Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Rory McIlroy Press Conference
CLARE BODEL: Welcome to St. Andrews. Tell us about what’s enjoyable about this week. Obviously you’re playing with your dad and it makes it a little bit different.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it does. I think, you know, I guess the history that I’ve had at this tournament from getting my TOUR card back in 2007 to having a few chances to win, and not quite getting the job done, it obviously would be really nice to win at St. Andrews at some point. But I think I probably, you know, at this point in my career, look, I’m still trying to play well individually. But you know, I’m taking the team part of it almost just as serious as the individual part.
So it’s my dad’s 60th birthday next week, and I said to him, what do you want for your birthday, and he said, I’d love to play the Dunhill one more time. This is his birthday present. His last hoorah, I think. Hopefully we have a good week and make it to Sunday.
It’s always enjoyable. I think any time I’ve played well here, I haven’t taken it too seriously because it is so different, and the play is sort of slow and all that sort of stuff. I think if you take it too seriously, you can get frustrated with it. But if you try to keep it lighthearted, I think that’s when I’ve been able to play my best.
CLARE BODEL: It’s a place that has some great memories for you, many moons ago you got your TOUR card here and come in second place a couple of times. Would it mean something to win here?
RORY McILROY: It would. I think there’s another tournament that happens here every five years, that would be nice to win here, too. But I think any time you have a chance to win at the Home of Golf, is pretty special, and now that I’ve been in contention a few times, haven’t quite got the job done.
Yeah, it would be nice. I was reminded by someone outside that I’ve never won in Scotland before, so try to change that this week.
Q. How much are you looking forward to the challenge of what is such a unique event on three wonderful courses?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it is. I think that’s part of the challenge is adapting to each course and each day, and whatever the conditions are. You know, we had it pretty benign at Kingsbarns yesterday and the wind got up on the back nine for us at St. Andrews. It’s supposed to be windy during the week and the weather is not supposed to be great. That is part of playing in this tournament and this time of year. You have to deal with it and you have to just get on with it and keep the head down and keep plugging away.
But you know, three fantastic courses. But as I said, Kingsbarns yesterday, St. Andrews today, I think Carnoustie once this week is enough for me. So I’ll go play there tomorrow and try and shoot a good score. Move on to the — I won’t say easier courses, but less stressful courses.
Q. Is that the one that gives you the most hassle?
RORY McILROY: I think it’s gotten a little easier over the years. I think they have taken a lot of gorse bushes out to facilitate spectators during The Open Championship. Last year my game plan there was just to hit driver everywhere and sort of really take on the golf course, which is something you wouldn’t have done, you know, when I played my first Open Championship in 2007 there. You know, weather permitting, try and get out there tomorrow and be aggressive, and hit driver everywhere and then see if I can shoot a decent score.
Q. Where do you see your game at at the moment?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, you know, it’s okay. I guess it’s been hard to not view what happened a few weeks ago in Atlanta as like the end of the season for me, and you know, I’ve really needed to try to reset and try to focus on these next few weeks and play well going into the — going into the real end of the year I guess.
It feels good. I mean, I haven’t practiced as much as I have done at the end of the summer or anything. So I wouldn’t be as certain the game is as good as it could be, but I’m hopeful that it’s still there, and I’m just going to go out and try and play my best.
Q. As you pursue the world No. 1 spot, how important, in fact, to challenge?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think it would be. With how strong the field is, obviously with myself, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose in the field, I think three of the top 5 in the world; and with that, it brings big ranking
Rev #1 by #167 at 2019-09-25 13:42:00 GMT page 1 of 2 points. If I were to win this week, it would be a huge step in the right direction in terms of trying to achieve that goal.
But again, I know that because of this week and the way it is and the format, I can’t try to chase that too hard because, you know, as I said, if I do take this event too seriously, sometimes it can go against me. So if I keep it light hearted and keep it fun, I feel like that’s the best way for me to play well this week.
Q. You touched on it already, playing with your dad, what is that like?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it’s brilliant. We’ve actually played against each other the last two days, so it will be nice to have him as my partner tomorrow. We’ve been giving each other some stick the last two days.
So he got the better of me yesterday and I was able to just beat him today. We get to team up tomorrow and I’m excited for that.
Q. Talking about your state of mind, when you are playing an individual, like just you playing in the golf tournament, and when you play with a team or with your dad, is it the same?
RORY McILROY: I think if anything, it’s a little different. So I think I — my first two Ryder Cups I struggled to deal with the fact that I wasn’t just playing for myself. There’s something more important than, you know, every shot you hit doesn’t just affect you. It affects the rest of your team and it affects everything that everyone is trying to play for.
It took me a while to get out of that mind-set and just focus on myself and try to win my point and all that. I think sometimes you can let it affect you and be different. Yeah, I mean, if I’m over a four-foot par putt over the next three days and I know that my dad is out of the hole, I think that creates extra pressure because you’re trying to do it for you, but you’re trying to not let the team lose the shot either.
If anything, there’s a little extra pressure there, but it’s good.
Q. If you could choose between finishing runnerup in the tournament or winning the Pro-Am with your dad, which would you choose?
RORY McILROY: Winning the Pro-Am with my dad.
I think it’s special that it’s in the arena, it’s in the environment. The fact that me and my dad can go out and play on the oldest golf course in the world together in a big event, right. It’s not as if — can go out and play with his dad — I think, as well, because you can play golf for such a long time — my dad went through a period of playing a lot of golf and then when I really started to play, you know, junior golf and amateur golf, he didn’t play any golf at all, and then you know, once I turned 18 and turned pro, and he didn’t have to look after me anymore, he started to