Rory: "A gold medal might be one of my crowning achievements"
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy’s pre-tournament interview for the Wells Fargo Championship was a little like his form around Quail Hollow. Not only did he not put a foot wrong, there were few surprises.

That he’s not playing the BMW PGA at Wentworth is not a huge shock given his schedule — he’s playing the next three events.

Then there was his bid for Olympic gold.

After all the agonising over whether he would play for Team Great Britain & Northern Ireland or Ireland, he was hardly going to commit PR suicide and join Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel on the WD list at this late stage.

There’s also the fact that he thinks there a chance an Olympic gold medal might be considered a huge golfing achievement in future, just as those early Masters champions never guessed they’d be considered grand slam winners at some stage.

As for the withdrawals, McIlroy said his primary concern is not letting Ireland, and especially Paul McGinley down:

"He is so into it. He’s more into it than I am, quite honestly, but because he's so into it, I would feel like I'm not only letting him down, I'd let the country down as well. But Paul's a very close friend of mine and I feel like if I didn't play, I would let him down big time. So that’s why I want to go down and give it my best shot….
"It's a week. You know, I'm going to get all my shots next week. The doctor's on site at THE PLAYERS, get my shots for Zika, and get my shots for everything else that I need to. You know, go play four rounds really competitively and try and win a gold medal.
"And if you do, I don't know how that will stack up against the other things that I've done in my career now, but maybe I might look back in 20 years time and a gold medal might be one of my crowning achievements in the game, you never know. So it’s an opportunity to do something that you’ve never done before."

As for his schedule, McIlroy is not playing four in a row because he has to play six events in 11 weeks during the summer and then take on the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup. 

Since the Masters, he’s been working on his swing, he said. After all, he's winless since the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last year.

"I'm working quite a lot on a couple of technical things coming into this week so hopefully I can continue to bed them in and get some competitive play as well. Literally, the seven holes that I played yesterday, I think I've played, you know, 18 holes in total since Augusta.
"So I'm looking forward to playing another 18 today and then getting at it tomorrow. Working on the swing quite hard and feels like it's getting more comfortable in what I'm trying to do and it's just a work in progress, but excited to get back on the course and into competition tomorrow. 
"Yeah, I mean, the reason that I took three weeks off after Augusta is I'm not going to have more than a week off until after the Ryder Cup. So through October it's going to be  until October it's going to be very busy. So I'm playing here, next week at THE PLAYERS, the Irish Open, and then I'll take a week off.
"Then it's basically week on, week off from there. Memorial, week off, U.S. Open, week off, French Open, week off, Open, week off, PGA, week off, Olympics, week off, FedExCup, Ryder Cup. So there’s a lot of sort of week on, week off and there’ lot of travel in there as well, so it’s a busy stretch coming up.
"You can't play every week. You want to feel as fresh as you can for every tournament that you play, so I feel like it's the best way for me to approach it. And it’s a busy summer, but I’m looking forward to all the opportunities I have to get some wins and play well."

As for Quail Hollow, where he has two wins and a playoff defeat on his CV since 2010, he said: "The greens are firm, they've got subair so the greens are firm, they're in perfect shape. But the fairways, if it doesn't get any firmer, they're going to have to play lift, clean and place. I mean I was getting mud balls basically every tee shot that I hit. 

"It makes it difficult. Physically I don't think it will  the ground's a little heavier and you might feel a little bit tired at the end of the day but I don't think that should matter too much. But it will make the course play a lot longer, and if anything, that plays into my hands a little bit.”