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November 26, 2009

Graeme McDowell

Rory McIlroy


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Rory, Graeme, welcome back. It's not often you sign 29-29 for 58. Give us your thoughts on a great first round.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's the best score I've ever had.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, we got off to a great start today and we birdied the holes that we knew we had to on the front nine. There's three par 5s on the front nine and it's a pretty gentle start and we got off to a good one. And from there, we just kept it going.
We birdied a few holes where I'm sure not a lot of teams were birdieing, and you know, no mistakes on the card. We had a look at two birdies most holes, and you know, most of the time we took one of them.
It was great team play today, but you know, no one really put each other under pressure. I think that showed in the way the scores went.

Q. How will this affect your approach to tomorrow?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, obviously today is a good start. That's all it is. We are very aware of that. Better-ball is quite an important part of the format really. You've got to play well in better-ball, and I think you know that.
Obviously foursomes is a tougher format. We'll have a good chat tonight obviously through how the golf course is going to set up for us both. We are both driving the ball well but Rory is a fair bit longer than I am, so we are hoping to use that to our benefit on the golf course.
I think we are both probably very happy with the way we played today. I think we both drove it good. Our iron play was pretty solid and made our fair share of putts each. We could probably play the course either way around tomorrow and it would be pretty good. We just have to keep doing more of the same really. It's not really going to change our game plan at all.

Q. How much of a factor is it, the fact that you guys are so close and such good friends? Do you think it's made you relaxed and brought the best out of your games here?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. I think we bring the best out of each other on the golf course. We both have very similar attitudes. We are quite aggressive. And yeah, as I said, we played so well today that we never put each other under any pressure.
There was always -- we always had two looks at birdie. Even, for instance, the eagle I had on 15; it was only because G-Mac hit his second shot in there to about ten feet. So I was under no pressure for my second shot and under no pressure for the putt because he was hitting close. It was pretty much like that the whole day.
Yeah, even when things don't go that well on the golf course, we can still have a laugh about it because we are so close and we are good friends, and we realise that we are very lucky to be able to play in this tournament with each other. It's not often that you get to do it. We are going out with the attitude this week that we are going to enjoy it. Usually if you enjoy your golf, you play very well.

Q. There is ten years' difference between you two --
RORY McILROY: I thought he was going to say ten questions (laughing).

Q. Is there a generation gap between you two, even though you two are really good friends?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, I guess the old guy should answer this really. Is there a generation gap? No, I mean, I think we both listen to the same music. We watch the same things on the TV. You know, Rory keeps me young. I guess he's a good man to partner up with this week. He's got a great attitude for the game. The energy levels are great on the golf course. I enjoy playing with that type of a player. You know, I don't know if he looks at me as the old guy or not, but I guess he can answer that. (Laughter).
RORY McILROY: You know, whenever I turned pro and came out on to The European Tour, I got very close with Graeme, and for the first six months to a year, we played a lot of practise rounds. Well, we still do play a lot of practise rounds together.
GRAEME McDOWELL: We just don't play for money anymore because he beats me all the time. (Laughter).
RORY McILROY: He sort of showed me the ropes for the first few months, and he made me feel very comfortable when I came out on Tour. I suppose that I have to be very thankful for that. I don't really see him as the old guy. I've grown up playing with older players my whole life, and you know -- I'm not saying he's old. (Laughing).
I think we are just great friends and we get on very well together.

Q. Before you turned pro, you were one of the top amateurs also in the world, and now you see McIlroy doing so well; do you get a little bit jealous? (Laughter).
GRAEME McDOWELL: Jealous of how far he hits it, if that's any start.
I guess Rory and I were kind of different players. When I turned pro, obviously I came out of college, and yeah, I played well in college, about you Rory was probably ready for the professional ranks when he was 15 and 16 and was playing professional golf tournaments at that age.
I think I only ever played one professional event before I turned pro in 2002. You know, this guy is a phenomenon, there's no doubt about it. I certainly wasn't phenomenal when I was 20 years old. I'm still working out how to be one.
I can't really compare myself to this guy, 20 years old. I think there's been enough written about him and enough said about him; we all know how good he is. I certainly can't compare myself to him ten years ago.

Q. You said on Tuesday that you were still motivated this week after the disappointments of last week. Do you see this as maybe sort of, this is the first day of the next stage of your career after last year? Is it nice to putt a performance in like that to prove that you had no hangover from last week?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. I got over it by the time I woke up on Monday morning to be honest. You know, I'm looking back at it now, and I've had a great season. I mean, it's been brilliant. It's been a great -- almost like a breakthrough year: 12 top 5s, a win, played well in the majors and everything.
Yeah, I suppose you're probably right. This was a week, I mean, obviously I wanted to do well because I'm playing with Graeme and it would be great to win together. It would be awesome.
But I suppose, yeah, go out there, it's a new tournament. I think every week you go out there trying to win the tournament. There's no reason why you should think about the last one. Just get your mind focused on the task at hand and go for it.

Q. I don't want to get into politics, but how do you feel as two Ulsterman representing the whole of Ireland and hopefully winning the World Cup for Ireland this week?
RORY McILROY: I don't want to take that question. (Laughter) You probably don't, either.
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's obviously a very sensitive issue. I'm not really sure of the history of why certain sports are two separate teams and golf is an all Ireland team. When I grew up I wanted to play golf for Ireland and I wanted to wear the green blazer and grew up on a different side of the fence than that if you like.
I'm not really about politics. I hate what politics has done to the country really; in a way, you want to get as far away as possible from that. It's an honour to represent Ireland and an honour to represent your country doing anything. The fact that we are both Ulsterman, we are definitely not political or religious in any way when playing from that point of view.
It a very tough issue and tough to answer that question. Like I say, golf is an all-Ireland sport. I drew up dreaming of playing golf for Ireland, and I'm sure Rory did the same. Now that I've turned pro, playing the World Cup, that's definitely a team you want to play for. So it's a weird one.

Q. What do you think of golf being an Olympic sport in 2016 and would you like to be part of the Olympic team?
RORY McILROY: Definitely. I think golf's inclusion in the Olympics has been great for the sport. You know, for golf, I think it's a breakthrough because it will bring this sport to so many more people throughout the world where it may not necessarily have been before. And you know, it would be a great honour to play in the Olympics one day -- for whoever that may be. (Laughter).
So, you know, to win a gold medal or any medal in the Olympics would be one of the high points of your career. So I mean, I'm really looking forward to being able to play in the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and hopefully beyond that, as well.

Q. Have you made up your mind to join the PGA TOUR next year, because there is mounting speculation that you will go to America.
RORY McILROY: You're about three weeks late. (Laughter).

Q. Are you ready to go challenge the PGA TOUR?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I joined -- well, yeah, I made the decision a few weeks ago.
Yeah, I can't wait. I love playing golf over in the U.S., and yeah, I'll probably be adding a couple more events to my schedule over in the States. But you know, I feel as if I played well there this year. I felt very comfortable on the golf courses out there and in the environment of the PGA TOUR, and it's a great opportunity for me to play amongst the best players in the world. I'm very happy with my decision and I'm looking forward to next year.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Rory, Graeme, thanks for joining us.
RORY McILROY: I just want to say one thing: I hope Monty was watching. (Laughter).

End of FastScripts

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