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October 26, 2016

Rory McIlroy

Shanghai, China

STEVE TODD: Rory, many thanks for joining us, and thank you for waiting up there for a couple of minutes for us.

Four Top 10s in five appearances in this tournament, combined with your great form at the end of the season, how excited are you about the prospect of this week?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I am. I'm excited. After what happened in the States with the FedExCup and then at The Ryder Cup, I really wanted to regroup and sort of recharge the batteries a little bit. It was a long stretch of golf.

I wanted to come into these weeks feeling fresh and feeling ready to go, and hopefully play some good golf and give myself a chance to win another Race to Dubai.

But as you said, it's my sixth time in Shanghai, and I don't think I've finished worse than 11th. So I've played well here but not quite well enough to win. Hopefully I can try to change that this week.

STEVE TODD: You've had a WGC victory in each of the past two seasons, and obviously this week represents the last chance to do it this year. What would it mean to you to do that, to keep that run going, and also get a third one in the set?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, that would be nice. I didn't actually realise that, but yeah, it would be nice to get another WGC under the belt and keep that run going.

Yeah, you know, I don't know how many -- what the second -- I know Tiger's won like 18 of these things, I'm not sure. Second place is probably down around three or four. It would be nice to try and move up that list a little bit, too.

Yeah, I feel like I'm playing well enough and I've showed enough good form around this golf course before that I'm confident I can give myself a chance this week.

Yeah, another WGC and another one of those Wedgewood trophies would be very nice.

Q. First of all, I remember Brandt Snedeker calling the bank the next day after THE TOUR Championship to see if his money had been deposited. Even a man of your accomplishments, did you bother to do such a thing or did you just trust it was there?
RORY McILROY: I knew it was there when JP, my caddie gave me a text and said thanks, and I think his words were, "A tsunami just hit my bank account, so thank you very much." JP got a nice percentage of that, so I knew at that point it was already there.

Q. Why do you think Tiger won so many of these things?
RORY McILROY: Honestly I think because of the no cut format. I think that's probably a big thing to do with it. You play with a little more freedom.

And I never want to criticise Tiger's game at all, but if there was one thing or one negative you would say about him was that he probably wasn't the fastest starter in the world in normal golf tournaments.

So here, you don't really have that pressure of trying to play your way into a tournament. It's a four-round tournament. You know you're getting four rounds, so you've got plenty of time to make birdies and play well. And I think just from the get-go, you don't quite feel the pressure. Even though you shouldn't really be thinking about the cut or anything like that, but it is a little bit of a mental thing. But it takes the weight off you you, and you can go and play just that little bit freer.

Can I just add one more thing to why he won so many? Because he was the best (laughter). There's another reason.

Q. I wondered if it's possible, if you looked at the history of the WGCs, if it was a reflection of where we are as an entire tours, golfing thing, where during a time one was that far ahead of everybody else and now we're in a great era of parity. Is it possible it's a reflection of where we are?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I guess it is a reflection of where we are, as well. I think there's been a lot of things -- you know, someone like Tiger comes around, if it's not once-in-a-lifetime, it's definitely once in a generation.

I think with technology and with everything and with the knowledge that's in the game nowadays with the coaching, it's harder and harder to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Yeah, there's parity, and someone like me sitting here, I'm saying that sort of grudgingly because I would have loved to be on the other side of that where there wasn't so much parity. But it seems like anyone that tees it up has a great chance to win because of a number of factors. I think overall for golf, that's not a bad thing.

But for pure entertainment, for people watching the game and wanting to get into the game, they like rivalries. They like guys going head-to-head. You've had it in golf in the past. It seems like every generation, tennis throws up a rivalry in the men's game. Used to be sort of two or maybe three players, and all of a sudden we had the Big Four, the Big Five, the big whatever. It seems like that's the way it is in golf nowadays because it has become just that little bit more difficult to separate yourself from the rest.

Q. You spoke about Tiger, about missing cuts. What effect, tell me about the sting of a missed the cut, if you ever have one, does it really hurt?
RORY McILROY: It does. I think it depends on the tournament. It depends how you were feeling going into that tournament.

For example, when I missed the cut this year at Baltusrol, the PGA, it was my first time not playing the weekend at the PGA Championship. And I actually felt going into the tournament that I had a good chance. I was hitting the ball well. There was nothing in my game to suggest in the practice days or the weeks leading up to it that I was going to have such a disappointing week, but these things happen.

As long as you can learn from them, you know, it's disappointing at the time but if you can learn from them, almost make it a positive; I feel like for me this year, missing the cut at Baltusrol was the turning point in my putting. I felt like I needed to go find something and do something new and I did, and I've been able to make it work over the last few weeks.

But yeah, it's disappointing. I missed the cut at The Open at Muirfield in 2013, and I say up until this point, it's the lowest I've ever felt in my professional career, missing the cut at The Open Championship, because of how special and how much it means to me. You know, it was really tough.

Q. What did you do walking away that evening?
RORY McILROY: I think I went over to my friend's and had a few drinks to try to forget about it (laughter) but yeah, I just felt really -- I felt down. It wasn't just that I missed the cut, but it was the way I missed the cut, as well. I think I missed it by six or seven shots, so I really wasn't into it.

But again, these things, they come at us, you have to try and fight back and be stronger because of it. All of the difficult times I've had in my career, I've always tried to learn from it and come back stronger and thankfully for the most part I've been able to do that.

Q. We saw a lot of changes in your golf bag this year. Your putter, you changed from a blade putter to a mallet; what is the difference that's made and with Nike, what's going on with the rest of your bag?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think I probably, when I changed putter, it was more I putting well at that moment and I probably could have put anything in the bag and it sort of would have worked. It's more to do with what I've been trying to do with my stroke and technically.

But yeah, I went to a mallet putter because I felt with my tendency with the putter, it was to miss it left and blade would close. The mallet, it helps you it try to keep the clubface square at impact for longer. So that's the reason that I went to that.

And yeah, the Nike announcement, it was good and bad. I felt bad for a lot of the employees that put so much time and effort into building really good golf clubs. They really were. I think that from when I signed in 2013 to the improvements that they made year-in, year-out, until this year, were really good. I mean, I've had a lot of success with the clubs that I've played with Nike. So I felt bad in one way.

But in another, it's given me a little bit of freedom to see what else is out there. I'm trying out a couple of things this week. It definitely doesn't mean that it's permanent, but it gives me the freedom to go at the end of the year and try some stuff out and be in the position where I can use whatever in my golf bag that fits me 100 percent the best.

So that could be a certain driver and then a different brand of 3-wood and a different branded set of irons and different wedges and different putter. That's a process that I'm still working through.

I felt like this week, after some of the practice I did last week in Dubai with a few different clubs, I would give it a go this week and see how it goes.

Q. So when you were up top waiting, you probably saw the Silver Medal, the Olympic Silver Medal from Henrik, and also we're not sure if during The Ryder Cup Justin had showed you the Gold Medal, but would that be a sting for you, as well, for not participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics and for the upcoming 2020 in Tokyo, would you have any plans to go in and participate in that Olympics?
RORY McILROY: Tough questions. Does it sting? I think it doesn't -- when I see players or peers achieve something that I haven't achieved, yes, of course that stings a little bit.

But the participation in the Olympics for me, it's just a little more complicated I feel for me than some other people from where I'm from and the whole politics of the thing. It's a difficult subject for me.

But I thought if anything, I was really happy with how golf went in the Olympics. I turned it on in the final afternoon and to see how many people were out following and the atmosphere of it I guess, you could sense an atmosphere in the crowd. It was fantastic for golf, and to have two of our best players in the world battling it out for a Gold Medal, it was great for the game. It really was.

I was really happy with how it went. I was delighted of how well it went and honestly, I was happy to be watching on TV. I was happy for those guys. I was happy it was going so well.

Four years' time is a long ways away, so we'll see what happens. Right now, I'll concentrate on the 16 majors that we have between now and then and try to get a few more of those and go from there.

STEVE TODD: Many thanks for joining us. We wish you well this week.

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