August 10, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
KELLY ELBIN: At 13?under par, Rory McIlroy leads the PGA Championship by one stroke over Bernd Wiesberger and two over Rickie Fowler with one round to go.
Comments on the round and being in the lead going into the final day.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it wasn't as easy as I expected it to be out there today. You know, they tucked a few pins away, and obviously playing with the lead, as well, you maybe can't play with the freedom as if you're chasing. But really happy with how I finished; to shoot another 67 without really having some of my best stuff for the round was really pleasing.
Finished well and I noticed a few guys in front of me were sort of making a run on the back nine charge, noticed Phil was making a few birdies and Rickie was obviously making a charge and Bernd Wiesberger obviously. I knew I needed to do something in the last few holes and to pull a few birdies out like that was really pleasing. Happy that I kept the lead going into tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: Speaking of the last three, if you would go through the birdies, please.
RORY McILROY: 15, I hit a driver off the tee and hit a 9?iron from 140 and finished maybe 20 feet short of the pin and held that putt. That was a big putt. It was a big momentum putt to keep me going into the last few holes.
16 are probably two of the best shots I hit all day. I hit a great drive off the tee and hit a 9?iron in there from 171 and stuck it to a few inches.
Then on the last hole, another great drive up the middle of the fairway. Had a 5?iron into the green. The lie was sort of pretty soggy, as a few are out here this week and I was just trying to clip it off the top of the turf and caught it a little thin and didn't quite carry over the bunker. Great up?and?down. Held the putt for maybe eight feet there. It was a big putt to keep the lead going into tomorrow.
Q. Don't take this the wrong way, but it looked as if you didn't entirely click today and you still shot 67 again. Is that a fair comment? And if you can click tomorrow, what do you think you can score and what do you think you need to score?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it is a fair comment. I didn't have my best stuff for some of that round. I felt like I played a lot of nice golf on the front nine. I had a nice stretch of holes there. Played 1 pretty well, 2 conservatively enough but played it well, 3 was good, 4 wasn't a good shot and but then played 5 and 6 well and 7 well.
So there is stretches of golf in the round that felt really good. Obviously I finished well but the middle of the round was pretty scrappy. But saying that, there was only two bogeys. I scrambled well. But yeah, the last two days, I haven't?? it has not been quite as good as I can be. If everything does click tomorrow, then obviously I feel like there's a very low score in me. I'll take sort of scrapping it around in 67 if it puts me in this position again.
Q. I want to ask you how good a putting round it was, but you one putted nine of the last 12 holes. How clutch of a performance was that for you in terms of what you've done in the past?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, that was big. I was actually counting up how many putts I had today going down the 16th I think. I think I had 21 to that point, so I had 24 putts; 24 putts is a good performance out there.
Yeah, I felt really comfortable with the putter for the last, maybe the last couple of months. I worked on a couple of things after the Masters and it really seems to have clicked. It was a big putting round out there. There's a lot of putts that sort of kept the momentum of the round going.
Q. You said yesterday, you don't want to be stereo typed as a guy who wins on soft golf courses and you've also been stereo typed as someone who wins Majors by comfortable margins. Would there be extra satisfaction if you could prevail in a Sunday dog fight against the top players?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I'll win any way. I'll take a win any way it comes. If that means having to scrap it out with a couple people coming down the stretch or if I can give myself some sort of lead going down the back nine or whatever it is.
But yeah, I mean, I don't think it would give me any?? I don't think it would give me extra satisfaction winning by one or two or sort of scrapping it out, rather than winning by five or six. It would still be the same thing. But I sort don't mind that stereotype of winning Majors by big margins. That's usually a good one to have; usually on soft golf courses, funnily enough.
Yeah, I'll take a win anyway it comes and if that means I have to scrap it out down the stretch, so be it. Yeah, I don't?? any win would be very satisfying.
Q. A couple different questions. First of all, the other ones you had big leads obviously going into the last day. Does that change anything from your perspective tomorrow having obviously a smaller lead?
RORY McILROY: No, not particularly. I won from three back last week. You know, I feel like I'm in the best position I can be in going into tomorrow. I would rather be the guy that's being chased and have that shot advantage than not.
Of course it's different. At Congressional, I had the eight?shot lead. I think I had a three?shot lead going into Kiawah and then a six?shot lead going into Hoylake there. You know, three shots isn't really that much, either, if you think about it and I was sort of able to pull away from the field there.
Tomorrow standing on the first tee is going to feel different than how it felt a month ago at Hoylake, because you don't have that?? it is going to be a shootout. You know the conditions are soft; guys are going to make birdies, and you know that you're going to have to make birdies, as well, to try and win.
Q. Was that about as bad as?? excluding the finish, was that about as bad as you could have played today, is that something that maybe wouldn't have happened a year ago where you're able to turn a bad round into a pretty good score?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I wouldn't say it's as bad as I could play. I've played much worse (chuckles).
But I'm just really happy mentally, again, with how I'm sort of bouncing back from the bad holes and recovering well and scrambling when I need to. And really, it's pleasing; a 67 that way is more pleasing than a 67 hitting every green and feeling like you've missed every putt.
So coming off the round today shooting 67, feeling quite good about myself. It could have been a lot worse. I made the most out of the round and they are the sort of rounds that are the most satisfying.
Q. How much golf have you played with Bernd and can you talk about your thoughts about him as a golfer?
RORY McILROY: I haven't played much. I can't recall?? I might have played with him on The European Tour at some point over the past few years. A very solid player. He's one of the modern day sort of guys; he's big, he's athletic, he hits the ball a long way, makes a really good move at it.
And apart from that, I know that he's won a few times the past few years and he's established himself on The European Tour. It will be great for him tomorrow. It's a new experience and one that he'll learn a lot from, and yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It's a good pairing for both of us. I think we're pretty comfortable in each other's company. So, yeah, I think it will be an enjoyable day.
Q. You've done a great job recently at focusing on one thing at a time, one step at a time. How much easier is it to retain your focus when you look behind you and you see a leaderboard like that with so many great names on it?
RORY McILROY: Easier than you'd think to be honest. I look at the leaderboard, and the biggest thing I was concerned about on the back nine today was not being in the lead. I got tied for the lead there for a while, and it didn't feel?? I wanted to just get back in the lead. I didn't really look?? I knew Phil was making a run. I knew Rickie was making a run. I feel like I'm really confident right now no matter who is on that leaderboard; I feel like I have a pretty good chance in beating them. As you said, one shot at a time, one hole at a time and just keep trying to do it like that, regardless of who is chasing me.
Q. Along the same lines, coming up 18, how conscious were you of having that opportunity to take the lead, rather than start tied tomorrow, and what did that mean to you?
RORY McILROY: I was conscious of it on the 17th green, with that putt on 17, trying to take the lead there and try and really finish with a flourish.
So yeah, I was conscious. I was looking a bit at the leaderboard out there today and see where I was and see what I needed to do to try and retain my advantage going into tomorrow.
Yeah, I feel I'm in a comfortable place right now that mentally, I can look at a leaderboard and it doesn't affect me so much. I can still keep to my game plan and stick to what I need to do. So I was; I was pretty aware of what was going on today.
Q. In the bigger scheme of things, how good was that and how important was that par save at 4? And going back to 2, what were your thoughts with Jason wading through that stream with his trousers rolled up?
RORY McILROY: The par on 4 was big. That was another bad shot with a 3?wood left. But to get it up?and?down out of that drop zone was really important.
And on 2, you know, I was sort of like?? well, it's a water hazard anyway, just take the drop and hit it and whatever. That would have been what I would do and I would have made a five or a six and he made a four. It was a good effort. I wouldn't have been walking through that river to get my ball, that's for sure, don't know what's in there (smiling).
Q. You've been in the lead a lot over the past four weeks. I'm just curious if that takes a toll mentally, and how do you stay sharp and avoid falling flat in the heat of the moment?
RORY McILROY: I've got one more day. I've got one more day to give it everything I have.
Of course it takes a toll. It takes a toll mentally. Physically, as well, because you know you're not teeing off until pretty late and you're not getting back to your house until?? what time is it, it's quarter to eight now, so I won't be having dinner until maybe nine o'clock. It puts you out of your routine a little bit.
But I've got one more day to just give it everything I have, and then I can take a week off and recover and then get right back at it and play another four weeks in a row (laughing).
It is; it's more mentally and physically tough whenever you're at this end of a leaderboard, especially a few weeks in a row. But I gave myself Monday off here this week and I still feel pretty fresh going into tomorrow. Hopefully that won't play any sort of part.
Q. Have you ever played golf in Austria, and have you ever skied there?
RORY McILROY: I've played golf in Austria. I finished third in the European Young Masters in 2004 in Austria to actually make the Junior Ryder Cup Team and then played the Junior Ryder Cup in Westfield Country Club, Ohio. Went to walk it at Oakland Hills.
Yeah, I've been to Austria before. Played golf there. I haven't skied there. I wouldn't be the best of skiers. I've only skied once. I'll try and stay off the skis for a while.
KELLY ELBIN: One more day to go, Rory McIlroy leading the PGA Championship.