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September 27, 2016

Rory McIlroy

Minneapolis, Minnesota

JOHN DEVER: Welcome to the 41st Ryder Cup. Pleased to be joined by Rory McIlroy, Ryder Cup Europe.

Rory, congratulations on your two wins, in essence, on Sunday, THE TOUR Championship and the FedExCup. Maybe you can tell us, is it easy to carry momentum from a stroke-play event like that over to major championship such as The Ryder Cup?

RORY McILROY: I think personally for me, I think the just all about I'm confident in my game; I'm confident coming in here, and I feel like I'm obviously playing pretty well.

I don't know how much bearing it will have on the team as a whole. Obviously I'm very excited to get going again and play, but you know, just happy with where my game is. And it was a nice little prep battling with Ryan on Sunday there, and I was actually very glad to see that he got the pick, because the way he played down the stretch, he really deserved that. I'm glad he's here this week.

Yeah, you know, look, I'm excited to be here. Fourth Ryder Cup for myself. Never experienced a loss before and obviously that's the goal this week again, is to take that Cup home.

JOHN DEVER: Maybe you can talk about your relationship with your captain, and is there any difference for you, playing for a captain from Northern Ireland, as opposed to José Maria; is that different for you?

RORY McILROY: I've been very fortunate, everyone in Europe has been very fortunate to play under some great captains, but especially the last two. McGinley at Gleneagles was the best captain that I had ever played under. I had a very special relationship with Paul.

And again, with Darren, I met Darren for the first time on my 10th birthday at Portrush on the practice range at Royal Portrush Golf Club and we've known each other, obviously, ever since. And I was part of his Foundation to try and nurture the talent in Ireland and try to help them come through. My relationship goes back a long way with Darren and it's very special for me this week. I think it's special for both of us, that he is now a Ryder Cup Captain and I'm a player under him.

I've always wanted the win for the captain, but probably even more so this year just because of Darren and the relationship that we have.

Q. When you get on that first tee, I'm looking at special Ryder Cup moments, when you get on that first tee, can you give us a picture of the adrenaline, of the buzz, of just how phrenetic and how pumped up players like you get?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, look, it's an experience that we don't get any other time of the golfing year. You know, we sort of wait once every two years for a moment like that where you get on the first tee.

Look, it's going to be a little bit different than last time. It's going to be a sea of red out there and we're obviously the away team, the underdog. So it will be a little bit of a different vibe for us, but at the same time, it's a great rush.

For me, being over that first tee shot on Friday morning, everything -- even everything that goes on around you, everything when you're over that ball becomes so quiet, and you can hear a pin drop. I mean, from then, you just have to clear your mind and focus on what you're here to do, which is to play golf and hopefully play great golf to help your team win.

Q. You won on Sunday in spectacular fashion holing your birdie. Just wondering how important The Irish Open win was to your season, your confidence, and particularly the way you did it with the two great wood shots on 16 and 18?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, to be honest, I said this after my win on Sunday; that when I've been able to get myself in those positions, I've been able to produce my best golf when I've needed it the most.

Going back to The Irish Open and the two fairway wood shots on Sunday, I had a great battle with Russell Knox there; the way I played in Boston when I had a chance to win and obviously the way I played on Sunday.

If anything, the struggle for me this year has been just trying to get myself in those positions to let my game sort of flourish and do what it needed to do. So I don't really have that problem this week. You're in that position from the first tee, so hopefully I can continue to play the way I've been playing and produce quality shots under pressure like you need to in a Ryder Cup. And as I said, that's all I'm focused on this week is just trying to play the best possible golf that I can and win the most points, and ultimately that will help the team do what we want to achieve.

Q. Let's go back to your 10th birthday. Do you remember Darren saying anything to you in particular, and what did you get for your birthday or was that your present?
RORY McILROY: That was my birthday present to play Royal Portrush, or actually the Valley Course next to it. My dad took me up there for my birthday. I remember I got a new wedge. I got, at the time it was like the Cleveland Rusty Wedge, that was the thing, and that's what I got.

So I was chipping around the chipping green, and that's where Darren was, and he was with a good amateur player from back then, Paddy Gribben. I mean, I was just in awe of him. My 10th birthday wasn't getting any better anyway, and all of a sudden I meet Darren Clarke. He had just won the Match Play earlier that year against Tiger -- or maybe it was -- it something like that, anyway. He had been on a great run, was like Top-10 player in the world and first time to meet him. It was a great birthday for me.

I remember him saying to me, I was chipping around the practice green and he was doing the same thing, and he just said to me, "Practice, practice, practice," and that's always been his motto. I think that's one of the things that has been underestimated about Darren throughout the years is how much of a practicer he was and how much hard work he did put into it.

That day has always stuck with me, and even this week, all those memories come sort of rushing back of the times that we've spent together from Portrush down to Portmarnock where he held his Foundation weekend every year.

Here we are, in the biggest stage of the game, and I'm able to play under him as a Ryder Cup Captain and I'm very much looking forward to that.

Q. Obviously going into your first Ryder Cup, you had a sense of what it was going to be like; you hear about it, you've watched it and everything. But did your perception change after actually playing in it compared to what you thought it would be like? And also, can you compare at all, any Ryder Cup moments to coming down the stretch in your major wins?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think I underestimated what it was going to be like. I made a couple of comments before the 2010 Ryder Cup that seem very stupid now.

But yeah, I had no idea. You know, I had been to Ryder Cups before. I had played in the Junior Ryder Cup. I was at The Ryder Cup in Oakland Hills in 2004. I was at The Ryder Cup in 2006 at The K Club. I was there and thought I knew what it was like, but there's nothing like walking onto that first tee for the first time and feeling that rush and just soaking in the atmosphere.

So I think that's what I've tried to sort of reiterate to the rookies that are on our team. It's like, you think you know what it's like and you think you've played under pressure, but you haven't. You haven't played under what this is going to be like.

It's just trying to make them ready for that and trying to make sure that they are comfortable with where they are. But once you get over that hurdle, that hump of the first tee and everything that goes on with that, you're just down to business and you're just trying to do what you do every day of your life, which is play good golf.

Q. Your status in the team has sort of gradually evolved since Celtic Manor in 2010, and probably at the stage now where you're recognized as probably if not the team leader, certainly one of the team leaders. How do you feel about that situation and how comfortable are you in that role?
RORY McILROY: I've definitely become more comfortable in that role. I think in 2010, and even in 2012, it was something -- well, 2010 a rookie. But 2012, I came into the Ryder Cup No. 1 ranked player in the world. I had just won my second major championship, I won two of the four FedExCup events. I was playing really well, but I still didn't feel like it was my place to be a leader on the team. We had so many other players that had more experience in The Ryder Cup and were older than me, so I still didn't feel like I deserved that role in a way.

But definitely at Gleneagles last time, I embraced that more and I took more responsibility on, and that was really to do with Paul McGinley. I was in constant contact with him and that's what he said he needed from me. I relished that opportunity. I relished the opportunity to sort of rally our guys and be one of the leaders and speak up in the team room when I needed to; but definitely lead my example on the course. I felt like for the first time in a Ryder Cup, I did that last time and hopefully I can do that again.

But I relish that role. I understand it's a big responsibility, but I feel like I'm now ready to take that on my shoulders and hopefully lead by example.

Q. The Americans have made huge changes, and I'm sure you've been tracking those. Is there anything that you've read that leads you to believe that they will present much stiffer opposition for Europe this time around?
RORY McILROY: I mean, look, I think if Europe were in the same position in terms of what America have went through over the past few Ryder Cups, we would be probably doing the same thing and searching for answers a little bit and trying to change it up.

We are very fortunate that we've had this blueprint of success for the last few years and we feel like we just need to follow that and keep doing the same things. These blueprints are passed down from captain to captain almost, and I think that's evolved into a very successful team.

Yeah, obviously I've followed everything and I've had a bit of fun with it with the task force and you know, greatest team ever assembled and whatever else they are talking about. But it's going to be tough this week. You know, every Ryder Cup is.

I think even though Europe have had so much success, it's always been -- maybe apart from the last time at Gleneagles, but the other two, we shouldn't have won in 2012, like we shouldn't of. It was a sort of steal and grab and go away. It was unbelievable how that worked out.

And even in Celtic Manor in 2010, we only within one session, but it was that session where all 12 players were on the golf course and we won that session 5 1/2 to a 1/2.

So The Ryder Cup has probably been a lot tighter than people realize it is and I'm sure it's going to be that way again this year. It's going to be very tough. We've got a tough opposition. We've got a great American Team to play against on their home soil. It's going to be a great battle.

Q. Pádraig years ago used to refer to Europe as kind of the country cousins perception-wise and it motivated. When you've won eight of the last ten, is it tougher to find a chip on your shoulder? And secondly, has anyone at all reminded you that we are in the Central Time Zone?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I've already set my watch. Thanks for that, Doug.

I don't think it's hard for us to find motivation, because anywhere you look, whether it be the sea of red you see on the golf course or the comments that are made in the media by the U.S. Team or by the captain, that gives us so much motivation already. Whenever we are going up against one of the greatest teams ever assembled, that's motivation enough, just to say, how good a victory would this be if we go out and beat these guys on their home soil that, you know are -- look, they are a very, very strong team. But at the same time, we have so many strong players.

And if you look at worldwide wins this year, Europe have 12; America have 10. So our team is good. Our team is more than ready to handle the occasion, to handle what we need to do. And if you look at as a whole, Ryder Cup appearances, I know we've got Lee with his seventh or eighth Ryder Cup or whatever, but we've got just as much experience on our team they do.

I think the big thing for us is we are playing away from home, and it's just a matter of battling that 13th man and trying to keep the crowd as quiet as we possibly can.

Q. What you said about Ryan Moore getting the last pick -- are you and The European Team surprised and pleased that the World No. 7 isn't on their team this week?
RORY McILROY: That's a very -- it's tough, it's so tough to leave someone like that off the team. But Bubba has shown that he wants to be a part of it and obviously he was brought in as an official vice captain.

So I mean, he could still -- even though he's not hitting any shots on the golf course, he could still add something to the team. He could still bring something to the team room. I know Bubba is his own man, but he still gets on with quite a lot of the American Team. If he wants to be around, I feel it can only benefit them in some way. If he's really that much into it -- you know, it's tough.

Yeah, he's the second -- I'm looking at the things here. He's the second or third ranked -- fourth ranked maybe. If you go on World Rankings, he would have definitely made the team. But you go on form and he hasn't quite shown what he needed to over the past few weeks to get on the team. And you have someone like Ryan Moore who has played so well over the past sort of four to six weeks, and he showed all he needed to show on Sunday to prove that he was worthy of that final pick.

But I think Bubba being here will definitely -- it definitely won't hinder them in any way I feel.

Q. You talked a minute ago, there's been some tweaking of the U.S. Team obviously with the task force and whatnot, you addressed that a little bit. They are obviously searching for answers and whatnot. You can't relate to it because you're 3-0, but do you believe in a psychological edge even though you're on foreign soil, if you put yourself in their place as they are searching to try to find the answers?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, look, we both want it so badly. But I think there comes a point where you maybe try a little too hard. As much as we talk about our blueprint in Europe, it's not rocket science. Like we're not thinking about it too much. All the guys get on pretty well together. Obviously you've got to match sort of game styles for the team format and you have to match personalities, as well. I think that's the big thing, and we've been able to do that.

I think, as well, the culture of The European Tour, we've got rookies on the team that play primarily in Europe. The culture of the European Tour is just a little bit different in terms of guys socialize a little bit more with each other. I know the American Team have started to do that with -- obviously you see Rickie and Jordan and Phil and these guys playing; Brooks, DJ, they have all spent quite a lot of time together, obviously for this reason. And you've got Jack inviting them all over to his house for dinner and trying to sort of really bond the team together, which I think is a great thing for them.

But we've never really needed to do that. That's always just been a natural fit for us and a natural thing to do. So I think sometimes there can be a bit of a -- you can over-team it a little bit and try too hard instead of it just happening naturally.

I don't think we've got any sort of psychological edge. We anticipate how hard this is going to be. But at the same time, we're -- you know, I've never been on a losing Ryder Cup Team and I hope that that stays the same way on Sunday.

JOHN DEVER: Thank you, Rory, for your time and enjoy the week.

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