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February 25, 2012

Rory McIlroy


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Many congratulations, thanks for coming in, as always.  Well done today.  If anybody had a tough opponent, it was you.  Tell us about the game and how you felt you came through.
RORY MCILROY:  Yeah, it was a good match.  I don't think Moon had his best with him today.  I felt he probably played a little bit better the last couple of days.
But I felt like I played pretty well.  I made 67 birdies.  I made a couple of mistakes.  But just played solid golf and did what I had to do and just very happy to be through tomorrow.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  You played the par‑5s well.  That was the key.
RORY MCILROY:  Yeah, I think I played the par‑5s in 1‑over, if that's correct.  I played them today at 3‑under.  I hit three out of the four par‑5s.

Q.  The match with Lee that everybody is looking forward to, including yourself?
RORY MCILROY:  Walking around the locker room I said I'll see you on the first tee tomorrow morning.  Yeah, I think it's the match that most people wanted and definitely the match that I wanted.  And I'm excited about tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun and very exciting for everyone involved.

Q.  For those of us over here on this side of the pond that weren't covering every nuance from your departure from Chubby's crew, how would you describe your relationship with Lee these days from, say, maybe where it was a year ago?  Where does it stand in your mind?
RORY MCILROY:  It's okay.  It's fine.  We definitely don't spend as much time together as we used to, but it's totally fine.  He's obviously a rival of mine on the golf course, and someone that‑‑ he's one of the best players in the world and a great ball‑striker.  He's a guy that you look out every week in a tournament and he's the guy you feel like you have to beat to win.
It's totally fine.  There's no ill feeling between me and him or Chubby or anyone.  It's all been very, very positive.

Q.  I know you were asked about this yesterday, about possibly playing for No.1.  Now you're this much closer and you're going head‑to‑head with Lee.  Is that something you can keep out of your mind?
RORY MCILROY:  All I need to do is focus on the match tomorrow morning, and then I think the biggest task for both of us, me and Lee, is obviously getting yourself so much up for the semifinal, you know, going through to the final.  You have to get yourself up for that again.  So that will be the tough task because obviously both of us feel you've got to get past each other for Lee to get back to No.1 and me to get there for the first time.  You have to put your all into that and then whoever wins tomorrow morning, you get yourself back up again to go back out tomorrow afternoon and win the whole thing.

Q.  I'm kind of curious, if I was playing this I'd be wanting to play guys who are more down the rankings.  You're saying this is a match you really wanted.  Why is this a match you really wanted?
RORY MCILROY:  Because you want to try to beat the best players.  This is why we practice.  This is why we work so hard.  You want to try and beat the best.  You want to have fun, as well, and you want to enjoy it.  I'll really enjoy out there tomorrow morning battling away and obviously trying to beat Lee.

Q.  You made the comments that you take your confidence a day at a time, which in essence is really the proper way to go about it especially in a tournament like this, yes?
RORY MCILROY:  Yeah, of course.  I feel like I've grown in confidence day‑by‑day here.  I think my performances have gotten a little bit better through the rounds.  I can't feel overly confident on the first tee tomorrow morning.  I gotta feel like I have to play really, really well, which I'll have to play.  I'm definitely more confident sitting here today than I was, say, after my first round match on Wednesday.

Q.  You clearly wouldn't have been surprised by the way Bae played this week, 2009 Korean Open, you guys going head to head, but probably a lot of average golfer fans were pretty surprised.  Is he the kind of player, though, this week that you expected this out of him?
RORY MCILROY:  To be honest, I hadn't really thought about it.  The one experience that I did have with him on the golf course was that last round in Korea and he played very, very well.  Watching a few of the matches on TV throughout the week and seeing him play on TV, he's played really, really good.  As I said, I don't think he played quite as well today.  But, yeah, everyone here is a quality player.  He's in the top 50 in the world.  There's so many young Koreans coming through, as well.  You've got Moon Sung‑Kil who is playing in Mexico at the moment that's up there.  And there's a lot of guys from that part of the world that are coming through now and challenging in these events.

Q.  I kind of want to follow up on that very thought.  How many times have you been over to Korea ‑‑ and I think there are now, geez, eight to ten Korean players or players of Korean Heritage on the U.S. Tour, whereas five years ago there were maybe two.  Is there more in the pipeline there from what you've seen?
RORY MCILROY:  I've been there three times, I think.  I've played two Korean Opens and Ballantine's Championship.  I've played three.  And, yeah, I think there is.  There probably is more‑‑ obviously Yang winning in the PGA, the first Asian to win a Major, and K.J. has been playing so well the last few years, won The Players last year.  And these young guys coming through, obviously there's so many women golfers that are from Korea that are playing great.  But, yeah, you know, they're really into their golf over there.  It's very much a national sport.  I think we haven't seen the last of these younger Korean guys coming up and playing well.

Q.  You described‑‑ you talked about how you get up for each of these matches.  Can you describe the process you go through to get up for each of these matches?
RORY MCILROY:  I think just the one thing for me is‑‑ playing the first couple of rounds.  And even today playing guys that are ranked lower than you, you can't underestimate them at all.  So that's one of the big things for me is knowing that‑‑ if you look at it on paper, okay, maybe you'd say that I'd win seven or eight times out of ten.  But in reality that's not the case, especially in 18‑hole match play.  I sort of prepare myself for it expecting the guy to come out and play well.  A lower ranked guy playing a higher ranked guy, they feel they have nothing to lose.  So you just go out there, and they can give it their all.  If I hit the good shots and make birdies, I can win.  If not, well, no one is really expecting me to win.  That's the way you have sort of got to think about it.

Q.  I'm just wondering what do you most fear about Lee Westwood tomorrow?  What do you most respect or admire about him?
RORY MCILROY:  The way Lee plays, you know he's going to hit fairways, he's going to hit greens, he's going to put you under pressure the whole day.  He's not going to take his foot off the pedal.  He's not going to give you any holes.  So you have to play the exact same way.  You've got to hit fairways, hit greens, give yourself plenty of opportunities.  And I think tomorrow it'll just come down to who holes the most putts.

Q.  Do you think you're the favorite going into tomorrow?
RORY MCILROY:  I don't know.  I haven't seen‑‑ I've heard that Lee has been playing very well this week.  I felt like I've gotten better the last couple of days.  But I think it's very evenly matched.

Q.  When you went head‑to‑head with G‑Mac, there was no talking there.  Are you expecting tomorrow to be chatting or to be church like?
RORY MCILROY:  It's a little bit different.  The relationship that G‑Mac and I have is a little bit different than the one I have with Lee.  And I think it was better for me not to speak to G‑Mac because you we could speak all day and it almost would become too friendly.  So that was sort of what was in the back of my mind.  I was just trying to concentrate on myself.  It's tough to play a friend.  And I just thought that match with G‑Mac, that's what I needed to do.  Obviously it didn't work, he beat me 3 and 3.  Maybe the next time I play him I'll chat him a bit more.  Of course, I'm sure there will be a few chats on the way around tomorrow.  But we're both here to try and do a job and try to win and that's the most important thing.

Q.  Have you ever entertained the idea of what it would be like to face down Lee on this kind of stage?  Do you think the possibility of one of you tomorrow night going to the No.1 ranking gives it a real extra edge?
RORY MCILROY:  I think so.  I think for both of us it's‑‑ again, what I was saying, the thing that would worry me is getting too much up for tomorrow morning knowing that if you do win you have to go through and play tomorrow afternoon, so you have to try and conserve your energy the best you can.
Again, I always wanted to get to this position in the world.  I always wanted to challenge for the biggest titles.  And this is outside of the Majors one of the biggest ones.  It's great to be in there with a chance.  And I feel like I need‑‑ obviously I just need to win two more matches, which is easier said than done.  I think with both of us being up there in the world and both of us with the possibility of going to No.1 it gives the match definitely an extra little bit of spice or extra edge.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Well done today.  Good luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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