2012 PGA Championship Interview Transcript -- Rory McIlroy

KELLY ELBIN:  2011 U.S. Open Champion, Rory McIlroy in with a 5 under par 67 in the opening round of the 94th PGA Championship.

Rory, five birdies, no bogeys, ten of 14 fairways hit, 15 of 18 greens in regulation.  Congratulations.  Nice round today.  Thoughts on how it went out there.

RORY McILROY:  Thank you.  Yeah, it was great.  You know, it's a great way to start the tournament.  You know, hitting balls on the range this morning, there was completely no wind.  It was flat calm and I really thought that I had to take advantage of the conditions.

Got off to a great start.  Was 3 under through seven and just took it on from there.  So very happy with the round, and it's a great score to build on.

KELLY ELBIN:  If you would briefly go through the five birdies starting with the birdie at 10.

RORY McILROY:  I hit a good driver in the middle of the fairway.  Had a sand wedge in.  Hit the sand wedge to 12 feet just left of the hole.  The 14th, par 3, I hit 3 iron.  I think it was like 246, I don't know, maybe like 12 feet left of the hole and made that.

16, par 5, I hit a drive and a 5 wood just short of the green.  Chipped it up to four feet, made that.

Par 5, second hole, hit another driver and 5 wood to the middle of the green, maybe 40 feet and 2 putted.

On the 6th hole, I hit a driver and a pitching wedge 15 feet left of the hole and made that.

So, yeah, five pretty solid birdies.

Q.  Great save on 17, but after what happened at The Open, just wonder if you had any near misses for birdies on other holes.

RORY McILROY:  Yeah, it's becoming a habit hitting people in majors, so try not to do that again.

Yeah, there was a few that got a way.  I had a few chances.  I had a chance on 11, the par 5, for birdie and didn't make that.  I had a couple others but I held some nice ones, too.  I felt overall, it was a fair reflection of how I played.

Q.  You spoke about it being dead calm and feeling the need to take advantage of the conditions.  Do you sense that this may end up being more like an Open Championship than a U.S. Open where you're looking at the conditions and trying to figure out what the weather is going to be and whether you've caught the good end of a draw?

RORY McILROY:  Yeah, for sure.  The only thing different about this is it's off two tees, so it gives you a better chance.  The Open, playing off one tee the whole way throughout the day, it can really    you really do get one end, a good draw or a bad draw.  Here, it sort of evens it out a little bit.

Yeah, I'm expecting this to be the best day of the week.  I think everyone is.  So we know that there's going to be a bit of wind coming in and maybe a bit of bad weather.  It's just something that you're going to have to deal with and I'm just happy that I got off to a great start.  As I said, I have a great platform to go from.

Q.  Given the calm conditions over that front nine of your round today, is the front nine still the hardest, or did the calm conditions level out the course today, do you think?

RORY McILROY:  Yeah, both sides give you opportunities for birdies.  But again, you have to hit good shots.  The first few holes for us plays    the first few holes did play quite short and easier than they would have been if there was a bit of wind.

I think both nines are pretty even.  I think you've got tough holes on both.  You've got a couple par 5s on both.  You just have to try and take advantage of the holes that you've put yourself in a good position.

Q.  Having played some golf around this course now for a bit, how would you describe your comfort level with the course?  And secondly, given some of your recent struggles, how would you rank this round compared to earlier rounds this season in terms of success?

RORY McILROY:  Yeah, I'm pretty comfortable with the golf course, on the golf course.  I played nine holes on Monday, nine holes on Tuesday and that was it.  That's all I played.  I didn't feel like I needed to play anymore.  I had two really good looks at each nine, or one good look at each nine.

Just hit balls yesterday and just tried to keep in a good rhythm.  Came out this morning and played great.  So I feel like I'm pretty comfortable on this golf course.  I've got my lines off the tees and I know what it's like around the greens.  I think that was any first bogey free round in a while, and it's always nice to shoot a round with no bogeys.

So I was happy with that.

Q.  How many drivers did you hit today?

RORY McILROY:  Quite a few.  (Counting out) ten, ten drivers.

Q.  Following that up, can you speak to the advantage your driver gives you when you're hitting it well?  Not just what it gives you for score, but maybe psychologically?

RORY McILROY:  Yeah, for sure, when you're hitting it in the fairway and you're hitting it long, it gives you a big advantage over a good percentage of the field.

Like, for instance, I was going in with a little wedge on 6.  It's 480 yards, where maybe the rest of the field might be going in with something longer.  It gives you an opportunity to get to some of these par 5s in two, as well.

Of course, you see a drive go down the middle of the fairway 330 yards, it's going to give you a little bit of confidence, too, so that's nice.

Q.  The good play recently, is it more of a mental game adjustment or something physical in your game, a slight modification to technique?

RORY McILROY:  A little bit of both.  I was working very hard on technical stuff for the last few weeks, and then a slight mental adjustment, as well.  I felt like I was maybe hitting too many balls on the range; I just needed to go out there and play a bit more on the course and see shots.

To be honest, it's a little bit of both.  But I definitely think that last week gave me a good bit of confidence, and that was something I could take into here.

Q.  You've shown a sort of unpredictability from one round to the next on many occasions; is that just a product of youth or does that reflect an aggressive attitude that you still need to adapt to major championship golf?

RORY McILROY:  I don't think so.  I think it's    you know, I don't really know what to put it down to.  I think you've seen in the past, it's tough for guys to follow up a very good round with another solid round.  You see it all the time, someone shoots 66 and then they will do well to break 70 the next day.  Just the way golf is.

Yeah, I've had my fair share of starts where I've started well and I've had a couple of bad rounds and stuff.  I think that's just golf.  You get weeks where you're feeling good and you're playing well, and you're just able to keep rolling and continue the momentum from one day to the next and hopefully that's one of these weeks.

Q.  Talking to Dave Stockton the other day, he reckoned you're the oldest 23 year old he's ever known; the sparkle you've got in your game since seeing Dave last week and this week, how beneficial has he been?

RORY McILROY:  It's been great.  I worked with Dave a little bit in Akron last week.  I know we made a slight adjustment to my routine and my stroke, and it made a huge difference last week.  I felt so much better on the greens than I did at The Open.

He sort of just said to me, "You know, just go out there and have fun and enjoy it and smile."  That's something that I've really tried to do the last two weeks, and it's definitely helped.

Q.  Could you explain what it's like to play five hours in such intense heat with that humidity and how much you're eating and drinking just to survive?

RORY McILROY:  It's tough, it is.  It's hot.  That's why I was going to go out and play nine holes yesterday afternoon but I just decided not to just to conserve a little bit of energy and make sure I was ready to go this morning.

Yeah, you're drinking a lot; you're just trying to stay hydrated.  I think when it's this hot, as well, you sort of don't really get that hungry.  I think I had one energy bar out there but that was it.  It's just more about taking enough fluids on board to keep you going throughout the round.

Q.  You've had people telling you what a wonderful technique you have; how difficult is it now to accept at this stage of your career that there may be flaws there?

RORY McILROY:  I don't think there's any player that's ever lived the game that there has not been flaws in their game or there has not been tendencies.

I think it's just about living with those and making sure that those tendencies don't get too far away from where they should be.  But yeah, everyone falls back into the same bad habits from time to time, and that's something that I've done a little bit this year.  But I think    I really think that's unavoidable in golf.  It's hard to wake up feeling the exact same every day, and some days you wake up and you feel more comfortable with a shot than you did the day before, and that's just something you have to handle.

Q.  When you have thought about what you need to do to give yourself a chance on a Sunday in a major again, do you focus on something mental or technical or attitude?  What's mostly been the focus?

RORY McILROY:  Yeah, you have to have the right attitude going out there.  You have to realize that to give yourself a chance going into the final day of a major, there's still 54 holes to play, and especially on this golf course, middles of greens are totally okay.  Every time you hit it in the middle of the green here, you're going to have a chance, especially the way the greens are rolling.  For me, it's just about giving myself as many chances as possible, playing conservatively when I need to, and then knowing the right times when to be aggressive.

Q.  I'm not sure how well you know Joost Luiten, but can you tell us your impressions of his game?

BEN CURTIS:  Yeah, I actually played a little bit of amateur golf with Joost back in Europe.  He's a really good player.  He's a very good ball striker, very, very solid from tee to green, and I mean, I saw his name on the leaderboard out there today, I'm not sure how he's doing now, but I know he's going pretty well.

Yeah, you know, good player, solid player, and still pretty young so still has a lot of time to get a lot of experience.

KELLY ELBIN:  Rory McIlroy, in with 67.

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