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November 19, 2009

Rory McIlroy


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Rory, one round down, three to go and still all to play for it would appear.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think it was a very, very good first day for both myself and Lee, playing together. I mean, we both got off to pretty slow starts to be honest, and then we played great golf on the back nine to pick things up.
Yeah, I mean, 68 on day one, it's a great score to build on and hopefully I can just build on that for the week and if I can shoot a couple better over the weekend or the next three days, I should be in a good position.
GORDON SIMPSON: It's just human nature, I suppose, when you play together that you watch what each other is doing; whereas tomorrow, you're separate, and you just concentrate on what you have to do.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, a little bit. Whenever Lee made a couple birdies around the turn to go a few in front, I sort of said to myself, okay, I need to make a couple of birdies. But yeah, it will be good for both of us tomorrow to not play with each other. We can concentrate fully on our own games and get into our own rhythms and just try and go out and shoot a good number and just worry about the tournament.

Q. In the context of what you just said of trying to match him, how important was the par putt you holed at 12?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, that, and I made a really good up-and-down on the 9th hole, as well, not to go over par. They were two really big putts. I felt as if I putted really well the whole day. Gave myself a few chances, but I took most of them. And whenever I missed, I hit really good putts. Very pleased with that aspect of my game. Going into the next three days.
Yeah, there was a few putts I needed to hole to sort of keep the momentum going.

Q. Obviously you would rather not be two shots behind Lee, but as a professional golfer, do you think two shots is --
RORY McILROY: Not really.

Q. -- nothing?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, there's 54 holes to go. That's the big thing. You know, if I was sitting here on Saturday night, two shots behind, then it would be a different story. But you know, it's only Thursday and we still have a lot of golf to play.
You know, go out, get off to a good start tomorrow, that gap is narrowed considerably.

Q. How was the conversation between you today? Any different to normal, or not?
RORY McILROY: No, not really. I think we were both trying to concentrate on our own games. We still chatted a bit. You know, probably not as much as we would have done if it was the first round of the Spanish Open or something like that.
So yeah, I mean, it was very tough to play. I found it quite tough to play together today, just because you want to try and concentrate on the tournament, but at the same time, you're seeing what he's doing, and yeah, it will be nice not to play with him tomorrow, just to concentrate fully on my own score and on my own game.

Q. Do you think it's an advantage to play alongside Lee?
RORY McILROY: No, I don't think so. I would rather -- especially tomorrow, I won't be paired with him, so I think it will be good for both of us not to play together, just because it's the Dubai World Championship we are worried about. If we play well enough, we can win The Race to Dubai, but I think both of us are just trying to win the Dubai World Championship and whatever comes after that, whatever happens after that, then so be it.

Q. Can you feel an extra intensity and extra rush of adrenaline compared with an ordinary Tour event this week?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. I said to a couple of the guys out there that today almost felt like a last group final round sort of thing. Because you're out in the middle of the day, and basically the top two in The Race to Dubai, and you're sort of watching what each other are doing. It's hard to get away from that.
Yeah, I think the intensity levels this week have been raised a little bit, just because there's so much to play for, especially to be the first person to become the champion of The Race to Dubai, I think it will be a great honour to put my name on that trophy.
But as I said previously, I'm still trying to concentrate fully on the Dubai World Championship and not let my thoughts wander to what might happen.

Q. Just to follow up on that, Lee almost said exactly the opposite. He said that he realised that it was the first round of a tournament and was deliberately making sure that nothing else kind of got in the way of his thought processes?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, well, he's been around a lot longer than me. (Laughter).

Q. Without being too nosey, what do you talk about, the price of fish? the football?
RORY McILROY: Talked about if he was going away anywhere on holiday during the Christmas/new year. Talked about schedules next year, what we are going to play in, and that was about it. There wasn't that much chat to be honest.

Q. What snapped your attention back to the tournament, what specific thing?
RORY McILROY: The leaderboard.

Q. On 9?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I was level par, hit in the bunker and looked up and seen Allenby and Villegas at 6-under. I was like, yeah, I need to start playing a bit here. That was the point where I was like, I still want to win this tournament.

Q. As a follow-up, when was the last time that you were in the final group on the first day, to excuse the express expression, with someone that you are so familiar with and so close to. It is an awkward situation.
RORY McILROY: As I said, it would be okay if we were playing together in the middle of the season, even if we were one and two in The Race to Dubai, because it doesn't matter. It's hard to --

Q. Have you been paired with someone before that you were very friendly with going for a championship?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, I could say -- no, probably not.

Q. So it's the first time?

Q. Was it harder than you thought it would be to separate thoughts about the Order of Merit and watching Lee? Had you prepared yourself for that or did it hit you?
RORY McILROY: I wasn't thinking -- I wasn't thinking about The Race to Dubai. I was thinking more, let's not try and lose too much ground here. It's a difficult one, because you are trying to play your own game, but then you see that Lee is playing well, also.
You know, I didn't think I would find it as difficult as I did to be honest, but you know, that's the way I found it and I thought I dealt pretty well with it.
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, thank you very much, Rory and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts

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