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March 6, 2013

Rory McIlroy


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Good morning, everyone.  Welcome back to Doral.
RORY McILROY:  Thank you.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  I suppose, Rory, just go straight into the heart of the matter here and how disappointed were you with Manchester United's score yesterday?  (Laughter).
RORY McILROY:  It was not a red card, I'll tell you that much. 
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  You had a few red cards yourself the last few days.
RORY McILROY:  I gave myself a red card last week.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Just give us your reflections on the last few days and how you're doing.
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, I think obviously everyone's seen what I've said afterwards and in the aftermath, obviously had a lot of time to think about it.  I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't the right thing to do.
No matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there.  I should have tried to shoot the best score possible even though it probably wasn't going to be good enough to make the cut.
At that point in time, I was just all over the place, and you know, I saw red, as I said, and you know, it was a mistake and everyone makes mistakes and I'm learning from them.  I guess for me, some people have the‑‑ I guess the pleasure of making mistakes in private.  Most of my mistakes are in the public eye.
So it is what it is, and I regret what I did.  But, you know, it's over now and it won't happen again.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thank you for that.  We'll take some questions.

Q.  What was true, what you told the reporters when you were leaving the golf course at the parking lot, or what you released in a statement about 45 minutes later?
RORY McILROY:  Both.  Both.  I wasn't in a good place with my golf game.  I was, you know, mentally‑‑ you know, my head was all over the place.
But at the same time, I have been struggling with my lower right wisdom tooth for over a year.  I had braces on for six months last year to try and relieve a bit of the pressure on it and taking medication until I get home in northern Ireland and see my dentist, who is the only guy that I would trust to take it out.
So, yeah, look, my tooth was bothering me, but it wasn't bothering me enough to probably, you know, quit, but, you know, that's just the way it is.

Q.  You've had rounds where you've struggled with your game and you've certainly had rounds where you weren't feeling well.  What was the difference Friday?  What was going on Friday that made it‑‑ that led to just the meltdown?
RORY McILROY:  I think it was a buildup of everything.  I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform and I've been working so hard and not really getting much out of it.
You know, that's just been the frustrating thing, and that's what happened.  It was a buildup of high expectations from myself coming off, you know, the back of such a great year last year, and wanting to continue that form into this year and not being able to do it.
You know, I just sort of let it all get to me.

Q.  Two questions.  Have you ever done that before, one, walked off the course as an amateur or as a kid; and secondly, you've always been sort of a quick learner, what have you sort of learned from this experience?
RORY McILROY:  I'm not sure if I can remember if I've done it as a kid.  I probably have.  But I remember I wanted to quit the game a few times when I was a teenager, just because, I mean, you work so hard at it and sometimes you don't get out of it what you want.
But I've got to remember, I started to play golf because I love it, I really do.  It's been my life for‑‑ well, it's been my life for, my life (laughter).  I have to remember that.  I have to go out there and enjoy myself, and it's the same thing as last summer.  Dave Stockton said to me:  "When I see you out there, you're not smiling.  Smile more."  And when I smile, it lists your spirits and that was basically the whole turnaround from last summer, as well, was my attitude.
It's the same thing, just go out there and enjoy it, and when you start to enjoy your golf, you start to play better and I haven't been enjoying it because I've been putting so much pressure on myself.  I go out here this week, I'm going to enjoy it.  I've got four rounds, thankfully, and you know, I'm just going to go out there and have a good time.

Q.  What did you learn about yourself through this?
RORY McILROY:  I learned that when the tough gets going, I've got to stick in there a bit more and I've got to grind it out.  There's no excuse for quitting and it doesn't set a good example for the kids watching me, trying to emulate way do.  It wasn't good for a whole lot of reasons, for the tournaments, the people coming out watching me.  I feel like I let a lot of people down with what I did last week, and you know, for that, I am very sorry.

Q.  You've always prided yourself in your honesty; just wonder, do you regret that statement, because that statement was sort of delivered that you had no option but to walk off.
RORY McILROY:  At the time what's what I felt.  Again it was a very reactive decision.  At the time I felt being out on that golf course wasn't going to do me any good.  That's why I did it.  In hindsight, if I had of just taken a few minutes and collected my thoughts, I would have done something different.

Q.  You just spoke a little bit, the pressures that have been mounting a little bit, there's been a lot of talk about the equipment and your performance and you put pressure on yourself, just wonder since Friday and the last few days, what you thought in terms of trying to alleviate that for yourself and maybe just free‑wheel a little bit?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, I actually think in the long run, Friday will be a blessing in disguise.  It was like it just sort of released a valve and all that sort of pressure that I've been putting on myself just went away.  And I was like, just go out and have fun.  It's not life or death out there.  It's only a game.  I had sort of forgotten that this year.

Q.  As a follow, is there anything‑‑ is there anybody you spoke to or any moment that kind of, you know, clarified that for you a little bit?
RORY McILROY:  I spoke to the people that are closest to me, and they are all very supportive.  All said pretty much the same thing.  But yeah, I mean, I realize that what they are saying is right.  I've just got to go out there and enjoy myself.  I'm in a very privileged position.  I get to play a game that I love for a living, and you know, sometimes I need to remember that.

Q.  Not to get away, Rory from the free‑wheeling it and enjoying it, but you've talked a lot about getting the club a little too far inside, what type of work have you done over the last four or five days that you feel in a better position when you put the ball in the ground on Thursday that you won't be taking the club as far back inside?
RORY McILROY:  No, it's actually going back too far outside and then coming down too far inside.  But anyway.  (Laughter).
I've done a lot of work.  The thing is this year, we knew that it was a little bit of a problem, and we were trying to find the balance between making a bit of a swing change and finding some playability in it so that I can actually go out there and play and not think about it.
But what we realized, there's no quick fixes in golf.  You just have to get to the root of the problem, no pun intended (laughing), and just fix‑‑ I know if I can get my takeaway fixed, the rest of the swing will follow.  The takeaway has always been the biggest key for my golf swing, and I need to get back to that. 
I've worked my ass off over the last four or five days to really try and get this right.  Still, it's a work‑in‑progress.  As I said, there's no quick fixes in golf but I'm going to go out there this week and all I care about is my swing, and I know if I can get my swing back on track, that the results will follow.
So I'm not putting any pressure on myself this week to perform.  I just want to get my swing in the right position, and I know when I do, the results will follow.

Q.  You kind of became a star when you won the U.S. Open by eight shots, the next year you win another major by eight shots; what did you feel you had to prove this year?
RORY McILROY:  I don't know, just keep backing it up.

Q.  How much of it was‑‑ it seemed a point, being presented as a global star, a lot with the Nike contract and the big money, etc., was that part of it at all?
RORY McILROY:  No, I really don't think so.  I think coming off the back of last year, five wins, a second major championship in two years, I just really wanted to try and continue that and continue where I left off in 2012, and it's been frustrating that I haven't been able to do that.
And it doesn't make a difference what deal or what clubs I play, that's irrelevant.  It's about me on the golf course and the expectations and the pressure that I put myself under.

Q.  Do you worry that the episode last week will cost you part of your fan base and do you feel that you have to win that back?
RORY McILROY:  No, not at all.  As I said, everyone makes mistakes.  I'm 23 years old, I'm still learning.  I've hopefully got 20, 25 more years of this to do and having the pleasure of talking to you guys every Wednesday.  (Laughter).

Q.  You talked about the pressure.  I wonder, does any part of that having to do with being No. 1 and feeling that there's something to prove because you are No. 1?
RORY McILROY:  I guess in a way, but it shouldn't be, because I've been‑‑ it's not like this is a new position.  I was sitting here this time last year, you know, just went to No. 1 in the world, so you know, I guess I've had a year to get adjusted to it and get used to it.
So it shouldn't be a problem, but I guess, you know, you want to watch, again, you want to sort of prove that you are No. 1 and that's not the right way to go about things.  You shouldn't have to try and prove that.  You should just go out and play your game and if you play well enough, the rankings and the results will speak for themselves.

Q.  Ken Kennerly said he was obviously disappointed last week but he said that you had been a great champion for him and you'll be playing for him again hopefully soon.  Do you have any sense that you'll go back and play Honda next year because of what happened last week?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, of course, I think I owe it to the tournament to go and play it again.  The Honda has always been an event that I've enjoyed and now having a place in the area, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't play it next year.

Q.  Do you think it's fair to say that you came out at Abu Dhabi and weren't really ready to play, maybe because you had not tested the equipment enough; is this really where it all starts from, the schedule was just compacted and you were not really ready to go?
RORY McILROY:  You know, I felt like I was, but again, I feel if we had of tried to get to the root of the swing problem straightaway and not try‑‑ at the time we were trying to find a balance between, okay, look, we know the swing is not in the position we want it to be in, but at the same time you have to go out and play and you have to go out and try to shoot a score.  Where if I actually knuckle down and really got my head into it, I would have said, right, I'm going to do this, no matter how long it takes, no matter what the result is, no matter how bad I play for a few weeks, you know, this is what I have to get right.  And when I get that right, the results will follow, and I guess after the last few weeks, I've sort of realized that.

Q.  You've always been open, but some people are saying, like Tiger, that you need to be more careful about what you say.  Following last week's experience, do you feel like you need to do that, or do you weigh it against all of the mountains of positive press?
RORY McILROY:  Look, we, as in me and all you guys, are hopefully going to have a working relationship for the next 20 years, so I don't want to jeopardize that by being closed.
I feel like I've always been open and honest and given you guys all my thoughts and everything that I've‑‑ yeah, and you know, I don't want it to be that way where there's friction between me and the press because at the end of the day, you guys are here because you're reporting what we do on the golf course all over the world.
So it's not like I want that to be a strained relationship, because it's going to be a long one, I hope.

Q.  The major season starts in just over a month, and you've had four and a half rounds of golf under your belt.  Do you think you're ready for that part of the year, and do you expect to play some more, maybe add an event before the Masters?
RORY McILROY:  I haven't planned on it yet.  You know, I was waiting to see how I was going to do this week and then make a decision from there.  You know, I know if I want to play Tampa next week, I've got to enter by Friday and obviously there's Bay Hill after that.
Right now, I haven't made a decision.  And you know, I feel like I've made some progress over the last few days, so the likelihood is I probably won't add an event.  But again, it all depends on how I feel with my game and how I feel out there on the course.

Q.  Ernie said he ran into you over the weekend and just wondering if there was any other players that reached out to you, anything meaningful that anybody said to you that has stuck with you?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, I've talked to a few people.  Most people have been very supportive and everything.  But yeah, I ran into Ernie, after his round on Saturday and then I saw him on Monday after he played at the Seminole Pro‑Am.
No, look, I've seen what Ernie said and I appreciate his comments because they have been very nice and very supportive.  He had a few nice words to say to me at The Bear's Club, and yeah, I mean, he understands.  He knows what it's like out there sometimes.  But at the same time, I've learned from it and as I said, it won't happen again.

Q.  Ernie was talking about how hard you were working on the weekend and Ahmad talked on Morning Drive that you played 36 and were still hitting balls when you finished.  How many hours did you put in Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and what did you find with Michael Bannon as relates to the swing?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, we have found it.  It's just a matter of getting comfortable with it, when I take the club away and trying to put it in the right position, it feels very alien to me right now.  But the more reps I do, the more comfortable I'm going to get with it.
And we spent, I want to say, ten hours at The Bear's Club on Saturday.  Probably the same on Sunday, or maybe not quite the same on Sunday.  Monday was a full day and then yesterday I practiced in the morning and then went to watch Man‑United get beat, which wasn't great.  Should have stayed out and hit some more balls.  (Laughter).

Q.  Matt Kuchar was saying last week that whenever he's gone through a swing change and an equipment change, the difficult thing to do when you hit a bad shot is trying to figure out, was it the clubs, my swing, was it the ball; are you going through a similar situation where if something doesn't work exactly like you want it to watch, you're not exactly sure why it didn't?
RORY McILROY:  I guess at the start yes, but now I know; now I know that it's just purely the swing.  The equipment is fantastic.  I have no problems at all.  When I make a good swing, the ball goes where I want it and the flight I want it, so I know that it's not that.  It's just getting my swing on the right path.

Q.  Graeme said on Friday that he felt you might be trying maybe a little bit too hard to prove people wrong and prove that the Nike move was the right thing to do.  Can you just comment on that a little bit, and also on the exchanges you've had with Ronan Keating on Twitter and what FTB actually stands for?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, I spoke to G‑Mac quite a bit on Friday afternoon after I finished and I said a few things to him.
You know, it was more the fact that I was‑‑ again, putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform.  The only pressure that I feel is that, you know, I put myself under to perform and try and play well.  You know, that's for me; I want to play well.  I want to prove to myself that 2011 and 2012 were good years but I can continue to have good years for the rest of my career.
And on the other matter, it's a little private joke between friends, and something I probably can't divulge on live TV if I'm on live, I don't know.  But yeah.

Q.  Just to clarify, what is your intended schedule from here to the Masters?
RORY McILROY:  It's here, Houston, the Masters.

Q.  Okay.  So you possibly could add something if you don't see something you like?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, possibly.  It's a possibility.  I don't think it's likely but, you know, depending on what happens over the next few days, we'll see.

Q.  There's some discussion out here that perhaps, we are talking about equipment with you, but it's not necessarily the clubs, but it could be the ball.  I don't know if there's a difference between this particular ball that you are playing and the one that you were playing, but are you seeing the same dynamics with this ball that you had with the previous equipment?
RORY McILROY:  I feel like this ball is better for me.  It's better in the wind.  I can keep it down.  It reacts really well around the greens.  It feels great.  You know, if you strike any golf ball in the world correctly, it's going to go where you want it to.
I really like this golf ball, and it was the first thing, even when I wasn't a Nike player, whenever they came out with this resin technology, I thought, this sort of makes sense because you can put more weight around the perimeter around the ball and obviously make it more stable in the air.  I'm a big believer and I feel like it's a really good golf ball.
I guess I haven't worked well with it the first few weeks but I know when I hit a good shot, I know it's all me, it's nothing to do with the equipment, nothing to do with the ball.  It is all me.

Q.  Would you characterize what's going on with your swing as a swing change?
RORY McILROY:  It's a swing change in terms of I am trying to change my swing, but I'm trying to change it back to where it was.
So I guess, I don't know if you could classify that as a swing change; I'm just trying to get it back to where I like it, and I've been in that position before, so I can definitely get in that position again.

Q.  And secondly, there's always a lot of speculation during the last couple days about you; can you confirm that there is nothing off the golf course that had anything to do with what happened this week?
RORY McILROY:  No, not at all.  I know I've read what's been written.  And like just because I have a bad day on the golf course and Caroline loses a match in Malaysia, it doesn't mean that we're breaking up (shakes head), (laughter).
It's sport, and look, I'd rather keep my private life as private as possible.  Everything on that front is great and I'm looking forward to seeing her next week when she gets to Miami.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  That's a fine way to ends, Rory, many thanks.

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