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July 4, 2018

Rory McIlroy

Ballyliffin, Republic of Ireland

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Some excellent news from the tournament that the combination of European Tour, Rory Foundation, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and Ballyliffin Golf Cub have raised 100,000 Euro to be donated do the Donegal Hospice, which is fantastic news, obviously, so thank you for your part on that and just give us a quick comment on that.

RORY McILROY: One of the big things about the Irish Open when we got involved was to try and impact positively the local community that we were playing in. So the first year we did that with the Daisy Lodge near Newcastle; the second year, you know, local children's charities around Dublin; last year around Portstewart; and then obviously this year we're in Donegal, and to be able to donate 100,000 Euros to the hospice I think is a tremendous achievement.

You know, it's really what we wanted to do, make a difference in the community that we're playing in, and it's nice to be a part of that.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Quick word on the golf course and your own game.

RORY McILROY: Fantastic. I haven't played here in 12 years. I'd sort of forgotten how good it was and how beautiful the area was. It's a great golf course. Pat Ruddy designed it, and he designed the European Club down in Wicklow, as well, and I'm a big fan of that.

You know, it's a tough track. You can't put it in the bunkers off the tee. They really are penal. You have to hit fairways. The greens are getting firm. It's getting bouncy out there. It's going to be a really good test this week. The sun I think is going to shine for the next four days, as well. It will only get firmer. That's the way a links should play, and I think everyone's looking forward to that.

Q. Non-golf related question. All very excited about the possibility of England football. What are your thoughts?
RORY McILROY: It is good to see someone from the home nations doing very well. Thought it was great they got through the penalty shootout last night. I thought Harry Kane was tremendous to step up and take that first one.

I think they have got a great draw. I think Sweden is as good as they could have hoped for in the quarterfinals. They have got a good chance. You know, I certainly, as much as we all like to say we don't want England to win, I think there's a part of us that would and it would be great.

But there's a long way to go. I still think France are the favourites and we'll see what happens.

Q. Let's talk golf then. With people floating off in different directions, is it possible to focus 100 per cent on golf?
RORY McILROY: It is. I've cut back from a few things off the golf course, and it's not that we're to the doing them. I'm just maybe not as involved in some of the stuff.

There's been a couple of times where I just haven't felt as prepared as I could have been walking on to the first tee on Thursday. So got here Monday morning, practiced all day Monday afternoon. Was here yesterday at 8.00.

I've done my work. So there's no excuse about not being prepared or not, and I've learned that as I went along. I felt I was underprepared at County Down. I felt okay at The K Club I guess. I've learnt as I went along and I feel this year, I'm right where I need to be.

Q. Of all the courses on The Open rota, is Carnoustie one that suits you or doesn't suit you, and is this week a good tune-up?
RORY McILROY: I've got good memories of Carnoustie. I played my first Open Championship there 11 years ago. I think it's one of the best tests. I definitely think it's up there. I love Birkdale because it's very fair and I think Carnoustie is the same way. You've just got to hit good golf shots but if you do hit good golf shots, you'll get rewarded and if you don't, you'll make life difficult for yourself.

But I think this is a great -- not just a tune up. Obviously it's a great event in its own right but I think there's elements to this golf course that if you can hit the shots here, you should be able to do it at Carnoustie, as well.

Q. I think I asked you a similar-type question at Wentworth about your mixed record here and you have a mixed record in The Irish Open, winning it in 2016 and a few missed cuts. Is it the courses or the schedule?
RORY McILROY: I don't know. I may be alluded to it out there in interviews, maybe trying too hard, as well. Wanting to do well rather than just letting it happen. But if I can give myself a chance to win this tournament like I did at Wentworth a few weeks ago, I'd be happy enough.

Yeah, I just learned over the years to try and treat it like a normal week and go out and play. The more I can freewheel, the better I'll play, and that's the way I need to approach it.

Q. The game in general, U.S. Open, bouncing back with a decent performance at Travelers.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I played a bit better at Hartford. Did some good work over the weekend and into that tournament.

Game feels pretty good. Hartford, you could get away with it a little. I felt like I got away with a few tee shots and stuff. I need to still tighten that up.

It feels okay. Once I get the ball in play, I can play. Iron play feels good. Short game feels good. Just need to hit the fairways this week and hopefully that will give me a bit of confidence going forward.

Q. Just from what you were seeing there, do you feel you are better equipped to deal with the pressure and expectation that comes with a home tournament?
RORY McILROY: I think so. I think each and every year you learn something a bit different, and more just about how you control yourself and your thoughts and your emotions.

I am better. I felt like I did a really good job at The K Club a couple years ago at using the crowd to my advantage and using that. As soon as I hit the shot on 16 on to that green and the eruption from the crowd, I used that to spur me on. That was a cool moment and I hope I can use a couple of those moments this week hopefully to the same effect.

Q. You were mentioning wanting it too much at times. Is that similar to majors at the moment? You don't need reminding it's coming up on four years since your last major. Is that something that stresses you out?
RORY McILROY: Not really. Look, if I didn't win another major for the rest of my career, nothing is going to change in my life whether I win one or not, but obviously I don't feel like I'll have fulfilled my potential. But at the same time, you know, there's other things in my life that are more important than golf. But yeah, look, I'd be disappointed but again, it's not going to change things. I don't panic. It doesn't keep me up at night.

But yeah, look, I just need to give myself chances. I was proud of myself just to get into the final group at the Masters this year. I didn't have a good Sunday. But I would have needed something pretty special to beat Patrick, anyway.

U.S. Open was the U.S. Open. I've got two more chances this year to hopefully play myself into contention. That was my goal. My goal this year, it wasn't to win majors. It was just to give myself a chance and to put myself in positions to see how I fair. I did that at Augusta. I felt like I learned a bit from it and then hopefully going into Carnoustie and Bellerive, I can put myself in similar positions.

Q. There's not many elite sports people who would be honest enough to say that this isn't the most important thing in your life. When did that change? Was it getting married?
RORY McILROY: I think I've always had other interests and I've always had things that have been a big part of my life. But yeah, I think getting married and thinking about the future and what that entails, that's huge. I think as you get older and as you evolve as a person, you change and your perspective on things changes a little bit. It's not just the golf nowadays. There's a lot more that goes into it.

It's still my career and I still want to make the most of it and I still feel like I have a lot of time left to make my mark on golf but at the same time, as I said, it doesn't keep me up at night thinking if I never win another major, I can't live with myself, you know.

Q. How inspirational have the Irish fans been this week?
RORY McILROY: They are fantastic. Even just in the Pro-Am today, the amount of people that came out today to watch us and put their lives in danger in a Pro-Am; there was a couple of close calls. It's fantastic. They love their golf. And this part of the tournament, as well, they haven't had a big championship or big event for a long time.

It's great that it's so well supported. No matter where we have this event in the country, it's always been well supported, and I think you go up-and-down the range, all the players will tell you the same thing. So they are very inspirational.

Q. On this sort of course, would you prefer if it was great weather, or tough with wind and rain to separate the men from the boys?
RORY McILROY: I love the way it is right now. You know, but the course will still play firm. It will play fast. It will play very short. There will be a lot of iron off tees. But I think that's how a links should play.

I hope there's a little bit of wind this week. I do think links courses do need wind to protect them and I do think it is supposed to blow a little bit. I'm fine without the rain.

Q. Did you have fun out there today, and how much importance do you put on fun during tournaments?
RORY McILROY: I did have fun. It was a nice group, playing with JP and Dermot and AP. We did it last year, as well, and JP has been very supportive of the foundation. It was great to be out there with them. I still treat it as a bit of a practise round, as well, and getting to know the golf course a little bit and getting familiar with it.

It is fun. I do look forward to it. I had a week off last week and I was looking forward to getting back here and getting back into tournament play. That is fun for me. Obviously you make some birdies, it's a lot more fun. But I'm away from it for a week and I miss it and I want to get back to it.

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