McIlroy Back in Action this Week


Rory McIlroy has returned to the site of his first PGA Tour victory, the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.

The Northern Irishman, who turns 24 on Saturday, fired a closing 10-under 62 in the final round in May 2010 in what was then called the Quail Hollow Championship to show the golf world his incredible potential, finishing at 15-under 273 and beating Phil Mickelson by four strokes.

McIlroy could have earned his second victory last year in Charlotte. After finishing tied in regulation with D.A. Points and Rickie Fowler at 14-under 274, Fowler birdied the first sudden-hole - the 18th - for his first career title.

So the young Northern Irishman is back in action this week at Quail Hollow, his first tournament since the Masters in April, where he finished tied for 25th. He's paired in the first round with Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera; the trio tee off Thursday at 12:55 p.m. on the first tee.

As noted below in his Q&A with reporters on Wednesday, McIlroy hopes to get back into the winner's circle this week. Here's what he had to say.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy. Rory, you just got done playing the Pro Am. You want to talk a little bit about the course and then your thoughts coming back to the spot where you picked up yours first win on Tour and we'll take a few questions.

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I'm always excited to come back here. This is a place that I really enjoy. I love the golf course. I think it's probably one of the best run tournaments of the year. They make you feel really welcome, and obviously, good memories here from my first win on the PGA Tour. Happy to be back, excited and looking forward to getting going this week.

Q. Rory, obviously there is a lot of discussion about the greens here this week. You've been out there, just your impressions?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, they're not as good as they usually are. We come to Quail Hollow and they're, for me, probably the best greens on Tour usually. It's just unfortunate that they're not quite up to the standard that they usually are, but it's no big deal. The rest of the golf course is in phenomenal shape. It's going to be the same. Everyone has to putt on them, and the best player at the end of the week is still going to win. I don't see why there is - they're not as good as they usually are, but I don't think there is a big problem at all.

Q. Do you have to adjust your attitude, Rory?

RORY McILROY: I guess if you start missing putts, then you've got to just accept it. I don't mind because I'm not a guy that relies on my putting, per se. So it will eliminate quite a lot of the field. I don't mind that at all (laughing).

Q. The women have added a fifth major. Could you imagine a day when the men would have a fifth major, and what would you make the fifth major?

RORY McILROY: I can't imagine. I can't imagine having a fifth major in men's golf. I like the traditions of the game. I like that we have the four major championships. I think it is great the way it is. I don't see why there would be a need to add more. A major championship is there are four a year, and it's special. I don't think we need to be adding anymore.

Q. As somebody who plays all over the world, what's it like to be just back in North Carolina and where you got that big win?

RORY McILROY: It's great. As I said at the start, I always look forward to coming back here because I love the golf course; I love the area. I have good memories from 2010, and also I played really well here last year, and I had a good chance to win and was part of a very exciting finish. So it's good to be back.

Q. Just based on sort of the state of your game where do you feel like you are right now since you last played?

RORY McILROY: I feel good. The Masters was actually pretty good. Nine holes really killed me. I had two sevens on the back nine on Saturday afternoon, but I played solid and on Sunday shot 69. At least came out of it with some positives, and I've done some good work over the last few days with Michael in Florida. The game feels in good shape, so hopefully I can continue that this week.

Q. What did you make of Peter Dawson's comments regarding the Olympics? I take it you heard what he said last week.

RORY McILROY: I think I mean, I saw I think it's Rule 41 in the IOC states that I still have a choice. It's not like they can take it away from me. If you play for a country and then you either change nationality or whatever or if you don't play for that certain country for three years, you still have a choice. I haven't played for anyone, I guess, since 2011, end of 2011 World Cup. Obviously, going into the Olympics that will be five years, so I'll still have a choice.

Q. Did you see where they were trying to go through with maybe trying to take that out of your hands to make it easier?

RORY McILROY: No, not really. I think the more it's talked about, the more it's just going to get blown up. So I'd rather not really talk about it until the time that I have to decide what to do.

Q. Are you playing World Cup this year?

RORY McILROY: No.

Q. So much has happened to you in the last three years. When you look back to that 20 year old who won here, what sticks out in your mind?

RORY McILROY: I was chubby (laughing). I mean. Look, I wasn't in the same shape as I am now that's for sure. I'm a more experienced player and a better player. It was, obviously, a great way to win my first tournament shooting 62 on Sunday.

Q. How did a chubby kid shoot a 62?

RORY McILROY: Talent, I guess.

Q. I'll ask this question because people have asked me. The Tar Heel hat in your Twitter pictures, what is the story behind that?

RORY McILROY: There is not really any story behind it. I mean, I got the hat a few years ago and I liked it. I guess I've got a - I like North Carolina. It's a place where I won my first tournament on the PGA Tour. I had a friend from back home go to North Carolina Greensboro, so, I don't know. I like it. It's a hat that I wear from time to time.

Q. There's been so much talk about the case with Vijay over the last three months. I just wanted your reaction to how it all concluded yesterday?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, obviously, WADA made a decision last Friday that said deer antler spray was no longer on the prohibited list, so there isn't much they can do about it. So, look, my stance on it is Vijay didn't know he was doing anything wrong, and if there's no intention there, then I don't see any reason to unfairly punish him, I guess.

Q. Secondly, as much as you play year round, is there part of you that kind of can break the year down into now that you've got The Masters out of the way, that's almost like the first quarter and moving on to kind of the next chapter?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I guess in a way it's four quarters. It's leading up to Augusta. Then you've got this period where you're sort of building up to the U.S. Open. Then I sort of feel like the Open and the PGA come quite soon after each other, so that is another part of the year, that July August stretch. Then the last part of the year, I guess, you have FedEx Cup and maybe a couple other tournaments. But, yeah, that summer stretch between I guess the Open Championship and the end of the FedEx Cup playoffs is quite a busy stretch. Most guys take a few weeks off and maybe play two or three other times before the end of the year.

Q. What does your schedule look like through the Open? Have you thought that far?

RORY McILROY: What Open?

Q. The British Open.

RORY McILROY: Okay. So Players next week, I'll go back and play at Wentworth on the European Tour, come back for Memorial. Then I haven't decided. I'll probably take a week off, but that's not confirmed yet, then play U.S. Open, week off, Irish Open, two weeks off, British.

Q. Irish and then straight over to the British?

RORY McILROY: Irish, two weeks off.

Q. When would you plan to see Merion, or would you want to see it before June?

RORY McILROY: I'll see it I guess - I think I'm doing the PGA Championship media day the Monday after Memorial, so maybe the day after that I could go see Merion.

Q. Couple changes out there. The fourth hole is a little different now and the 8th hole, just your impressions of them?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, 4, if you didn't know they made it - it sort of looks like the same tee shot even though it's a different angle. I think it's a better tee shot because the tee shot where the tee box was on 4 always pushed you left I felt, where this year you're heading straight down the middle of the fairway, so I like it. The 8th hole, the tee they've moved back a little bit; that's fine. I thought the green was okay the way it was. It might have been a little severe on the back right there, and maybe if they had softened that, it would have been okay. But they've sort of done a few things to it. But I guess this week it's okay. The greens aren't as fast as they usually are, so it's not like it's going to be a treacherous sort of prospect.

Q. Have you ever been with Caroline when she's been subject to out of competition testing where they've come to her to test?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, they woke us up in Monaco about 6:00 o'clock last week.

Q. Really?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, or the week before.

Q. So do you look at that that could be you in 2016 under the WADA?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, most other professional athletes have to fill out a whereabouts form that is three months in advance. You have to say, okay, we're going to be there. And I can test between - you give between 6 and 7 every morning or whatever it is.

Q. And where you are in the world?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, exactly. Most other athletes in the world do that. So if we're going to be part of the Olympics, it's something that we'll have to do too, and I completely don't mind that at all. I think it's a good thing keeping the sport clean.

Q. So her hour is 6:00 to 7:00 a.m.?

RORY McILROY: You're always going to be at the highest then so if they call. Unless you're just coming home or I don't know (laughing).

Q. Do you feel you've been sputtering your wheels at all this year?

RORY McILROY: There have been a couple of points in the season where I thought that I had that - where I thought I got that bit of momentum. The last round at Doral shooting 65 and getting backdoor top 10 there, and getting into contention in San Antonio I thought was a big week for me. I played great. I played really good on Sunday. I shot 66. Did all that I thought I needed to do, just someone else on the day played that little bit better and beat me. So I was really happy with that. My game at The Masters was good, I just had a bad stretch of holes which put me out of the tournament. If I eliminated that, it would have been a different story. But I'm happy with where my game's at. As you say, that little bit of spark, that little bit of momentum to maybe get on a run like I got on at the end of last year would be nice, but I'm being patient with it and just waiting for the right time.

Q. One other thing going back to that run, did you see it coming, when you got to Kiawah?

RORY McILROY: No, not really. I don't think you do. Of course you want to try to get in contention and try to win tournaments, but you get comfortable with your game over a period of time and it's a great feeling, and I wish I had that feeling all the time. But you're not going to play that well week in and week out, but it's I guess managing it when it doesn't quite feel as good as it was then. Making sure that your bad scores are still 70, 71, instead of 75, 76.

Q. So zero signal, zero warning in Kiawah, just boom, it was there?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, I got a little bit of confidence. Finished fifth in Akron the week before, played nicely in the practice rounds and stuff, but I mean it's a practice round. You don't have a card in your hand. But I shot 67 the first day at Kiawah and felt comfortable out there, and knew if I kept that up, I'd have a good week.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


CBS Sports Official Partner