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March 4, 2016

Rory McIlroy

Miami, Florida

Q. Start by giving us your thoughts on the round today, another great found for you.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was. It was much better. I feel like I played similarly from tee-to-green. That really hasn't been the issue over the past few weeks. But the putter was really what was the big difference. You know, held a really good par putt on 4, and then I made four birdies in a row after that to sort of get the round going.

There was a lot of big momentum putts in there that I had not been holing. So to see those drop today and to be as comfortable as I was, it feels really good, and obviously very happy with where I'm at going into the weekend.

Q. Not to be overly dramatic, does it take some courage for a player of your level to take a totally new putting stroke into a tournament as big as this? I know it's not a major but it's --
RORY McILROY: It's funny, I've been playing it around in my head a little bit about making the switch. And the one thing that I was sort of worried about was the McIlroy copying Spieth. That was my big thing. That was the whole thing for me was that.

But it's felt really comfortable, it really has. As I said, I'd done it before my rookie year on The European Tour in 2008. Yeah, I've hit a lot of putts in practice with my left hand only, and I feel like just having the left hand lower, it keeps that feeling. With the right hand going on there, it's more of a guide than anything else.

I don't think it takes that much courage. I mean, in my mind, it couldn't really have gotten any worse. So why not make a change, and the change is feeling very comfortable at the minute, and as I said at the start of the week, I'm willing to stick with it for as long as I can.

Q. Are you at all surprised how quickly the results have come, even though you're only just a couple rounds in?
RORY McILROY: Not necessarily, because it has felt so good in practice. And I've always said there, should be zero difference between the practice green and out there on the course. You know, you're hitting putts -- it's the same thing. Obviously the circumstances are slightly different but if you break it down to the simplest form, that putt on the practice green is the same as a putt on the course. I've seen improvements on the putting green, so it's nice to see those improvements translate on to the golf course.

Q. Was there a difference today walking off this golf course today? Yesterday you had over 30 putts and today only 23; your emotions you have now after making this change?
RORY McILROY: Look, even though I didn't hole as many putts yesterday, I didn't doubt what I was doing for one second. I knew that this was the right way forward for me. But of course, the emotions are slightly different; coming off the course and shooting 7-under to doubling the last last night and shooting 1-under, it's a bit different. Very comfortable with where it is and very happy with where it is. It was nice to make that putt on the last, because I had great chances on 16 and 17 to make birdies, and you know, I saw Adam got to 10-under par after 17, and I really wanted to make that putt on 18 just to try and stay with him going into the weekend.

It was a great putt to finish with, and obviously gives me a lot of confidence going into the weekend.

Q. When is the last time you had 23 putts or better in a tournament round?
RORY McILROY: I don't know. I'm not sure. I hit a few fringes out there, as well. So that 23 is probably a little -- I would say the amount of times I used the putter, it was probably more like 25 or 26. But still, great. If I could average between 26 and 28 putts I round, I would be very happy.

Q. The Spieth and Rory, what did you think the perception would be?
RORY McILROY: You see so many styles out here now and people having to go from anchored putters to something a little more conventional and you see what Adam's done and Adam's worked really hard.

All of us out here, we're good enough to make anything work, as long as you believe in it and you trust it and you work hard enough at it. I think that's the thing. If I wanted to go to the claw or if I wanted to, and I spend enough time out, I could make it work. But this is the one that just feels really comfortable to me.

You know, you see so many different ways to get the ball in the hole out here, and me changing from conventional to left below right I don't think is a huge difference.

Q. Jordan likes to give people a go; did he say anything to you the last two days?
RORY McILROY: "You've switched to the dark side, I see." That's what he said. (Laughter).

I had a chat with him about it, and I played nine holes with Justin Thomas on Wednesday, as well, and he's left below right. He went to the left below right for a couple of the same reasons that I did. I felt like when I put my right hand on the grip, I -- to square my shoulders up, my right hand got stronger and stronger, that's why it got a little bit more active.

So to be able to put your hands on the grip and know your shoulders are perfectly square before you even try to hit a putt, knowing that your fundamentals and everything are set, it makes it much easier to just, you know, not think about that and rock your shoulders and make a good stroke.

Q. All that said about feeling comfortable with it and being committed to it regardless of how you putted, was a round like this, I don't want to say necessary, but --
RORY McILROY: Definitely it was needed, it was. It was needed to, I mean, I just needed to play a round without as many mistakes. The birdies were there. I've been making birdies. That's not been the problem. It's eliminating these mistakes that I've been making, and to play a round with only one bogey was really nice.

I'm probably more happy about that than the eight birdies I made out there to be honest with you, because the last few rounds, it's just been great shots mixed with poor shots and short-siding myself, mental errors. I could make six birdies, but if you're making six bogeys or worse, you're not really going to make any ground. It was nice to play a pretty much flawless round, and I think the difference was holing those par putts when I needed to.

Q. What did you work on on the practice green last night?
RORY McILROY: I worked more on speed. I just hit a lot of long putts, a lot of lag putts, because I felt like my speed was off. So just trying to get a little more feel into it. Not really worrying too much -- I mean, obviously I'm gripping it differently but then it's just about trying to get a feel for the greens.

I think, as well, I'm striking the ball so much better off the putter and it's coming off so much softer that I don't have to be afraid of hitting it hard because the roll is so much better and the consistency of the strike is so much better; that I know that I can give putts a go and they are not going to roll way past or get low early. It's been good.

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