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February 18, 2014

Rory McIlroy


SARAH GWYNN:テつ Rory, thanks very much for joining us today.
Last time we saw you in action, you were in pretty good form.テつ Take us through your last couple of weeks.
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it's been a nice, positive start to the season.テつ Two starts under my belt in the Middle East.テつ I played well.テつ I felt like I could have won both weeks.テつ A little disappointed about how I played on Sunday in Dubai, but taking the positives from it.テつ It was a good start to the season.
I guess I've just tried to continue that the last couple of weeks, practiced hard and stayed in the Middle East for the most part for those two weeks.テつ I got here a couple of days ago and it's nice to be wearing a T‑shirt.テつ I don't have to wear any sweaters or mittens.
It's been good.テつ Looking forward to the week.
SARAH GWYNN:テつ Looking at it now, how do you fancy your chances?
RORY McILROY:テつ I know I have Boo Weekley tomorrow, and past that I don't really look at it.テつ I know I'm playing Boo and hopefully I can get past that tomorrow.テつ I guess you just got to take it one match at a time and whoever you play.テつ I guess you just have to‑‑ yeah, I mean, it's such a different format to what we're used to playing week in and week out, but it's nice.テつ It's nice to have a change.テつ Yeah, looking forward to playing a little bit of match play.

Q.テつ What are your expectations, like this week compared with Abu Dhabi or compared with Honda?
RORY McILROY:テつ It's hard to say, because it's‑‑ like what is a good week?テつ You could shoot 67 tomorrow and be going home.テつ It's hard to know.テつ It's hard to even put a sort of number.テつ Okay, if I get to the quarter finals, it's a good week.テつ It's sort of, as I just said, you have to take one match at a time.
The year that I got to the final here, I didn't play very well the first three days, and then my game started to come around and I played well in the quarters and the semis and the final, as well.
It's just one of those formats, 18‑hole stroke play, it's anyone‑‑ someone can get hot and that can be it.テつ But it's fun and it's good to play.テつ But expectations, I've just got to go out and try to beat whoever I'm up against.

Q.テつ Do you have any expectations of your conversation with Boo?
RORY McILROY:テつ Not really.テつ I'm not sure we share many common interests.テつ I've never been hunting before in my life.

Q.テつ Can you talk about the difference a year makes?テつ At this time a year ago, you lost the first round.テつ You had so little golf under your belt at that time and there's all the questions of just thinking back, I'm guessing you must feel a lot different in terms of your confidence and everything?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, I mean, definitely it's much more settled.テつ Just, yeah, everything is sort of in a good place.テつ The game is in great shape, I feel.テつ I haven't hit the ball as well for a long time.
I spent a couple of days with Dave Stockton here.テつ I was a little disappointed how I putted at the weekend in Dubai.テつ It was nice to catch up with him and have him take a look at it.
But, yeah, everything else is‑‑ compared to this time last year, it's so much different.テつ You don't have to go through any changes of equipment, don't have to answer the questions.テつ It just seems like it's a lot more settled.テつ I can just go about my business and play my golf.

Q.テつ What was needed to be checked?
RORY McILROY:テつ A slight change in grip.テつ My right hand has been getting a little bit too much underneath.テつ That caused my left hand to stop after impact.テつ Just a little bit trying to get my right thumb on top of the grip a little bit more.テつ That helped my left hand sort of keep on through on the way through.

Q.テつ Another thing, how much is the Masters on your mind already or do you think about that yet?
RORY McILROY:テつ Not really.テつ After these three weeks, then it will be thinking about the Masters and getting prepared for it.
But I guess the three weeks coming up here, Honda and Doral, it's just about these tournaments and trying to play well, and I guess trying to get a win under your belt early on in the season.

Q.テつ The Eisenhower tree.
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah.テつ It's a tree (laughter).

Q.テつ Everybody else has come in here this morning talking about how they are in the process of trying to get their swings back from last year, getting into this new season.テつ Sounds like you've already done that.テつ When did that happen for you and how long did it take you?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it's been a long process.テつ It started before the start of this year.テつ I felt like I was just trying to build towards 2014 from maybe October onwards of last year, so three or four months.テつ And it's been good.テつ I've worked on my game.テつ I've worked hard and I feel like I'm seeing the results of that.テつ I've come‑‑ I'm comfortable with my swing, comfortable with how I'm hitting it.
Obviously it's nice to take some time off in the off‑season, but you want to be prepared and ready for when you go again in the new year.

Q.テつ Are you doing anything with your putting or is it all about the swing for you?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, putting as well.テつ Yeah, as I said, I saw Dave Stockton the last two days and worked a little bit.テつ He doesn't need to give me much information.テつ We try to keep it as simple as possible.テつ Yeah, but that feels really good.テつ Just keep working away on it.

Q.テつ When you look back at '12, Rory, which I've frankly forgotten, was it five wins that year?

Q.テつ Five wins and a Major, the two titles, do you look at that as a benchmark or going forward do you think you can do better than that?
RORY McILROY:テつ I can do better.テつ I went through a period in 2012 where I missed like four cuts in five events.テつ I definitely thoughtit was a great year.テつ When I played well, I played very well and I won.テつ But if I had any criticism about that year, I lacked a little bit of consistency.
So obviously I missed a few cuts last year, as well.テつ Looking back at my seasons in like '09, '10, '11, I might have missed like two or three cuts in that sort of time frame.テつ I think my‑‑ just trying to make my bad golf a little bit better, and try and be more consistent and be able to compete on the weeks I don't have my best game.
But it's a benchmark because every time I got myself into contention, I was there or thereabouts or won.テつ So any time you're going to have a five‑win season and one of those wins be a Major, it's a great season.テつ But I feel like I've hopefully got another 15, 20 years at this game and I'd like to have seasons that are similar or try and go better than that.

Q.テつ I know this is match play, obviously, not stroke play.テつ But is there a hole on the back nine or coming down the stretch that you see as crucial to score on or do well on?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, I think 15, the drivable par‑4, especially if it's a tight match.テつ The long hitters can drive the green, maybe take advantage of it.テつ There's a bunker, short right of the green that's about 300, 305 to carry.テつ And I'm sure some of the long hitters will be able to carry that and it gives them a little bit of an advantage, and gives them a good chance if you hit a really good drive to get it on the green and have a chance for an eagle.テつ You can obviously maybe win a hole at a crucial point.テつ But, yeah, 15 I think is a big hole in terms of it could be a turning point in some matches.

Q.テつ You mean the long hitters like you?
RORY McILROY:テつ Hopefully, yeah.テつ We'll see.テつ Hopefully my matches don't go that far, but yeah.

Q.テつ What's your mindset going into tomorrow's match?
RORY McILROY:テつ I guess because it's 18‑hole match play, you have to get off to a fast start.テつ You have to be ready to go from the get‑go.テつ It's more if you play a 72‑hole stroke play event, the first six holes or nine holes can be‑‑ you can just try and play your way into the round and there's a long way to go.テつ But in 18‑hole match play, I guess you have to attack from the very start.テつ So just be aggressive.テつ Obviously you have to choose the right time to be aggressive.テつ But just try and make as many birdies as you can.

Q.テつ Have you noticed from the time you've been here whether the ball is flying much farther this year?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, it definitely flies farther, especially in the afternoons when it heats up.テつ And obviously this week it looks like it's going to be pretty warm the entire week.テつ Maybe not quite a club, maybe half a club to a club, depending on what you're hitting.
If you left the ball up in the air here, it could go forever.テつ If you wanted to get 200, 205 out of a 7‑iron you can if you just launch it straight up in the air.テつ Obviously you lose a little bit of control.テつ But if you need to hit something a little bit farther, it's very possible to do it here.

Q.テつ Do you still get a lot of frustration if you don't hit a really good shot?テつ Is that something you're working on?
RORY McILROY:テつ Yeah, of course.テつ I mean, when you hit so many shots and you practice so much on the range then hitting good shots on the golf course should be second nature.テつ That's our jobs, I guess, at the end of the day.
Yeah, of course I get frustrated when I hit bad shots.テつ You don't dwell on it.テつ You move on and try to recover with the next one.

Q.テつ Would you rather play against someone whoテや冱 a great ball striker or someone whoテや冱 a great putter?
RORY McILROY:テつ I always find in match play playing someone that is a good ball‑striker, hits fairways and greens, it puts a lot of pressure on your game because you have to match them shot for shot.テつ And if you play someone‑‑ I think to play well around this golf course, especially this week because the greens are a little firmer, you're going to have to chip the ball really well.テつ There's going to be greens that you might not hole or you're going to hit one that bounces through a green.テつ So there's going to be times where you feel like you've hit a good shot, but you might not necessarily be on the putting surface.テつ You need to be able to chip the ball well.テつ So a good chipper this week will definitely have a bit of an advantage, too.

Q.テつ As someone who's reached the finals and someone that went home very early last year, if there was a chance to do something to the format to allow everybody to at least have one or two games, would you be in favor or do you like the knock out?
RORY McILROY:テつ I like the knock out.テつ I think they can maybe do best of both worlds, where it's a 36‑hole qualifying format, and then maybe the top 32 go through and play it out.テつ But, yeah, I think that might be something better.テつ But it's tough to‑‑ especially as the matches go on, it's tough‑‑ especially for like television coverage to cover the final.テつ It's very‑‑ there's a lot of time to sort of fill in between when the players hit their shots.テつ So it's hard to get around that.テつ Yeah, 36‑hole qualifying, and the 32 go through to the match play stages, I see nothing wrong with that.
SARAH GWYNN:テつ Thanks, everyone.テつ Have a good week.

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