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THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

July 14, 2011

Rory McIlroy

SANDWICH, ENGLAND

Q. Was it a case of sometimes a good way to play in a major championship?
RORY McILROY: Definitely a good way to play in the conditions. I felt like especially after the start, bogeying two of the first three holes, that playing the last 15 in 1-under par was a pretty good effort. You know, giving myself a few chances that I maybe could have converted. But I holed a couple of nice putts for par, and yeah, it was a day where you just needed to grind out a score. Anywhere around even par was a good start.

Q. As much as you practise, tournament play is what you need. So the first three holes were a little lacking in sharpness, but you really from there on seemed to work your way into the round and get the feel for the course.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, of course. On a day like this, I know better than most people, you can shoot a high number and put yourself out of the golf tournament. So it was nice to go out and shoot a decent score. 71, I said yesterday, if the conditions stayed the same I'd take two 70s over the first two days, and if I shoot 69 tomorrow with similar conditions, I'll be really happy going into the weekend.

Q. Do you feel it's a week of grinding ahead of you.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. I feel like you keep it around level par this week you're going to have a good chance.

Q. What was the support like out there?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was great. I probably didn't take it in as much as I could have. I was just trying to concentrate on that first tee shot and get that out of the way. But it's nice to have that support out on the golf course. It's fantastic. Hopefully I can give them something to shout about.

Q. With everything that's going on in the buildup of the tournament, were there any more nerves as you teed off?
RORY McILROY: No, not at all. I felt relatively calm, surprisingly. Usually I do get a few first-tee nerves, but I felt good. I was just concentrating on hitting a good 3-wood down the fairway and trying to get off to a decent start. I bogeyed the 1st, which wasn't a great start, but sort of worked my way through the round.

Q. With what you've done at the U.S. Open, the Masters, you've had this phenomenal year. Do you try not to listen to the crowd at least at the start?
RORY McILROY: No, I mean, not really. If they give you an ovation walking onto the green, you wave and tip your cap and do all that, but I'm always concentrating on the next shot or what I need to do. I can't really think about how loud the cheer is or anything like that.

Q. What worked best for you today? What was your key?
RORY McILROY: I thought just to keep it around even par -- I was patient, really patient out there. Mentally I was very good. I felt I could have hit it in the fairway a bit more. I missed a few fairways, and from there you can't really give yourself many chances for birdies, and I holed a few nice putts for par in the middle of the round, and that's what you need to do, especially in majors and when they're in tough conditions like this.

Q. How did you feel about your putting overall?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it felt good. If anything I struggled a little bit with the speed on the greens. They can't cut them too low just because of the wind, so they are pretty slow. So I struggled to get the ball to the hole a couple of times. But putting feels good. I holed, as I said, a couple of nice putts for par, gave myself a few chances. Missed a couple, but it felt pretty solid.

Q. Do you like what you see in terms of being there on Sunday on the back nine with a chance of winning?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely. I don't feel as if I have to do that much differently. I just need to, as I said, keep it tight, keep it on the fairway, hit a few greens and just take your birdies here and there because I think that's going to be the key this week, to keep it around even par.

Q. Were you pleased after the start today? Obviously it could have perhaps slipped away but you dug deep and started to find your rhythm.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I felt the par on 4 was big, but the up-and-down on 5 from left of the green was big for me, got me into it a bit. And then the birdie on 8 was nice.
But yeah, I mean, I was a little disappointed I didn't take advantage of the two par-5s, put myself in good positions off the tee there and only made two pars.
But no, yeah, it was definitely a round after the start that could have got away from me, and it was nice to hang onto it.

Q. Is it nice to play again?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, great. Just to get out there with J.P. and spend five hours inside the ropes and just go -- that's where I'm most comfortable, is doing that. That's me. I'm in my element whenever I'm inside the ropes and playing.

Q. Talk about Thomas being on the leaderboard.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, we talked to Ernie on the 11th tee, and we're like, what is he doing? How is he 6-under par? But yeah, fantastic, great to see him doing well. And yeah, I mean, it would be a great story if he could get himself into contention again going into Sunday.

Q. Tiger has gone through the expectations for so many years. Now you have the expectations from the public. Does that put pressure on you?
RORY McILROY: Yeah. It's a nice pressure to have. I'm not complaining. I've put myself in this position, and it's what I've always wanted to do. I wanted to be under pressure to win tournaments. Yeah, I mean, if that's the worst complaint that I have, I'll be doing all right.

Q. (Inaudible.)
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, I turned in 1-over and I thought if I could shoot 2-under the back nine and shoot under par, it would have been a really good day. But bogeying 13 and going 2-over again, I thought if I just played smart on the way in, something around even par, that was really what I was trying to do.

Q. (Inaudible.)
RORY McILROY: No, not at all. I've got pretty used to it now. You know there's going to be a little bit of movement about. Especially sometimes I'll be the longest off the tee, so once the two guys hit their shots, there is going to be a little bit of movement. You've just got to give it an extra ten seconds to settle down. But I've got pretty used to that.

Q. How did you like the pairing today?
RORY McILROY: We're very comfortable playing alongside each other. He played nicely today. You can see that he really loves links golf. He really like it, and he's imaginative. Yeah, we seem to play pretty good when we play together.

Q. What did you hit for the second shot on 7?
RORY McILROY: I hit 2-iron. I left the club face a little bit open through impact, and that's why it sort of squirted out to the right. If it would have turned over, I could have got it chasing up onto the green and that's what I was trying to do. Just left it out to the right a bit, and -- yeah.

Q. (Inaudible.)
RORY McILROY: A few times. I used it off the 2nd tee, used it on 7, used it off the 8th tee. That might have been it, yeah.

Q. With such buildup to this day, how do you feel now? And how are you going to spend the rest of the day?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I don't feel relieved. There's 54 more holes to go. I can relax when the tournament is over, I suppose.
But no, it's nice to get the first round out of the way, and it's also nice to shoot a decent score. And this afternoon, I'll go and grab some lunch and maybe hit a few balls, do a bit of putting and then go. I'll just rest and save my energy and make sure that I'm ready to go tomorrow.

Q. What was the impact of the wind today?
RORY McILROY: You know, it was coming out of a slightly different direction, but it was still a similar strength. It's at least a three-club wind. I was hitting 8-irons 125. Yeah, it's a three-club wind. It definitely makes a difference.

Q. (Inaudible.)
RORY McILROY: No, I don't think so. I didn't hit the fairway on the first one and it was going to be very difficult to stop it anywhere close to that pin. As I said, I struggled a bit with my speed all day on the greens, so hit that one about six or seven feet by and didn't make the one coming back.
And on 3 I got a little bit unlucky: I hit the downslope with my tee shot and it ran through the back and not a great lie.
No, no hangover from the U.S. Open.

Q. Was the wind pretty steady all day?
RORY McILROY: It was pretty steady all day. There was a couple times where it seemed to die down for maybe 20 seconds, but it seemed to get right back up again.

Q. How many hangovers have you had since the U.S. Open?
RORY McILROY: About four. (Laughter.)

Q. Is patience something that you've added to your game? By comparison to last year is it the most precious commodity of your game?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, definitely, but that comes from experience. Every time I play a major or I play an important event or get myself into contention it's just a great experience for me heading into the future. It was a great experience last year at St. Andrews shooting 80 in the second round. I learned a lot from it. And yeah, it's building that experience up and learning from your mistakes. That's been the biggest improvement for me this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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