Rory McIlroy speaks about local connection and preparing for competition at Oak Hill

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Rory Mcllroy, the No. 3 ranked golfer in the world from North Ireland whose wife is a Rochester native, says he already feels the “hometown love” at Oak Hill.

Mcllroy is set to tee off at 8:11 a.m. on Thursday, the first day of competition for the 2023 PGA Championship which runs through Sunday. He spoke about his practice this week at Oak Hill at a press conference on Wednesday.

Mcllroy said it’s been years since he’s competed at Oak Hill, but he feels strong support from local fans, in part because of his local connection. McIlroy seemed to be the crowd favorite when News10NBC asked spectators.

“I got a lot of support out there yesterday in the practice round, and yeah, I certainly know this area probably a little better than most of the people in the field,” McIlroy said. “Hopefully that support will help me and give me some momentum as the week goes on. Yeah, it’s nice to come back to somewhere that you’re familiar with, that you’ve got obviously really good memories and sort of good karma.”

Mcllroy’s wife, Erica Stoll, is a 2003 graduate of West Irondequoit High School and a 2008 graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. She previously worked for the PGA of America.

The couple, who live in Florida, married in 2017. They had their first child in 2020. Mcllroy said he has enjoyed spending some summers, falls, and Christmases in the Rochester area.

“I love the seasons, we live in Florida. We don’t get that, so it’s nice to come up here and see the leaves change in October and have the snow and Christmas time,” he said.

Mcllroy also said he’s learned some things about the culture of Western New York, including how important the Buffalo Bills are.

“It’s certainly easier to root for the Bills when Josh Allen is playing football,” he said.

On Thursday and Friday, Mcllroy will play with reigning PGA champion Justin Thomas, who also won the championship in 2017. He will also play with Collin Morikawa, who won the 2020 PGA Championship and the Open Championship in 2021.

During the last PGA Championship at Oak Hill ten years ago, Mcllroy tied for eighth place. He won the 2012 PGA Championship and has won three other majors.