Featured Golf News
McIlory Ready for Bethpage Black
Rory McIlroy proved earlier this month that he can excel on a tough golf course. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman closed with weekend rounds of 67 and 66 on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to win the PGA Championship - his second major title in two years - by eight strokes, topping Jack Nicklaus's all-time record of seven set in the 1980 Grand Slam event.
The dashing young Ulsterman will have to be on top of his game as he and the world's best players take on Bethpage Black which, like the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course, is considered among the most difficult layouts in the world.
McIlroy will need to be as long and accurate off the tee as he was in South Carolina at the par-71, 7,468-yard Bethpage Black for this week's Barclays, the first event in the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs that starts Thursday in Farmingdale, N.Y.
"I drove the ball really well at Kiawah a couple weeks ago, and obviously around this golf course you're going to have to do the same," McIlroy told reporters Wednesday. "It's a big golf course. You know, if you hit the ball in the rough, it's a big disadvantage. But you know, I put a new driver in the bag a few weeks ago and feel like I've got a bit of extra distance from it, and I feel confident with it. Hopefully going to be an important club this week."
McIlroy will be part of the first-round's marquee pairing, playing with Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson. The trio will start on the 10th tee at Bethpage Black at 8:16 a.m. EDT. (For all the tee times, visit http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/r027/tee-times.html.)
Here's what else the current No. 1-ranked player in the world said to the media during his sit-down session on the eve of The Barclays.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy into the interview room here at the Barclays. Just a couple weeks removed from his win at the PGA Championship, and he enters the Playoffs No.3 in the FedEx Cup standings. Welcome to the Barclays. Let's get your comments on the week ahead.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, looking forward to it. It's a big week ahead, the first week of the Playoffs, a great start on a great golf course to kick things off. You know, we've got - it's a pretty important few weeks for us with these events and then obviously the Ryder Cup coming up, as well. But it would be great to finish the PGA Tour season well and play well these four events, and hopefully I can start with a good one this week.
Q. How did you hit the ball today? How did you feel?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, very good, very good. I hit the ball well yesterday in practice and hit the ball well out there today in the pro am. It's good. I like the golf course. It's big, it's long. You've got to hit it well. It should suit me in that regard.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your father's influence on your career. Which words of wisdom do you resort to most often?
RORY McILROY: I'm not sure. I mean, it's just nice to have him around. I mean, obviously in the early days both my mom and dad made a lot of sacrifices for me, and it's not until you grow up and learn a few things about the way the world works and you become more mature and you begin to appreciate how much your parents did for you. They've done an awful lot for me. It's not here this week. It's actually nice to get away from him a little. It feels like he's been on the road with me every week this year. Mom and dad are spending some time together back home, and they're going to go on holiday to Spain at some point the next couple weeks, so flying solo this week, which isn't a bad thing.
Q. Just want to ask you how you're looking forward to your pairing with Tiger, and would you look forward to a possible Sunday with him at Medinah?
RORY McILROY: I'm looking forward to it. You know, it's nice. It really focuses you from the get go, a pairing like that. I feel every time I've played with Tiger, he's sort of brought the best out of me. I really feel focused and obviously want to play well. You know, I'm looking forward to it. I really enjoy his company. I know we'll have a good time out there. I'm keeping him waiting here, so I'll stop talking about him.
Q. I know the Ryder Cup is a ways away, but how -
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I'd love to go out there. I'd love Tiger to go out first and kick his ass (laughter).
Q. You talked about this being a big golf course, Kiawah was a big golf course. You drove the ball beautifully there. Can you talk about how much of an advantage your driving can be for you when you're on form?
RORY McILROY: Yeah. You know, I drove the ball really well at Kiawah a couple weeks ago, and obviously around this golf course you're going to have to do the same. It's a big golf course. You know, if you hit the ball in the rough, it's a big disadvantage. But you know, I put a new driver in the bag a few weeks ago and feel like I've got a bit of extra distance from it, and I feel confident with it. Hopefully going to be an important club this week.
Q. Do you feel like you're at a stage where there's a rivalry with Tiger, and if you're not, what would it take to get there?
RORY McILROY: No, I don't think so. I've always said, the players don't build up rivalries themselves, people from the outside build up the rivalries. I just want to play good golf. I want to try and keep winning golf tournaments. You know, that's all I can really concentrate on, just concentrate on myself.
Q. When you were young and Sergio burst on the scene in '99, what were your impressions of him?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, I remember watching Sergio win the Irish Open in '99, and then I remember staying up late on that Sunday night when he was battling Tiger down the stretch at Medinah and hitting the shot from the tree and running up the fairway. I've spent a lot of time with Sergio over the past few years. It was great to see him win last week and great to have him on our Ryder Cup team. I think he'll be a very important member for us. And yeah, he was definitely one of my favorite players growing up, just the way he played the game.
Q. Last year you weren't eligible to play in the FedEx Cup, and shortly after the FedEx Cup ended, you changed managers. Did you get bad advice last year, and did that have a connection with you changing -
RORY McILROY: No, no, not really. You know, I just - there was a couple events in Europe that I wanted to play, and for one reason or another, I wasn't able to play here. But yeah, I mean, this is where you want to be. This is the biggest and the best Tour in the world, and you want to play in the biggest events with the best players. That's the reason that I decided to join again. I'm sure I'll be a member and play over here for a long time.
Q. You have had a fantastic couple of weeks, and I know that's been accompanied by some challenges. What in your mind is it going to take to become more consistent?
RORY McILROY: Just hard work, practice. You know, everyone gets into bad habits with their golf swing. For me the middle of the season there I had two misses going, I was missing it right and missing it left. If I have one miss, it's easier to play with. Just a little bit more consistency in my swing and just maybe doing a few more drills here and there might help. But I really feel like - obviously feel like I turned a corner the last couple weeks at Akron and the PGA, and confidence is up again, and looking forward to the end of the season.
Q. You talk about that consistency. In your mind what separates the very best players from everybody else, and now you're No.1 in the world once again. Who do you think is the best player in the world?
RORY McILROY: I don't know. I mean, I think the thing about the best players in the world and maybe the people that are slightly under, they're just able to get it done. I don't know if it's just because they're a little better under pressure, they're able to handle the situation better. That's something that I learned a lot at Augusta last year when I didn't finish off the tournament so well. It's something I had to learn how to do, and I feel like I'm most of the way there on that.
I think there's a few guys, I mean, Tiger has won more than anyone else this year, winning three times. I've won a couple of times, including a major. Luke has been very consistent again. It's hard for me to sit up here and say that I'm the best player in the world or Tiger is. Sure, I feel like I'm the best and Tiger feels like he's the best. It's really a hard one for me to come up here and say. Tiger has been the best player in the world for the last 15 years. Just that people that are mentioning my name with the likes of him is a huge compliment.
MODERATOR: Rory McIlroy, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.