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May 18, 2016

Rory McIlroy

Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thanks as always for joining us.

RORY McILROY: My pleasure.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: You may notice two trophies on the table next to young Rory, that's for his deeds of last year, and I'd love to invite, Keith Pelley, our Chief Executive, to come present them to him.

KEITH PELLEY: Good morning, everybody. As Gibbo just said, I'm here to recognise Rory's achievements in 2015, but before I do that, I certainly want to acknowledge and thank him for his participation this week, his unwavering support.

The Irish Open now with Dubai Duty Free and the Rory Foundation all part of it, has made it a critical event on our schedule. Rory's involvement has just elevated it. Our prize purse has doubled to that of last year, and to raise money for your foundation and to create a stronger bond with Dubai Duty Free.

On behalf of The European Tour and everybody I know here in Ireland, thank you for your contribution and your support to your foundation, so thank you very much.

RORY McILROY: My pleasure, thank you. Keith.

KEITH PELLEY: Regarding 2015, it was an interesting year for Rory, I'll let him speak about it. For anybody else, it would have been a dream season, but obviously with his injury, he missed a couple of months and a chance to win some other large tournaments.

But despite that, for him still to win the Harry Vardon Trophy, our Order of Merit, for him to still be voted Player of the Year by his peers, is a testament to his skill and his determination.

He obviously won the Dubai Desert Classic. He won the Cadillac WGC in America. And then he won the DP World Tour Championship. That was something else. It was quite a battle that day with Andy Sullivan. I remember seeing the putt on 17, and Andy kind of looking at you and just saying, "Okay, he's just unbelievably good." But it is a testament to Rory in a year that he is injured to win the Order of Merit and Harry Vardon Trophy.

There is no question that this year, Danny Willett is currently leading our Race to Dubai and has kind of thrown the gauntlet down. I know that is a challenge that somebody like Rory relishes and looks forward to, to a very strong season now to be very competitive to defend The Race to Dubai.

So I'm excited about what we have in store, but first I want to congratulate you on a great 2015, and a remarkable achievement considering what you endured, so congratulations.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, look, 2015, as Keith said was an interesting year.

But to sit here and reflect on everything and still come out with these two trophies, obviously the win at the DP World consolidated The Race to Dubai for me.

And any time you get Player of the Year and get recognition from your peers, I think that's one of the biggest accomplishments you can achieve in any walk of life. If the guys that are competing against you know what you've had to sacrifice and what you've had to work at to achievement that; that means an awful lot to me. I'm very grateful and very honoured and very humbled to win that award again.

And as Keith said, Danny Willett seems to, he's obviously the favorite for that this year with leading The Race to Dubai. He's over a million Euros ahead of me in that, and obviously won the Masters, which was a great achievement. That might mean I'll have to maybe add a couple more European Tour events to my schedule to try to catch up to him at the end of the year, but looking forward to the challenge.

Obviously delighted to win these trophies again and I'm going to give it my best shot to try and defend them this year.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Just want to start us off with your thoughts on the week, obviously big week ahead and an exciting one for you.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, for sure. The Irish Open, it always was, but even more so now, it's become one of the most important weeks of the year for me, obviously for a couple of different reasons. We're here to try and raise as much money as we possibly can for three local charities in the Dublin area, but also it's a tournament that I desperately would love to win one day.

My performances in this event, obviously over the past three years, but going beyond that, haven't been to what I would obviously want. I think my best finish in The Irish Open is a seventh at Adare Manor in 2008, my first Irish Open as a professional, and since then it really hasn't been that good, one other Top-10 at Portrush.

I want to really change that this week with a good performance and I feel like my game is in good enough shape to do that. Coming off a couple decent weeks in the States where I felt like I played better than what the results suggested, so I'm looking forward to the week. The K Club here is a golf course where I feel like I can do well on. It sets up well for me.

I'm looking forward to the week. I'm excited to get going tomorrow and get stuck into the tournament and hopefully shoot a few good scores and get myself right up there for Sunday.

Q. How do you think you are managing your commitments this week compared to last year?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I learned a lot from last year. I think there was times where I spread myself a little bit too thin last year with a lot of commitments, and we've tried to scale that back a little bit this year. Last night with the Q&A was one of the biggest things I had to do, and obviously playing the Pro-Am and doing this today.

But once all this is over and done with, once the tournament starts, I really don't have many other commitments, so I'm trying to really focus on the tournament when we get going tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon.

So I learned a lot from last year and know that if I want to play well this week, which is the main objective, I have to really focus on the event for when we get started.

Q. How did last night go with Sir Alex, and what do you make of Man-United not making the Champions League?
RORY McILROY: I thought last night went really well. I enjoy looking back over the past sort of ten years, eight, nine years, of my professional career. It's sometimes nice to relive some of those memories that you forget about.

I haven't thought about the win at Congressional in 2011 for a long time, and getting to reminisce about it is nice. And then talking about the ups and downs, as well. I think everyone likes to hear those stories and hear things they haven't heard before, I guess, so it's nice to be able to share those.

As a Man-United fan, to be able to listen to Sir Alex and listen to him talking about stories about him winning the Champions League and even starting at Man-United, the dark days, and everything that happened in between, I was just as intrigued as the audience were out there when he was speaking last night. It was a great thrill to share the stage with him.

United not making the Champions League, it's obviously not ideal, but hopefully they can bounce back with a good season next season and get themselves back in there, so we'll see.

Q. This course, how much have you played it? What do you make of it?
RORY McILROY: I haven't played it much at all. I played 18 holes here back when I was about 18, I think just after I turned pro. And then I played the back nine yesterday and that's it. I've played 27 holes on this golf course. I'll obviously play 18 later on in the Pro-Am, but I don't really know it that well.

I came here as a spectator in 2006 to watch the singles of The Ryder Cup and had a great day, but yeah, I don't really know the golf course that well. Hopefully I can get a good feel for it today and be ready to go tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned obviously your poor record relatively in this event. Apart from last year when you obviously had other things on your mind, is there anything you can put your finger onto why it has not clicked for you in this event?
RORY McILROY: No, not really. I think maybe the pressure of playing at home, we don't get to play at home very often and maybe trying a bit too hard or putting a bit too much pressure on myself.

And again, there was obviously reasons I wanted to get involved in this tournament and one of those reasons was because I wanted to be here. I wanted to contribute something, where coming to The Irish Open was becoming more of a burden instead of being something that I relished and something that I enjoyed to do.

So being able to get involved and not just play for myself but play for other people and help other people out, I enjoy that part of it. I want to come here. I want to help out. I want to try to make this one of the best tournaments in the world, and I feel like we've made a few good strides towards doing that.

Q. What would it mean to you to finally eventually win an Irish Open if it was to happen?
RORY McILROY: It would be huge. I think anyone that plays professional golf, they dream of winning their home open, whether it's an American dreaming of winning the U.S. Open or a German or a Spaniard or whatever. Winning your home open in front of your home crowd, your home fans, you don't get very many opportunities to do it, so it would be very special.

As I said, my performances here over the past few years haven't been great, so I think it would make it even more special this year if I were to do it because how I've played, but also being able to do it in front of everyone that has supported me all throughout the years. It's definitely one tournament that is missing from my C.V. that I would love to add.

Q. I know there's kind of pressure playing at The Irish Open, I know you spoke about golf in the Olympics at Quail Hollow; what pressure do you feel like it would be going to the Olympics and hopefully winning a medal?
RORY McILROY: Honestly, because you're not at home, I don't feel like there's -- honestly, I feel like it will be just like any other event. I feel like I represent Ireland or Northern Ireland every week that I play, so I don't feel like it will be any different really.

And because you're not playing in front of your home fans, I feel like it won't be -- I'll probably feel more pressure this week than I will at the Olympics.

Q. You mentioned Alex Ferguson. There's talk that J├╝rgen Klopp will might have some part to play in The Ryder Cup. Will you listen to him as intently as you did to Alex Ferguson?
RORY McILROY: I think Jurgen Kloop is great. I mean, his personality, his interviews, his energy, he's fantastic. If that's what Darren wants, if Darren wants to get him in to try to help in some way, that would be fantastic. It would be great to spend some time with him and I think it would be a great thing for the team.

Q. And there's talk of Paul O'Connell maybe having some involvement, as well.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, actually, I spent a bit of time with Paul O'Connell in Barbados a couple weeks ago, and I had a really great chat with him one night over dinner about how professional he was and obviously his success in his career and everything. I really enjoyed that. I feel like if we could get Paul in to talk about a few things, it would really benefit the team.

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