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October 28, 2009

Rory McIlroy


GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome to your first World Match Play sponsored by Volvo on this occasion. Do you remember this growing up? Is this something that you watched on the BBC in Northern Ireland?
RORY McILROY: I watched it in real life. I went to two World Match Plays. I remember Monty beating O'Meara in '99 -- O'Meara beat Tiger in '98, and Woosie beat Harrington, whatever year that was, might have been the year after.
So, yeah, I went to two and then obviously watched it on TV growing up as a kid.
GORDON SIMPSON: Was that a special treat? Did your parents take you across?
RORY McILROY: Yes, we always went over, because it used to start on the Wednesday, or Thursday. Usually went up on the Thursday and stayed for the whole thing.
GORDON SIMPSON: And to be playing in it this time?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I remember running around Wentworth twice a day when I was a kid; and to be able to play it now, I don't know if any of the guys here this week would have played the years I was there, but you know, it's a pretty cool feeling to be able to play in it now. I'm really looking forward to it.
GORDON SIMPSON: And obviously the fact that the top four in The Race to Dubai are here gives it an extra edge, doesn't it.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it does. I don't know if it's by coincidence that we have avoided each other in the group stages, but it will be great. Hopefully a couple of us get to the semi final stages, but it's going to be very difficult because there's no easy matches here.
So, yeah, it will be great. It will be a very exciting finish. Obviously Portugal, Lee went ahead, and last week at Valencia, Martin did. It's a very exciting stretch to the Dubai World Championship.

Q. Finca Cortesin, your overall impressions and how it suits your game?
RORY McILROY: As a resort, it's absolutely fantastic. We have been treated really well. Beautiful hotel, great facilities.
The golf course, for the piece of land that they have built the golf course on, they have done an excellent job, because I don't think I could have designed a golf course on the terrain that it is on. Obviously there's big gaps between holes, which is a good thing. You never really see another hole. The greens are fantastic. It's a good layout. And you know, I think it will be a very good course for match play.

Q. Can you remember any real specific moments when you watched as a kid?
RORY McILROY: I remember -- I don't know if it was in the final or the semifinal, but Mark O'Meara in the morning holed his bunker shot on 18, might have been against Monty in the final round. I remember the morning of the final when Woosie and Harrington played each other, and it was like they both shot -- Harrington shot 62 and Woosie shot 63 or something. The golf there was phenomenal. That's probably the two things I remember.

Q. Didn't you get given a ball by one of them?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, Mark O'Meara.

Q. Have you still got it?
RORY McILROY: Yes, I've got it.

Q. Where is it?
RORY McILROY: Well, it's either -- it was in my mom and dad's house, they had a drawer full of golf balls. It's probably still there somewhere.

Q. Has he signed it?

Q. How many of those golf balls have you got?
RORY McILROY: Mark O'Meara; Monty; Sam Torrance, he played one of the years that I was there, also. There's about it really. I haven't really got anymore. I've got a lot of autographs, though.

Q. I was going to ask you your overall views on the new tournament format and what you think about your group pairings, as well.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think the format works really, really well. You know, especially the way you're going to see every match go to the 18th no matter what happens, which I think is a really good idea.
Yeah, you're going to -- I know the Match Play in the past has been over 36 holes, but you should get the four best players of the week into the semifinals. So I think it's a very good format.
It will be really tough to get through the group, especially I've got Henrik, Cabrera and Dyson in mine. So obviously Angel has won the Masters this year and Henrik has done very well in the past in match play, and obviously THE PLAYERS champion this year and Simon is in the best form of his life. So it's a pretty tough group.
GORDON SIMPSON: And you Henrik had some game, didn't you, at Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, we did. It's a pity the way it finished. Henrik made 6 at 17 and I made a good par at last to win, but we had a really good battle there and hopefully we can have another good one this week.

Q. I saw you practise on the driving range, and it looks beautiful, your swing. I can't get enough of seeing it, you know, the flow, beautiful.
RORY McILROY: Thank you.

Q. But when I saw you on the short game, I was blown away that this is just amazing. So I would like to know, what is the relationship of how much you practise the short game in comparison to the long game, because yeah, it was just fantastic what I saw.
RORY McILROY: That's actually yesterday you're talking about. It was pretty good. Yeah, probably 50/50, 50 per cent long game and 50 per cent short game. I think over the last year or so, or since I've been on Tour the last couple of years, I've realised how important the short game is. So I do try to spend quite a lot of time on the chipping green and obviously on the putting green stuff. Because I feel the long game, too, it comes more naturally to me than the short game does.

Q. So expectations now are growing sort of almost daily on you; do you feel that pressure or do you revel in it?
RORY McILROY: I revel in it. Obviously I expect a lot of myself. And yeah, obviously you read things and you read -- usually read what's in newspapers and magazines, and if you're feeling a little down, it's a bit of a confidence booster.
So, yeah, obviously I put myself under the most pressure, because I want to do well, and I want to play as well as I can. So I don't really let what other people say affect how I play. But I do have high expectations of my 11, and as long as I can live up to those, then I'll be doing okay.

Q. Do you change your strategy going out playing medal or match play, is there anything different?
RORY McILROY: A little bit. Obviously in match play, you're playing -- doesn't matter, you could be 6-under par or 6-over par and still win the match.
Yeah, I go out in match play and play the man, play whoever I am. In stroke play, the first few holes in stroke play, especially in a tournament, you just try to get off to a steady start, a couple of pars. If you have a couple of birdie chances, it's great. But in match play, it's all-go from the first go, try to get up as much as possible.

Q. Will you be too bothered if you don't win The Race to Dubai, because you've had your first win this year, you've played well in the majors, you've been very consistent.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, for the last, basically since the US PGA, or even Switzerland, it's been on my mind. Obviously I went to the top after the Dunhill, and Lee went in in Portugal and overtook me, and then Martin overtook me in Valencia last week, as well. I know it will be tough and I have to play very, very well. But if I don't win, yeah, I will be a little disappointed. It will be natural if I am. I desperately want to win.

Q. If you were to win, would that make a decision about going to the States a little bit easier?
RORY McILROY: Not really. I'm not sure.

Q. It's almost like ticking off, it's a big achievement.
RORY McILROY: It's not that you're just Europe's No. 1 and head off to the States, it's not really.
Yeah, I still have to make a decision.
GORDON SIMPSON: I'm sure you'll keep us guessing over the next few weeks.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I change my mind every day.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, have a good week. Thank you.

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