Rory McIlroy talks charity, golfing with Trump and friendship with Tiger Woods


Rory McIlroy

CBS News

The PGA Tour playoffs begin this week on CBS and last season's FedEx cup champion, Rory McIlroy, is back to defend his crown. He is one of the sport's biggest stars – on and off the golf course. "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell spoke to him at Yankee Stadium about charity, golfing with the president and his good friend, Tiger Woods.

Next month marks McIlroy's 10th year as a professional golfer. He also just got married.

"Rory McIlroy is good. Jeez, if you had to ask me 10 years ago when I was just on the verge of turning professional, 'What would you like the next 10 years to look like?' I would never have envisioned what I've been able to do on the golf course or off it for that matter," McIlroy said.

On the golf course, McIlroy makes it look easy.

"To have all the success I've had in golf, to win major championships, to be able to give back to people less fortunate, that is something I'm very proud of," McIlroy said.

"CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell and Rory McIlroy at Yankee Stadium.  CBS News

At a charity event ahead of the FedEx cup playoffs, he stood alongside Hodgkin lymphoma survivor Mary Browder. FedEx donated $1 million to St. Jude's hospital in McIlroy's name for his FedEx cup win last season.  

"For them to commemorate a million dollar check in my name to the St. Jude hospital, to meet a young lady like Mary and what she's been though and what she's been able to overcome," he said. "She's got a great swing. I said to her before we started, I was like as long you don't beat me too badly here."

At only 28 years old, McIlroy's golf resume is staggering. He's already a four-time major champion, but this year marked a major milestone for him off the course.

"I just got married a few months ago and this is actually three months today, sorry no, four months today!" McIlroy said.

In April, McIlroy married Erica Stoll, a former PGA employee, who he first met in 2012.

Mary Browder, Norah O'Donnell and Rory McIlroy

Earlier this year, McIlroy said he's able to be himself around his new wife. O'Donnell asked, "Is that something you didn't have before?"

"No, it's not something that I didn't have before, but it's something that I feel people in my position, sometimes it's hard to get that because anyone you meet they have a preconceived idea of what you're like," McIlroy said.  

Of his good friend, Tiger Woods, McIlroy said, "Yeah I talked to him a couple of days ago, actually. He's doing good. I think he's really focused on his health right now and getting better." 

"Look he's had some tough times. Again, it's hard when you're going through these tough times and you're under the spotlight because again people have these preconceived ideas of what you're like and sometimes that's not who they are. I'm very lucky to have known Tiger on a personal level for quite a few years now and he's always been great to me. We've formed a really good relationship."

Woods was arrested earlier this year after police found him asleep at the wheel of his car along a Florida roadway. A toxicology report later showed Woods had five different drugs in his system. 

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Of whether he thinks Woods will return to golf next year, McIlroy said:"I mean you've got to think he's going to turn 42 in December and Jack Nicklaus didn't win his last major until he was 46 and Tiger has probably played the best golf we have ever seen. He hasn't got the best record but in a stretch of eight to 10 years, it was the best golf we have ever seen."

Earlier this year, McIlroy played a round with President Trump at his golf club in Palm Beach.

"I enjoyed my time. I enjoyed my time with the president. To go there and just soak in the whole environment, it's pretty incredible especially if you haven't been exposed to it before," he said.

"He's pointing out if you look in the trees there's a sharp shooter and it's incredible. He said to me, 'Rory, this is the safest you'll ever feel today playing golf with me.' So it was a cool experience," McIlroy said. "Look we didn't talk politics. We – I think it was nice for him to talk golf and talk about the different grasses on his greens and that sort of stuff. So he's in tune with the game and he's been a big supporter of golf over the years."

Despite his golfing prowess, McIlroy says there are still things he'd like to improve on. 

"So for me, it's wedge play and specifically from 100 yards to 150 yards,  that's something I really need to work on," he said. And when putting, "from like 10 feet out to 20 feet or 10 to 25 that's where I struggle. And there are two areas of my game if I can improve that would make a huge difference going forward for me."