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McIlroy Ready for Next Stop in FedEx Cup Playoffs
The next tournament in Rory McIlroy's busy season comes Friday when the Deutsche Bank Championship tees off at TPC Boston. The $8 million event is the second in the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs.
The 23-year-old Northern Irishman and Tiger Woods have been installed as 10-1 favorites this week. The top-ranked McIlroy, now No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings, shot rounds of 69, 73, 69 and 72 in last week's Barclays to end up in a tie for 24th at 1-under 283, nine strokes behind winner Nick Watney, who punters have surprisingly put at 40-1 odds for his second consecutive victory in the season-ending series.
McIlroy will be paired in the first round with Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. The trio will tee off at 1:10 p.m. on the first hole at TPC Boston.
On Thursday, McIlroy, a two-time winner this year - including his second career major earlier in August at the PGA Championship, met with the media and discussed his chances this week.
He's expecting a lot of support in a city with many residents of Irish descendance. "There's a lot of people around this area that have got Irish roots, and they're not afraid to say that, either," McIlroy said. "Yeah, it's nice. I haven't spent much time in Boston itself. We stay in Providence here, so it's a little far to go, but maybe one night I'll get into Boston and spend some time there and see what it's like. I don't feel like it gives me any sort of home comfort or anything like that, but it's nice to have a lot of people out here that are supporting me."
Here's what else he told reporters during his sit-down session on the eve of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy into the interview room here at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He's making his second start at this event, enters the week No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings. Welcome back to TPC Boston. Let's just get your comments on being here.
RORY McILROY: Thank you. Yeah, you know, excited to be back, missed it last year because I wasn't a Tour member, wasn't able to compete in the Playoffs. It's nice to be back here. It's a course that I enjoyed. I think I shot 64 in the first round here the last time I played, so obviously I've played some good golf around here, and hopefully want to do more of the same this week. Excited to get going and in a great position in the Playoffs. A couple good weeks will set me up for a good run at it at the Tour Championship. So yeah, hopefully a good week coming up.
Q. How has life been since you won your second major, and what lessons did you learn after winning the U.S. Open? Were you distracted or sidetracked at all?
RORY McILROY: I mean, I never thought I was sidetracked or distracted at all. It took a little bit of while just to handle a little bit more attention, more pressure, more scrutiny heading into golf tournaments, expected to play well all the time. It was something that I had to adjust to. But life since winning the second one hasn't changed at all. It felt much different than the first. It felt normal, felt like this is what I'm supposed to do; these are the tournaments that I'm supposed to win. Yeah, life moves on, and obviously looking forward to the next few weeks.
Q. I know when you turned down your Tour membership it was because there was so much golf, specifically in the Playoffs. You talked about being burned out two years ago. Have you done anything differently to keep yourself fresh this year?
RORY McILROY: A little bit. I felt like I didn't play much at the start of the year. I think the Masters was my sixth tournament, then took a couple weeks off, played Quail Hollow, TPC, took another - yeah, took a week off after that and went back to Wentworth and played. But then wasn't playing great so decided to add Memphis in, as well, but I feel like I've paced myself a lot better this year, and that's why I feel like I'm playing good golf at this time of the year. You want to pace yourself because you've obviously got the FedEx Cup but then the Ryder Cup, as well, which is a very long week, and it takes a lot out of you, not just the golf, but emotionally and all the things that you have to do at nighttime that go on at the Ryder Cup. It's a long week, and it drains you, and you want to be 100 percent for that.
Q. This is a follow on that: Have you figured out what is the maximum number of tournaments you can play in succession, and with this stretch where you had the British Open, the PGA, this is a pretty important pressure packed stretch, then the Ryder Cup, how much does the emotional drain figure into the whole fatigue factor?
RORY McILROY: Yeah. You know, I said at the start of this year I wouldn't play any more than three in a row, but then that sort of changed when I wasn't playing as well as I would have liked, so I added Memphis in. So I think I went Wentworth, Memorial, Memphis, U.S. Open, so that was four. But yeah, typically three in a row I feel is a good number for me. And yeah, it's a long year, and physically it's fine. You can play golf and you can travel and everything. But mentally and emotionally is where you get fatigued, I feel, and that's something you just have to be careful of and wary of and really know yourself and know when you feel burned out and you need to take a break. Definitely more mental than physical at this time of the season.
Q. After winning your second major, have you set long term goals you're a young golfer to go after those records for winning majors and following Jack Nicklaus' and Tiger Woods' records?
RORY McILROY: No, not at all. I never grew up chasing records or trying to put a certain number on it. I've got my second major, and there's going to be a lot of people getting sick of this phrase, but I got my second, and I'm looking for my third. Hopefully it's not too long before I get my third, and then when I get my third, I want to get my fourth. That's the way I'm approaching it. I don't want to put any number on it because if I just throw a random number out there and I don't get to it, I don't want me to be disappointed with a career that's actually very good or everyone else to feel like I haven't lived up to expectations. I have no set number. I'm very happy that I've won two majors, and I want to get that third one. But whenever it comes, it comes.
Q. Looking forward to the Ryder Cup, what skills or personality characteristics do you think are more important in that competition than in regular 72 hole stroke play competitions?
RORY McILROY: You have to - I think the big thing about the Ryder Cup is you have to be a good team member. You can't be afraid to voice your opinion. If you really feel strongly about something in the team room, you've got to stand up and speak. And then it's just being confident, self belief, having a good attitude, because that's what the Ryder Cup is all about. Match play is about having the right attitude going in and being confident. This will be my second one. I know there's a lot of older guys than me that are going to be on the European team, but I feel like I'm in a position where I'd be one of the leaders of the team, and if I feel strongly about something, I'll voice that. But there's a lot of guys that are very experienced on our team. But yeah, just good fun, good team member, voice your opinion when you want to be heard.
Q. What type of things do you need to express your opinion about?
RORY McILROY: Whatever it is, order of play, where you want to be played, who you want to play with, just everything that goes on in a team environment, because we play for ourselves every week, and then when you come as part of a team, everyone might do things a little differently. So it's just about finding your own way to handle that, and I think we've got a great captain in José that will let us do our own thing. He's just there if we need him. He said that in one of the team meetings we had at Kiawah a few weeks ago. Again, it's 12 individuals coming together for a team event, so I think it's very important that those 12 guys don't do anything differently than they do every other week of the year.
Q. If you start feeling mentally fatigued and you can't get away from a tournament, you have to play, what can you do to refresh yourself or to get that sharpness back?
RORY McILROY: It can be a lot of things - it can be a few things. I remember at the end of last year physically and mentally I wasn't feeling great. It was in Hong Kong, and I played a huge stretch. I thought I was actually - it was a suggestion from my manager Conor, why don't you go for a run before - I was still in contention. Why don't you go for a run before the final round, maybe get some blood flowing, freshen yourself up, and it worked. I went for a run that morning, went out, shot 65 that day and won the tournament. Maybe that's what it is, just some exercise, because obviously it's good for body and mind and gets you going again. But that seemed to work that day.
Q. What do you remember about the golf course from two years ago, and have you had a look at it this week, and do you think it's a good fit for your game?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think it's a good course for the long hitters. I think in the past long hitters have done pretty well here. You know, I remember every hole. I haven't been out on the golf course yet this week, just got in last night, but yeah, it's a good course. I think you've got to take advantage of the par 5s around here. The scoring is usually pretty good. Make your scores there, and it's a course where, I don't know, maybe 15 to 18 under is a good total to try and win. I feel like I'm playing well enough, I'm driving the ball well and giving myself enough chances, so if I can get the putter to cooperate a little bit better than it did last week, then hopefully I'll have a good chance.
Q. Can you talk about the 11th hole, the par 3 up the hill 230 yards? How do you play that strategically? How do you look at that hole?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I think more than anything it's visually a very tough hole because you've got that huge bunker that's facing you on the right side. When they put the pin up on the back part of the green there, it looks like a very intimidating shot, but when you actually get up there, there's a little more room than you think on the left. But yeah, it's a tough hole, probably one of the toughest on the course. And it's a hole where you make your three there every day and you move on.
Q. And the 16th hole, the shorter par 3 on the back side, tactically how do you like that hole?
RORY McILROY: It's a great little hole. I think for the length of the hole, it's got a good green. You typically see a lot of guys hit it close there, and depending on - sometimes it can be tough because if the greens get firm, it runs all the way to the back of the green, but if your irons are on, it's definitely a hole where you can pick up a shot.
Q. What did you learn from your first Ryder Cup experience, and how is it going to be different this year playing?
RORY McILROY: I learnt a lot from it. I learnt that I didn't really know what to make of it before going in and playing it, but once you play in it, you realize how big it is and how much it means to everyone. I'm part of that group now. Outside of the majors, it's the biggest golf tournament in the world. It's going to be a new experience for me playing a Ryder Cup in the States. Obviously having so many people behind you makes a huge difference, so having a lot of people rooting against you is going to be completely different for me. It's not something that I've ever had to deal with. It'll be a new experience, a new challenge, and looking forward to that.
Q. Who do you want to play with?
RORY McILROY: Put me with anyone. I think G Mac and myself have had a good partnership in the past, but any of the other 11 guys I would play with and try and get a point for the team.
Q. There's a pretty good Irish population around greater Boston and the Providence area. I'm wondering if you've noticed and if you've found some comfort in that.
RORY McILROY: To be honest, yeah, the last time I was here, there's a few people - not a few, there's a lot of people around this area that have got Irish roots, and they're not afraid to say that, either. Yeah, it's nice. I haven't spent much time in Boston itself. We stay in Providence here, so it's a little far to go, but maybe one night I'll get into Boston and spend some time there and see what it's like. I don't feel like it gives me any sort of home comfort or anything like that, but it's nice to have a lot of people out here that are supporting me.
MODERATOR: Rory, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.