An Interview With: RORY MCILROY
KELLY ELBIN: With four victories in 2012, including the PGA Championship and two others late in the season, the world's No. 1 ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy, joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup. This will be Rory's second Ryder Cup appearance. He was 1 1 2 in Wales two years ago.
Rory, welcome back to The Ryder Cup, and thoughts on how it's been going so far.
RORY McILROY: Thank you. Yeah, it's been great. Really excited to be here. Really getting into the team atmosphere, having a really good time with the guys. You know, I think just like everyone, just so excited to get going. We got our first look at the golf course yesterday. It feels like it sets up well personally for me, sets up well for most of the guys on our team. So I think now, it's just about finalizing the pairings and getting ready for that, and once Friday morning comes, it should be great.
Q. You're 23 years of age, you're the only one that's won multiple majors on the European side; is leadership earned through a resumé or is it earned through experience in a competition like this?
RORY McILROY: I think it's a little bit of both, to be honest. I think there's leaders on our team that will lead with experience. I feel like with the way I've played the last couple of years, I don't think my role is a leader in the team room; I think it's more a leader out on the course and trying to lead in that way. Try to put points on the board and try to get my point.
There's a lot more guys that have played more Ryder Cups than me and are more experienced in the team room and know when to speak up and have different views on things. This is only my second, so I'm still getting to know and still learning about The Ryder Cup.
So I feel for me, yes, I'm one of the leaders on the team, but more so on the golf course than in the team room.
Q. How did the week in Wales change your mind about The Ryder Cup?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it definitely opened up it opened my eyes. It's just different, different atmosphere. Being part of a team, not playing for yourself, playing for your 11 other teammates, your captain, your vice captains, your country, your continent; it's a big deal.
I sort of realized that last time in Wales (smiling).
Q. How many points do you think personally that you need to contribute this week to do what's expected of you?
RORY McILROY: I mean, I just want to go out and try and win all my points. That's all I'm thinking about. I don't have a number. I don't have a total. I think, you know, with the U.S. playing here at home, I think they are the favorites. It's a very strong team.
You know, so we know we have got to go out there and play very, very well to have a chance. So if I play on Friday morning, I just want to go out there and get my point and then take it from there.
Q. A lot of the players here this week have wives and partners with them and they are very prominent at Ryder Cups in general; speaking in general, what do you think is the role that they can play in the team effort?
RORY McILROY: I think just to make the guys comfortable. A lot of the guys travel with their wives and their girlfriends and their partners week in, week out, so I don't think there's any reason to change that just for this week.
And yeah, it's great. It probably brings a little more atmosphere to dinners and to the team. So it's great to have them around. I suppose just adds a little bit of a fun element to it.
Q. Let me ask you, do you think that there should be a higher expectation on the No. 1 player in the world coming into this event, and do you feel an added pressure being the No. 1 player in the world coming into this event?
RORY McILROY: No, not at all. This week I'm not the No. 1 player in the world; I'm one person in a 12 man team, and that's it. It's a team effort. There's 12 guys all striving towards the same goal. I'm just part of that.
Q. Crowds have always been very supportive of you in your career and admiring you, and it's possible you'll face a polite hostility in this Ryder Cup; do you think you'll thrive on that? Are you kind of prepared for that?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's definitely going to be different. I'm very well supported over here in the States. But I mean, obviously I understand people want the U.S. to win, and I'm not playing for that team.
So it's going to be different. It's the first Ryder Cup I've played over here. We had such a big support last time in Wales, and that really lifted us; lifted the team and helped us.
We want to try and quiet that crowd as much as we can, go out there, hole putts, try and subdue them a little bit. That's really our goal this week.
Q. What's it like wandering around with this big bull's eye on your back?
RORY McILROY: I don't think I have a bull's eye on my back. I think it's a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me and whatever. Whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on.
Q. Ian Poulter said he wants to go out and kill some of his American mates; do you agree with that?
RORY McILROY: (Laughing.) I think kill is a little strong. I'd like to beat them.
Q. You're moving to Florida, but you're selling up your house in Northern Ireland, and obviously you can well afford to have houses on both sides of the Atlantic
RORY McILROY: I never said I was moving to Florida.
Q. But you're selling up in Northern Ireland, though?
RORY McILROY: I am, yeah.
Q. Can you say why you don't want to keep a base over there?
RORY McILROY: Doesn't make financial sense. I don't spend enough time at home to warrant the running costs of a home like that and the practice facility.
Q. You mentioned a few moments ago that the perception of the event had changed after you played in one. Do you recall how you thought of it going in? Did you think it was maybe over hyped a little bit and was there a moment or two where you realized that it occurred to you that it was different?
RORY McILROY: Definitely, I had never of course I had played team golf before, but I had never played in a Ryder Cup.
Yeah, I mean, I thought, to me to me, the majors are still the biggest tournaments in golf and the tournaments that I want to win. But yeah, I got here and my perception did change. To see everything that's around I'd been to Ryder Cups before to watch, and I know how exciting they are and how special they are. But until you actually are involved and you play and you stand on that first tee on the Friday morning, everyone screaming your name, and you see how important it is to everyone else; as I said before, you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for a lot of other people. And I think that makes what makes it so special and so important.
Q. Just going back to the issue of you being targeted by the Americans, if José asks you to, would you be happy to go out and meet fire with fire and lead from the front on Friday morning?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, like I said, I just want to go out and get a point for the team, and whether that's going out first or fourth or in the middle, it really doesn't make a difference to me and it doesn't make a difference who I play. I'm going to go out there and give it my best and win that point.
Q. I guess on that theme, the idea that you're the youngest and you're world No. 1, if José Maria came to you and said he wanted you to play in five matches, after what you've gone through to get here, would you be comfortable with that?
RORY McILROY: If he wanted to play me in five? Yeah, of course. I mean, I want to play as much as I can. I want to help the team out as much as I can. I feel like I can do that.
So I'd be very comfortable playing all five matches. I'd also be very comfortable if he wanted to rest me or leave me out one or two of the sessions. So, yeah, I mean, I'm more than happy to play all five.
Q. Because of the sort of passion and the ferocity, the feeling that this tournament has, is this the most gladiatorial that golf becomes really at The Ryder Cup?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think you can just see that by the celebrations when someone holes a putt and the emotion that is generated just by this tournament. You don't see anyone getting this animated or this excited about any other golf tournament. I think that's what makes it so special.
Q. And it serves that sort of feeling in you; you feel differently in this tournament than you do in any other tournament?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely, just because, as I said before, I keep going back to this point, we are a team. We're a unit. You're not just playing for yourself. You're playing for a lot of other people, and you don't want to let them down, either.
Q. Just going back to 2010, that first day when you were going out with Graeme on the range there before going out, how nervous were you feeling then, and how nervous do you think you'll be this time compared to back then?
RORY McILROY: You know, I was nervous. I was a rookie. I was very I think last year, the last time we played the first four holes, and then we got called in because of the rain and then we went back out and played another seven or whatever it was that day. But I remember after those first 11 holes, I was thinking to myself, I'm very I was very anxious. I was very tentative. I was trying not to make a mistake instead of just going out and free wheeling it and playing the way I usually do.
I think it's going to be different this year. I'm going to go out and just give it a go, enjoy it, play the way I play. Definitely have more confidence in myself as a player than I did two years ago, a lot more certain of myself and sure of my ability.
So I think the feeling will be a little different going on to the first tee on Friday here.
Q. In any other tournament, it's friendly between you and the Americans. Can you tell us something more about the interaction around here, and do you feel there's a shield now built up between the Europeans and the Americans?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, of course. You know, it's two teams trying to beat each other. You know, when you're I suppose when you're playing just in an individual tournament, of course you're trying to beat the other guys, but your main objective is to shoot the best score, and no one can affect that outcome apart from yourself. You're the one that has to hit the shots.
But here, it's different. You've got two teams. The European Team are eating together, they are doing everything together. The American Team is doing the same thing. Yeah, of course, there's going to be that wall sort of built up.
Q. Can you describe how different you might feel teeing up against Tiger Woods in the singles if it happens, rather than in an ordinary, regular tournament?
RORY McILROY: Again, as I said earlier, I'm just going to go out and try and win my point. Whether that's against him or against someone else, it really doesn't matter.
Q. I think you were 10 years old when Paul Lawrie last made a Ryder Cup Team. Can you kind of quantify what an achievement that is for him to have done so after so long?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's been a great effort. He's played very, very well the last couple of years. I think he said yesterday when he was in here that going to the 2010 Ryder Cup really inspired him again to work hard and try and make this team.
You know, I played with him at the start of the year in Abu Dhabi and he played very, very well. He's been very consistent. His goal this year was to make The Ryder Cup Team, and he has. You know, it would be great to see him play well here and obviously get a few points for the team.
Q. Do you know how you would react if somebody did heckle you? I presume it's never happened.
RORY McILROY: There's not much you can do. As I said, emotions run high here, and obviously the majority of the crowd are going to be pulling for the American Team. But I feel like even yesterday on the course, it's very respectful. They are going to cheer very loud for their team, which we expect; of course it would be the same over in Europe.
You've just got to get on with it. I expect it to be loud. I expect them to cheer for them. Hopefully I won't get heckled, but if I do, then you've just got to stay calm and be focused on the golf and just get on with it.
KELLY ELBIN: World No. 1, Rory McIlroy, thank you very much.
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