Featured Golf News
Rory Shooting for Two Straight
Rory McIlroy will be trying for his second straight victory in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and his fourth title of the year in the $8 million BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.
The 23-year-old Northern Irishman solidified his place atop the world golf ranking with a one-stroke win over Louis Oosthuizen in last week's Deutsche Bank Championship. McIlroy carded rounds of 65, 65, 67 and 67 to finish at 20-under 264 at the par-71 TPC Boston.
The first two rounds at the BMW should be interesting as McIlroy will be in the marquee pairing with Tiger Woods and the winner of the Playoffs' first event, The Barclays, Nick Watney.
McIlroy, Watney and Woods are ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in FedEx Cup points; the player who emerges with the most points following the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta in two weeks will earn a $10 million bonus. If McIlroy wins the BMW he'll be in the driver's seat for that big payday.
On the eve of the BMW, McIlroy met with reporters and discussed his solid play in the past couple of weeks. Not only did he win the Deutsche Bank, but he took home his second major title in mid-August after winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., by a whopping eight strokes. Here's what the young Ulsterman had to tell the media.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy. You moved to No.1 in the FedEx Cup standings last week with a win at the Deutsche Bank. If you want to kind of talk about your thoughts coming into this week. You just played 15 holes. Talk about course conditions, also.
RORY McILROY: Yeah. Obviously delighted to have won last week, to move to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings. Obviously set myself up for a very important two weeks here and obviously the Tour Championship in a couple weeks. And excited, feel like my game is in great shape, and as Tiger just said, we're all here to try and win the tournament. I can't really rest or dwell on what I've done last week. I want to come out here and try as best I can again and put myself in the best possible position going to Atlanta. I feel like I've done that for the most part from the win last week, and yeah, just excited to be here.
The golf course is very soft. It's long, thick rough. Obviously they've had a lot of rain here over the last few weeks, so it's going to be an advantage to hit the ball long and to hit it in the fairway. Hopefully that's something that I can continue to feel like I'm driving the ball pretty well for the most part. The start of last week wasn't so good, but I felt like it came together for me nicely at the weekend. Yeah, so I think the big key so this week is hitting the ball in the fairway and hitting it a good distance out there. Even though it is soft, you're going to get a few mud balls and it's going to be a little tricky in that regard, but yeah, it's going to be another good week.
Q. When you're paired with Tiger as you were at the start of the Playoffs, it seems like such a big deal. What's it like for you guys, and what's the challenge in that?
RORY McILROY: You know, it is. I think it definitely creates some more interest for the fans and for golf in general. I don't see any challenge in it. I mean, I think it's just good fun. It's good fun to be out there and have such an atmosphere and such a buzz around a grouping like that, and it's just nice to be a part of.
Q. One more on Tiger if I might. You know how he's played this year and how close he is. He's 36. Do you still look for him to be back winning majors?
RORY McILROY: He's old, huh? (Laughter.)
Q. Compared to you. Do you think there are more majors in his future?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, for sure. I said it at the start of the year. I played with him in our first event of the year in Abu Dhabi, and I thought he played really, really well. He got himself in contention. He didn't quite win, but after seeing the performance there, I expected some great things from him this year, and obviously he's won three times, and he's played well. He's had his chances in the majors going into the weekends, and it just hasn't quite happened for him. But for sure he's going to keep putting himself up there in positions, and he's going to have a lot of chances to win tournaments and majors.
Q. It seems like when you you have this gear that you can go to in events we saw it last weekend, we saw it at the PGA, we saw it at Congressional where you can kind of put your foot on the gas and begin to leave people behind you. What is it? What's the key for you in moments like that, where you feel like you're firing on all cylinders? Mentally where are you at when those kind of rounds happen?
RORY McILROY: I think the most important thing when that does happen, you have to realize it's happening and just get out of your own way and just completely just play one shot at a time. Obviously you're hitting the ball well, you're just trying to hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green, hole the putt, go to the next hole, do it all over again. That's what you're trying to do.
There's some weeks where golf does seem as simple as that, and when you're on like that, it's obviously a great feeling. It's very difficult to play like that all the time, and that's why it's the great players, they learn to win when they're not playing their best. That's something, I've said this before, that I still feel like I'm learning to do. I think I sort of did that for a little bit of last week. I struggled to close out the tournament, but a couple of crucial up and downs on the way in, which helped, and that's what the great players do; they find a way.
Q. I just wanted to ask you about the Ryder Cup. I'm just curious about your first one in Wales. A lot of guys have talked about the pressure being more than they've ever experienced, the atmosphere. I'm curious if it was like that for you, if it was more than you expected, and if there's even an anecdote or anything you remember about how you might have reacted to your first go and maybe the first day.
RORY McILROY: Yeah. I think the thing about the Ryder Cup is that it brings a completely different pressure than you face week in, week out, because if you play badly, it's all you. You're only letting down yourself. You're not letting down your teammates or your captain or your country or anyone else. It just brings its own pressures. You're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for a whole lot of different reasons.
That's something we're not quite used to doing, and it's something I struggled with at the last Ryder Cup. The first day I was so tight, I was so tentative, I was just trying not to make mistakes instead of going out there and free wheeling it, especially in the four-ball where you're out there and just trying to make birdies. I'm sort of tense and tight, and once I freed up and started to play my own game, everything was fine. But that's the thing that I really felt; I was just trying to be so - I was just trying not to make any mistakes but realize the best way to play in the Ryder Cup is just play the way you do when you play for yourself. And if you do that, you try and win as many points for the team as possible, and that's all you can do.
Q. I wanted to go back to what you were talking about, the feeling when you're separating yourself from the field. Byron Nelson used to call it a trance; for years it's been called a zone. Can you talk about what that feels like? You mentioned you realize that you're in the midst of it. Are there times that you say, oh, my God, I'm in this, or is it an unconscious/subconscious thing?
RORY McILROY: I think it's more of a subconscious thing. But yeah, you can call it a trance or you can call it getting in the zone. For me, I just - you're just very confident. You've got total self-belief. You're hitting it at your target, you're hitting it close to the pins. You're seeing every putt go in. It's just like all aspects of your game are fully on. Sometimes all aspects of your game are fully on but you get in your own way and you start to thinking about it too much and you start to talk yourself out of it, whereas when you're mentally in a great place, you just go with it and keep it going. I've been able to do that a couple of times. Fortunately those couple of times have been in major championships and I've ended up winning them by quite a margin. Hopefully I continue to do that.
But yeah, I mean, there's been a few guys that have been able to do it in the past, and I'm happy that I'm one of them. But you know, again, I don't care if I win by one like last week or if I win by eight like Kiawah or Congressional. As long as your name goes on that trophy, that's all that matters.
MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, Rory, and good luck this weekend.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.