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May 29, 2019

Rory McIlroy

Dublin, Ohio

Q. Thanks for joining us at the Memorial Tournament. Your form this year has been nothing short of stellar. You won THE PLAYERS. You've been in the mix almost every week. What are you anticipating this week, more of the same?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, hopefully more of the same. It's been a really good start to the year. I think this is my 11th tournament. I played ten, had top-10's in nine of them. So it's been real consistent. Bethpage wasn't -- I just didn't get out of the block quickly enough. I played the last two days very well. But obviously left myself a bit too much to do after the first couple of days.

But I think that's just a testament to where my game is. I'm finding a way to get some good golf out of myself and still produce high finishes. Hopefully get off to a bit of a better start this week. Get myself up there and I'm in the tournament after the first couple of days. It would be nice to get back in contention and win a tournament that I haven't won before and one that I'd love to add it to the list.

Q. Speaking of winning, if you did happen to win, you'd join Tiger Woods as the only two to win THE PLAYERS and the Memorial in the same year. Pretty significant and good company to be in?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, very good company to be in, obviously. I think I was very proud to win at Bay Hill a couple of years ago at Arnie's place. And I think to win here, I think it would be really cool to walk up that hill on the last and have Jack greet you. That's something that's pretty special.

So, yeah, as I said, it's been a good year. I think I've got the game to do well around this place, and it's just a matter of keep doing what I'm doing.

Q. You've always shown a lot of respect for the legends of the game, and mentioning Arnie and Jack, and to have that on your CV would be pretty impressive. Where does that come from? Is that just something that you grew up with?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I've always been a pretty big historian of the game. I definitely know and appreciate the people that have come before us that have paved the way for us to do what we do. I'm pretty good -- you're having a trivia night on major champions back to the mid-1900s, I'm pretty good at that one.

But it's always been something that I've been proud of. I'm proud that I know a lot about the game and know the people that have come before us. That's why I'll always try to play -- it took me a long time to play at Bay Hill, but I'm pretty committed to playing there every year and the same year. And I think it's to pay our respect to two of the greatest that have ever done it.

Q. How does this course suit your game?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I mean, you've got to drive it well. You have to drive it in the fairway, especially this week. The rough is very thick. And I've had -- shot some good scores and had some good finishes around here. It suits me well. I think three of the best five putting rounds on Tour I've had here. I like the greens here. I've felt comfortable on them. Yeah, I think when you have a comfort in a place like that, it obviously helps.

Q. Can you imagine getting to 82 professional wins, much less 82 wins on this Tour? Can you put that in perspective? If Tiger wins again, he judges himself by the majors, but what does that accomplishment mean do you think in terms of the game?
RORY MCILROY: Especially this day and age, I think it's more impressive than his major tally. 82 wins, even your own -- if you're around for 20 years, that's four a year, every year. It's very, very impressive. I think if you're winning multiple times a year, you're doing pretty well.

So to have the average that he's had, and obviously eight-win seasons, nine-win seasons, whatever it is, if he does pass that record of Snead's, in my book, just knowing how difficult it is in this day and age -- not in this day and age, any day and age, to win on Tour, it's almost more impressive than the 15.

Q. So that could almost last longer than the 18 majors?
RORY MCILROY: I think -- yeah, definitely. I think with the way the game is going as well, I think you're going to see guys have shorter careers if they want to, more money in the game, they're coming out of school earlier. Yeah, I think that could be definitely a number that could stand the test of time, for sure.

Q. How do you measure yourself?
RORY MCILROY: In golf or as a person?

Q. Both. Start with golf.
RORY MCILROY: I guess I measure myself in am I improving? Am I getting better? Am I trying to improve, doing everything I can to be a better golfer than I was last year and the year before that? And if I feel like I'm doing that, then...

Q. How do you measure that?
RORY MCILROY: Statistics, analysis, reflection. I think there's a lot of things that go -- there's a lot more things nowadays that are measurable compared to back in Jack's day or Arnie's day. There's more things measurable now that you can analyze, I guess.

Q. At any time in your life, have you ever found yourself seeing how you stack up against somebody?
RORY MCILROY: In the present era or more so -- yeah, I guess I'm always looking at stats and seeing if there are parts of other guys' games that I very much admire, and I look at them and say, okay, is there anything I can learn from that, is there anything -- you look at like last week or the week before, Bethpage, I really like how Jason Day played his chip shots out of the long rough. That's something that I'll try -- more of a technique like that, where it's a lot more stiff arm and you're really like almost sliding the club underneath the ball, especially out of that long stuff. There's always stuff that you can learn and try to put into your game.

Q. But not a straight win count?
RORY MCILROY: Not really, because then that gets away from what I'm trying to do, which is focus on the little things that add up to a win, rather than just the result. You can say, yes, I want to win six times a year, and I want to win this major and I want to win the FedExCup, but how do you do it? It's not just about saying it. It's about putting little things in place that help you get to that end destination, I guess.

Q. How much would a win at Pebble for Phil mean?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I think -- he's still one of the best players to have ever played. And his record of 40 whatever PGA Tour wins is stellar, also.

But in terms of -- I mean, will people look back on Phil Mickelson if he's won the U.S. Open or not and judge him differently? I don't know. Maybe. But he gets his name on a list of a very exclusive group of people.

So, I mean, yeah, I mean, I think the public perception would be, yes, it would put him in a different category for sure. But, again, you have to ask Phil that.

Q. You guys want to win every time you go out. But is it hard not to pull for him there given the near misses?
RORY MCILROY: I won't be pulling for him (laughter), yeah, Phil, go ahead, you can have this one.

Q. Is there anything specific about this event, where it's held, that makes it special?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I mean, there's little traditions, like the Honoree every year, you've got Judy Rankin this year. Little things like that that make it special. Obviously it's the same day that's Memorial Day and there's a big onus on military and veterans, and I think that's a great thing.

But, yeah, I think just the -- it's Muirfield Village. I think it's one of the best courses we play all year, and it's Jack Nicklaus. That's what makes it special.

Q. As a former U.S. Open winner, do you have any kind of special relationship with the USGA? Do they seek your opinions on anything?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I feel like I've got a pretty good relationship there. They've set up a player liaison team over the past couple of years. And Jenny Pritchard and Robbie Zalzneck, I've had a pretty good dialogue with them back and forth. And do they seek our opinion? Just like some of the other tournaments do. Yeah, there's obviously guys from the USGA here this week. Yeah, they're trying to do as good a job as they can. And I think they'll admit they've made a couple of mistakes over the last couple of years. Everyone does. And I think we should give them the chance to redeem themselves. If they can't redeem themselves at Pebble Beach, then there could be a problem.

Q. Do they seek your opinion?
RORY MCILROY: I think they did, but opinion on what? How to run the golf tournament or how to set the golf course up? I don't run golf tournaments and I don't set golf courses up. So I think they should seek the opinion of people that do that every week.

Q. But you have a position? You have a thought on what the setup should be?
RORY MCILROY: I guess in my head growing up watching the U.S. Opens, that was what my perception of a U.S. Open was. It was tight fairways, it was thick rough. It was a premium on accuracy and precision.

And I think some of the golf courses we played and some of the setups over the last couple of years have went a little bit away from that. We play one Open championship a year, we don't need to play two. I think it's just lost its identity in terms of what it is, and I'd like to see them go back to that, because it worked. It really worked.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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