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May 19, 2016

Rory McIlroy

Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland

RORY McILROY: I tried to really focus on being 100 per cent ready whenever the gun went off there on the first tee and felt like I've done that pretty well for the most part. Hit the ball well from tee-to-green. Took a few of my chances. I basically did everything I wanted to there and I feel like 5-under is a fair reflection of how I played today.

Q. The way the last few months have gone since winning in November in Dubai, you're ready to win; it's written all over your game. Is this the kind of week that it would be so sweet to do it?
RORY McILROY: It would be. I just get goosebumps thinking about it, so I can't really think about it too much now.

Yeah, to win here, no matter what the circumstances are, whether I've won the week before or whether I haven't won in six months, to win The Irish Open would be something that would be very special, and I've got off to a great start towards doing that this week. Just have to keep playing the way I did today.

Q. Just the way you've handled the difficult condition of the golf course weather-wise over the years, are you a better bad conditions player, because there are not great conditions forecast for the weekend.
RORY McILROY: I feel like I am. I feel like out there I controlled my ball flight well. It makes it a lot easier, as well, when your ball doesn't go anywhere when it hits the ground. You know what it's going to do in the air and you know it's not really going to get away from you once it hits the ground. It is pretty soft out there, so even though it is windy, it's still pretty much target off out there at the minute.

Q. At 67, equals your best ever opening round of The Irish Open. Do you feel that's a very good 67 or is there even more out there?
RORY McILROY: I think there was more out there. I thought it was a very comfortable 67. Get to go 5-under par after 13 with a couple par 5s to come in, had a bit of a blip on 14 with a 3-putt. But apart from that, I felt like I played pretty well.

But it was nice to get an opening round like that and get a score like that under my belt, because I know what's out there now. I know if I go out and play well and the conditions are similar that I can go even better than that.

Q. You spoke a lot this week about how disappointed you were with your record in this tournament in recent years. Do you feel a weight off your shoulders starting this tournament so well?
RORY McILROY: Not really. It's only one day. Still have to make the cut tomorrow. But look, until I get into contention in this event and finally win it, I don't feel like any weight will be lifted off my shoulders. Going to have to try as hard as I possibly can and focus as much as I can and try and get the job done this week.

Q. When you look at the leaderboard, yourself and the Masters Champion at the top, are these the names you wanted to see when you got involved with your name this tournament?
RORY McILROY: Exactly. It's a great day one. Hopefully it entices people to come out and watch the golf over the next three days. Having Danny here is a huge help, and him playing like he did today, and me playing like I did, it would be great if we could have a battle over the weekend and get the crowds to flock in. It would be one that I'd be looking forward to.

Q. Did that the R&A's decision to drop Muirfield from the Open rotation surprise you shock you?
RORY McILROY: As Open Champion, I don't feel like it makes any difference. I probably had my worst professional week of my career at Muirfield, so I don't feel that bad not going back to be honest. My memories are Muirfield aren't very good.

Bigger picture, it's a great golf course, but there's so many other great golf courses that we play on the Open rota that we're not going to miss one. As I said over there, I think it's more their loss than it is the R&A's or our loss. If that's what they want to do, obviously it's a free world and they can do that. But they must have known that it was going to cause this sort of controversy.

Q. And they are right --
RORY McILROY: Of course they are right. It's taken long enough. Even R&A only started letting women join last year or whatever it was. It's about time that they did.

Q. Is the potential damage to golf's image more important?
RORY McILROY: Definitely, when we have such a strong ladies tour; we've got the Olympics coming up, which is all about including everyone. The girls are going to get so much exposure from being in the Olympics with the men, like they were at the U.S. Open last year.

So it's 2016 and times move on. Women make more than men these days, maybe as much as we don't like it or whatever. It is what it is. I think everyone should have the opportunity to join a club if they want to.

Yeah, I think for golf's image, as we are trying to break out of this stuffy, old; we are trying to become more with the times and trying to do things to make golf faster, make golf cooler, make more people included. Yeah, today wasn't a great day to do that.

Q. There's a similar consultation process going on with Portmarnock.
RORY McILROY: I had a good chat with Gavin Caldwell about this, and it's the same thing. I'd love Portmarnock to obviously change their rules and to get the Irish Open there one year would be fantastic. But it's never going to go there if they don't change the rules. They are never going to get any tournament really, and maybe they don't want to, I don't know, but they are never going to get any tournament if they don't change those rules. Look, it is what it is.

Q. When is the last time you got goosebumps about golf?
RORY McILROY: Probably when Seville scored last night (laughter). But you're talking about winning The Irish Open, and yeah, it gets you going. It's a big thing, especially with how I've played here the last few years, it's been very disappointing. As I said, it's day one. There's a lot of golf to play but it's a very encouraging start.

Q. Were you aware what Dan I was doing behind you?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, of course. He was going well. I don't know how he finished. 18 was very birdieable. You see the leaderboard. Apart from Danny and I and maybe a 4 and a 3, there wasn't really many low scores out there. Maybe we just saw a different golf course than the rest of the guys out there.

Q. Can you catch up --
RORY McILROY: It's the second day so you just have to focus on yourself and not really think about anyone else. There's so much more golf to play. There's 54 holes and a lot can happen.

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