUL SYMES:¬† Great stuff, many thanks, Rory.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports