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March 20, 2017

Rory McIlroy

Austin, Texas

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome back. Thoughts on the week ahead.

RORY McILROY: Looking forward to it. Obviously last year was our first time in Austin and at Austin Country Club, and I think the course was well received. And I think the city as a whole was really well received. It's an awesome city. And the players, I think, really enjoyed it.

Personally for me it was one of the most enjoyable weeks of the year last year, just with so much to do and you can walk around the city. I've been to Texas a few times before, it feels a little different than what you would typically get in Texas or what a stereotypical Texas sort of is.

Really cool setting and just looking forward to trying to stay here for as long as possible. Obviously we are either going home Friday night or you can make it until the weekend and try to go all the way. Looking forward to get out there. Match play is always a format that I've enjoyed and I've done well at. Hopefully I can continue that success this week.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Talk about your opponents.

RORY McILROY: Emiliano Grillo, who has been playing, a young player, obviously he's been doing very well this year. He played well last week at Bay Hill. Gary Woodland I played in the final in San Francisco in 2015. He's got a decent record in this event. And Soren Kjeldsen, who has been playing some of the best golf of his career over the last couple of years.

Sort of three different styles of game. Emiliano, pretty similar style to me, maybe.

Soren hits it a little shorter, thinks his way around a little bit. Has a very good short game.

Gary hits it very long and can take advantage of the longer holes. Three good opponents and looking forward to getting out there and trying to beat them.

Q. You mentioned your match with Woodland. It was a while ago, but not that long ago. Does any of that carry over into any kind of mental advantage or disadvantage? Does he have revenge? Do you have something on him or is it like too far away?
RORY McILROY: I certainly hope there is some sort of psychological advantage there. I did well the last time. I hope that's still in his mind.

I think so, anytime you can get 1-up on a guy, I think it helps a little bit. But, again, at the same time, there's that revenge factor. He'll want to come back and try to get me for beating him a couple of years ago. I guess it could work both ways. But I'm pretty -- I'm happy with that draw. I feel like I'm playing well enough. I feel like I can advance from that group and get myself into the weekend.

Q. What do you think makes a good match play player?
RORY McILROY: I think a ruthless streak, someone that -- selfishness, in a way. And pride. I think that's -- I'm too proud to be beaten. I won't let anyone get up on me. And I'm -- I sort of think too much of myself to let anyone do that to me. So that's why I've always enjoyed match play because if you do get yourself into a bit of a dogfight out there, it's something I've always quite enjoyed.

Q. Anything technically that makes a good match player or is it mental?
RORY McILROY: Some guys think that you can wear your opponent down by putting them under pressure on every hole. Hitting every fairway, hitting every green and being really consistent. I think that's one way to play match play. But then the other way is you can be a bit erratic, but if your short game is saving you, and you're holing putts and you're getting it up and down from bad positions, that can frustrate your opponent, as well.

I would probably be in the former of those two categories. I feel I can wear my opponents down just by hitting quality golf shots and sort of mentally beating them by them saying to themselves, this guy isn't going to miss a shot today, so I better be on my game. So I think that makes a good match player.

Q. Jordan said that he'll be happy when this Masters is over. You probably sympathize with what that's like?
RORY McILROY: It's not as if it's going to be the last year he gets questions about it. So, yeah -- that might be the way he's approaching it, the mentality of I just can't wait for this to be over so all the questions. But if he doesn't banish those demons or win this year, the questions will always still be there.

I still get questioned about the back nine at Augusta in 2011. It's just something you have to deal with. It's something that happened. It's not going to go away. It's there and it always will be.

But of course, I sympathize with him. The guy had a chance to win the green jacket and I didn't. He had the same last year. But as I said last week, he can console himself by opening up his wardrobe and seeing one hanging there. It's a little bit different.

No matter what happens this year, those questions will still be there and linger a little bit.

Q. I was going to ask about the back nine. I'll do something different.
I mentioned to Jordan, if you throw Tiger out and the three wins he had here, none of the top seven seeds ever won this tournament in single elimination. In the two years of this format, we've had No. 1 and No. 2 here. Is there a rhyme or reason for that or is it too small of a sample size?

RORY McILROY: I think it's too small of a sample size. But I've been a big fan of going to this format. 18 holes of match play really anything can happen. And you've seen that in the years gone by. Tiger being beaten by Nick O'Hern or whoever it may be in Arizona. Not that Nick O'Hern is a bad player, but sometimes that doesn't happen. But if it had of been the way the format is now, and Tiger could go out and win his next two matches and give himself a chance to get to the weekend, then it's a little bit different.

It just gives players a chance. If you don't get off to the fastest of starts and you don't win your match on Wednesday. You might still win your matches on Thursday and Friday and still go home, but it gives you a chance.

Q. When you're a good player and you're playing well and you've played the course for three days, does that not make a difference going into the last four matches?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think that makes -- I think that does make a difference, as well. But no matter who you're playing on Saturday morning, they've played the golf course three times, as well. And it is, it's match play and it's over 18 holes.

Honestly for me, even though I've been to two finals here and I've won one and I've lost one, I would like to see the final go back to 36 holes, because I think it's too important a match to just play over 18 holes. And I think the best player always wins over 18 holes. Sorry, over 36 holes, no matter what.

Q. I know it wouldn't be until Saturday and Sunday, and I hope I'm not jinxing it by asking. What would you give to play Patrick Reed, to do that again and go through that experience?
RORY McILROY: Look, it would be nice to play Patrick again. There is some unfinished business there that I would like to clear up. But we'll see what happens. We both -- I feel like we both play well in this format of the game. He's played well in match play, especially in the Ryder Cup. So, yeah, if it came to that and we were to face each other on Saturday or Sunday that would be awesome. Something I'd really look forward to, to try to beat him and -- beat him by more than one hole, just so I have a little bit of an edge. It's sort of the way it is.

But getting beaten on a single Sunday of Ryder Cup stings. But it was a pleasure to be a part of that match because of the people remember that for a long time. It wasn't on the winning side of it, but it was still cool to be a part of. If we could do that again that would be cool.

Q. Jordan was in here talking about the Masters a little bit. And it sounded like he really hates to keep being reminded every time he goes to a new city. Can you relate to that? And would you rather not have a ticked off Jordan Spieth going into the Masters this year?
RORY McILROY: I feel like I just answered that, but I'll do it again. That's okay. Yeah, I was in a different place, after I let it sort of go in 2011.

In 2012, I couldn't wait for the Masters to start. I couldn't wait for it to finish. I couldn't wait for it to start because I wanted redemption and I wanted a chance to prove myself again. So that was a little bit of a different mindset. But everyone is different, I guess. But Jordan still has an amazing record at Augusta. He's played three times, he hasn't finished outside the top two. He's great going in there.

I think I said this, once he plays that 12th hole once, once he gets it over and done with on Thursday, he'll forget about it and most other people will, and he'll go on. And I'm sure he'll have a great chance to win again this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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