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November 3, 2019

Rory McIlroy

Shanghai, China

BRIONY CARLYON: Congratulate our WGC - HSBC Champion, Rory on your victory today.

RORY McILROY: Thank you.

BRIONY CARLYON: Just give us a sense of your thoughts coming into the playoff hole on 18, really, because that was where everything sort of changed for the day.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I guess it's funny, even though I was leading by one playing the last and Xander birdied it to get into the playoff and I only made par, I think we were both pretty happy with the playoff, walking off the 18th green in regulation. I thought my tee shot was in the water. You know, so to get away with a five, I would have taken that walking off the tee.

I think both of us were in pretty good spirits going into that playoff, and yeah, I knew I just -- whenever he pulled the pace of player out of Slugger's hand and got No. 2, and I had the honour, I knew that was the big moment because I could hit a drive down the fairway and put the pressure on him. I piped one down there. I was surprised how far it got down there into the wind, and just from that tee shot, that set up everything else.

So you know, pivotal moment was just getting the honour on that 18th tee and hitting that tee shot.

BRIONY CARLYON: In terms of victories this year, it's four to your name now, plus another WGC obviously being the marquis one for you. You must just be thrilled with how the game is and the consistency to be able to pull that off week-in and week-out and be in contention.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I am. If anything, look, the four wins this year have been wonderful. THE PLAYERS Championship, Canadian Open, THE TOUR Championship to win the FedExCup, big events. But more than that, I think it is the consistency that I'm bringing week-in, week-out. I'm able to -- even if I don't have my best stuff, at least give myself a chance. Even last week in Japan, finding something after a couple of days and go on to produce a high finish.

So everything, I think maybe more so than say when I first came out on Tour, I try 100 per cent over every shot, I think because I realise I don't have as much time left as I used to when I was 20. Even if I'm having a bad day, I'm trying over every single shot. My concentration is better and my mental capacity on the golf course is much better than it ever has been, and I think that's a big key to why I'm able to play consistently week-in, week-out.

Q. Remember that we talked about your target as trying your best to go back to world No. 1 at the end of the year. So right now, after winning this WGC, has that mentality sort of changed a bit; that you'll be more optimistic of that?
RORY McILROY: I don't know, as I said, I had -- when we spoke at the start of the week, I had two tournaments left this year, and obviously after winning this, I have one. I don't know if a win in Dubai in a couple weeks' time will get me to, will give me enough points to get to that No. 1 ranking.

As I said, I just wanted to play well until the end of the year to give myself a great platform going into 2020. Regardless of what happens in Dubai, I've already done that. I have a lot of World Ranking points here, FedExCup points, and it's nice to be No. 1 in that very early on in the season and be up there from the start.

Obviously I don't know how many points it gets me in terms of The Race to Dubai and where it moves me to there. It might have an outside chance in Dubai, I'm not sure.

Even though it's the end of the year, there's still a lot to play for. At least there is for me, anyway. You need to find things to motivate you and those are the things that motivated me to travel all this way to Asia and play hard the last couple weeks, and excited about how I've played. I've got one event left to try and replicate that play that I've shown over the last two weeks.

Q. Xander drew the 2, right?

Q. Was it harder to hit the regulation tee shot on 18 even with the one-shot lead, even after watching two guys just pipe it down the middle?
RORY McILROY: You know what, not necessarily. It was more so I was -- I delayed in hitting it because I saw Jason Kokrak down the ride side of the fairway, and I didn't know whether he was in range or not, so I sort of backed off it and I sort of took maybe an extra couple of minutes until he -- where he was, that part of the fairway cleared, just so I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do.

So I think more than anything else, it was that.

And then was there a second.

Q. You did pretty much what you thought you would have needed to have done, 67, 68, didn't drop a single shot on the weekend and still get pushed all the way to a playoff. Is it a reminder, and Louis right there, too, by the way. Is it a reminder of how hard it is to win, and if it is, why do you think you win more than most?
RORY McILROY: I don't think any of us need reminders of how hard it is to win. It's difficult. I think as golfers, we accept that if you win one out of every ten tournaments you play, that's going to add up to be a pretty successful career.

Why do I win more than most -- what's that? (Laughter) I guess everyone wants it the same I would guess. If anything, over the last years, I feel for the most part -- and there's been times where I haven't, but for the most part, I've been able to get the best out of myself when I've needed it and that's been a learning curve for me. That's something that didn't come quite as naturally to me at the start of my career.

But I've had enough experience, and I've got a lot of great memories to draw back on. The two shots that I hit into 18 in the playoff, I've got East Lake a few years ago when I played the playoff there, and you know, there's so many shots that I've hit under pressure that I can draw on, and you know, that's a big advantage, as well, just being in those positions a little more often.

Q. Two-parts to the question. Do you remember that eight years ago you actually won your first championship here in Shanghai, and what was the memory of that? A lot of Chinese fans have great memories of that and that's why they start calling you Little Mac, you were still young at that time. What's the best memory for you, not just about golf, but in terms of food, the city, how do you feel about the City of Shanghai? And second part of the question is after you win at the championship balcony, you actually get to meet a Chinese youth golfer. What did you talk to him about and what advice would you give him after you win this trophy?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, so it was eight years ago I won at Lake Malaren, which was the Shanghai Masters that first event, and went on to be the BMW Championship. The one thing I remember about that week, I beat Anthony Kim in a playoff, and I think it's the last time I've ever seen him. (Laughter) So that's one thing I remember.

I've always enjoyed Shanghai. It's a wonderful city. You know, I've had some really good times here. I think as the years have went on, the golf fans here have become more and more knowledgeable, and I've never seen bigger crowds at this tournament than today. I've definitely never played in front of bigger crowds.

The excitement for the sport in this country is definitely growing, and that's a great thing to see. You know, I think getting to spend some time with the juniors this week, obviously HSBC supports the China Golf Association, and they support them very well.

To be able to spend some time with the kids -- my thing is, thinking back to when I was their age, my Mum and dad, they just instilled in me so much belief. I knew that this was the life that I was going to live and these are the tournaments that I was going to win. I never really had a second thought. I didn't have any doubt about it.

If I were, you know, giving some advice to those kids, it's whatever you think is possible for you or even what's not possible beyond your wildest dreams, go for it. Just go for it and think big and believe in yourself and don't let anyone tell you that you can't do anything, because, you know, I've had plenty of people over the years tell me that I wasn't big enough or I was from too small a country or whatever it may be.

But I didn't let any of that stand in my way. I knew what I wanted to do, and I went ahead with a lot of self-belief and ended up doing it.

Q. This year, we've mentioned that you have four wins, and that you were voted the best player on the PGA TOUR, and five years ago in 2014, you became world No. 1 and you've won a lot of great tournaments. During these four years, what was it like mentally for you to go through that after you've been world No. 1 and is there any special seasons that you recall that is more special than this one? This should be probably the best season after 2015, isn't it?
RORY McILROY: It's definitely up there. I've had some great seasons. 2012, I won five times. That's still the most I've ever won in a calendar year. I won four times in 2014, four times in 2015. I won my first FedExCup in 2016. But this is definitely -- 2017 and 2018, I had a couple injuries and went through changing equipment, as well, and there was just a couple of things. I was a little unsettled, I guess.

But the last 18 months, I've been very settled. I've been comfortable with everything, my game, my equipment, my body's been healthy, or healthier. It's actually -- I struggled with some back problems in my early 20s, and knock-on-wood, my body feels as good as it ever has at 30.

I'm excited for the future. I feel like this year compares to 2014, 2015, but I don't see any reason why I can't go ahead and have an even better year next year.

BRIONY CARLYON: Thanks, Rory. Congratulations.

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