British Open preparation: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on the course together

Earlier this week, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods competed in the famous JP McManus Pro-Am together with many other stars of the (golf) world. But while most professionals are now using the Scottish Open as a final rehearsal for the upcoming British Open 2022, the two superstars are preparing in their own way. McIlroy and Woods played a round of golf at Ballybunion Golf Club, one of Ireland’s top courses.

Tiger Tracking on Twitter

When Tiger Woods gets on a plane or plays a practice round, the golf world looks intently at social media. So it was before the other majors this year that the 15-time major winner played again a year after his nasty car accident. When Tiger landed at Augusta, crazy scenes played out on Twitter. Well, before the British Open, Tiger had flown across the pond early for the charity pro-am – not unnoticed by the attentive fan community either, of course.

Several pictures and videos of the relaxed round on the links course of Ballybunion GC with his friend Rory McIlroy are circulating on social media. In typically dreary weather, preparations are underway for the 150th Open Championship, which will be played on the Old Course at St Andrews next week. The Scottish Open followed by a Major would probably be too much for the convalescent who had cancelled the US Open. The superstar was also out in a cart at the JP McManus in order to rest the leg that had been so badly injured.

Together with Rory McIlroy, who is also taking a break from tournaments after energy-sapping weeks, Tiger seems to be enjoying the round of links golf. McIlroy shares memories of “back in the day”, as a video reveals. “I used to aim down the middle of the fairway, it would start down the right edge and then draw back to the middle of the fairway,” “Rors” told his playing partner, demonstrating his skills.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy ahead of the British Open 2022

Of course, we don’t want to deny you the pictures and videos of the two superstars. Simply two legends of golf playing a casual round of links golf – delightful!

PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy after his victory at the RBC Canadian Open

At the weekend, Rory McIlroy defended his title in Canada at the RBC Canadian Open with a fabulous final round. The Northern Irishman had to wait three years for this chance due to corona – and now he used it. With a two-stroke lead, he now holds the Canadian trophy in his hands for the second time. After a few weeks in which he always placed well, but was never enough for the top, McIlroy is particularly pleased about the victory.

McIlroy on the 18th green

You’ve waited probably the longest of anyone in golf history to defend a title, three years. What’s it like to get your name on this trophy with the names like Snead and Palmer and Trevino and Tiger and now for the second time your name?

McIlroy: Yeah, national championships are a big deal. I’m lucky enough to have won a few of them and to get my name on here again with the likes of as you say, so many iconic figures in this game, this is what golf’s about and I’m just, I’m so proud to have my name on there again.

What was this crowd like? What was it like playing in front of these people chanting your name every step of the way, cheering you on from start to finish? Tell us what it felt like from Thursday through to this last putt.

McIlroy: It was absolutely incredible. Thank you. Like from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. This tournament is absolutely unbelievable. Thank you to the fans, St. George’s, RBC, Golf Canada, the volunteers, everyone that put this event on. I’ll remember this day for a long, long time.

There’s been six people who have won this back-to-back. Nobody’s won this three times in a row. What do you think?

McIlroy: I’m going to give it a go. I’ll be here next year.

Rory McIlroy on his round, the Canadian fans and the US Open next week

We would like to welcome our champion of the 2022 RBC Canadian Open, Rory McIlroy, into the interview room. Rory successful defends a title on the PGA TOUR for the first time, wins on the PGA TOUR for the 21st time, and moves into a tie for 31st on the all-time PGA TOUR wins list. Rory, if we could just get an opening comment on the victory and what it means to you.

McIlroy: And one more than Norman. Yeah, it means an awful lot. I feel like it’s getting tougher and tougher to win on the PGA TOUR. Even, just look at the two guys that I played with today. I went out with a lead and had to shoot 8-under par to get the job done. So the depth of talent on this TOUR is really, really impressive. And going up against guys like JT and Tony and coming out on top, that’s something to feel really good about.

So super happy to get that 21st win, to defend, even though it doesn’t feel like a defense because it’s been so long. And then just to play in a final group like that with that atmosphere all day. I mean the fans here this week have just been absolutely unbelievable. Like so good and so cool to play in an atmosphere like that. Boisterous, loud, but respectful. It was really, really cool.

It was really cool to be a part of and just really happy to get the win today and obviously sets me up well going into next week in Boston. But right now I just want to enjoy this and focus on this.

You mentioned the 8-under par score today. 62 ties the lowest final round score by a winner on TOUR this season. What was the key to the round that, you just kept your foot on the pedal the whole day, how were you able to do that?

McIlroy: Yeah, I think you needed to today. So if you look at the scoring Thursday, Friday, compared to the scoring over the weekend, we had a northerly wind direction Thursday, Friday, which makes the golf course play a little bit tougher. And then we had a southerly wind direction yesterday and today, which definitely makes the golf course play a touch easier.

So I think seeing the forecast last night and seeing that southerly wind again I knew I needed to go out and shoot 5- or 6-under par to have a chance to win.

So, yeah, you needed to keep your foot down, you needed to keep your foot on the pedal. I got off to a faster start today than I have done the previous few days. When you’ve got that little stretch around the tournament, 9, 10, 11, where you can make some birdies and I just kept it going.

I let them in, I let them back in a little bit after I got the 3-shot lead with a couple of missed short ones. But really proud of how I bounced back and birdied those last two holes to get the job done.

You mentioned earlier that this set you up well for Boston. Just wondering, playing a course like this that has some similarities to the Country Club how much confidence can you take into Brookline next week?

McIlroy: Yeah, I mean, I think that it’s not as if I win here and then we’re going to like Erin Hills or somewhere like that where it’s completely different. It’s a similar style of golf, it will probably be a similar setup in some ways. I would imagine the greens next week will be a little firmer if they get the weather they want to.

But overall I thought it was a great week to prepare for the U.S. Open and there’s no better way to prepare yourself for tournament golf than to be in contention, having to hit the shots when you need to. And I proved this week that I can do that and hopefully get myself back into position to have to do that again next week.

You and JT shared an embrace out on the 18th hole right after you won. Curious if you wouldn’t mind revealing what was said and just speak to just how special that was. I know you wanted to beat him but at the end of the day you guys are competing and both really had a great week.

McIlroy: Yeah, so JT is a tough competitor, but he’s also a really, really good friend of mine. And I have probably more respect for him than maybe anyone else out here. Just because we both live in South Florida, we practice so much together, and I see how much, how hard he works at his craft. I appreciate that and I respect that. It’s always cool to be able to go up against the best and come out on top.

And, yeah, we had that embrace on the final green and I just said, Let’s do this all again next week. That’s what I said to him. So that would be cool to be able to do it all over again with him.

Do you consider yourself an honorary Canadian yet and if not what will it take?

McIlroy: (Laughing) Hey, I’ll take it, for sure. The support and the love I’ve got — I’ve only played in Canada twice, in Hamilton and then here. It’s been two pretty good trips.

But, yeah, look, the fans are amazing. They come out and they support this event really well. I think they just really appreciate the fact that we come up here and play in your national championship.

Yeah, if there was some honorary Canadian citizenship bestowed upon me I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. That would be a very proud thing for me. But, no, I’m happy to come up here once every now and again and play some golf and take this trophy south of the border with me.

You mentioned the enthusiasm of the fans. Have you ever seen the crowd rush on to the fairway like they did on 18 there and come right up to the greenside?

McIlroy: Yeah, so I was part of the group in East Lake in Atlanta 2018 when Tiger got his first win coming back, geez, it was his first win in a long time. I’m going to say like five years. I was an afterthought in that group, but I was witness to that. That to this day is one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me in my career. Today felt sort of similar, maybe not quite the — well it was pretty raucous out there, but it’s really cool. Whenever that happens and you can enjoy your walk and you know you’ve got the tournament sewed up you can take it in and really relish it and enjoy it and it was a cool scene on 18, yeah.

You won so many tournaments, but how much confidence and belief comes about just winning on a Sunday like this and beating two guys, just going into a U.S. Open and for the future?

McIlroy: Yeah, it does, it gives you a lot of confidence to know that, just to see where your game stacks up against the best. JT’s coming off winning his second major at the PGA Championship. He’s won I think 15 times on TOUR. He’s done a lot in the game. Tony as well. Like Tony’s struggled a little bit the last sort of six to 12 months, but he seems to have really turned it around. He had a good finish at Colonial, had another good finish here.

So to go up against guys that are not just the best players in the world but best players in the world playing somewhat near their best and coming out on top, that, it can only give you confidence. So, yeah, and I guess for me, just some of the shots that I hit coming down the stretch, those are things to certainly build on going into the next few weeks.

Highlights Tours

PGA Championship 2022: Rory McIlroy about his fantastic opening roud

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 2022 PGA Championship here at Southern Hills Country Club. Joined by Rory McIlroy, who fashioned a 5-under par 65 today. Rory, that’s the quick start you’ve been looking for, yes or no?

RORY MCILROY: Yes or no? No, no, I’d rather shoot 74 and try to make the cut tomorrow. (Laughter.)

Yeah, look, it was a great start to the tournament. I’ve been playing well coming in here. I’ve been carrying some good form. Obviously that took a lot from that last round at Augusta, played well up in D.C. at the Wells Fargo there, and played good in the practice rounds earlier this week.

I think when your game is feeling like that, it’s just a matter of going out there and really sticking to your game plan, executing as well as you possibly can, and just sort of staying in your own little world. I did that really well today. It was nice to get off to that good start and sorta keep it going.

I feel like this course, it lets you be pretty aggressive off the tee if you want to be, so I hit quite a lot of drivers out there and took advantage of my length and finished that off with some nice iron play and some nice putting.

Q. What were you happiest with, and if there was disappointment, what were you most disappointed with?

RORY MCILROY: I think just happy with when you get off to a good start like that, sometimes you can maybe start to be a little careful or start to give yourself a little more margin for error, but I stuck to my game plan.

I stayed aggressive, hit that driver up 4, took an aggressive line on 5. Yeah, I stuck to what I was trying to do out there, which I was pleased with.

Then if anything obviously the two bogeys on the par-3s on the front nine, but it’s very easy to make bogeys out here. You get yourself just a little bit out of position, you catch a little bit of grain around the green, it’s tricky.

I didn’t encounter too many of those tricky scenarios today, but it can certainly be tricky. You get yourself out of position here, you just try to make a 4 or a par and run to the next.

Q. I was going to ask you about that line on 5 you took. Why did you decide to aim at that tree and hit a cut instead of working a draw or something? What’s the thinking?

RORY MCILROY: I snap hooked one on to the driving range yesterday, so at least I knew I wasn’t going to do that. That was basically it. And the wind was off the left. If anything I’m a little more comfortable hitting the driver left to right at the minute. I feel like my body works a little better, I can be more aggressive with my body; body doesn’t stop and arms go.

Some of those right-to-left winds today off the tee it was nice because I could just aim the driver up the middle of the fairway, hit like a nice hold against the wind.

But yeah, that was the reason. It wasn’t all to do with the shot yesterday, but just fits my eye a little better.

Q. You’ve talked about how it can be challenging playing with Tiger Woods or in these super groups. Is there an opposite to that where once you’re playing well you get more in the zone, or what’s the effect out there?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I think the nice thing around — like for example, it’s different playing with him here than it is say at East Lake, because East Lake feels so claustrophobic, the crowds are so much more on top of you.

Here it’s big wide corridors. I feel like there’s a lot of room, so it doesn’t feel as oppressive as some other venues. It’s sort of nice that — I was looking forward to the draw anyway. It’s always a cool group to be a part of.

But I think this golf course just with how it’s been opened up, it doesn’t feel quite as boisterous as it usually does.


How far do amateur golfers hit their ball?

For years there has been discussion on the men’s professional tours about whether pros can hit the ball too far, and what effect that has on amateurs and on golf courses. A small study by a golf portal together with ShotScope show how far the amateur can hit his drive in all handicap classes, the comparison to the pros is enormous.

90 meters between professional and 25 handicap

The statistics show the average drive length for various handicap ranges. The scratch golfers among the amateurs hit the ball the farthest. They manage a solid 234 meters on average. The higher the handicap, the shorter the drives among amateurs. A handicap of 10 brings the ball into play at around 206 meters, but from handicaps of 15 and above, the distance of the tee shot drops well below 200 meters.

If you compare a player with a handicap of 25 with a tour pro, the difference is really serious: While the amateur hits the ball 172 meters with the driver, the average player on the PGA Tour drives 267 meters down the fairway. That’s more than 90 meters, and in our sport, of course, it’s worlds apart.

Even the comparison between scratch golfer and tour player is huge at this level. When the tour player hits 30 meters further than the scratch golfer the advantage is so great that once again you have to raise the question of whether the normal amateur can even grasp how the tour pro plays. Golf courses also face this problem. Many of the old courses, for example the Old Course at St. Andrews, are now actually too short for the pros. On the other hand, many of the newer courses are built to the length of the pros. The result is courses that are too long for the average golfer.

How to decrease the distances?

The fact is that many people are thrilled when Rory McIlroy or Bryson DeChambeau send the ball more than 300 meters down the fairway. But there is, firstly, an ever-growing faction that is not so happy about the whole thing. In addition, the R&A and USGA have to ask themselves how far they can and want to go with this game. The tours hit the ball further in each new decade than in the previous one, but this trend does not exist with the amateurs.

The first concepts on this subject are already being discussed. One idea, for example, is a flight-reduced ball for the pros. But even if one is convinced of the idea at the first moment, even such a simple solution brings with it a huge rat’s tail of problems. How does this ball behave? When will the amateur who wants to become a professional switch to this ball so as not to be at a disadvantage compared to those who have played with it for years in the future? To what extent do such ideas change the buying behavior of the broader golf community?

Golf’s elites must ask themselves these questions, and at some point there must be an answer to these questions. After all, courses can’t continue to grow in all directions, and the discrepancy between amateur and professional will eventually be so great that perhaps a broad mass will feel disconnected from professional golf. And nobody really wants that. The first regulations on drivers have already been issued by the organizations, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

European Tour

“The 14 Club Challenge” on the European Tour – Viktor Hovland vs. Rory McIlroy

The “14 Club Challenge” demands precise play from the players of the DP World Tour (formerly: European Tour) despite a completely wrong choice of clubs. At Emirates Golf Club, DP World Tour stars Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy compete against each other on Hole 4, a 155-yards par-3. At the end of the challenge, there is a clear winner.

Only on the DP World Tour: Driver on a par-3?

A point is awarded for every tee shot that comes to rest on the green. The challenge: Each of the 14 clubs that the players have in their bags may be used a maximum of once. If one player uses his pitching wedge, it is unavailable for the rest of the game and for the other player. The longer the challenge runs, the more diffuse the choice of clubs becomes…

Highlights Tours

US Masters 2022: Scheffler, McIlroy, Woods – The records and statistics of the Major

At the US Masters 2022, Scottie Scheffler sets several records with his first major victory. Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and others should not be missing from this list of records set or tied at the prestigious major.

Scottie Scheffler in outstanding form

Scottie Scheffler unstoppable! In recent weeks, hardly any professional on the PGA Tour could stand a chance against the Texan. In mid-February, the 25-year-old won for the first time since his rise on Tour in 2020 at the Phoenix Open. Fifty-seven days have passed since then and three more trophies have gone into the world number one’s trophy cabinet. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC-Dell Match Play and now his first major with the 2022 US Masters. No one before him has managed the first four tournament wins in such a short span of time! The last time someone won four tournaments in six starts was Jason Day in 2015.

Four wins in one season is already a great achievement, but to win at least one Major and one WGC event highlights the exceptional form of Scottie Scheffler. There’s only one guy who’s done that, too. You will guess: Tiger Woods. The superstar, who made his comeback at the US Masters in 2022 after a serious car accident, was even able to achieve these results a total of eight (!) times in two periods of four seasons in a row – incredible! For the sake of completeness, however, it should be mentioned that greats such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus certainly had seasons with four tournament victories including majors, but the WGC events did not yet exist at that time (introduction in 1999).

Scheffler is also the sixth player to win the Major at Augusta National as the world number one. In doing so, the American does it like Ian Woosnam, who also won the US Masters in his first start as the world’s No. 1 golfer.

After an outstanding Friday, Scheffler had built a five-stroke lead in difficult conditions. The shared largest halfway lead at the Masters.

With his fourth victory, Scheffler now not only clearly leads the world ranking and the FedExCup, he also obviously cashed in a lot of prize money. In the meantime, the professional has earned over ten million US dollars with his results this season alone. This already puts him in sixth place in the ranking of prize money earned in a PGA Tour season. By the way, Jordan Spieth leads this list with just over twelve million dollars earned in his fabulous 2014/15 season with two major victories (Masters & Open) and Tour Championship (bonus not included). Scheffler, however, still has half the season and three majors to play and will probably climb up a few places in this ranking.

US Masters 2022: Rory McIlroy ties record

But enough about the Masters winner, others also set records at this major. Rory McIlroy ran hot on the final day, working his magic with flight partner Collin Morikawa at Augusta National. McIlroy’s closing 64, the only bogey-free round of the entire tournament, set the record for the best closing round at the Masters; in fact, it was the second-best round ever at one of the four majors for the Northern Irishman. It was a pity for the four-time major winner that he was already too far away from Scheffler before the final day and it was again nothing with the career Grand Slam for McIlroy.

On the final day, it was a duel between two players in good form with the better end for Scheffler. But Cameron Smith also has two victories this season (including the Players Championship) under his belt and has been playing incredibly consistent golf lately. However, the triple bogey at the 12th sank any hopes of winning the Masters at Rae’s Creek, and that after Smith had fought his way back in with a birdie at the hardest hole (11th). The three-stroke loss was the worst score on a hole in almost ten months for the Australian.

Previously, the Players Champion had carded a 68 in Round 1, although he conceded double stroke losses on holes 1 and 18. Only Ricky Fowler played a round of 68 or better including two double bogeys at the Masters.

Tiger Woods keeps series alive

It’s not a record yet, but Tiger Woods kept his streak of made cuts alive and could set a record next year. Despite his extreme suffering since his serious accident 14 months ago, the 46-year-old Hall-of-Famer made the cut at the 2022 US Masters for the 22nd time in a row.

On the weekend itself, the 15-time major winner was clearly feeling the strain and the strain, twice coming back into the clubhouse with 78 strokes. He had never needed so many in 92 rounds before to master Augusta National.

PGA Tour

Premier Golf League: Tempting offer for PGA Tour professionals

Rory McIlroy, newest member of the PGA Players’ Advisory Council, received an email from the Premier Golf League (PGL) back on February 14, as reported by the Fire Pit Collective. The contents of that email could be another milestone in the recent evolution of professional golf. According to the mail, the PGL is planning 18 events, with prize money totaling $20 million and complementary team competitions with an additional $1 million in prize money for the winner. In addition, a prize of another 20 million dollars is to await the winner in a season-ending event. But that is not the end of the story.

A shower of money or empty words?

Rory McIlroy was confronted with this important issue on his first official day as a member of the PGA Player Advisory Council. As a member, it was his responsibility to present the issue to the rest of the players and PGA officials. The issue was not only future tournament schedules, but also a direct cash distribution to PGA, Korn Ferry and European Tour players. PGL’s proposal says they want to give 100 million shares to the PGA, Korn Ferry and DP World Tour. According to a breakdown by the PGL, 50 percent (valued at five billion dollars) would go to PGA Tour players, $750 million to the Korn Ferry Tour and $250 million to European golfers.
The PGL clearly distances itself from the Saudi Golf League. They don’t want to make popular players even richer, but rather support all players with an equal share. In the Fire Pit report, one PGL investor is quoted as saying, “They have stolen our idea 100 percent. They are not our partners, they are now our competitors.” PGL’s immense financial resources have no connection with Saudi Arabia, but come mainly from European sponsors, the FAQ on its website went on to say. Their goal, they said, is to work with the PGA Tour and build a partnership.

Kevin Kisner doubts PGL offer

Kevin Kisner, another member of the Player Advisory Council, doubts the feasibility of the promised windfall.  “Their proposal has been studied and scrutinized by an independent company to test its viability,” says Kevin Kisner, another player-director on the policy board at a members meeting earlier this month at the Players and Bay Hill. “The results were presented to all of us: Not feasible.” 

PGA Tour

Replica of the 17 and “wonder bread”: How to pass the time during the Players Championship

The Players Championship 2022 is drowning in weather chaos. On the first day, some players couldn’t even make a shot and on the second day, even less golf was played – 47 players still haven’t finished their first 18 holes. Some golfers therefore had a complete break from play on Friday, while others only had a few holes to play before play was paused at 11:15 a.m. local time and it was clear at 3:13 p.m. that there would be no play before 11 a.m. on Saturday either. So the stars of the PGA Tour had a lot of free time, which was used in different ways.

PGA Tour: Free afternoon for the players

Rory McIlroy is one of those who has not yet been able to hand in his first round scorecard. So far, the Northern Irishman has only played 15 holes, recording three birdies and four bogeys. The four-time major winner was then able to spend the free afternoon with his wife Erica and daughter Poppy.

Meanwhile, Max Homa philosophised during the rain delay why his mother never allowed him to eat the ” wonder bread” with peanut butter and jelly – he probably wouldn’t have been able to stop. Luckily, his caddies’ fiancée doesn’t see it so restrictively.

The fact that play was finally suspended completely for Friday probably didn’t bother the “Twitter King” of the PGA Tour, who is at two-under-par after 14 holes – after all, he can watch the new Batman then.

Justin Thomas hasn’t finished his first round either, but can spend his afternoon chilling on the couch.

The From the sofa, the defending champion also immediately found the guilty person: Max Homa.

But it could also have been Ian Poulter who caused the break-up. The Englishman had already finished his first round in a hurry on Thursday and therefore had Friday completely free. The 46-year-old was literally feverishly anticipating the break-off, letting his fans share it in his Instagram story and, given the weather, logically wanted to avoid the trip to the golf course. While the pro himself passed the time with Netflix at his house on the beach, his son Joshua rebuilt the signature hole of the TPC Sawgrass on the beach and also imitated his hurried father.

Poulter hopes for rain, watches Netflix and checks out the "island green". (Photo: Screenshot Instagram/@ianjamespoulter)
Poulter hopes for rain, watches Netflix and checks out the “island green”. (Photo: Screenshot Instagram/@ianjamespoulter)

Players Championship at TopGolf?

With so many breaks, the stars naturally have time to connect with fans on social media. Some initiate discussions about the interruption of the tournament, Kevin Kisner would like to hear the expert opinions of the internet. One of them: Simply move the tournament to the nearby TopGolf facility – problem solved.

Justin Rose is organising a small contest on Instagram to pass the time. The Englishman, who currently has 14 holes played, wants to announce the winner after his second round. Cynically, you could say: There’s still plenty of time to take part.

PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy: “I feel like I play well enough to win tournaments.”

Following his first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour Rory McIlroy was very pleased with his form and the outcome of day one. In a post round interview he discussed his play and his feelings about the course and youngsters like Will Zalatoris. Read the interview here:

Q.  Rory, they talk about golf courses fitting a guy’s eye, Graeme said that about you. Is there something about the mental component when you get to Bay Hill because you’ve done so well here?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I think you turn up at any golf course where you’ve had success, and automatically you’re going to have some confidence coming in. I’ve shot some really nice scores here. I think the last couple of years I’ve opened up the tournament really well with scores similar to what I shot today.

Yeah, I feel there’s a nice flow to this golf course where you can really build a score. You have par-5s, one every few holes, and you’ve got a couple of scorable par-4s. As long as you don’t do anything stupid and you keep it in play, you feel like you can sort of methodically build a score on this golf course. That’s what I tried to do today.

I played the par-5s particularly well, and that was the bulk of the score. I’ve sort of said this all along. I don’t feel like you need to do anything — like you can play within yourself here and still shoot a good score, I feel, if you’re just disciplined and pick off the birdies where you’re supposed to.

Q.  Can you talk more about your stellar play on the par-5s.

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I hit a couple of really good long irons into a couple of them. I hit a 4-iron into 12 and a 4-iron into 6. They were probably two of the best long irons I hit in a while. So when I start hitting long irons like that, I know my swing’s in a pretty good place. Seeing shots like that certainly gives me some confidence.

Q.  And do you prepare differently as the course conditions get tougher?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I was actually pretty surprised at how firm the greens were already. From the Pro-Am yesterday, we played at a similar time to today. The golf course is firmed up already. I think with this weather and the sort of warmer weather that’s coming over the weekend, it’s just going to get more and more firm as the week goes on. Then that places a premium so much more on just getting the ball in play. Fairways and greens and just being really disciplined with your game.

Q.  You talked about 6 yesterday, specifically the tee shot and having choices. When you hit a shot like you did there today, does it embolden you to be maybe more aggressive the rest of the weekend?

RORY MCILROY: That was as far left as it needed to be. I was trying to hit it into that fat part of the green, like that front third. I did — the wind maybe took it a little further left than I wanted to. I hit it well enough I knew it was always going to cover.

No, I mean, you just — that hole, you’re trying to get your tee shot away. Then if you do, you’re just trying to from there just get the ball down in three and make a birdie and move on.

Q.  Rory, Adam was just over here talking about how nice it is to play with you. He likes watching your swing. He thinks it maybe rubs off. Isn’t it sort of the same about him?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, any time I play with Adam, it’s a good pairing. We chat about all sorts of stuff. I feel like we’ve got quite a bit in common. Yeah, anyone could watch Adam Scott swing the club all day long. He’s got a nice rhythm.

Yeah, it’s nice. If he feeds off me, I certainly think I feed off him a little bit too.

Q.  Do you like having no runoffs or fewer runoffs around these greens? Why or why not?

RORY MCILROY: Not. I prefer the runoffs. I think it separates the good chippers from the bad chippers. I feel like, when you miss a green when the rough is like this, you know, it’s half skill, half guesswork, luck. There’s a little bit more that goes in. I think, whenever you miss greens and there’s runoffs and it gives you options, I think that’s where the guys with the better short games separate themselves. So that’s why I like runoffs. I like that style.

So, yeah, I don’t particularly understand why they did that this year, but it presents a different challenge. You just have to adapt to that.

Q.  Do you think most TOUR players like the thick rough, though, because as long as they know the lies, they kind of —

RORY MCILROY: It certainly makes it a little simpler if you don’t feel like you’ve got a great short game. But like even next week, for example, wherever that second cut is, it’s not too long, I think even a cut like that, I feel like the guys can really show their skill around the greens if they have that skill.

And it’s fun to see. I think that’s the other thing with — it’s fun to see different shots and you can play it certain ways. Obviously, a setup like this this week, that takes that out of the equation. You basically miss a green, and you’ve pretty much got just blast it out and try to hole the putt.

Q.  Rory, you’ve won early in the year versus not winning early in the year. Does it mean anything? Does it matter?

RORY MCILROY: It’s nice to win just regardless. I mean, regardless of when it comes in the season, it’s nice to win. Or in the year. This is my fourth start of the calendar year, and I’ve had one really good chance to win and probably one other half chance.

Yeah, I feel like I’m playing well enough to have chances to win golf tournaments, but all you can ask of yourself is to keep putting yourself in those positions on Sundays, and then you see where your game really is. Hopefully, this is another week where I put myself in a position where I can really see where my game is when the pressure’s on.

Q.  In Dubai on that Sunday, that seemed to sting you.

RORY MCILROY: Standing on the — after birdieing 13, standing on the 14th tee with a one or two-shot lead with five holes to go, and I did all the — in Dubai, I did all the hard stuff right. I made par on 14, par on 15, par on 16. And then you’ve got two gettable holes on 17, 18, and those are the holes where I made the mistake.

So I did the hard part, and whenever the opportunity came to sort of shut the door and win the tournament, I didn’t do that. I think that was what was most frustrating about that.

Q.  I think I heard you say that you felt you had a turning point in your putting, one of the earlier interviews. When was that, and what did you find?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, like putting is — like with putting, I feel half the battle is already done before you hit the ball — reading the green, getting your setup right, aiming the putter. I think I just got a little bit lax on that side of things.

I’ve actually really enjoyed not having a green book. I feel like it’s got me more into the putts. I feel like I’m more — I’m not consulting a green book as much. Honestly, I feel like it’s benefited me these last few weeks, and that’s been a nice thing.

It’s just been a little bit setup, just a little bit of setup, and a little bit more green reading and practicing that. Those two things have — those have stayed constant, and I’ve putted well because of that.

Q.  Did you find that on your own, your caddie, or Fax?

RORY MCILROY: A little bit of both. I was putting with Fax before going to the Middle East, and I just felt like I started to creep a little too far away from the ball. Eye line was a little too far inside, and what happens then is my right arm leaves my side. I really like, if I can keep my right arm in my side and the shaft plane and my right arm match up, it sort of becomes almost automatic from there. It’s almost like your right arm acts as a piston, and that’s the feel I like. Just setting up like that and having that constant is important for me.

Q.  Rory, as someone who came up young and was pretty polished on and off the golf course as you were, I’m curious what your impression is of Will Zalatoris. While you’ve gotten to know him. He hasn’t been out here that long. What do you see in his game and how he handles himself?

RORY MCILROY: Great player, obviously. Hell of a ball striker. Drives the crap out of it. Hits his irons good. He’s got a nice flight. He can hit it up in the air. I don’t know him that well. I don’t even know if I’ve played with him on TOUR at this point, but from what I’ve seen with him obviously playing in front of us today and watching him on TV, he seems like a great kid. Kid — I can’t believe I’m saying kid. He seems like a great kid with a lot of potential and a really bright future.

Q.  On the rough, is it around the greens, is it a hit and hope, or do you have a certain distance you take it back if you have to hack it out ten yards?

RORY MCILROY: It depends on the lie. Some are hit and hopes, and others, if you get a decent lie, it’s more technique-based. But there’s a little bit of both in there.

Q.  Off the fairway, does it cost you a shot?

RORY MCILROY: You’d have to look at the stats, but it’s probably close to it.

Q.  When you’re in position to win, do you feel like you’re supposed to?

RORY MCILROY: When I’m in a position to win? Like Dubai, for example?

Q.  Anything.

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I think with the experience that I have and the tournaments that I have closed out in my career, if you’re two ahead with five to play, I think you should win that, yeah.

Q.  Generally in position on Sunday, I guess your attitude if you don’t, on your reflection time, is it always something that you blame yourself, or is it ever something where you acknowledge doing something different?

RORY MCILROY: Sometimes someone just plays better than you and you’ve done all that you can. You’re always going to nitpick and think there’s things you could have done better. I’d say 25 percent of the time it’s someone’s just played better than you and you’ve given it your all. But I’d say three-quarters of the time there’s self-error in there somewhere.

PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy: ” I’m maybe a little more outspoken than other guys in our game.”

Among the players, Rory McIlroy is considered one of the loudspeakers on the PGA Tour. The Northern Irishman forms an opinion on many topics and tries to classify current events. At the press conference before the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy explains why he thinks it’s important to express his opinion and what he thinks of the current discussion surrounding PIP and Phil Mickelson. Read the complete interview here:

Q: Rory, you’re going to be making your eighth start here. What is it like to be back, especially as a past champion?

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, it’s always good to be back at Bay Hill. I didn’t play this event for the first few years of my career and finally came here in 2015, and I don’t think I’ve missed a tournament since.

We all know what Arnold Palmer means to the PGA TOUR and to the game of golf in general. So it’s always nice to be here and try to sort of remember his legacy and remember what he meant to everyone. He was probably the catalyst with maybe a few other guys of why we’re here today and why the game of professional golf is at such a high level.

So nice to be here, nice to pay our respects. Looking forward to another good week.

Q: And as you stated, you haven’t missed a tournament since you started, have five consecutive top tens here. What about this course and this tournament really clicks with your game?

It’s one of these courses that I don’t feel like I have to do anything special to compete. I can play within myself. You take care of the par-5s here. You play conservatively the rest of the way, especially how the golf course here has been set up the past few years. You play for your pars, and then you try to pick off birdies on the par-5s and some of the easier holes. If you just keep doing that day after day, you’re going to find yourself around the top of the leaderboard.

Yeah, it’s been a course that’s fit my eye from the first time I played here, and just one of those courses that I enjoy coming back to and feel like I can contend at.

Q: Rory, congratulations on finishing third, I think, on the PIP.

Thanks (laughter).

Q: Do you understand exactly why you ended up third, and were there any surprises on the list for you when you saw the top ten?

Not really. I mean, you look at the ten guys that are on there, and they’re the ten guys that have been at the top of the game or have been around the top of the game for a long time. Obviously, everyone’s seen the five metrics that go into it and how everyone ranked in those metrics. I feel like it’s a pretty self-explanatory system. That’s how the numbers sort of rolled out.

Yeah, it’s certainly not something that I’m checking up on every week to see where I’m at, but I think it went the way most of us expected it to go.

QAlso, as you ramp up for this big stretch of golf tournaments, what are you kind of waiting to see in your game. What is it you’re kind of looking for as you do the run-up?

Just consistency. I mean, I felt like the three tournaments that I’ve played this year, I’ve played pretty well. I had a pretty solid week at Riviera without doing anything really special. I had a good weekend.

I think just more of the same. I’ve driven the ball pretty well. I’ve seen a bit of improvement in iron play. My short game’s been really good. If anything, just getting the consistency to a point where I feel like I can play like that day in and day out.

But the game feels good, so just sort of trying to keep doing what I’m doing.

Q: Rory, given your stature and success in the game, it gives you a voice. Do you feel though that, even if you weren’t a world renowned golfer, you would still speak out about injustices you see? And why are you that way?

Look, I’ll only voice my opinion on things that I believe I’m educated in and believe that I have a right to talk about. So there’s certainly things that I won’t get into just because I’m not completely educated on that topic and feel like giving an opinion probably isn’t the right thing to do.

But when it comes to golf and PGA TOUR stuff, I feel like I’m pretty educated on that stuff. And I guess with that voice comes responsibility to try to do the right thing. That’s all I try to do. I try to make comments or speak about things to do the right thing, and that’s the reason I’m maybe a little more outspoken than other guys in our game.

Again, it doesn’t go much further than the game of golf because I feel comfortable talking about that, but when you sort of delve into other things, I don’t think it’s my place to get into that.

QSpeaking of education, I thought I read something about you once that you wanted to drop out of school in like the fifth grade?

I did drop out of school in — well, not the fifth grade (laughter). I dropped out of school pretty early, yeah.

QWhat does that say about you, if anything, that you’ve got this appetite for knowledge, for learning, for reading, and hated school?

Learnt my lesson. I didn’t have — I just had no — I had no academic ambitions when I was a youngster. I don’t know, I think I got to a point in golf where I was pretty — all I wanted to do when I was young was play golf. Didn’t care about school. Didn’t want to go. Wanted to just go practice, play golf. And now all I do most every day is go practice and play golf.

So I have other things I want to do and hobbies. I think as you get older, you get interested in more things and maybe just become a little more curious. I’ve sort of become that way. But, again, I’m the first one to say I don’t know — I know a little about a lot, but I’m not as smart on a lot of things as I am maybe on golf and things in and around this world.

Q: One more golf question. Finchem probably back in ’10 had talked about this idea of somewhat of a world tour schedule and also how difficult it would be to put together. They’ve been trying for a long time. Do you get a sense that, given the dynamics of golf right now, that it could be getting closer to that and that it would still be just as difficult to implement?

So I certainly think there’s been steps taken that have got us closer to that point. Obviously, this strategic alliance between DP World Tour and the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR buying a stake in European Tour Productions, Jay having a seat on the board in Europe, they’re certainly working much closer together, which is a great thing. I think it needs to be that way.

The game of professional golf, everyone needs to be trying to pull in the same direction instead of pulling against each other. I think we’re getting closer to that spot. I think it would be easy for — it’s not as simple as this, but the guys at the PGA TOUR could just literally walk down the street to the guys in the ATP and just have a chat about what they do.

It’s two very, very different structures and different schedules, but I think there is a path where one day there could be — it might still be two Tours running side by side parallel to each other, but basically for — it would be a global tour, a global schedule.

Q: Would it be important for Europe’s identity?

I think so. I think there’s quite a long history and tradition and heritage there. You go back to — yeah, the formation of the European Tour wasn’t that long after the PGA TOUR. I think European Tour was in the ’70s, and PGA TOUR was in the late ’60s. So there’s history there that you would like to keep.

QAre you surprised that so many golfers and sponsors have separated themselves, distanced themselves from Phil, who’s one of the legends of the game, or do you think his comments were so volatile that that was necessary? And how unfortunate is the whole situation?

It is unfortunate. I think Phil has been a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf, still is a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf. It’s unfortunate that a few comments that he thought he was making in confidence or off the record got out there and were — not used against him, but this whole situation is unfortunate.

Look, Phil will be back. I think the players want to see him back. He’s done such a wonderful job for the game of golf, and he’s represented the game of golf very, very well for the entirety of his career.

Look, we all make mistakes. We all say things we want to take back. No one is different in that regard. But we should be allowed to make mistakes, and we should be allowed to ask for forgiveness and for people to forgive us and move on. Hopefully, he comes back at some stage, and he will, and people will welcome him back and be glad that he is back.

QI know you to be a student of the world and what’s going on and you’ve traveled all over the world. The world is such a tender place right now. What do you do to sort of put that aside so you can focus on your day job?

I try to look at the news once a day and sort of leave it at that. You sort of try to keep up to date with current events and everything that’s happening. I guess I have to understand that sitting in my position right here in Orlando, Florida, there’s not much that I can say or do that’s going to help the situation. So I can just focus on what’s most important to me, which is my family and my golf, and live my life.

THE MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for questions. Rory, we thank you for taking the time to talk with us, and we wish you the best of luck this week.