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November 13, 2018

Rory McIlroy

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Rory, always a pleasure to welcome you back to the DP World Tour Championship.

RORY McILROY: Thank you, Michael.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: It's okay, Rory. I suppose quick thoughts on a tournament that's been very good to you over the years.

RORY McILROY: It has been. Dubai has been a great place for me over the years. It's been basically where I launched my career. You know, had my first win here. I've had success.

You know, I've got great memories. I was a resident in the UAE for four years, so I have a lot of history and a lot of good memories here. So it's good to be back, especially after missing this tournament last year. I played earlier in the year at the Desert Classic, and I feel like I let one slip away there.

So I guess it would be nice to get one win in Dubai this year and end the year on a high.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: And I believe you have a new driver in the bag to help you in that quest.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I did some work with Adrian from TaylorMade on Saturday night in Sun City. I've just had this right miss with the driver all year. He came out and walked the first three rounds with me and he saw that, you know, I have no problem hitting the fairway with a 3-wood or a 5-wood. He just -- something was wrong with the driver.

So he took the driver, tried to match it up a little closer to the 3-wood and change the swing weight, changed the shaft, changed the settings a little bit in the weighting and the head, and it's been much better.

I drove it much better in Sun City and I drove it much better today in the Pro-Am. That's a big positive coming into this week. Unfortunately it's a driver that's only going to last a week because I have to get a new one next year again, but at least it gives me a better chance to win this week, I guess.

Q. How long have you had this faulty driver?
RORY McILROY: It's not really been the driver. It's just been, you know, I guess a little bit -- you know, I guess the technology is so good nowadays, you can do certain things to negate your misses.

So I've had that right miss in the bag with the driver pretty much all year, and it's never been a shot that I've had. It's always been, if anything, I'd miss it left, I'd turn it over too much and for example, if I see a dead straight hole, I don't see a dead straight shot. If anything, I see maybe a little draw, and I haven't been able to do that this year. So I've sort of been playing against my natural instincts, which sometimes is tough to trust.

Yeah, it's sort of been in the bag all year. I drove it well parts of the year, but then whenever I got into final groups and under pressure, that right shot began to become mora apparent.

So you're always trying to make your equipment help you as much as you can. I think back to the first tee shot at Augusta on Sunday; Wentworth on the final day; Akron, final day; TOUR Championship, final day. The reason I didn't play better was because I didn't put the ball in the fairway, and the reason I didn't put the ball in the fairway is because I have this right miss with the driver.

It's better, this driver. Even some of the shots I hit on Sunday in Sun City, I felt if I had of put the same swing on it with the other driver, it would have been in the bushes right, but it actually was hanging in there which is great to see.

As I said, it was a lot of positives with it today and hopefully I'll see more positives during the week with it, as well.

Q. How would you rate your season overall, and what would a win change that rating to possibly this week?
RORY McILROY: I don't know. I'd maybe give it like a B, a B minus, and a win this week would get it up to a B.

It's been, look, as I said, I don't want to continue to dwell on the negatives. There's been a lot of positives in there, as well. I've played very consistently. I've had ten Top 10s. I finished second and had a great chance to win The Open. I played in the final group and had a great chance to win the Masters. I've had chances to win big, big tournaments.

Obviously the game's right there. It's just a matter of doing it when I need to do it most. Yeah, look, results-wise, it hasn't been the year that I wanted, even though I feel -- I played in six final groups, and in '16 and '17 combined, I played in three or four final groups. That's been a real big positive.

But there's a difference between getting into those final groups and finishing the job off, and finishing the job off hasn't been quite where I've wanted it to be. So that's something to work on next year, and the only way you're going to get better at it is by putting yourself in those positions and learning each and every time.

Q. Just on the same theme. Just going back to the Desert Classic, did that almost set the tone for the year when it was a case so often, Masters, as well: What might have been?
RORY McILROY: I don't think so. I think after taking my little break at the end of 2017, my first two starts back, I finished third and second. I would have taken that at the start of those weeks.

Yes, I had a great opportunity to win in Dubai and let it slip away, but at the same time, Haotong played some good golf down the stretch. So I don't think it set the tone for the year.

You know, I was hoping Bay Hill was going to do that, but it just -- you know, the golf that I played at Bay Hill, I replicated for quite a lot of the year. I just didn't replicate the sort of golf I needed in final rounds.

Just one of those things, one of those years where it didn't quite go my way, but working hard on trying to rectify that and make sure that next year is a bit different.

Q. Just a two-part question. Talking about your driver issues, how important is the driver behaving well on this golf course, especially? And second, is it a bit frustrating that you had to rely on technology instead of not finding out what really has gone wrong with that drive miss with your swing?
RORY McILROY: Well, no. The thing is, if my swing is -- if I can hit my 3-wood good, I can hit my 5-wood good, I can hit my irons good, I can hit my wedges good. Then my thing is, okay, there might be a slight fault with the swing but it's not so much of a fault that the other clubs have went awry, as well, so it's just this one club.

Again, you have to make sure that the clubs you're using are right for you. And I'm not saying that the previous driver wasn't because at times I did hit it well, but it made my margin for error quite well, where with the driver, you want that margin for error to be quite wide.

Basically that's what we've got to this with driver: Lighter swing weight, and I don't have to work as hard at it to get it back in front of me on the way down, so just little things like that.

The driver is a huge club around here. It always has been. There's a lot of bunkers on holes that are around 300 carry, and if you can do that, it gives you massive advantage. That's one of the reasons I've done so well around here is because I can hit the ball in the air a long way and if you hit it pretty accurately, you're going to have a big advantage over the rest of the field.

Q. You've mentioned great success here. What's your favourite memory here of the DP World Tour Championship?
RORY McILROY: I guess the two wins here, they were both very special in their own ways. I won The Race to Dubai both times by winning. I think birdieing the last five holes on Sunday, and Justin Rose making a charge, that was probably my favourite. But against Andy Sullivan in 2015 was pretty cool, too. Two great memories and hopefully I can create some more this week.

Q. A highly unscientific pole from the players about who is going to be watching the Tiger versus Phil Match next Friday. Will you be one of those coughing up 19.99?
RORY McILROY: So, um -- no. (Laughter) I contemplated it, and I said I was -- I was having lunch with Phil. It was at one of the FedExCup events and I said, I might watch it. He took $25 out of his pocket and said, "No, here's $25. I'll pay for it for you. Thank you." (Laughter). Look, if I had of done it 15 years ago, it would have been great, but I think nowadays, I missed the mark a little bit.

Q. Lots of support on Facebook. Steven wants to know: What are your plans for the off-season?
RORY McILROY: What am I doing this off-season. Got two weddings in December to go to, both in Scotland. Not a whole lot. After this tournament, I'm going to play one tournament in 13 weeks.

So I've got quite a lot of time off, which is really nice. Spend a lot of time in Florida working on the game, working on the new house. But yeah, that's really it.

Going to go to Hawai'i and play that first event of the year, the Tournament of Champions and spend New Year's there. And that's really it. Yeah, work probably from the middle of December, work hard on the game and get ready for next season.

Q. And John wants to know: Who from the sports world still playing their sport do you take most inspiration from?
RORY McILROY: Probably Roger Federer. He's just the complete athlete and sportsman and I feel like he does everything the right way. Conducts himself the right way. Plays the game in the right way. You know, to keep going and to keep being so competitive for so long, you know, he's the ultimate professional, and someone I've always looked up to.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thought you were talking about me. Rory, thanks a lot and good luck this week.

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