What they said: Rory McIlroy

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May 30, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: the Memorial Tournament transcript archive

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Making his third start at the Memorial Tournament, Rory McIlroy, welcome to the media center. You finished fifth here last year and had a top 10 the year before, so obviously some success here. Maybe some opening comments about coming back to Jack's tournament.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, this is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I think it's a lot of the guys', one of their favorite weeks, as well. It's a fantastic golf course, always in unbelievable condition every time we turn up here. It's great, and it's Jack's tournament, so a lot of guys want to turn up just because of that and what he's done for the game and what an impact he's had on a lot of guys. I was obviously not in that generation, but still feel like I've got a good relationship with him. I'm always happy to come back here, and I'm looking forward to the week.

Q. Do you remember the first time that you met Jack and what was going through your mind when you first met him??

RORY McILROY: Yeah. I mean, I was going shopping with my dad in Palm Beach Gardens and pulled into the car park and Jack was getting into his car, and we were getting out. I was like, that's Jack Nicklaus. I just went over and introduced myself and just said it was a pleasure to meet him. I called him "Mr.Nicklaus." My dad said, "Hi, Jack." I was like, "No, call him 'Mr.Nicklaus.'" No, it was good.

That was the start, and actually developed a relationship with him, had a couple of lunches with him just to sort of pick his brain about a few things, and it was really nice of him to take time out like that to help me.

Q. You've added next week??

RORY McILROY: I have, yes.

Q. Because??

RORY McILROY: I just feel like I need some rounds. These two-day weeks aren't really that good for me (laughter), so I just want to get some competitive rounds in. I'm working on a few things, and I feel trying to put them into competition will be the best way for me to prepare going into the U.S. Open.

Q. Does that mean you will not get to Olympic before the tournament week??

RORY McILROY: No, I'm planning on playing Memphis and planning on getting there on Sunday night. Do you know what I mean?

Q. I do. Did you actually drive a moped around in Rome on the street??

RORY McILROY: A little bit, yeah, a little bit.

Q. It's been a while since I've been there, but that seemed like a potentially--

RORY McILROY: It was fine. There were empty streets, so no-- oh, it's a nightmare. I wouldn't even get in a car to drive around that city.

Q. Obviously you had a tough week last week, and you talked about it afterward, and there was photos and the TV coverage of you practicing at Wentworth on Saturday morning. I'm curious if you've worked out anything in your game between then and now. This is just subtle stuff in golf that happens, or is there anything that you're concerned about??

RORY McILROY: Everyone goes through this, where they just don't feel that comfortable with their game. It's funny because I felt really good the week at Quail Hollow, got into a playoff there. THE PLAYERS I felt okay. Everyone knows it's not one of my favorite venues of the year, but I tried my best, and it just didn't happen. I felt like my game was in good shape then. And then I took the week off and I came back to Wentworth and felt like it was okay, but once I got into the competitive rounds, I just started to doubt myself a little bit. I think that just comes with I just needed to hit some more balls and practice and really try and groove in the feelings that I'm trying to create.

It was good to have Michael with me last week, and it's good to have him with me here. We've done some good work, identified a few things in my swing that we just need to look at, and that's what I'm working on.

I practiced for like six hours yesterday, and I'm going to practice after this. I'm going to get some lunch and go out on the range after this and really just try and figure this out. But it's feeling better day by day, and it felt a little better the Saturday morning at Wentworth, felt a little better yesterday. I saw some encouraging signs out there in the pro-am. I hit some good shots, so it's getting there.

But you know, when you've went on a run where you've hardly finished outside the top 5 and then all of a sudden two missed cuts, it's more of a shock than anything else, just a little bit surprising, and it's something I haven't really had to deal with in a while, and I just have to knuckle down and figure it out and get back to the way I was at the start of the year.

Q. Bannon is here with you this week??

RORY McILROY: Yeah.

Q. I think people forget how young you are yet and sometimes maybe you don't even remember how young you are yet. Is part of all this maybe also just feeling what's best for your schedule and getting into a rhythm of when to take time off, when to do certain things? Isn't that still part of the learning process?

RORY McILROY: It is, of course. This year has been a big learning curve for me because I'm still trying to find a balance between being a top-class golfer and handling media commitments, sponsors' commitments, trying to have a life outside of all that, just trying to balance everything. It's something that it's hard to do all of them all at the same time. Yeah, it's something that I'm still figuring out how to do. But I've got a good team around me, and we're trying to figure that out at the minute.

Q. Are you better when you come back from a stretch, or are you better-- like Phil Mickelson said he's better the third week of a three-week run. Do you know yet??

RORY McILROY: I'm not sure. I don't know. Sometimes you get on a run, and you just play week in, week out, and you just keep grinding out really good results, and you might throw in a win here or there. But I feel like I played really good golf in that period, Match Play, Honda, Doral, and I took a week off and finished second at Match Play, first at Honda and third at Doral.

For me, I feel like the first week I come back out I'm fresh and I'm ready to go. I feel like second week back out is-- second week is good for me. Third week, sometimes I've felt like I've got a little bit-- I can still play the third week, I've just got a bit stale. I said to myself I wasn't going to play more than three in a row this year, but that suddenly changed after the last couple of weeks.

But as I said, it's just a learning process.

Q. You talked a lot about managing your time and stuff, but one thing you always make time for is charity. I believe last year after this week you went to Haiti, you're doing Make-a-Wish. Talk about how important that is to your life and your legacy and how you want to leave it??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, of course. It is important to me, and I feel like I've reached a stage where I can make an impact in some way, whether it's raising awareness or to help raise money or just to put a smile on a kid's face like it was today with Tucker. I think he went through two open heart surgeries before the age of six, and to see him out there on the range today hitting balls, hitting it good, as well, I started to give him some advice and he started to not hit it so well, so I just shut up.

But it's great, and I feel like at the age that I am, I can relate to kids a little bit more than I can to anything else because I've never, touch wood, had anything happen to people close to me where I can put my name to a certain charity or a certain cause. I just feel like being able to help kids and being able to relate to them is something that I want to do. And I'm involved with UNICEF and trying to do as much as I can for them, and obviously when an opportunity like this comes up and Tucker's wish was to meet me, I said, yeah, of course, that would be great. I spent a half an hour on the range with him, and we had a great time.

Q. When his dream is to meet you, I'm sure you remember being that kid??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, of course. It wasn't that long ago. That's why I feel like I can relate to kids maybe a little more than anything else.

Q. Clarke ever give you bad advice on the range??

RORY McILROY: No, not really, no. When it comes to golf, he's great. He's very knowledgeable about the game and about the swing and about everything.

Q. You've mentioned before the kind of moments where you knew that you were going to get a lot of attention when you got home from the U.S. Open, that press conference at Royal St.George's last year, etcetera. Was there ever a moment when you kind of realized that every little thing you did was going to get scrutinized??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, not really. I mean, sometimes I just-- it's hard, like last week I threw my 6-iron on the 12th hole, and I didn't think it was that big a deal. I didn't think it was that big a deal, and then I wake up the next morning and it's all over the papers in the UK, and I'm just like, Oh, my God. It's just one of those things, and it's something I'm going to have to deal with and learn how to do.

Q. And along those lines, you've always been so open and honest about everything. How much do you continue to share and how much do you keep for yourself, keep private, if you will??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, again, it's all about finding that balance between giving you guys what you want to hear and also keeping a little bit for yourself. But I've always said, I try to be as open as I possibly can. I feel like I am, and hopefully you guys appreciate that.

But yeah, there's some things you don't like to talk about or things that you like to keep to yourself. But when it comes to golf and my golf game and everything that goes on inside the ropes, I'm more than happy to talk about it.

Q. I think last time you missed cuts in back-to-back starts was around 2010 at the Masters??

RORY McILROY: Houston-Masters.

Q. You obviously responded really well to that at the time. Is there a sense of urgency responding now to that, given that you're going to defend the Open title in a couple weeks??

RORY McILROY: Of course. It's not nice missing cuts, and it's something that I've not really been used to over the past couple of years. I want to-- yeah, I want to get my game in good shape going into Olympic. I'd love to be able to get it in good shape after this week and come out of this week after working hard and say, you know what, I've really made progress this week, let's try and make a little bit more next week in Memphis and feel really good and ready for the U.S. Open.

Q. Just sort of following what Doug was asking you about last Friday in the UK, you were probably the bigger story than the tournament leader or thereabouts, at least the reaction. How do you deal with that, and is that surprising to you, or are you learning that this is sort of the territory you've progressed into??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, it's just something that's going to be part of the deal from now on. I'd love them to be talking about me at the top of the leaderboard instead of going home or missing the cut anyway. Hopefully it doesn't happen too often. I realize that I'm in a position now where everything I do will be scrutinized, and it's just trying to, I guess, filter out the bad stuff and not let it affect you and just get on with what you do and focus on that. Yeah, I mean, that's really it.

Q. What did you find in your swing that you need to work on these next couple of weeks??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I had a really good chat with Michael about it. We flew over on Monday night from London, and I just feel like we haven't really had that much time to sit down. Whenever I worked with him back home, we'd work for three or four mornings a week but for three or four hours, and that's something we really haven't had this year, to be honest. I was always used to seeing him-- we'd always have a practice session and we'd go inside and we'd look at my swing and just look at the lines and make sure everything is okay. I said to him that I felt like I haven't really seen my swing that much this year.

So we sat in his hotel room last night and went through a few swings from the past, from recent weeks, from yesterday, and just going through what's different and what needs to be corrected.

Yeah, so you know, as I said at the start, we've identified what it is, and it's just a matter of putting in the time on the range and trying to tease it back into the positions that I want it to be.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Rory, thank you very much.

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