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ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP


January 17, 2014


Rory McIlroy


ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Q.テつ 5‑under par, including a double‑bogey, chuffed with your days work?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, really happy.テつ I got off to a slow‑ish start, I was 1‑under through five which was pretty good and then just hit a bad tee shot on 6 and made double‑bogey there.
But I did well to get back to even par for the round after the ninth.テつ I gave myself a target of 4‑under for the back nine and if I could do that, I could be right there for the weekend and managed to go one better.

Q.テつ Talk us through the second shot at 14?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, I had 160 yards to the pin, and just hit a 9‑iron as hard as I could.テつ I've actually been okay out of the rough this week.テつ I haven't found it as difficult as others, but yeah, I guess whenever‑‑ I'm driving the ball really well, and even if you get it up there within 130, 140 yards of the green, you've always got a chance to get it somewhere around the hole.

Q.テつ I always feel when I see you fade the ball at will you're swinging particularly well; is that the way it feels?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it's funny, I feel like last year and the middle of last year, I was actually doing a little too much of that.テつ So I'm shaping the ball both ways at the minute and obviously driving it particularly well, which really helps.

Q.テつ Thoughts going into the weekend?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it's a great position to be in, only a few off the lead, two or three off the lead.テつ Yeah, excited, in contention, and it's a great way to start the season being right in there in the mix going into the last 36 holes.

Q.テつ Happy man after an indifferent start?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it wasn't the fastest of starts.テつ I started pretty well, I was 1‑under through five holes, and it was okay, but made a bad swing on 6 and made double‑bogey there.テつ Held a good putt for double‑bogey actually, and getting back to even par for the round after 9 was important, and then I gave myself a target of 4‑under on the back nine and was able to go one better than that.テつ It was a nice way to finish the day.

Q.テつ Plenty of smiles at 14, almost even more at the last.
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, 14 I didn't mean to go‑‑ I was just trying to hit it to the middle of the green and came out a little left out of the rough, but I wasn't complaining.テつ Yeah, two of my best shots of the day into 18, and the putt nearly fell, but I wasn't complaining with finishing the day with a birdie.

Q.テつ Am I right to see there's a lot of satisfaction with the way you're striking the ball?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, for sure, I don't feel like I've struck the ball this well in a long time.テつ But it's been gradually coming, I've been working hard on all aspects of my game, and you know, I came here excited for the season and I'm in with a chance to win going into the weekend and I'm really happy about that.

Q.テつ Into the weekend, that's one of those nice poised positions, in touch?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, only three behind depending on what Rafa does at the last, but great position to be in and right in there in the mix and hopefully keep playing the way I'm playing and I'll be right there on Sunday.

Q.テつ Can you contrast your emotions now with exactly 12 months ago when you kind of stood after your second round here?
RORY McILROY:テつ A little better.テつ Coming off the last green last year, after 36 holes, I was deflated to say the least.テつ The week didn't go as how I imagined it or how I planned.テつ It started off with fireworks and ended in not so‑‑ yeah, but anyway.テつ (Laughter) Yeah, it's much better this year.
I'm happy with how I'm playing.テつ I'm striking the ball really well.テつ I got a few putts to drop on the back nine, which was nice.テつ And yeah, I mean, I feel like if I can keep hitting it the way I have been, I've got a great chance to win in this tournament.

Q.テつ The driving is so important to you, isn't it; when that ball is flying out of the driver as it has been this week, you look a different player.テつ Is that fair to say?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it is.テつ It gives me a big advantage.テつ I'm hitting shorter irons into greens and I'm able to hit the par 5s like the last there in two, which I'm sure most guys are struggling to get it‑‑ they might be able to get it to the green but not get it all the way back up there to the pin.テつ That sort of stuff, I feel like it just gives me an advantage over the rest of the field and that's why I like golf courses like that where I can use it to my advantage and make a better score because of it.

Q.テつ How important is it to have put yourself into the mix going into the weekend at the very first opportunity this year?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it's exactly what I wanted to do.テつ It's a great way to test your game under pressure, as well, see how good you're actually playing whenever you have to.テつ So it will be a great test for the first start of the year and I can really‑‑ I can take a lot from it and I feel like a strong start to the season, you can really get some momentum and carry that through with you.

Q.テつ What was the club and yardage on 14 out of the rough there that almost went in?
RORY McILROY:テつ 155, 9‑iron.

Q.テつ Just hammered it?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah.

Q.テつ In the deep, thick stuff?
RORY McILROY:テつ It was.

Q.テつ 18‑inch divot?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, the divot was about this long.テつ I think I even let out a grunt after I hit it.テつ Spending too much time on the tennis tour (laughter).

Q.テつ The driving, giving you an advantage, does it do something more than that, does it make you feel better about yourself?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it does, you're standing 30 yards ahead of everybody else, it's nice.テつ When you're confident with the driver, you can stand up ‑‑ and it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of your game.テつ Because you're driving the ball well, you're hitting more greens, you're hitting it closer to the pin and you're not having to scramble as much.テつ I feel for me it just feeds through the rest of my game.

Q.テつ Any cracks from Phil, being out‑driven by 30 yards?
RORY McILROY:テつ Actually we were both in the gym this morning there, so he was working and stuff.テつ
テつテつテつテつテつテつ Yeah, I think he's nearly 20 years older than me, so I think at 43, I'll probably be on the decline, as well (laughter).テつ No, no, no, I mean‑‑ I sort of feel like I've probably gotten a little longer over the past couple of years, and Phil is maybe slightly‑‑ which it's going to happen, it's natural.テつ So I'm not taking away from Phil at all.テつ He's still a phenomenal ball striker and uses that 3‑wood really well off the tee.テつ That's something he did really well last year, as well.

Q.テつ Really hungry now for this win?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it would be nice to win your first at the start of the season and not your last like it was last year.テつ So it would be a great way to start the season.テつ I've never won here before.テつ I've finished second a couple of times.テつ It would be nice to go one better.

Q.テつ The name McIlroy on the leaderboard, what message do you think that sends out to the world and the field?
RORY McILROY:テつ I don't know.テつ I don't know if it makes any difference or not.テつ I guess time will tell the next couple of days.

Q.テつ Is this as good as you've ever driven it?テつ Better?
RORY McILROY:テつ It's definitely up there.テつ It's the way I expect to drive the ball.テつ And if I drive the ball like this, I know that the results will come.

Q.テつ Do you mind just talking through what happened on 6?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, I hit 3‑wood off the tee.テつ Wind was sort of off the left and I tried to sort of draw one just sort of hold it up against the wind and just over turned it.テつ I think it hit a cart path and went and finished in the bush.テつ I had to take an unplayable, duffed it out into the fairway bunker and hit it onto sort of 60 feet and had a good 2‑putt and I held one from maybe eight feet for double.
I think the atmosphere out there this afternoon was great, obviously with Phil playing, as well, a lot of people come out to watch him, being alongside him, it's nice.テつ It will hopefully be very much the same tomorrow and to have that support for the next few days.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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