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February 21, 2018

Rory McIlroy

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Q. Nice coming back to a place where you won, isn't it?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's nice to be able to wake up in your own bed and get into your own car and drive to the course. It's nice to, yeah, sometimes it's a bit weird playing a tournament when you're at home because you're so used to being at a hotel and being whatever, but it's been nice. It's nice to get back from L.A., sleep in my own bed for a couple of nights and sort of have a nice leisurely few days sort of getting ready for the tournament, being ready to practice where you're family and being able to do all that. It's been good.

Q. Erica let you in the kitchen this week?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, if she let's me. I'm reluctant to go in.

Q. After Riviera, Phil was talking about how important it is to win a tournament before Augusta before he gets there. Is that important to you in the same way?
RORY McILROY: I feel like that's putting yourself under an awful lot of pressure. You don't have to win a tournament. You look at, you know, obviously Sergio going in last year, had won a tournament. Danny Willett the year before had won a tournament.

But I don't think it's necessary, but obviously if you do win one, it makes you feel a little better about yourself going there. But I don't think it's imperative. I think as long as you know that your game is in good shape and you're happy with all aspects, because again, the margins between winning and losing are so fine that you could be really happy with your game one week and finish 10th, and actually not feel great about it and have a chance to win.

So that's how fine the margins are out here. So I don't think it's imperative to, but obviously to get a win under your belt, it does make you feel a bit better going into it. Yeah, I don't want to put myself under that pressure because there's enough going into Augusta, anyway.

Q. What are your thoughts on Bay Hill? You seem to have warmed up to that event?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I like it a lot. It was hard in previous years, I would have played, just sort of schedules and stuff. It just didn't quite fit. But I've loved it. I've played it since 2015. I've played the last three years. Obviously going back this year.

I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Arnie before he passed away up there, and you know, the great memories and great memories of having dinner with him and bumping into him in the clubhouse, I'm going to play that event every year. It's not as if he needs players to show up to preserve or prolong his legacy. His legacy is going to be one of the greatest ever in the game, not just for what he did on the golf course but for how he was off it.

But I love the golf course. I think it's a golf course that suits me really well. You can kill the par 5s. You don't really need to do much more after that. So it's a golf course that suits me well, and the guy that was just up here before I was, I mean, he took advantage of the golf courses that he liked. Obviously Bay Hill was one of them. Torrey Pines, Akron; so you want to go back to the golf courses you're familiar and the golf courses you like to play on and you have good feelings on.

Q. Do you think the top players playing that event, is that something you want to see, even though you said it's not about his legacy, but do you want to see that?
RORY McILROY: Look, there's so many events that we can choose to play in. We can play 52 weeks a year if we want. So it's up to guys' schedule. It might not suit some guys. It may suit others. It's nice, I live here. It's a two-hour drive up the road. It's very easy for me to get there.

But yeah, everyone's different and everyone's -- some people like it. Some people don't, and that's fine. Other tournaments will benefit because they might choose to play in another one.

Q. After experiencing two rounds with Tiger last week --
RORY McILROY: I'm looking forward to the next couple of days. I sat down and did an interview with Pádraig in Pebble Beach which was quite funny. It will be good to play with him, and obviously Adam, as well. I always enjoy playing with him, too. I'll gladly be on the opposite end of the draw this week. It will be good, yeah.

Q. As you gear towards Augusta, thinking about the shots you play, is there one particular shot that's challenging?
RORY McILROY: They are all pretty tough. I think it's not really -- I don't think it's one shot in particular. It's trusting certain shots. It's when the wind is up on 12, and it's gusting and it's making sure that you've got the right number and committing to it, it's that sort of stuff that's the most important thing at Augusta; missing it in the right spots, being aware where you are on greens, knowing when a 2-putt is good, knowing when to make your medicine, all that sort of stuff.

Q. Do you think you are using your law of attraction? How close are your thoughts aligned?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, I'm close. I think positively and I think positive thoughts. I'm very happy with where my game is at. I feel like I'm just waiting for everything to sort of fit together. I feel like I've seen enough good things in my game over the past few weeks to know that it's not far away.

Q. What do you need to do well here?
RORY McILROY: So I think it's usually windy here. It looks like it's going to be breezy for the week, so controlling your ball flight is a big thing. I think being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play, especially with the way the rough is. Play out of the fairway. Hitting greens; it's a ball-striker's golf course. You can't up-and-down it around here and expect to win. You have to hit fairways. You have to hit greens and you have to just take your chances when they come along.

But this week with the way the wind is, it's a par 70; you shoot four scores in the 60s, you're not going to be that far away.

Q. How do you look at your history here? You've had a first and second, and the last two outings, you missed the cut?
RORY McILROY: Feast or famine, that's what my history's been here.

It's a tough golf course. Some guys play the West Coast and it's sort of one week too many for them. You know, like I don't want to get beaten up again. That's why a few guys mightn't be here. I think it magnifies if your game's off just a touch. If you miss it just by tiny margins here, it can punish you quite heavily. But if you're on, it gives you opportunities to score, and I think that's what's happened.

I've been on a couple of years and gotten myself in with a chance to win, and been able to do it one of those times. Then then then a couple other times, it's been slightly off. It hasn't been that bad because I've went the next week to Doral and had a chance to win, so it hasn't been that far off. This place just magnifies your misses a little bit.

Q. Can you speak to what role fitness has played in your growth and success? You were obviously much slighter when you started out and before you started working out more. Was there any queue you took from watching Tiger? He brought it to the fray early on?
RORY McILROY: I've struggled with a disc in my back since I was 18 years of age. I've had a deteriorating disc and it's -- that's the reason I got in the gym was to try to build muscle around it so it would protect it, just for longevity.

So that was really the reason. I didn't really go to the gym until I was 20 years of age. Then once I got in there, it was more to make myself feel better. I remember being on the range here in 2010 and hitting like a couple of drivers and not feeling very good and being taped up. So it was really at the end of 2010 that I started taking that part of the game seriously.

And if you look at it since then, since the start of 2011, that's when I've had my best years, major wins, TOUR wins, everything else. So I think it's played quite a big part. Obviously I've had my fair share of injuries, as well, but none of them have been sustained because of being in the gym. It's been other things, soccer and whatever else.

So it's played a big part in my career, and I feel like I'm a better golfer because of it; that I'm in better shape than I was, and I haven't really had a problem with my lower back since, which has been great.

Q. As you know, Steve Stricker and Tiger were announced as vice captains. What spark do you think he brings to that team?
RORY McILROY: I think the whole U.S. Team, they are more in control of what they are doing now. Obviously they created a task force or whatever you want to call it. But I had a good chat with Phil about it at Pebble Beach and obviously Phil played quite a big role in that. Basically all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done -- no, it is. That's what he told us. That's what he said.

He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them. So they are copying what we do and it's working for them and it's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing. Instead of The PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.

It's more: No, this is the core of the team and this is what it's going to be for the next handful of Ryder Cups and this is how we are going to do it.

I think they have got it spot on. They obviously did a great job at Hazeltine last time, and they have got a great team, a lot of young players that will be around for a long time. You know, it's going to be more -- it's always been evenly battled. Ryder Cups, it's not like it's a whitewash every time. Europe won seven of nine or whatever it is, and I think that will be pretty tough to replicate in the next few years.

But being home-course advantage, in Paris, which is a little more set up to the way the Europeans like to play, that will favor us a little bit, too. But yeah, exciting.

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