Feb 16, 2010

Rory McIlroy Talks Some Golf Before Match Play

All eyes will be on Rory McIlroy this week at the Accenture Match Play in Arizona. First off this kid has all the talent in the world and this format seems to fit his style of play. He's also from Ireland He sat down yesterday for a little video conference/interview and here's some of the transcript:

STEVE TODD: Welcome back to Tucson. You made a strong debut here last year, your first event in the U.S. as a professional. I was just wondering if you could reflect back on that and also perhaps give us an update on the back injury.RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was great, this was my first tournament in the States as a pro last year. And I played pretty well. I got through three rounds and got bitten by the eventual winner, Geoff. It was great. I felt as if I played well last year. It's a course that -- it's a good match play course, you have to really think about your second shots into these slopey greens, and you have to really think about where you're putting the ball.
I played a practice round today and the course is playing really well again. The greens are a little firmer than what they were last year, which is going to make it a little tricky. But I think it's a really good course that everyone enjoys. This format is -- it's a bit different than what we usually play. It's nice to away from stroke play for a little bit.
STEVE TODD: You came here last year having won in Dubai. I think you've made it five consecutive top 10 finishes at the moment coming into this event. You're obviously in top form again.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I keep myself in good positions to win golf tournaments. And that's one of my goals this year, is to try to turn those good finishes into wins. But I've played great the last few months and just got to try to keep it going.
STEVE TODD: Any thoughts on your opening round draw.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it will be tough for everybody. You're playing against the best players in the world here, so every match is going to be tough. Kevin Na is a great competitor, and I'm sure I'll have my hands full.
Q. Two questions, I guess, No. 1 is what do you remember looking back at last year, what sticks out a year later?
RORY McILROY: I don't know, I mean I remember -- I think I was 2-down with five to play against Hunter Mahan, and I came back and won that, which was great for me.
I played great in the third round against Tim Clark to win, I think I won four and three.
And then I played great against Geoff in the quarter final, I think it was 5-under through 17 and got beaten.
This tournament you have to really -- if you want to progress a lot into the weekend, the latter stages, you've got to play really well.
None of these guys are going to give you holes. You have to go out and win them yourself. You have to make a lot of birdies, really, if you want to progress.
Q. How has your life changed? For people like us that only see you once a year, from the last year to now, how are things different?
RORY McILROY: I don't know, I've gotten two new dogs (laughter.) I don't know, I mean I'm still -- I'd like to think that I haven't changed at all, but I've taken up my PGA TOUR membership, which has been a big change. Apart from that it's just been great to be playing golf and to be playing good golf at the minute. And I just want to try to keep it going. I'll probably not think about it too much, because if I sit back and think, that's probably when I'll start to not play my best.
Q. I'm sure it wasn't deliberate that you didn't answer the bit about how's the back?
RORY McILROY: It's fine, you know. I rested last week. I hit balls on Friday. I hit balls for about an hour and a half and it was fine. In the actual action of hitting the golf swing it's fine. But a couple of hours after I hit the balls on Friday I felt it a little bit.
And then today, you know, I played 18 holes and I hit great golf shots. So in the motion of swinging a golf club it's fine. But it's like picking the ball out of the hole and teeing the ball up and stuff, I just have to think about what way I have to do it. But it's not painful. It's just -- it's like a niggle. It's hard to describe. You can feel it's there, but it doesn't affect me in any way during my golf swing.
Q. A few people have said to me during the last week, what's a 20 year old doing suffering back pains? But I would imagine it's probably not that unusual for a professional golfer of any age, is it?
RORY McILROY: No, I mean this is fine compared to what it used -- I remember the summer before the Walker Cup it was really bad. So, you know, it comes and goes. If I play a lot of golf it's going to -- if I play a couple of weeks in a row it's fine. Play three weeks and it will start to -- I can feel it a little bit. And the fourth week it starts to hurt.
I'm doing everything I can and it's not -- if I feel it once or twice a year it's not that big a deal.
Q. How is it being managed, what do you have to do for it?
RORY McILROY: I suppose just manage my schedule. For it? I had a rub before I went down to play today. I'm going to see my physio, Cornell, at half five again. And just ice it at nighttime and stuff and make sure I don't do anything too strenuous, just sort of look after it a little bit. I suppose manage my schedule so I'm not playing three or four weeks in a row, even though at the end of the year I'll have to with hopefully the FedExCup and Ryder Cup and everything. So just trying to manage my schedule so I'm not playing too much golf and not putting too much stress on it.
Q. Last year Geoff was very complimentary about you after your match. I'm wondering in the reverse, what was it about him that most impressed you?
RORY McILROY: Well, in match play he's probably one of the toughest competitors you can play because, I mean, his emotions don't change, you know, in the course of a round. He'll make a bogey and, you know, he'll be completely the same.
So you don't really know if he's annoyed or not. And you don't know when -- you sort of have the momentum or anything. So he's a very tough player to play against. And his short game is one of the best I've ever seen. Some of his little touches around the greens and, you know, that day when he beat me last year, anytime he got on the green I may as well have given it to him. He holed every putt he looked at. He's a great player. You don't become a major champion if you're not. I think the most important thing is he's a really good guy and I get on with him really well.
Q. Without getting too technical, what exactly is your back pain analyzed as or diagnosed as?
RORY McILROY: It's -- I could go into a lot of detail. It's just -- it's like -- it's a stress change in the L4 and L5 facet joints. So basically, you know, the impact on the golf swing, the joints just sort of do that together (indicating.) As I said, a repetitive sort of movement of that (indicating), it's going to hurt after a couple of weeks. But if I just manage it it's fine. And just make sure that the muscles around that area are strong enough that it stabilizes those joints and sort of stops them from -- at the moment, they hit each other, so I'm trying to make it strong enough so in that movement they'll stop there and again go back.
Q. No thought of changing the hip movement, which is thought to be responsible for it?
RORY McILROY: I can't. I've done this since I was two years old. I can't really -- I can't stop doing that movement. But I only do it with my driver and my longer clubs. It doesn't happen with -- say from 5-iron onwards. With the longer clubs is when it will happen.
Q. How patient are you waiting for the next win? Are you pretty good at that?
RORY McILROY: I suppose I've waited a year. Yeah, I mean, it will -- I know that if I keep giving myself chances it will happen, you know? It would be great to win in the first half of the year and then try to get a couple more after that. But we'll see -- I'd love to be able to say I want to win before The Masters or, you know, whatever. But you never know when it's going to be your turn so you've just got to try to keep playing well and keep giving yourself chances.
Q. How desperate are you for the major season to start coming around again?
RORY McILROY: Really, I think everyone looks forward to it. I've only got four events from now until The Masters. So it will be fast approaching. And it's fantastic. It's really -- The Masters is the -- it starts the whole major campaign. I think everyone looks forward to it and everyone tries to build their game up to peak for the first major of the year. But as I said, I feel as if I'm a lot better player this time than I was this time last year. So, you know, hopefully with the good performances I put in in the majors last year will stand me in good stead this year, and hopefully even do better.
Q. Can you tell the greens were modified since you were here last year?
RORY McILROY: Not really. I heard that they have been, but they still seem pretty -- I think the speed's a little -- I think they're a little faster this year than what they were last year -- faster this year, yeah. And -- but I couldn't really tell. I think the only one that I sort of noticed was the fourth. Apart from that -- yeah, 4, it used to be front right of the green, if you hit it in the middle of the green it would feed down into that little collection area. Where if you hit it there it will stay up. They've sort of flattened it out for three feet there before it rolls away. But I couldn't really notice a difference, which is probably a good thing.
Q. Do the speeds conform now to the other courses you play?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, the greens are fast this week, and they're firm, as well, which will make it -- will make it really tricky, because some of the pin positions you could put on the greens will be nasty. But you definitely wouldn't want to short side yourself this week.
Q. I know last year you talked a little about the fainting spells and carrying Gatorade around. Is that still a factor with you at all?
RORY McILROY: No, that's fine, it's my back this year. No, it's fine, it's such a nice climate here, as well, it's not too hot so you don't sweat too much.
Q. Are you getting a base over here, have you looked into that at all?
RORY McILROY: No, basically I'm going home after this week, I think. And then I'll be home for a week and then I've got a couple of weeks in Florida. And then I'm two weeks at home and then Houston, Masters. Another two weeks back home, and then Quail Hollow, TPC. I'm sort of doing it in little two week hits and then having a couple of weeks off and then coming back again. Definitely not looking for a base this year, but maybe in the future.
Q. And I think you were talking last week about possibly getting a mental coach, as well?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I've talked to Chubby about it and to JP and stuff, and it couldn't -- it couldn't hurt. Especially it's not -- most guys go to see mental coaches when they're playing poorly, but I want to be able to turn these top fives and top threes into wins. And I think that getting someone on the mental side of things might be able to help me to get to that stage.
Q. Are you pooh-poohed it a bit in the past?
RORY McILROY: A little bit, yeah. You know, I've read books and everything, and you read them and say, well, I sort of knew that. But I suppose it's the repetition and, you know, people -- until it's embedded in your subconscious, I suppose. So it can't hurt. It's something that will -- that I'm thinking -- well, I'm definitely going to do.
Q. Who will it be?
RORY McILROY: I've got a couple of people in mind.
STEVE TODD: Best of luck this week, then.

It was interesting hearing that he's probably going to hire a mental coach. Aren't they for the older washed up players. I guess not when you have the talent/cash every little advantage helps. All for a guy who's only 20. I'm sure glad he didn't announce any new ad sponsors like tazorac or hair gel or something that twenty year old use. Good luck this week Rory.

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