McIlroy to play Riviera; reveals calming influence of new fiancée
Rory McIlroy speaking to Newstalk

Rory McIlroy speaking to Newstalk

Rory McIlroy had a busy day in Dublin on Thursday. Not only did her visit Facebook's European HQ — he's now got 1 million "likes" on the social media channel — he also spoke to three British golf writers and Off the Ball's Nathan Murphy from Irish radio station Newstalk.

The Daily Mail, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph all led on McIlroy's recent engagement to  in Paris recently and hear from the world No 3 about 28-year old Erica Stoll's "calming presence, a sereneness and that’s not just on me; it is noticeable in any company. She never wants to be the centre of attention and is always very comfortable in the background."

It's a presence he believes can help him become world No 1 again.

The 26-year old from Co Down spoke to Newstalk about his bittersweet year, how impressed he is with the mental strength of Jordan Spieth and how he's happy not to be completely level headed on the golf course all the time because if here were, he'd lose something that makes him who he is.

"I had nowhere near the mental capacity at 22 as he does and I've learned as the years have went [sic] on and I've had to overcome some obstacles to learn," McIlroy said, adding that Spieth "just seems to have that little mental edge. McIlroy will face Spieth in Abu Dhabi and hinted he'd defend the Dubai Desert Classic before playing the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in LA for the first time. In all, he'll play seven events before the Masters rather than five as the WGC-Dell Match Play takes place in Texas in March.

Less inclined these days to throw in the towel when the going gets tough — "I’ve definitely gotten better at sticking at it and grinding it out and turning that 75 or 76 into a 70 and just not shooting my way out of a tournament" — his goals for 2016 may well be of the micro and the macro in terms of winning big events and majors and avoiding things like three putts.

"Lifestyle, fitness, eating better or trying to cut things out at tournaments," he said.

All in all, he appeared happier than ever and given his talent, his fitness and his off course happiness, a big 2016 season is on the cards for the four-time major winner.


On 2015...

"It's been a good year, it hasn't been a great year but I'm really happy with how everything has gone, especially post-injury and winning a golf tournament (DP World Tour championship) before the end of the year,. That was important to me, to sign off the year on the right note. Happy enough with the season but definitely want next year to be better."

On Spieth...

"He's impressive. For a. . . I can't say a kid that young. . . he's four years younger than me, but I had nowhere near the mental capacity at 22 as he does. I've learned as the years went on, and I've had to overcome some obstacles to learn, but he just seems to have that little mental edge. He's such a great thinker and he manages himself so well. Even if he's having a bad day, he's still able to find a way to grind it out, or find a way to get something out of the round. He's a great thinker in that way."

On winning that elusive Masters (he's got the Northern Trust and the WGC Dell Match Play in a seven even run before Augusta)...

"I really won't start thinking about it until it's closer to the tournament, I've got seven tournaments before Augusta, which is a lot for me. Augusta used to be my sixth of the year. Now it's going to change. The Match Play is before Augusta now and I've added an extra event in the States just because I want to go and play the golf course. I've heard Riviera is a great course and I want to go there and play in LA. It's a couple of extra events, hopefully just a little sharper and a little more ready. I need to feel I'm right in the middle of the season (when I get to Augusta),

"Over the last couple of years, I've played pretty well at Augusta but I've got off to a little bit of a slow start each time. Whether that was because I was a little bit under-golfed, that definitely won't be the case in 2016."