Rory McIlroy: Round Two Flash Interview
Q. You've been in Martin's shoes before, what do you think he's thinking about right now?
RORY McILROY: If I was Martin, hopefully I would be thinking about how to get seven ahead and then how to get eight ahead and then how to get nine ahead. It's not something that you, especially on a golf course like this, you can go out trying to protect anything. You just got to keep -- keep the foot to the floor, foot to the mat and just keep it going. If he's comfortable out here and making birdies, then that's what you should still be thinking of. 10-under par is an incredible total after 36 holes, and if he can hold on to that 10-under total, he's going to win this tournament.
Q. Looking back at Congressional, what does it take to separate from the field by eight, seven shots?
RORY McILROY: As I said, you need that mentality that you're not trying to protect, you're not happy with 6. You want to get to 7, you want to get to 8. That's the sort of mentality you need when you have a big lead like that, because you sort of have to play as if you get too defensive. And I learned that at the Masters, the previous Major before Congressional, if you get too defensive, it's detrimental. So he has to just keep hitting to his spots, being aggressive, doing whatever spots he chooses. And if he does that and shoots a couple of 70s over the weekend, I don't think anyone's going to catch that.
Q. For a guy who shot 63 at Muirfield Village that's nine back, how is his strategy for the weekend? Yourself.
RORY McILROY: Oh, well, honestly, if I have a couple more 68s, like today, I would take my chances. 5-under total. I would be- I would sit in the clubhouse happily with that. So we'll see. But I played solid today, played solid the last couple of days. I just, when I missed a shot today, I missed it in the right place and was able to get it up-and-down. If someone had told me that I was going to be standing here 1-under par after 36 holes, at the start of the week I would have taken it. I would have said perfect, let me play the weekend and see what happens. But what Martin has done over the first couple of days has made 1-under par look pretty average. But happy with where my game is and there's a lot of golf left to play. So we'll see what happens over the weekend.
Q. How would you compare the playability of this place to what you faced at Congressional?
RORY McILROY: I think what Martin's doing is more impressive than what I did at Congressional, just because of how difficult the golf course is and there's trouble lying at every corner at any missed green. Congressional was a little more benign than this is, a little softer, a little more receptive. So you know what Martin's doing is very impressive.
Q. How much is the combination of what Martin's doing and potentially more weather, course condition, change the way your game plan would change from what you thought it would be?
RORY McILROY: Honestly, I would like the rain not to come and for the course to get as firm as possible, because Martin hasn't really seen it like that. It was obviously very receptive this morning and stayed receptive most of the way through the day. So if it gets soft, but even if it gets soft here, it's still -- you're still having to hit into the middle of the greens and take your chances from there, because you start going at some of these pins and get too aggressive and miss on the wrong side you're bringing bogey, double into play nearly every hole.
Q. Talk about your mindset when you were making your comeback a few weeks ago? And can you put that mindset into a U.S. Open?
RORY McILROY: Comeback?
Q. When you were coming back from a large deficit off the lead.
RORY McILROY: Oh, okay. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah, I mean, at Wentworth, I got a little bit of help from the guys in front. Thomas and like both made 7s on the same hole, so I think that's what will be needed for someone this week as well. Martin's going to need to come back to the field somewhat to give everyone else a chance. But the mindset was go out there and just try and shoot the best score you possibly can and not really care about what's going on on the leaderboard. I knew with a few holes to go that I had a chance and it seems like the winner at Wentworth always seems to birdie the last two holes. So that was my whole thing, I just wanted to birdie 17 and 18, and I thought that would get the job done and it did. But for the first three-quarters of that round, I didn't really think I was in the tournament so much. And then all of a sudden I'm standing on the 17th tee tied for the lead, so that's sort of nice to fall into them like that a little bit. It's a little bit different here, where I mean, again, 36 holes, you never know what can happen. But, yeah, Martin's a good front runner and I can't see him sort of letting up.
Q. Talking about Martin's return to great form and he said it's simple, he's enjoying playing again. When you had your struggles last year, you're back in good form, how important is that to be able to go out there and still have fun, even though there's so much at stake?
RORY McILROY: It's huge. It's almost -- it's a huge part of it. You have to enjoy what you're doing. If you're going out every day on the golf course and it's like a burden, then there's no point in going out there and playing. You have to enjoy it. Obviously shooting 10-under par at this place you're going to enjoy that. But, yeah, I mean, every person in this field grew up dreaming of playing a U.S. Open, winning a U.S. Open. And now that they have that opportunity, you have to enjoy that. Yeah, I mean, I love what I do, I love where I'm at, and you have to appreciate it as well. I think sometimes when we get to the top of the game like Martin has, No. 1 in the world, Major champion, sometimes you don't appreciate what you have actually done and then it takes you to take a couple of steps back, hold on a minute, I'm actually living out my dream here. And you should enjoy every minute of it.
Q. Can being No. 1 in the world be a burden?
RORY McILROY: It can be, if you make it a burden. But it shouldn't be. Martin said that he struggled with the pressure a little bit with it, and I did a little bit somewhat. But once you get used to it, there's no better place to be in the world.
Q. Given that the greens are likely to remain receptive, what can the USGA do to create what we normally anticipate on the weekend of a U.S. Open?
RORY McILROY: They could play the golf course at full length. They haven't done this over the past couple of days, they have moved a few tees around. So they can play the golf course at full length. Pin positions today were tricky, really tricky. It's not -- even with receptive greens here, you're still going to run off. And even if they get so receptive the ball spins, the balls spin off the greens and spin everywhere. So it's not like it makes it that much easier.
Q. Has Martin's form surprised the locker room generally?
RORY McILROY: He's an incredibly hard worker. I see him all the time on the range. I see him all the time in the gym. The guys that hit the gym pretty hard on the TOUR, he's always in there. So he's put the work in there and I don't think it's a surprise that he's back to playing the golf that we know that he can play.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports