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March 18, 2017

Rory McIlroy

Orlando, Florida

Q. Making a big move here on Saturday after rounds of 74 and 71, bogey-free 65 here on Saturday. What changed?
RORY MCILROY: The conditions changed I think a little bit. Going out the last couple days it was cold, it was breezy. Tough scoring conditions. I thought the guys that got off to like 10-under and 9-under, they did really, really well. I thought that was really good playing. But today it presented us with an opportunity to go low. Not much wind, warmer, the golf course played a little bit shorter as well, you could take advantage of the par-5's. And I just played better. I gave myself a lot of looks and holed some putts, which was nice to see. Yeah, it's sort of a score that I was waiting on. I felt like it was in there, it was just a matter of trying to put it all together and today I did.

Q. Began the day 11 back. Right now just two shots off the lead. How do you continue that momentum in the final round?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, hopefully the wind starts to get up and I can be somewhere close to the lead tomorrow. At least I've given myself a decent chance tomorrow. If I'm four or five or six back, at least I'm in with a shot. And if I get off to a fast start, I'll be right in there. So just keep it going, I can take a lot from today. I put it in the right position, I drove it better, gave myself a lot of looks, was smart when I needed to be and if I can continue to do that, then I do have a good chance.

Q. 7-under par 65. Looks like it all came together today. But most notably the putter?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah. The putter I gave myself plenty of chances. It was hard, I felt the last couple of days the conditions were tough and the guys that are up near the top of the leaderboard must have played really well. I'm really impressed with their playing. But today with it being a little warmer, a little less breeze, a good score was out there. But you need to hit the golf shots and I was able to do that today and as you said, the to convert some of them was nice to see.

Q. J.P. mentioned that the warm-up before the round was quite sharp.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, the warm-up was better. Yeah, my timing's just been a little bit off this week. My upper body's, I've been sort of throwing myself at it from the top and getting a little ahead of it and missing a few to the right. Today I didn't miss as many to the right. Still missed a couple. But my timing was a bit better today and starting from the warm-up on the range and thankfully it transferred out on to the course.

Q. Switching gears a bit, I watched you play the last couple of days here and it appears to me that the Arnold Palmer Invitational is just very, very special to you. Share a thought or two about the King.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, it is. I missed it for various reasons at the start of my career, scheduling and playing a little bit more in European whatever, but I've made a conscious effort, especially over the last few years. I came up here in 2015 for the first time to play, really because everyone knew Arnold wasn't in great health and I wanted to play before he passed. And to spend a little bit of time with him -- I had dinner with him in 2015, which was like, it was awesome. The stories he was telling and just it was really, really cool. So that's a memory that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. So, and he's always been very good to me. Any time I've seen him he's been very, he was very encouraging. And I have a dozen letters at home from him. So he's always been very good to me and I think the least I can do is come up here and play.

Q. Putter really seemed to heat up out there today.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, it did, the putter was better. Speed was a little better on the greens. A bit of a chat with Phil Kenyon last night. Felt it was good, just the speed was off and the commitment wasn't quite there, compared to the way it is on the putting green when we practice. So just tried to be a little more committed to the lines and it seemed to work. Just a little more aggressive with the speed as well. So it was nice to see a few drop.

Q. Does this feel a little bit like Mexico, in that you sort of had low expectations there, or tepid expectations and then find yourself in contention and now you're kind of in contention again.
RORY MCILROY: I guess I probably had higher expectations coming in here than Mexico, because of what happened there. I played some good golf, I was steady, it wasn't as if I was erratic and a little rusty, I felt like I got into my stride pretty quickly. Here, I was expecting to start a little bit faster and I didn't. But then to see the improvement yesterday and then, obviously, see the improvements today is really encouraging. So, if anything, even though I'm not as close to the lead standing here today after the third round as I was in Mexico, I probably feel a little bit happier about everything.

Q. Seemed like everything fell into place today. You were making putts.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, everything was just -- the course played a little bit easier, a little bit shorter, but I got the ball in play off the tee, which was a big thing. Like 11, I missed the fairway right there the last couple of days and made a bogey and a double bogey. Today I hit the fairway and I got a short iron in my hand and go ahead and make birdie there. So there's a two or three shot swing straight away. So just stuff like that. Just getting the ball in play a little bit more, a little bit better off the tee definitely helped.

Q. You picked up a ton of shots today. Depending upon how things and the conditions pick up in the afternoon here, how do you like where you are?
RORY MCILROY: I'm really happy with the way I played. And to be starting today at 1-over par and to end it at 6-under for the tournament is great. But I can't control what the guys do out there. I know that the leaders have made a couple of bogeys already, but there's chances out there. You've seen a couple of 65s already, the par-5s are gettable, so if I can be within five or six of the lead going into tomorrow, I would be pretty happy.

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