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May 3, 2011

Rory McIlroy


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome defending champion Rory McIlroy back to the Wells Fargo Championship. You had a good start to the week. You had a soccer match last night. You want to talk about how that went?
RORY McILROY: Actually ask my manager how it went; he pulled his hamstring. Yeah, it was good, good fun. I think four or five of the players turned up, a few of the caddies, played a local team from here who were a lot better than us. But I think we got beat 7-4. It was 4-1 at halftime. We got it back to 4-all halfway through the second half and then they turned it on at the end and beat us. But it was great fun. Luckily no injuries, so we're ready to go for this week.

Q. How many red cards?
RORY McILROY: No sort of reckless challenges going in, so it was okay.

Q. What's the best piece of advice you've gotten since the Masters, and who gave you that advice?
RORY McILROY: Don't listen to you guys. I had a good chat with Greg Norman the week after when I was in Malaysia, and he sort of just said to me, don't -- from now on, don't read golf magazines, don't pick up papers, don't watch The Golf Channel. But it's hard not to. Obviously you want to keep up to date with what's going on. But you can't let other people sort of influence what you're thinking and what you should do.
I've taken my own views from what happened a few weeks ago and moved on, and that's the most important thing.

Q. What is your view? When you sorted back through it, what did you think?
RORY McILROY: You know, I mean, first thing, I don't think I was ready. That was the most important thing. You know, I displayed a few weaknesses in my game that I need to work on. But I think you've got to take the positives. For 63 holes I led the golf tournament, and it was just a bad back nine, which -- a very bad back nine that sort of took the tournament away from me, I suppose. But what can you do? There's three more majors this year and hopefully dozens more that I'll play in my career.

Q. A lot of speculation about how long it would take you to get over this. How long did it take you to get over it?
RORY McILROY: A couple days maybe. I mean, I'm fine. I mean, it was a great chance to win a first major, but it's golf. It's only golf at the end of the day. No one died. Very happy with my life, very happy with what's going on, very happy with my game. You know, so I'm looking forward to this week.

Q. While you were away in Malaysia, were you not real thrilled about playing Malaysia on your way there, and were you happy once you got playing, or were you always looking forward to playing?
RORY McILROY: I was glad that I was playing the week after just so I could get back on the golf course and -- I didn't have too much time to think about it or dwell on what had happened the week before. You know, and I went out there and played well, got myself into contention again. It would have been great to win there. I made a double on the back nine, but finished I think it was -- I made three birdies in four holes to get myself sort of back in it. We needed a birdie up the last to force a playoff and just got unlucky with the tee shot.
But it was nice to be able just to get back into contention, play well again and not let what happened the week before affect me in any way.

Q. And the other thing, did you read anything? Because it was mostly pretty good, I think.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I got a lot of text messages and a lot of emails, more congratulating me on how I handled everything afterwards, and I really appreciated that. But I mean, there's nothing -- what else was I going to do? I can't come off and sulk and say, oh, this is the worst day of my life because a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day in the office.

Q. Have you ever sulked before?
RORY McILROY: Yeah. The year before when I missed the cut at the Masters, shot 74-77, missed the cut, had missed the cut the week before. It wasn't a great point to the season for me. But I mean, I've realized that there's no point in doing it because it's no good for me, it's no good for your game, and you're better off just being positive and moving forward.

Q. Not to belabor this, but have you ever sulked where there were a lot of eyeballs on you? Just trying to figure out if you've had some experience where maybe you didn't handle it great when you were younger.
RORY McILROY: I'm not sure. I've never been in a situation like I had been at the Masters before. You know, I felt with everything that had gone on on the last day, I handled it the best way I could, and that was -- as I said, it was the only thing I could do.

Q. You were ahead with 18 to play at Augusta. A year ago here you were four back with 18 holes to play. What is the difference between trying to win a tournament on the last day when you're not in the final group?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, there's definitely -- I mean, there's definitely less pressure, less -- you can go out and try and -- I mean, you can go out and you might have a number in mind and say, okay, I'm going to get to 13 or 14 or whatever it is, where at Augusta I was just trying to stay ahead of the field, which in hindsight probably wasn't a good thing. I just should have gone out and played my game, said, right, if I play well today I'm capable of shooting 65 around this golf course and winning by ten.
But that's not the way it worked out, and that's experience. That's just learning to be in that position more often, and hopefully I'll be able to get myself in those positions more often in my career, and sooner or later it's going to happen where it finally clicks and I'm able to handle it, handle the whole thing a lot better and win.

Q. So is it a difference between protecting and being aggressive?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. I don't think you can -- that was the one thing, I don't think you can protect a lead, you've just got to go out and play and make birdies and let the guys catch you.

Q. I just wonder with all the talk of the Masters how much of a relief it is to come back here where I assume you have good memories from winning last year.
RORY McILROY: It's nice. I played nine holes yesterday, and it's great to have some of the memories come back of last year and especially the weekend. And yeah, it's great to be back here and defend, and it's one of the best courses we play all year, one of the best events. You get looked after here so well. Just glad to be back here. I feel as if my game is in great shape, and just hopefully ready for another good week.

Q. You said earlier that you didn't feel like you were ready maybe at Augusta, that there were some technical things with your swing. What were they?
RORY McILROY: No, not my swing. I hit the ball really well that week, the best probably I've ever hit it. More mentally more than anything else, just trying to handle the situation better. And that was basically it, not rushing, not -- just trying -- experience, like I played with Cabrera on the last day and we're both pretty quick players, and at points we were waiting on shots and stuff. Just stuff like that you learn how to deal with. Hopefully I'll deal with it better the next time that I'm in one of those situations.

Q. Of all the young guys that are really doing well, seems like the majority are not American. Just your thoughts on what that's about, why that may be?
RORY McILROY: I mean, what do you consider young? You have Bubba Watson won last week, you've got Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson; Anthony Kim has won three times. But yeah, I mean, there's a lot of international players, and I think it's great for the game that there's so many people from all over the world that can play and play good and compete.
But I mean, I think American golf is still -- it's very strong. The PGA TOUR is the toughest Tour to win on, no doubt, and that's why some of the younger guys don't have as much experience winning over here.

Q. Do you have any memories of others who kind of had a bad final day at the Masters? Greg is famous for the class with which he handled the Masters that one year, but from your own television viewing, is there anything that stands out that you recall?
RORY McILROY: No, not really. I mean, I only started -- I mean, that Masters was probably the first one that I watched, so obviously Greg had a six-shot lead I think going into that day. Faldo played great, shot 67, and it didn't quite happen for Greg that day. But I can't really recall any other.

Q. Who were you rooting for that day?
RORY McILROY: Faldo. Just he was one of my idols growing up when I was younger. Yeah.

Q. What did you think of Greg if you recall?
RORY McILROY: I mean, I was seven years old. I can't really -- I was just thinking he was going to win at the time. I didn't have any opinions on how he handled himself afterwards.

Q. Did you have any opinion on anything when you were seven?
RORY McILROY: No, not really. (Laughter.)

Q. Has your stance at all changed on THE PLAYERS Championship as we're getting closer to it? Is it something you're just going to take on a year-by-year basis if you're going to play there or not?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, pretty much. I think that's what I -- it is a year-by-year thing. This year I'm playing here, taking the week off next week, and then playing Spain, Wentworth, Memorial, week off, U.S. Open. I mean, if I played THE PLAYERS it -- the U.S. Open would be my sixth week of seven, which is a lot of golf for me. I said to myself this year I wouldn't play more than three in a row, and if I had played THE PLAYERS it would be five in a row. It's just too much golf for me. I feel as if I just get a little lethargic and a little lazy after three events, and it would just be best for my preparation for the U.S. Open if I didn't play one of those events, and Sawgrass was the one that I didn't -- I don't feel that comfortable on the golf course yet.
That doesn't mean that I won't play it next year or the year after, but this year it just didn't really fit. That was the only thing.

Q. Does the same thing go for being a member of the PGA TOUR? Is that a year-by-year thing for you, too?
RORY McILROY: I think if my exemption runs out I'm not allowed to join for another few years or something. I'm not sure how that works. But yeah, same thing. I mean, I see myself becoming a member of this Tour at some point in the future. Might not be next year or the year after, but as my career progresses and I get a little older, I might get myself a home in this country. It'll make it easier to play over here a bit more.

Q. Would you be here if you weren't defending, given where you're going to be?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, this is one of my favorite golf courses and one of my favorite events of the year. Yeah, I'd definitely be here.

Q. What's the key to winning here?
RORY McILROY: I mean, it's a really tough golf course. You've got to -- I mean, you don't have to drive it that good because the rough isn't that long. But I mean, I think -- I mean, on the Saturday here last year I had five eagle putts on Sunday. Obviously I shot a great score. But I think -- I mean, if you give me four 69s this week I'd snap it right out of your hand and wait in the clubhouse until Sunday afternoon. I think it's a golf course where there's a few greens out here that are very challenging, and you've just got to stay patient. Sometimes the ball might not go the way that you want it to, and yeah, just stay patient and I suppose take advantage -- every tough golf course you've got to take advantage of the par-5s and try and make your score there. I think that's what a lot of people will try and do here this week.

Q. I'm sure we asked you this last year, but your final round here last year, where does that rank? Is it one of the best rounds you've ever played?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely, and the circumstances. Yeah, definitely. Definitely getting myself tied for the lead after nine holes and going out and shooting 30 on the back nine, that was the best performance of my career so far.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you very much for the time, Rory, and good luck this week.

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