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July 7, 2018

Rory McIlroy

Ballyliffin, Republic of Ireland

Q. Great start to your round with a birdie on the first but overall how do you assess it?
RORY McILROY: Pretty similar to the last couple of days. Hit the ball pretty well. A couple of loose shots here and there, and held a couple of putts out there I guess. Greens with that little bit of rain coming in in the middle of the round, I felt like the greens must have slowed up a little bit. I struggled to get the ball to the hole the last few holes. Yeah, just sort of struck in neutral this week and hopefully finish off with a good one tomorrow.

Q. We've heard from all the players about the difficulty on reading the greens. Can you elaborate on that?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, this is the first week that guys have played links golf in a while, and I think links greens are quite unique in just how subtle they are and the subtle slopes. You can have a lot of putts from ten or 15 feet that can be breaking multiple ways, and it's tough to trust your lines whenever you're seeing a lot of movement. But yeah, it's tough. I think guys are adjusting. It's the first week we are playing links greens, and obviously the guys playing Scotland next week will get another look at those, and then obviously we'll be facing the same sort of challenge at Carnoustie.

It's good to get a week like this, at least to familiarise yourself with what's going to happen.

Q. And when you made that birdie on 16, you almost seemed exasperated?
RORY McILROY: It was nice to see one drop. I put a good stroke on it and the ball started on the line I intended. It was nice, I felt like I had a lot of chances and it was nice to convert one.

Q. Give us your assessment of round three?
RORY McILROY: Pretty similar to the first couple of days. Hit the ball pretty well and gave myself quite a few chances. I struggled to capitalise on them but it's tough. It feels like this golf course, you should go out and shoot 5- or 6-under par every day, but it's a little trickier than that and yeah, it's tough walking off the course with even par when you've given yourself loads of chances.

You know, I felt like if I had of shot something at least in the 68, 67 range today I would have given myself a decent chance tomorrow but I just try to round off the week with a good round tomorrow.

Q. How difficult is it to not let the frustration get the better of you out there?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's tough. I think it's almost to the point where you need to start caring less about whether the putt goes in or not and just make a good stroke. If it goes in, great, and if it doesn't, it's not really a different result than you've had the last few holes. It's almost just a little more freedom in it.

I felt I put some better strokes on it today. My speed, I felt like the greens with the rain in the middle of the round slowed up and I just struggled to get the ball to the hole.

Q. What do you think the solution is?
RORY McILROY: I just need to work a little bit. I worked the last couple days. I've sort of just got a little bit of a left in my stoke at the minute and it's quite similar to what my golf swing is doing at the minute. I'm dragging the club left at impact and same with the putting. I need to try to release it straight down the line a little bit more and if I do that and I start to hit putts on line, hopefully they will start going in.

Q. You must be very encouraged the way you're hitting the ball tee-to-green, giving yourself some great chances?
RORY McILROY: Tee-to-green has been really good. The work I've done the last couple of weeks has started to bed in, which is really nice and again I've got one more competitive start tomorrow before The Open Championship and sign off with a good one hopefully and at least give myself some momentum going into there.

Q. Just a few players saying that this course reminds them of Carnoustie. Do you feel it is a good test before The Open Championship?
RORY McILROY: It is. I think Carnoustie will play a little longer. Here I hit driver more today and had a lot of wedges in. Maybe not going to do that quite so much at Carnoustie.

But yeah, the bunkering and having to hit the ball in play, you know, it's very similar to what you need to do over there. I thought this week was a good test of that and it is good. I haven't played links golf in a while, so it's nice to get the feel of it again and I'm sure I'll play some links golf next week on my week off and get ready for Carnoustie.

Q. What are the plans in terms of next week? A bit of practise?
RORY McILROY: A bit of practise. Yeah, I have three days in London the start of next week and I'll practise at the end of the week over here and head to Carnoustie on Monday.

Q. You left frustrated by how you played today?
RORY McILROY: A little bit. I played okay. Tee-to-green has been pretty good. I could take my tee-to-green game straight to The Open in a couple weeks' time and be happy where that is.

It's just a matter of being a little more efficient and taking my opportunities when I give myself them, and you know, even today, I missed a couple of greens that I felt like I hit good chip shots. I just sort of misjudged how firm the greens were and they got away from me. Just a little more efficient with my scoring, and you know, I'd be happy enough with that.

Q. Does that mean most of the work is with the putter between now and the open?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, more short game. Obviously keep on top of what I need to do. You have to hit the ball in play at Carnoustie. You have to be able to play off those fairways and not be playing out of the rough and if I can do that for the most part, yeah, and just tidy up around the greens, I should be where I need to be.

Q. You're a long way back. What's the approach for you tomorrow?
RORY McILROY: Go and have a good round of golf, see what I can shoot and sign off with a good one and focus turns to elsewhere.

Q. What's your abiding memory of that week in 2007 when you played in that Open Championship and won the Silver Medal?
RORY McILROY: Honestly I don't really remember that much of it. The first day was good. I remember playing with Scott Verplank on the last day, birdied the last hole. I remember watching the playoff at the back of the green.

Yeah, it was a great week. It's all a bit of a blur. It's 11 years ago and a lot's happened since. But yeah, good memories. Looking forward to getting back there. I think last year I really enjoyed Birkdale. That was a really good Open venue and I really enjoyed that. Carnoustie I think will be the same this year.

Q. How close are you to trusting in your stroke?
RORY McILROY: I think when I start the ball on line a little more consistently, I'll be able to not think about it as much. It's been good, though. This week's been good to realise a few things. I got on the mirror the last couple of days and realised that I was aiming a little bit further left than I thought I was and the bad putts were going left and just sort of, you know, at least knowing that, and knowing what I need to do to sort of not do that and start the ball on line.

So at least it's been a good week for that in terms of what I need to do going forward. Look, if that's a habit that's crept in, it's not going to disappear overnight. I'm going to have to work on it for a few days. But that's why next week will be nice to hit some putts and to get a bit of work in, and hopefully go to Carnoustie a little more comfortable with that part of the game.

Q. Just yourself and Michael working on your putting? You're not with Phil Kenyon anymore?
RORY McILROY: No, Phil and I haven't worked for a little while. Phil is a great lad and I get on really well with him. I just felt like I needed to, sometimes I was getting just a little too bogged down with technical thoughts and needed to free it up a little bit. Obviously you still need to concentrate on your technique if you want to be able to start the ball on line. As soon as I'm able to do that again, I could sort of free up and hopefully put the way I did earlier in the year.

Q. If you could combine the ball-striking of Thursday with the final round putting at Bay Hill, how happy would that make you?
RORY McILROY: I would win every week I played. Simple as that. If I had a hundred putts every week I played and hit the ball halfway decent, I'd win every week.

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