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August 11, 2009

Rory McIlroy


KELLY ELBIN: Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland joining us at the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. This will be Rory's first PGA Championship, his fourth major championship of the year with his best finish being a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open.
Rory, you mentioned you played nine holes yesterday. Just some thoughts on the nine holes that you saw and your game coming in this week.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, the first thing you notice about this golf course is that it's very long. Especially with the amount of rain that this area has had over the past couple of weeks. There's not much run on the golf ball, and there's a few par 4s that are touching 500 yards that are very tough.
You know, saying that, the greens are holding, because of the soft conditions, so I'm sure the scoring will still be pretty good. And the rough, you know, it's pretty generous off the tee, compared to some other majors. And yeah, I mean, you know, even if you hit it off-line a little bit, you can still get away with it. You can still have a shot to the green which is good, so it's quite fair. But the rough around the greens is pretty sticky, so you don't really want to be short-siding yourself too much.
KELLY ELBIN: Talk a little bit about your game, how you're playing coming in.
RORY McILROY: I struggled last week. I struggled just to sort of get anything going. I didn't make a lot of birdies, and it just wasn't all there.
I'm trying to -- I'm working hard trying to get it back to the way it was. I feel as if I've played Scottish Open, The Open Championship, Bridgestone last week, and I hadn't really had a good finish. So I'm just trying to work hard the next couple of days to get my game in as good of shape as possible going into Thursday. Hopefully it can all come together by then and I can start shooting some good scores.

Q. Could it be that you're just a bit tired? You've had a very eventful, what, last eight, ten months. Actually, since Crans last year, you've had an eventful time.
RORY McILROY: I don't think it's tiredness. I was speaking to a few people about it last night and you're always -- in golf, you're always going to have a few lulls, and then you're going to have obviously the highs, as well. It's just about making the most of playing badly -- not playing badly but not playing your best. Turning the 40ths, 50th place finishes into Top-30s or Top-20s. I'm still learning how to do that.
It's hard for me to go out in a major going out in 50th position and trying to get myself up for it and trying to finish as high as possible because the juices are not really flowing. It's hard to -- you're not really in the tournament, and obviously you want to finish as best you can, but it's hard to whenever you're teeing third or fourth off in the last round.
But you know, hopefully this week I can play a bit better the first three days and get myself into position in this tournament where I at least have a chance to contend.

Q. Obviously this is the first season where you've played in all four majors. What have you learned about yourself in the weeks and in particular the demands that a major places on you compared to regular tournaments?
RORY McILROY: I feel as if I've done -- for my first year in the majors, I've done very well. I've had a Top-20 at the Masters, finished 10th at the U.S. Open. Pretty disappointed at Turnberry not to finish higher.
You know, the thing about majors, as well, is you don't -- it's almost easier to get yourself into position in a major to do well, rather than a normal tournament, because -- well, I feel, anyway, because you don't have to play, you don't have to make as many birdies. You can just grind -- you can just grind a few pars out and shoot a few decent scores around level par and you'll know that you'll not be far away.
So in that respect, I feel as if I've done pretty well in the majors. I've learned how to be patient in these events, as well, because you have to be. You can't go out chasing scores in these tournaments, because you know, a couple of bad shots here and there can cost you two or three shots, and two or three shots in these tournaments is a lot.
No, I think the majors, I found this year, the majors are just about being patient and just trying to put yourself into position to where going into the last day, you can have a chance to contend or at least have a chance to put in a good finish.

Q. What do you do to get psyched up for a tournament like this? You seem to be pretty laid back right now.
RORY McILROY: You know, I think you don't really feel it until Thursday morning comes around when you're actually getting ready to go out.
I don't feel as if I need to do anything to psyche myself up. I think just playing in a tournament like this is motivation enough to try and play well. Obviously you just want to go out there and shoot the best score you can, and that's all you're concentrating on and that's all I'll try and concentrate on this week.

Q. Knowing your historical ability on Tiger, and all things Tiger, he seems to play particularly well here, not just at this course obviously, but the PGA; have you thought why the PGA sets up well for him and might for you, as well?
RORY McILROY: Not really. You know, the PGA is played on a different golf course every year. I'm sure there's not one thing you could say that suits anyone's game or doesn't suit it.
I think of all the majors, the PGA is probably the most scorable. You can probably shoot a few lower scores at this tournament than you could at, say, the Open or the U.S. Open.
Yeah, I think Tiger does well everywhere he plays. It's not just here. I remember watching this tournament when it was played here in '02, and I think Rich Beem was quite a good bit under par, as well. So I don't think the scoring will be quite as good this year because it's so long, but I think if you can just get off to a good start in these tournaments, you set yourself up for a good week. I haven't been able to do that the last couple of weeks, and really try and put in a good score the first couple of days to put myself in a good position.

Q. What's your take on the pace of play in Europe and on the PGA TOUR? Have you noticed a difference between the way it's policed in Europe and the way it's done here, in light of what happened in Akron?
RORY McILROY: The thing that happened on Sunday was, I mean, you've got the last group put on the clock. They are not holding anyone up. I didn't see the reason to put them on the clock. Some people say that may have forced Harrington to rush a little bit and to play the shot that he did at 16.
You know, I'm a pretty quick player. I rarely get put on the clock. My group rarely gets put on the clock. So I'm probably not in a position to comment on how the pace of play is policed over here or in Europe. If you're out of position, you just try and make up the time. You still take the same amount of time on the shot you play. Just speed up your walk between shots and you'll make up a bit of time.
I find the pace of play here in the States and over in Europe very similar. I actually find it very fast come the weekend because you're playing in two balls and not three balls and that speeds up everything as well. I suppose you have to make an adjustment going into the weekend. Everywhere I've played this year, pace of play seemed to be pretty good.

Q. It was ten years ago in this event we saw Sergio chasing Tiger down the straight and it's probably hard for us all to believe that he has not won a major. Wonder how you would feel if you went as long as that and have you set a timetable where if you think you have not won one, you would be really disappointed?
RORY McILROY: I never set myself a time frame of when I would want to win one, because you look at Sergio García, and he is probably one of the best ball-strikers I've ever played with, one of the best players I've ever played with. If he has not won a major, it's obviously very difficult to win one.
It's not as easy as Tiger makes it look sometimes. I've said this about Sergio before; as soon as he wins one, I think he'll go on to win a lot more. You just have to -- if you can just get that first one, I think he'll be able to go on. Hopefully it won't take me so long. But if it does, then so be it. I've got a long career ahead of me, and hopefully 30 years to win a few majors. So I'm not going to try and rush it just yet.

Q. You talk about how the course might play for low scores, but given the length of the course, do you think it's wise to be more patient than to take risks at this course?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I've only seen the front nine, but even the long par 4s that are 480, 490, the greens are still very small. So I think if you hit it in the middle of the greens, I think pars are -- and even the par -- there's four par 5s out here, and you can't hit any of them in two. So they are not going to be a pushover, either.
You know, it's a lot longer than it was in 2002, so I don't think the scoring will be quite as low. I would say four 70s this week wouldn't be far away.

Q. Sort of two questions, but I'll ask the first one first. How envious were you of Padraig, watching him on Sunday? I assume you did watch it, and looking at him going head-to-head with Tiger sort of over the front nine then and taking the battle as far as the 16th; is that something you envision yourself doing sometime? Were you jealous of him?
RORY McILROY: I think the first thing, I think everyone was looking forward to seeing Padraig battle Tiger because it was the first time that it had actually happened since Tiger came back. You know, Padraig had won three majors in a short space of time, two of them while Tiger was away, so everyone was anticipating a Padraig and Tiger showdown at some stage. A lot of people thought it wouldn't have taken this long, but it did.
I think Padraig did great. He played really solid golf, made 14 pars and a birdie the first 15 holes, and then obviously 16 happened, which was very unfortunate. You know, I think everyone would love to be in the position that Padraig was in on Sunday going head-to-head with Tiger, especially having a three-shot lead and trying to hold him off.
Yeah, you know, hopefully one day I'll be able to be in that position. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

Q. Just the second part of that, totally different question as a matter of fact. Having the par 5s so long, nobody able to make them really in two, that serves as a sort of equalizer, it brings everybody into play the way Zach Johnson was brought into play at the Masters a few years ago.
RORY McILROY: Exactly, it's a little bit of an equalizer on this golf course, because there's still a lot of par 4s that are touching 490, and the 12th hole is 520 or something. Yeah, it is. I can't see anyone -- maybe the only one that people will go for is the 7th. It's 572, but it's got the water on the left, so it's a pretty risky hole.
So most of the guys make their score on the par 5s, but I don't think that will be the case this week, just because they are playing so long, even though -- even if you hit a good lay-up, you're still going in with a wedge, but it's still pretty hard to make a birdie from there.
KELLY ELBIN: Rory McIlroy, thank you very much.

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