Embracing Boring Golf, Idolizing Padraig Harrington, And Feeling As Close As He Ever Has To Winning A Fifth Major: Everything Rory McIlroy Said During His 2024 US Open Press Conference

The World No.3 spoke to the media at Pinehurst No.2 on Tuesday ahead of the latest attempt at breaking his Major drought

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media ahead of the 2024 US Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy sat down with the media at Pinehurst No.2 ahead of his latest attempt at breaking his decade-long Major drought at the 2024 US Open

The Northern Irishman's first Major arrived at Congressional in 2011, and he has gone on to win three more at The Open and PGA Championship (twice) since. But despite coming so close at LA Country Club last year, he has been unable to replicate that early success in his career in the subsequent years.

The four-time Major winner began his press conference by stating that he felt he had been in good form at US Opens in recent years, following a "come to Jesus" moment before the 2019 edition.

He said: "I've been on a pretty good run of US Open performances over the last few years. Obviously had a close call at LACC last year, Wyndham just pipping me to the post there.

"But I feel like I really struggled at US Open setups, 2016, '17, '18 in particular. I sort of had a bit of a I guess come-to-Jesus moment after that, tried to really figure out why that was. Then my performances from 2019 and after that have been really, really good."

And towards the end of a typically fascinating and entertaining interview in which McIlroy shared several interesting answers, the 35-year-old insisted he is "as close as I've ever been" to getting his hands on that elusive fifth Major.

Asked if he has continued to set career goals, McIlroy shared that he is still aiming to become the most successful European golfer of all time - going on to admit he is aware that to do that, more Majors must be added.

He said: "I've always said I still feel like being the most successful European in the game is within my reach. I've got obviously Seve and Nick Faldo to pass there in terms of major wins.

I'm really proud of my body of work over the past 15 years and everything that I have achieved, whether it be season-long titles or individual tournaments or majors. Obviously getting my hands on a fifth major has taken quite a while, but I'm more confident than ever that I'm right there, that I'm as close as I've ever been.

I wouldn't say I've got, like, a particular number of wins. I mean, I want to win as many golf tournaments as I can. I want to try to compete and win as many majors as I can."

McIlroy - who currently has an additional 36 pro wins to his name during a career which began in 2007 - finished off by saying: "There's always going to be that tinge of what could have been. I don't want to do that to myself. 

"If someone would have told me at 20 years old I'd be sitting here at 35 and this is the career I've had, I would not have believed them and I would have been ecstatic.

"Still have a good a little bit of time here, hopefully for the next 10 years. I still like to think I've got a good run ahead of me. Whatever those numbers are, whatever the totals add up to, I'll accept that and feel like I've done pretty well for a little boy from Northern Ireland that dreamed of playing golf for a living one day."

Updates from...

Headshot of Jonny Leighfield at Effingham Golf Club October 2023
Jonny Leighfield

Hello and welcome to live updates from Rory McIlroy's pre-US Open press conference here at Pinehurst No.2. 

The Northern Irishman is set to sit down at around 11:30am ET (4:30pm BST), so sit back and relax ahead of finding out what McIlroy has to say! Thank you for joining us.

McIlroy has arrived!

The 2011 US Open champion is in place and adjusted into his seat, so we're all ready to begin...


It feels good. I've been on a pretty good run of U.S. Open performances over the last few years. Obviously had a close call at LACC last year, Wyndham just pipping me to the post there.

But I feel like I really struggled at U.S. Open setups, 2016, '17, '18 in particular. I sort of had a bit of a I guess come-to-Jesus moment after that, tried to really figure out why that was.

Then my performances from 2019 and after that have been really, really good.

Yeah, excited to be back. I really enjoyed Pinehurst last time. We were here in 2014. Just got in, so I'm looking forward to seeing the golf course this afternoon.


I would say for this golf course, it will be around the greens. From what I remember in 2014, it's obviously generous off the tee in terms of the playing corridors that you're asked to hit it into. If you hit it outside of those, you can get yourself into trouble, this sandy waste area.

Like most Donald Ross courses, it's on and around the greens where I'm going to have to sort of do the most work and sort of figure out what shots to hit around greens.

Obviously Martin here 10 years ago used the putter very, very well. Sort of figuring out what I'm comfortable with on and around the greens. I think that will be the big key over the next sort of 36 hours.

And I would say embracing the difficult conditions, embracing the style of golf needed to contend at a US Open, embracing patience. Honestly, embracing what I would have called "boring" back in the day.

Explosiveness isn't going to win a US Open. It's more methodically building your score over the course of four days and being okay with that.

Honestly, it's just more of a reframing of a mindset than anything else.


Yeah, I think when you excel, especially at one part of the game, there's other parts of the game that get overlooked a little bit. I feel like I've turned myself into a pretty proficient player around the greens. I've always been a pretty good chipper of the golf ball. Bunker play has been solid for most of my career. I feel like I've turned myself into a really good putter over the past sort of four or five years.

But yeah, the driving is what people are interested in when they watch me hit a golf ball. That's fine. But it takes more than driving a golf ball to win the amount of tournaments that I have.

Yeah, I feel like all aspects of my game are in pretty good shape at the minute.


Padraig, he's the quintessential pro. He's also a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf around the world, anywhere he goes.

I think from someone that grew up in that part of the world, aspiring to be one of the best golfers in the world, Padraig was the one, I've said this before, but he was the one that opened the floodgates for us and made us believe we could follow in his footsteps. 

Winning in Carnoustie in 2007, then winning those two majors back-to-back in 2008, I think myself Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Shane Lowry, a lot of us, we looked at him and saw him achieving things that we wanted to achieve, and it sort of made us believe a little bit more that we could.

I think he really paved the way for us in some way. No one more deserving. As I said, he's a wonderful ambassador for the game. Probably loves the game of golf more than I do in some ways. He's a relentless practicer and tinkerer, always trying to figure out ways to get better.

Yeah, as I said, no one more deserving than Padraig.


I've never been on a run like this!

The fact that the only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour (laughter).

I think just the relentlessness. Look, a lot of stuff went on in his life, as well. They've just had a new child. He's been through some struggles in his game, particularly the putter that he's been able to turn around, as well.

It's not as if he hasn't had his challenges along the way, or circumstances have been a little bit different for him. But yeah, I mean, the word that I describe it as is "relentless." It seems like every time he shows up, he is the guy to beat, and deservedly so.

This run that he's been on, I think he's played 14 times this year or 13 times this year, only once out of the top 10. Seems like he's always in contention.

The most exciting thing about last week at Memorial was when he made the triple on 9. Everyone was like, oh, looks like he might let people in here, but he finds a way to steady the ship, make a few birdies when he needs to. Undoubtedly the best player in the world at the minute by a long way.

It's up to us to try to get to his level.


I won my next start after LACC at the Scottish Open. Wasn't quite able to emulate that at the Open. I've played enough golf tournaments over my career that once it's done, it's done. You leave it in the past. You try to learn from whatever happened that given week.

The good thing about golf in particular is there's always the next week, always an opportunity to get back up on the horse and try again.


Yeah, because it gives you options and it gives you, like, even going back to last week at Memorial, people hit it offline or people hit a green, you're basically only seeing players hit one shot. There's only one option. That turns into it being somewhat one-dimensional and honestly not very exciting.

I think a course like this definitely demands a different skill set and also some creativity. I think that will be on display this week. I've already seen some videos online of people maybe trying fairway woods or having lob wedges or putters. Even if you get half lucky and get a decent lie in that wire grass, sandy area, being able to hit a recovery shot.

I think for the viewer at home, that's more exciting than seeing guys hack out of four-inch rough all the time. Hopefully that comes to fruition and it is an exciting golf tournament.


McIlroy finishes by insisting he does not have any specific number in mind when it comes to end goals for his career, but did concede that he wants to become the most successful European golfer of all time, if possible. Knows he still has some way to go to do that in terms of Majors, but McIlroy said he will still be extremely proud of his "body of work" whatever happens given he was just a little boy from Northern Ireland who always dreamed of becoming a professional golfer growing up.

That's all from McIlroy this afternoon. He is off for his first look at the 2024 edition of Pinehurst No.2, where he hopes to add that elusive fifth Major...