What they said: Rory McIlroy

May 02, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Quail Hollow Championship transcript archive DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship winner, in quite convincing championship fashion, that is, Rory McIlroy. Thanks for joining us, an absolutely incredible Sunday for you, 10-under 62, shatters the course record here, and your first career PGA TOUR win, just shy of your 21st birthday. With the win comes all kinds of things. You pick up 500 FedExCup points. Just kind of some initial thoughts and feelings as it sinks in.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was just -- it started on the range. I absolutely flushed it on the range and knew that -- I've been playing well coming in here and just not getting a lot out of it. I went out there today, and I was excited to play with AK. He's one of my -- he's a good friend of mine out here, and every time I've played with him, I seem to feed off of him, and we fed off of each other.

I was excited to go out there and play, and with the way I played yesterday I knew I would give it a good shot. I knew I was playing well. I just went out there today and had no number in mind. I thought 10 was going to be a realistic target. But to go out there and -- especially getting to 5-under par for the round after 11, I was in a pretty good position then, and then to finish the round off like I did under that sort of pressure was very satisfying.

Q. Are you amazed at all??

RORY McILROY: No. I felt as if -- I didn't feel a 62 was coming, but I felt as if my game was definitely getting a lot better. The 66 yesterday was probably the worst I could have shot. I gave myself so many chances. I had five eagle putts.

And then today I just carried on from there, hit some great shots, holed good putts that -- six- to eight-footers that you need to to keep your momentum going.

You know, the last two days it seemed as if everything had just gone right. You get yourself into sort of a mindset like that, and you just keep going.

I was walking off 11 tee, and J.P., my caddie, said, all right, let's try and get to 13-under. I thought -- I was at 9 at that point, and then I birdied 11 to get to 10, and I thought I was in a pretty good position.

It's just been a great day. To go out there and make as many birdies the way the golf course was set up, it gives me a lot of confidence.

Q. For all the splendid shots you hit down the stretch, I'd be curious if the 7th hole on Friday was the most significant shot of the tournament, otherwise it's another missed cut.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, most important shot of the year, to be honest. If I don't make eagle there, I'm practicing at Ponte Vedra this weekend. So yeah, it was a very -- that 3 on 7 on Friday night was very, very important.

I said after the 66 yesterday, that could have been the turning point in my season. But I think today I've confirmed that.

Q. What was that shot, yardage??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was a 4-iron from 206 back into the breeze, hit it to six feet. The rest is history.

Q. Can you take us back to Augusta? You apparently were mulling putting the clubs away for a little while and maybe not even playing here if I'm not mistaken.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, that would have been a good idea. (Laughter.)

Q. What was your mindset then? What changed your mind?

RORY McILROY: I got home, and I took a few days off. I just said to myself, look, there's no point in feeling sorry for yourself here. You're not playing great, you need to go and work. I was hitting it well, and I felt as if all parts of my game were pretty good, but it was putting it all together on the golf course. So last week back home all I concentrated on was going on and playing golf, playing with my buddies, playing with anyone, but just trying to go out there and shoot a score. I played Royal County Down on Thursday, Royal Portrush on Friday, and those two rounds I played pretty good. I shot 67 on Portrush on Friday, and I thought, well, if I can shoot 67 around here in a pretty good breeze, then I can shoot it anywhere.

Yeah, that was my mindset coming in here. I knew I was playing pretty good. To be honest, I didn't get much out of my rounds on Thursday and Friday, but obviously I made up for it on the weekend.

Q. You kind of stumbled a little bit across the finish line at Dubai. What did you learn from that? How did you put that to good use today?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, in Dubai I got myself into a six-shot lead. I probably started thinking ahead a little bit, thinking about, whatever, winning, money, exemptions or whatever. And today, you know, I had Phil behind me, Angel Cabrera. There's a lot of guys still around there, and I kept telling myself, there's still a lot of golf to play, especially with the finish around here. I tried to pick my targets, hit my shots.

You know, 17 and 18, my target was a lot wider -- I was just trying to hit the right edge of the green on 17, trying to hit it in the middle of the green on 18. I executed all those shots pretty nicely.

But I just couldn't get ahead of myself at all, even when I made eagle on 15. I knew I had got myself in a commanding position, but I still knew that anything can happen on this golf course. I remember David Toms taking an 8 up the last a few years ago, and he still won, but it can happen. I just tried to really stay in the present and just tried to think about my next shot.

Q. There was some talk about this golf course being evocative of your home course. Is that true? Does it remind you of --

RORY McILROY: No. Well, it's quite undulating, so in a way. Holywood is pretty hilly. But apart from that, Holywood's greens are never this good. And that's no offense to the superintendent at Holywood.

Q. Supposedly the undulation --

RORY McILROY: Yeah, when I came here on Monday, it did remind me of Augusta, the bunkering and the trees and even the drive in. It feels quite Augusta-like. You know, it's such a great tournament. They can't do enough for you here. They look after you so well.

You know, it is, it's been a really fun week, regardless of if I had a one-and-out. It's been a great week because the crowds come out and really support this event, play on a great golf course. Charlotte is a pretty cool city, went to the basketball Monday night. It's just a great week.

Q. You probably heard that Ishikawa shot 58 today.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I read it before I went out to play.

Q. It's a hard question to ask you, but that bodes pretty well for the future of the game today, doesn't it??

RORY McILROY: Definitely. He goes and shoots 58 to win, and I shoot 62. I'm just trying to keep up with him. (Laughs.)

Yeah, I played that tournament a couple years ago, as well. The greens are so small, they can get the greens rock hard there. I mean, it's a very impressive round. It's funny, I hadn't -- I actually said to J.P., because Ryo -- he played the Masters, but I was expecting him to play here. I don't know if he's playing in THE PLAYERS next week, but I haven't seen him in a while, so obviously he's just concentrating on Japan and trying to get a few more wins there.

But every time I've played with him, he's been very, very -- he's been great. He's a great player, and obviously with myself winning today, as well, it looks good for the future.

Q. Sort of along the same lines, but you're the youngest winner on TOUR since a guy called Tiger Woods in 1996. Inevitably there will be comparisons and also with Ishikawa today and his score. What are your expectations? Do you feel that your game is ready to get to that level?

RORY McILROY: I was just happy to make the cut on Friday night. (Laughter.)

Yeah, I mean, when you go out and you -- I shot a 16-under on the weekend around a golf course like this. You can't get much more of a confidence boost than that. But I've still got a long way to go. Great young players like Camilo and AK, they've won three times on this TOUR, and this is my first, and hopefully I'll be able to join them soon. I just want to concentrate on getting a few more wins, learn as much as I can at the majors. It takes a while to -- I've had a couple of good finishes before, but it really takes a while to get used to figure them out. But you know, if I went to a major championship and played like that over the weekend, I probably would win, as well.

But you know, I'm just looking forward to getting that next win. This has been a great day, and hopefully I'll look forward to a few more.

Q. Just as a follow-up to that, when you were younger, or do you still now, is he someone that -- like he looked at Jack and at his records and that was something he wanted to try to emulate? Is Tiger the guy that you look --

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think I speak on behalf of all the early 20-somethings out here. Tiger was the guy that we all looked up to and the guy that we followed and the guy that we turned on our TV and the guy that we went out to practice so hard. He was the person that -- I think he's been the reason that the likes of Ryo, myself, AK, Danny Lee, all the younger guys, have flourished at such an early age, because Tiger set the benchmark so high.

We want to achieve that. Even if we don't quite get to that level, it's still pretty good. He's been a big reason for this influence of so many younger players.

Q. Did you ever expect to make such an emphatic statement in the States before you were 21??

RORY McILROY: I mean, I knew I had a chance going into today. I knew that in the past I haven't really been -- I think it was probably a little easier. I was four back. I didn't have anything to lose. I felt great that I was playing the weekend. So I went out there today, I was just going along, playing my golf, seeing what I could shoot and see what happens.

But yeah, it's just been just a great couple days. I'm just letting it sink in. With 21 coming up and the birthday and everything -- you know, the money is great. Obviously it can go a long way. I'm building a range at the minute at home, so that will pay for the trees. Trees are pretty expensive.

Yeah, it's great. I'm hopefully going to -- that will get me into the first couple events in the Playoffs now, and it gives me a couple-year exemption and everything that goes -- play in Hawai'i at the start of next year, which will be nice. You know, it means a lot, this win, definitely.

Q. Even though you pretty much knew you had it at 18 -- I mean, when you're sitting at the center of the green, I just want to know what your emotion was, what went through your head when that putt disappears kind of for emphasis??

RORY McILROY: Yeah. I think I didn't realize that Phil had hit his shot on 17 long. But I sort of thought, if I -- all I was thinking of was two-putting because if I don't two-putt and make a three-putt, Phil could easily birdie 17 and 18 and it's a playoff. So I was just over that putt thinking, get it within three feet, don't put it off the green, just sort of -- I was just trying to get it up there close, and it's one of those putts that it was a feeder from the right, and I got the pace perfectly, and it just dropped in. That's all I wanted.

I was trying to make an easy two-putt, get out of there, and hopefully that would have been good enough.

But I suppose to cap a day off like that was probably fitting, to hole a putt like that on the last. It's one of those moments that you'll always remember. It was -- when it went in, I couldn't believe it. I just looked at J.P., and I was like, this is incredible and happening. But it's been great.

Q. J.P. mentioned that you seemed to have all your numbers back with your irons. I'm wondering whether maybe the warm weather loosened up your back. And secondly, unrelated to the first one, had you begun to second-guess your decision to join this TOUR since it hadn't been going all that well over here and people were wondering whether you had spread yourself too thin??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely my numbers are up again. I think because of the warm weather definitely. I don't think -- my back is getting better. I've been doing my exercises and I've been doing the things that I need to do to get it back to where it should be, and it hadn't given me any trouble at all this week, which obviously when you shoot 62 it feels a lot better. But it hasn't given me any trouble this week. So that's a real positive.

And I'm definitely -- the middle of last year I could stand up 190 and hammer a 7-iron and get it there if I needed to. I think I had 202 to the pin on 18 today, and I suppose I was pumped up a little bit, but I hit 7-iron right in the middle of the green. Numbers are definitely getting there.

And your second point, after the Masters I did feel -- my confidence was a little low. I was second-guessing everything I was doing. You know, I looked at -- I could have went and played in Korea last week, and I was saying, should I have went, should I not have, and J.P. said something to me last week when we played at Portrush, he was like, what's the point in wanting to go to Korea to play when you can just go next week and win at Quail Hollow. I was like, yeah, good point.

J.P. has been -- coming back to your first point, J.P. has been great on the bag for the last nearly two years now. He's brought me from 190th in the world to Top 10 in the world, and he's been a big part of that.

But you know, obviously my decision to come and join the TOUR now has paid off, so I'm happy.

Q. Sort of following up with those questions, Padraig was saying the longer you went over here without winning, the greater the expectation might get. Did you feel any of that??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I definitely had -- I had never felt expectation up until this year. I got myself into the Top 10 in the world. I felt as if I should have going out there competing in every event I play, and you're looking on paper, I think I got to 7th in the world at the start of the year, I'm thinking, well, if I'm the seventh best golfer in the world I should be going out and competing, and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, which you shouldn't. Sometimes you need to sit back and say, look, you're only 20, 21 years old, and you're doing pretty well, and just putting things in perspective a little bit.

I was probably trying to get to that point too soon the way I was pushing and pushing, and it probably wasn't great for my game. After the Masters I've just tried to free it all up, relax a little bit and just go out and play. And it's obviously worked this week, and hopefully I can have that same attitude going into the rest of the season.

Q. What was your low round at Holywood, and how does today's round stack up with your best round anywhere??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I shot the course record 61 at Portrush when I was 16, so that was a pretty good round. But considering the circumstances and everything going on today, this is a little better.

But you know, it was very funny, on the golf course when I shot -- I can still vividly remember that 61. I can remember nearly every shot. And today I got myself in a very similar state of mind, I don't know, call it in the zone or call it whatever you want to, but I was just seeing my shots, I was hitting them. I put myself in tricky spots. I was getting it up-and-down, I was seeing putts go in. I was reading the lines.

It's just -- it's pretty cool when it happens because it doesn't happen often, but when it does, you sort of have to make the most of it.

Q. At your home course, your low round??

RORY McILROY: The course record is 60. I've never -- actually I played once, I was late for a tee time so I joined my friends on the 3rd, so I missed the first two holes, but I shot 8-under for the last 16. I didn't go out and play 1 and 2, but it's a par 69, so I could have shot -- birdied a couple of those and shot 59. But 63 I think was my lowest at Holywood. I haven't played there in a while. I haven't played there in a couple years.

Q. Speaking of low rounds, you said you played in The Crowns tournament a couple of years ago. Knowing the course, where would you rate a 58 in the pantheon of great rounds in golf history??

RORY McILROY: It's up there, especially considering he was five back of Shigeki going into today.

Q. Six.

RORY McILROY: Or won by five, something like that? Yeah, but it's -- Ryo is a -- he's a special -- he's a phenomenal player, and he still is very young and everything. It would be great to see him shoot some rounds like that overseas, but yeah, still a great round of golf.

Q. The shot on 16, why didn't you stick around and watch it??

RORY McILROY: I knew it was good. (Laughter.)

I had 167 pin, and for some reason even when I catch it good out of a fairway bunker it never goes quite as far as it would off a fairway, so I hit a 7-iron and it was into the wind, and as I hit it, I just turned and walked out of the bunker and was just saying to myself, please be right, because it was all over it.

Yeah, that was -- after the eagle on -- walking up 16 and looking at the ball in the bunker, it looked as if it was closer to lip, and I was thinking I'm just going to have to wedge this out and play a wedge shot in. But I was pretty fortunate that it stayed down in the bottom of the bunker, so I actually hit a 7-iron out and -- yeah, I mean, as I said, after eagling 15, I just walked up to 16 and I was just in that sort of frame of mind where you're just going, go on out and try and -- I was trying to play to the front right of the green. It drew nicely into the pin.

Q. Could you just talk about that eagle on 15, the 5-iron??

RORY McILROY: Yeah. I probably hit my best drive of the day there. The wind was sort of down out of the left, and I've just aimed it inside the traps on the right, and just hit this hummer to a little draw down there, got it running, and I left myself 206 to the pin and just hit the nicest little floaty 5-iron in there.

You know, as soon as I hit it, I said -- I turned to J.P., and I said, I don't even need the sand iron because I knew it was going to be pretty good. Yeah, it was a big moment in the tournament.

Q. When Lee and Padraig came to you, what did they say to you and how good did it feel to see them??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I really appreciated it. I mean, I don't know if I'm going to say I've had the pleasure, but Lee beat me to the European money title, the Race to Dubai, last year, and it hurt at the time, but I walked up to them there and I said, "That's how you finish off a tournament." It was nice to see Padraig when I was going into the scoring tent there, and Aaron Baddeley and Jim Furyk were there, as well.

You know, it's nice that the guys want me to do well, and to have a good bunch of people around you and a good bunch of friends out here definitely helps because when you're not playing well, it can be a lonely place at times.

Q. Just a completely unrelated question, but I've always wanted to ask you this, do you consider yourself more Irish or British??

RORY McILROY: Pass.

I'm Northern Irish, I hold a British passport, so there you go.

Q. What kind of trees are you buying for this range??

RORY McILROY: I'm buying eucalyptus trees, leyland cypress, basically these big like evergreens, because there's a little part of it that's visible from the road, so I'm trying to put trees up there just so people can't see in and it's a bit more sheltered because it's where my short game area is going to be.

Q. Is this a ranch or a range??

RORY McILROY: No, a range. It's a practice facility. Hopefully it should be completed by the end of the summer.

Q. You've got a pretty big week next week with your birthday and THE PLAYERS. Will you talk a little bit about that??

RORY McILROY: Yeah, Tuesday. I mean, I'm going to play tomorrow. I have a practice round lined up with Adam Scott at 11:00, so I'll be there. And Tuesday I might take it easy, have a good time Tuesday night, not too good. I'll have to try and prepare properly for the tournament. It's a huge week coming up next week, as well.

But you know, I'm going to enjoy this, and I'm going to enjoy my birthday and get focused on Wednesday morning and get ready to play there, because like you said, that golf course is very tough, as well, and you need to be on your game to do well around there.

DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind just running -- you talked about the eagle at 15. If you would just run us through the birdies and give us some clubs the best you can.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, 4th hole, they put the tee up a little bit, and I hit wedge in there to 10 feet, made it.

7th hole, hit driver, 5-wood from about 233 onto the top level, rolled it down there to four feet, made it.

8th hole was probably a bit of a bonus. I drove it just short of the green and hit my chip shot a little fat, so it finished below the ridge and holed a 20-footer up the hill going at a pretty good speed, so I was lucky that hit the hole.

9, I hit a great tee shot, only had 126 pin, hit sand wedge to six feet above the hole, made that.

11, didn't hit a great tee shot on 11, got pretty lucky it didn't finish in the pine straw and had a bit of a flier lie, so I hit 9-iron from 145 into the wind, just controlled it. Actually thought it was short in the air but it landed pretty good and rolled up nicely to about three feet.

14, I got a little lucky there again. I hit a 5-wood off the tee. It was only 267 pin, but I thought it landed in the gallery and went beyond the bunker, but it actually finished in the bunker. It was still a pretty tricky downhill lie, but it was definitely better than being up near that grandstand. I splashed it out to below the hole ten feet left of it and made it.

15 I've described, 5-iron, 206, three feet.

16, 167, 7-iron, and that was nice.

And then 18 was a pretty -- just trying to -- I've hit driver off that tee every day. I just hit 5-wood just to make sure I wasn't bringing anything into play, hammered a 7-iron into the middle of the green and finished it off with a nice putt, probably the nicest one I've holed all week. So it was nice.

DOUG MILNE: Rory, congratulations.

RORY McILROY: Thanks, guys.

Transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports.