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Article posted: 31 March 2009

It's a perfect week to obviously prepare for next week. It's a big event and obviously I'd love to do well.

- Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory finished in a tie for 19th position after a final round of 69 in the severely weather delayed Shell Houston Open at Redstone. His previous three rounds of 67, 73 and 74 gave him a four round total of 283, five under par in the event which was won by Paul Casey after a play-off with JB Holmes who both finished regulation play at eleven under.

Rory now travels to Augusta for the first major of 2009, the Masters Tournament which begins on Thursday 9th April.

 Click here to see Rory's scorecard at the Shell Houston Open

Scroll down to read the transcript of Rory's pre-tournament Press Conference:

MARK WILLIAMS: Rory, thanks for joining us at the Shell Houston Open Media Room. Appreciate you coming by. Just, you know, you made quite an impression on the Americans in your play here this year. Just give us, talk about what you've done in the last couple of weeks. I guess you've gone home before coming back here.

RORY MCILROY: After Doral we flew home on Sunday and just -- the weather back home wasn't very good so I didn't get a chance to do much practice which was probably a good thing. I was quite tired after my last trip over here. But the weather was pretty good for a few days. I got a nice bit of work in and had my putting coach over for a day and did a lot of good work there and obviously looking forward to the next three weeks coming up.

MARK WILLIAMS: Now, have you heard anything about Redstone Golf Club from other players before coming here?

RORY MCILROY: Everyone says they do a great job of setting it up on like Augusta. I played Augusta on Sunday. I've seen a lot of similarities yesterday when I played the front-9, the way they -- the run-offs and the greens and the green feeds and the undulations in the greens. It's a perfect week to obviously prepare for next week. It's a big event and obviously I love to do well.

MARK WILLIAMS: Open for questions.

Q. Rory, being 19 years old, you had early success already. What's been the hardest transition to jump in on the Tour or Tours now playing all over the world, at your age having the success and that transition?

RORY MCILROY: Probably the travel, to be honest. Playing so much golf. The last couple of years as an amateur, you're sort of playing 20 events a year now -- not even, maybe 15 events a year. Now you're playing 25 and you're playing all over the world as well so it's -- you're playing more golf and you don't really have as much time to prepare because you're going week to week so you just got to try and make the most of your practice rounds and prepare properly.

Q. Playing up against the name players, of course, you probably grew up watching. What has that been like for you teeing up against them?

RORY MCILROY: It's taken a little time to get used to it, to be honest. You're watching guys like Tiger and Phil and Ernie on the TV growing up and now you're trying to beat them. It's quite a cool feeling.
But, you know, it's what I've always wanted to do and, you know, at the start when I was playing with these guys it was a little, I'm not going to say, you know, daunting, but it was quite weird because you just watched them on TV and now you're playing with them. It's a pretty nice feeling but, yeah, you just -- now I've got over it, got to go and concentrate on what you have to do to try and beat them.

Q. How did the last stint you had over here, you were in contention and everything, played really well.  How do you gauge that?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah. You know, I played, probably played my best golf in the first week of the Match Play. I just came up against Jeff. He was too good that week. He blew everyone away.
So I felt as if I played really well there. And at Honda, the back-9 on Sunday I had a good chance to finish in the Top-5 and then a couple shots slipped at the end. Then Doral, I started really well at Doral, had two really good opening rounds and I think looking back on it, I was probably just a little fatigued. I did a lot in those three weeks with the media and interviews and everything. So, you know, I think I learned from that and I'll try and conserve more energy this trip and try not to get too tired towards the end.

Q. Rory, can you talk about the role your parents played growing up around golf? I know they were obviously a big influence on you to keep you grounded during this rise.
Can you talk about that?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah. Mom and dad were -- you know, they nearly sacrificed everything for me to try and progress as a golfer and, you know, they basically spent all their money on, you know, paying for trips to America and to just junior events all over the world, trying for me to try and gain experience. And then obviously turning pro and having the success that I've had, it's nice to be able to go home and spend time with them and spend time with the people that I've grown up with and I think that's been a big part of why I've been able to stay quite grounded and I think it's a big part of why I've done so well.

Q. Rory, with the sort of course set-up this week sort of to mirror Augusta in many ways, how do you sort of keep yourself not thinking about Augusta and think about this week?

RORY MCILROY: In practice I'm definitely thinking about Augusta. I'm trying to see shots that I'll need for the golf course but, you know, when you're on the golf course you're just trying to shoot the best score possible. You're not really thinking about anything else than the hole that you're playing. Definitely, in my practice routines this week I'm trying to maybe just hit a few shots that I'll need next week as well.

Q. Winning Dubai, how important do you think that was for your confidence winning that tournament going into Augusta?

RORY MCILROY: It was very good for my confidence especially so early in the year. And after winning there, I got, I think I got up to 15th in the world and I came over here and sort of consolidated that position in the world rankings which had given me a lot of confidence as well. Obviously it's nice to get a win early in the season and, you know, you know that you've done it so you try and hopefully win again.

Q. You looked instantly comfortable playing on the PGA TOUR when you came to America. Was that the case and why?

RORY MCILROY: As I said earlier, I've started to concentrate on what I need to do to become a better player. I'm not looking around me as much. I'm not looking at other players.  I'm just concentrating on what I need to do. And I think that's been a big part of why I've done well because I know if I do the right thing, that I'll play well. If I play well, I'm capable of beating most of the guys out here.

Q. Rory, have you read the Sports Illustrated article yet?


Q. Do you read your press at all? Do you deliberately not read it because --

RORY MCILROY: Not really. Obviously you read a few articles, pick a newspaper, whatever, but I try not to read too much of it. I think it would give me a bit of a big head.

Q. Do you see yourself playing over here full-time ever?

RORY MCILROY: No. I'll try and split my time between Europe and here. I'm probably not going to join the PGA TOUR for another couple years but definitely in the future, I'll hopefully become a member and play my 15 events here, my 12 over in Europe.

Q. When you hear some of the best players in the game talking about how quickly you could become a No. 1 top player, is that something that you -- I mean does that drive you, does it give you -- does that feel like it's putting a lot of pressure on you?  How do you look at all that?

RORY MCILROY: You know, it obviously gives you confidence because your peers are saying these great things about you but it also gives you a lot of motivation. If people like that think you have the potential, you know, you got to work hard to try and make the most of it. So, it definitely -- you know, growing up, No. 1 in the world was never a major goal of mine. I just wanted to try to be the best player I could and, you know, if people think that I can get there, then I got to try and work hard enough to try and prove them right in a way.

Q. Do you like being compared at an early age -- lot of stuff is written on broadcast when Tiger was this age, here is what Rory is doing from swing speed, every aspect of your game. Do you like being compared to a guy like Tiger?

RORY MCILROY: It's not a bad thing, I suppose. He's a pretty good player (laughter).
Yeah. I think you seen what he did last week as well. It's just incredible. It was his third tournament back and after a nine month layoff and getting in the hunt and being able to pull it off. Doesn't look like he was that rusty. I mean it's obviously great to be compared to him but you got to just sort of set it to the side and, you know, just go and concentrate on what you can do to become a better player. If I can become the best that I can be at the end of the day, I can get anywhere near to where he is, I'll have done very well.

Q. Rory, you obviously, you're a keen student of his growing up, you followed his career. When you watch him now like on Sunday, has it changed the way you watch him?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, definitely. I was watching the golf on Sunday night and I must have seen it 50 times since probably on TV and I'm determined not to watch it again because it's sort of like you have seen it and he's done it again. You just got to -- I mean as Sean O'Hair said, we're all out here trying to beat him as well. We're not sitting there watching him, seeing what he can do next. We're trying to go out and beat him. We're working hard to try and get there.

Q. Rory, have you been mentored by anybody either from the European squad or the Irish players?

RORY MCILROY: I've become very close with Darren Clark over the last seven or eight years. I was part of his foundation. He brought junior golfers down to Port Marnoch every weekend in October and, yeah, he give me his phone number when I was 13 and ever since then we've been pretty close and try to play practice rounds together and stuff. It's nice to have someone out here like that you can -- sort of showed me the ropes the first few months I was on Tour. Now that I've become part of the Tour, it's nice to have someone there that you can talk to.

Q. You sympathize with Darren, the fact that you're in there next week and he's trying to get into next week?

RORY MCILROY: No, I don't feel sympathy towards him.

Q. It's a strange situation, isn't it?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah. Clarky has played a lot of Masters. It will be great if he won this week and got in but, you know, he's working hard to try and get back to at the level where he was and you just -- obviously he's got the talent, it's just a matter -- I think he's putting the work in as well. So you got to think it's just a matter of time before something clicks and he starts to play well again.

MARK WILLIAMS: We're all done. Rory, we appreciate you coming in. Thank you for your time and good luck this week.

RORY MCILROY: Thank you.

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