Rory McIlroy held his Masters press conference today. Answering a wide-ranging area of questioning, Rory appeared relaxed and poised while solidifying his place as one of the game’s most respected and well-spoken figures.
Here are some of his responses that resonated with me.
When asked about the dynamic of players from the LIV Tour and the PGA Tour in the Masters field:
“This week and this tournament are way bigger than any of that, I feel, and it’s just great that all of the best players in the world are together again for the first time in what seems to be quite a while…Look, it’s a narrative and a storyline, but the Masters and the four major championships sit above all that noise, and that’s how it should be this week.
Translation: The enormity of the Masters dwarfs the lingering controversy between the rival Tours.
When asked about the USGA’s and R&A”s recent decision to rein in distance and technology, particularly with the ball, and if that’s the right way to go about it:
“To me, if we really want to keep the old, historical venues relevant, if that’s something that’s important to the game of golf, then I would say that this is a step in the right direction…
It’s a big deal, and you know, it could dramatically change the landscape of our game going forward. I’m certainly in the camp that I believe that it’s the right thing to do.”
This thoughtful reply reveals how McIlroy looks at the big picture and how these proposed changes to the golf ball (for elite players only) are fundamentally a matter of “sustainability,” and how rolling back the golf ball will make course renovations less costly. As McIlroy alluded to earlier in this question, not many clubs can afford to make the changes Augusta National did with the lengthening of its 13th hole. It’s been rumored the club purchased the needed property from Augusta CC for $20 million. Other “major” venues (Oakland Hills, Congressional, et al) have similarly spent millions to lengthen their yardages and to reposition bunkers to counteract the increased distance of the modern player.
When asked about his new driver:
“I worked with the guys at TaylorMade to find a driver and get really dialed in. Obviously, I was really happy with how that performed at the Match Play in Austin a couple of weeks ago.
That was huge — I guess a huge weight off my shoulders in a way. If I can drive the ball well, it’s the foundation of my game, and I can really play from there and take advantage of that.”
The other key club in McIIroy’s bag is his putter. Not asked about it today, McIlroy recently put in a replica of the PING putter with which he won his first majors. If the driver and the putter are on this week like they were at the Match Play, this should be McIIroy’s time to win the Masters.
When asked about the mental side of the game, particularly this week:
“I’ve worked with Bob Rotella (sports psychologist) now pretty consistently for the last couple years, and just chats with him. I always feel a little bit better about everything, a little bit better about myself after I sort of have a chat with him.
So you know, he’s actually getting in today. We’re going to spend a little bit of time tonight and tomorrow. I just feel after I talk to him, just a lot more relaxed, a lot more loose, a lot more confident in myself.”
When asked about Tiger Woods and if he can contend this week:
He looks good. You know, if he didn’t have to walk up these hills and have all of that, I’d say he’d be one of the favorites. I mean, he’s got all of the shots. It’s just that physical limitation of walking 72 holes, especially on a golf course as hilly as this.
But again, as we all know, we never count Tiger out, and he can do incredible things.
When asked about getting off to a better start in the Masters:
“What’s the biggest thing here in Augusta? Greens in regulation, hitting greens. If you get off to a good start, it’s way easier to get into that mindset when you’ve been off to a fast start.”
image courtesy of TaylorMade