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November 7, 2018

Rory McIlroy

Sun City, South Africa

RORY McILROY: I'm excited to be back. Honestly I didn't really remember much about the course or the place, so we got some Sunday night. I played a few holes on Monday. I mean, honestly, I couldn't remember one hole. But then I went and just played the Pro-Am and played the back nine, and I remembered a few of the holes on the back nine. Obviously the finish in the water, quite memorable.

Got a few days to get a look at the golf course, adjust to the altitude and figure out how far the ball is going. Excited to be back and looking forward to give it one last push here and next week in Dubai.

Q. Give us your impression of how the golf is playing. Guys are saying there's less rough but there could be more run-off into the trees?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, a little bit. Obviously I don't have anything to compare it to. Rough isn't as high as recent years but everything else is fantastic. The greens are probably some of the best greens we've putted on all year. This golf course, it's got four par 5s, so you take care of those and you sort of have to be pretty conservative the rest of the way. You have to put the ball in play. You can't be too aggressive off the tee. It's a good test. It a real good test.

Q. A win here and a second next week or the other way around and you could definitely threaten to win The Race to Dubai. Is that in your thinking?
RORY McILROY: My thing is I'm coming here with the goal, if I can get into that final group on Thursday with Frankie next week, that would be a good start. I can't took too far ahead, but if I can do what I need to do this week, leapfrog a few guys and get into that final pair on Thursday would be a huge step towards trying to.

I'm going to need some great golf over the next two weeks, but we'll see what happens this week. I feel like my game's in pretty good shape. I didn't play great in China but a week off and just sort of reflecting on things. Hopefully I can get off to a good start this week.

Q. You've had a win this year, three second places, nine Top-10s in total but still where you are at the start of your break last year, sixth in the World Ranking. How do you reflect on this year?
RORY McILROY: I've played good golf. I've played consistent golf. I've played in six final groups this year and I haven't had a win out of any of those final groups. I think I played in four final groups in the previous two years combined, so it's better.

It's getting better. It's progressing. I probably let a few slip through my fingers in terms of tournaments won: Dubai earlier this year, Wentworth a little bit, Masters obviously. There's a few I feel like I could have challenged a bit more for. Overall it's been a consistent year. I've improved my World Ranking since the start of the year. I have a chance to get back into the top five this week and next week, and it would be a solid year. It wouldn't have been the year that I would have envisioned at the start but you're not going to have those years every single year that you play. All I can do is just keep practicing and working hard and hopefully the results come.

Q. Nice to be back at an event you have led before?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's nice to be back in Sun City. I didn't have a chance to really contend the last time I was here, and the tournament's changed a lot since then. I think that time, it was just a handful of guys and obviously now it's 70. It's much more competitive and it's got a big place on the schedule.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to getting out there and giving it a go this week.

Q. You mentioned the tournament's changed. The course itself hasn't changed. What do you remember from that appearance back then?
RORY McILROY: Honestly not a whole lot. I played nine holes on Monday and I didn't remember a single golf hole.

I played the Pro-Am today, and the back nine, I remembered a few more. There's a few more memorable holes on the back nine, the 14th hole, the par 5 downhill and 17 and 18 with the water. But it's been a couple of days of trying to relearn this golf course.

Q. Happy with the way you've put together a plan to take it on come tee off tomorrow?
RORY McILROY: I think so. It's funny, like this is the first par 72 we've played in a while. We played a par 72 in China a couple weeks ago but before that the last time I played a par 72 was in May.

You have four par 5s, so you try to take advantage of those, and it's actually a golf course where you have to play quite conservative after that. You can't be too aggressive. You've just got to get your ball on the fairway, and if that means leaving yourself longer second shots in, that's what you have to do. It's all about getting your ball in play this week.

Q. Obvoiusly coming back to South Africa, nice for you and good memories of the place. Last time you were out here, it was stormy in the SA Open. Nice to get a win here?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it would be. I have very fond opens of the SA Open at Glendower. It was one of the coolest weeks I've had on Tour with just the scenes and the playoff and the crowds coming up 18.

Yeah, it would be. I came obviously very close to win that week and didn't quite get it done. It would be nice to get a win down here finally.

Q. Just last year, end of the season, coming towards the last two events, The Race to Dubai, how much is that a consideration at this stage for you?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I guess it is a little bit. I have to play really well this week to give myself a chance, even half a chance going into next week. I've come here with the mind-set that I know I need to win to have any sort of a chance of a chance next week, and that's what I'm going to try and do.

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