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June 18, 2014

Graeme McDowell


PAUL SYMES:テつ Welcome home and thanks for joining us, as always.テつ Fair to say it's a special week for every Irishman on The European Tour.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, always great to be at The Irish Open, especially, you know, it's such a beautiful golf course as this one here at Fota Island and the world looks like a beautiful place when the sun shines.テつ Certainly wouldn't need houses in Florida if the sun shone here in Ireland like this every day.テつ It's beautiful out there.テつ The course is in great shape and this is where I made my Irish Open debut back in 2002, so good memories.
Yeah, it's really set for a great week.テつ Like I say, the course is great.テつ If we can get more of this weather, the fans will come out and enjoy the week, and it will be a really great showcase for Irish golf in general.テつ So really excited about the weekend.
PAUL SYMES:テつ Has the course changed much in that 12 years?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ To be honest with you, I didn't really remember much about the course from 2002, apart from a few holes here and there.テつ Second professional event, I was definitely still the rabbit in the headlights a little bit and taking it all in.
So didn't really have a lot of memories about the golf course, but you know, pleasantly surprised as to how picturesque this place is and how good the golf course played.テつ There's a lot of very tough tee shots out there.
The rough is thick, real premium on accuracy off the tee.テつ It's long in places, but you do get a lot of medium and short irons in your hand at times.テつ It really is a course you can score on.
Hopefully, like I say, we can keep the weather going and enjoy the weekend.

Q.テつ What do you make of Rory's announcement that he wants to play for Ireland in the Olympic Games?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I did hear that through the grapevine out there.テつ I think it's great that he's put it to bed at last.テつ I think it was a contentious, complicated, complex issue that I suppose the issue could have been settled very quickly with a straight answer.
But you know, I think it's a good boost for everyone here this week.テつ You know, to have Rory McIlroy representing Ireland in the Olympic Games is very special.テつ I'm glad that he's committed and that's cool.テつ I'm hoping to be there alongside him.テつ There's no doubt he'll be there.テつ I just have to keep my game ticking over and hopefully I'll be there, as well.
Like I say, important that he's put that to bed and we can move on and start thinking about what it's going to be like to be at the Olympics representing our country.テつ Like I say, great to have that commitment from him.

Q.テつ You said before that you would play for Ireland, so are you declaring, as well?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I'm committed to Ireland.テつ I represented Ireland in the World Cup last year down in Australia, and I believe under the Olympic regulations, I was then committed to play for Ireland.テつ So, yes, I am hoping to represent Ireland in the Olympic Games in 2016, yeah, definitely.

Q.テつ What would that be like then, playing alongside Rory in the Olympics?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I've played alongside Rory in Ryder Cups and World Cups and things like that, but you know, really have no concept of what the Olympic Games is going to be like.テつ Biggest sporting event on the planet.
It's definitely going to be interesting to see how golf fits into the whole Olympic Programme.テつ You know, we have the four major championships and the Olympic Gold medal should be at least on par with those.テつ So it's important that we get the format right, and that the guys embrace it and it gets the best field in the world.
So you know, I really want to be there.テつ Like I say, it's hard to know how it's going to fit into sort of golf as we know it, but I certainly know that I want to be there from an experienced point of view and stand at the podium and receive a medal for your country at the Olympic Games will be pretty amazing stuff.テつ It will be cool to be there.

Q.テつ Can you maybe elaborate a little bit on how difficult a decision you think it was for Rory to make this announcement today?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, you know, we've spoken about it many, many times.テつ We are in a very unique scenario in Northern Ireland.テつ We kind of have one foot in each camp, if you like.テつ We could easily declare for Great Britain or we could easily declare for Ireland.
So it's a very unique scenario.テつ I'm not sure if there's any other country like that in the world really.テつ Obviously there's lots of athletes with dual passports, etc., and ties to different countries.
But to be in a country like Northern Ireland which has sports, where we have all‑Ireland teams and we have sports which are split, and somewhere along the line, those splits happened and obviously soccer is two teams and rugby is one team.
To me, golf is always an all‑Ireland sport.テつ I grew up wanting to wear the green blazer with a Shamrock on it and have a green golf bag with the Ireland logo on it.テつ That's what I wanted when I was a kid.
So it makes sense that the best players in Ireland, whether it be north or south of the border, should want to represent Ireland in the Olympic Games.テつ It's a very difficult decision, though.テつ I mean, because if you want to get religious or political about it, declaring for one or the other, you're going to upset someone theoretically.
Like I say, I'm glad he's put it to bed, because it's not a question I want to keep answering over and over, because you end up sort of setting yourself up for failure really with the wrong answer.テつ I was kind of glad that I had the opportunity to play the World Cup last year and put it to bed personally for me, because, you know, there was no room for anymore conversation.テつ I'm committed to play for Ireland.
Like I say, it's great that he's committed and it's a big boost on a big week for Irish golf as it is:テつ With The Open Championship announcement from Portrush, and this from Rory this week and a sunny Irish Open ahead of us here at a beautiful golf course.テつ Things are good.

Q.テつ And have you had any negative reaction with your decision; that you think perhaps Rory, he may have some negative reaction with his decision?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No.テつ There's been absolutely no negative reaction and I don't expect there to be any negative reaction.テつ It's a very unique part of the world, and I think from a golfing point of view, as players, we receive equal support from north and south of the border.テつ I don't really think‑‑ thankfully, our sport doesn't really kind of draw that contentious crowd like some of the other sports do, so we are very fortunate.
I don't see there being any problem with this.テつ Anybody that wants to have a problem with it, really, is being a little bit too‑‑ they are kind of looking too hard at it really.テつ It's an interesting one.

Q.テつ You said some very complimentary things about the golf course there.テつ Could you elaborate and tell us what you like about it?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, it's beautiful‑looking, big trees and it frames up well.テつ There's plenty of grass out there.テつ It's a pretty‑looking golf course.テつ There's a few kind of blind tee shots and you've got to move the ball around a little bit.テつ It's just a pretty‑looking golf course, and it plays well.テつ Greens are running nicely.
Like I say, good premium on accuracy off the tee, as well.テつ The rough is pretty lush in places.テつ So you've got to drive the ball well.テつ There are going to be some good scoring, as well.テつ You get some medium and short irons in your hands; the greens are fairly receptive, maybe a few days of that type of sunshine, they might bake out a little bit.テつ But it feels like a proverbial walk in the park after Pinehurst No.2, as well, put it that way.テつ Feels fun again.テつ Golf feels fun again.

Q.テつ You have already achieved so much in your career in golf.テつ Would it be incomplete if you didn't win an Irish Open in your career?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I think it really depends on one view of what a complete career is.テつ I think as golfers, we are fairly perfectionist, and it's pretty tough to have the complete career.テつ To win the Grand Slam and your National Open and a few Ryder Cups, and I don't know, I mean, pretty tough to gauge what a complete career would be for me.
Yeah, would I love to win an Irish Open?テつ Of course I would.テつ My record is not really shining in this tournament, but you know, certainly here to try and put pay to that this week, and this is the type of golf course that I feel like I can win an Irish Open on.テつ So I've got to drive it well, and like I say, hit my irons‑‑ get medium and short irons in my hands and try and score this week.
So I'm excited.テつ Yeah, I'd love‑‑ there's no doubt.テつ Talking with my caddie today; if the sun was shining here come the weekend and going down the stretch Sunday afternoon with one of the other Irish players, Pテδ。draig or Rory or Darren or something like that or Shane, would be a pretty special thing to be involved in.テつ I figure there will be big crowds here this weekend and love to be part of that.

Q.テつ Is there a sense after the mental discipline required to play last week that you can almost go out and enjoy yourself this week and cut loose, even if it is an Irish Open?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Very much so.テつ I think there is an element of that.テつ There is that little decompression after a major, especially one as intense as last week.テつ To the point where I heard other players say that they didn't really have a lot of fun or enjoy playing out there.
It got to the point Saturday midway through my round, I made a few bogeys in a row, and you know, I'm 12, 14, 15 shots behind the leader, and frustration does set in.テつ Because you know, mediocrity, middle of the pack, beating your head against the wall that is Pinehurst No.2, it's tough.テつ It's frustrating, but you do learn a lot from those moments, as well.
I try to re‑motivate myself and realize that I need every dollar and every World Ranking point I can get my hands on right now from a Ryder Cup point of view.テつ So that was my motivation, I suppose, the last 27 holes the weekend.
There is no doubt, you know, feels nice to be decompressing and relaxing, and you do feel like you're playing a little bit looser here this week.テつ You look around these putting surfaces and there's not a lot of trouble around them.テつ You feel like your iron play all of a sudden changes back to aggressive mode again.

Q.テつ What you were saying about your objection over the last 27 holes of the U.S. Open, and you mentioned putting a few dollars on the board; you have always said this chunk of the season is where your Ryder Cup future will be pretty much determined.テつ Where do you think you stand on that at the moment in regards to qualifying?テつ Do you feel under pressure at all?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No, I mean, it's one of those things that's going to take care of itself.テつ If I'm going out there every day thinking about The Ryder Cup Team, I'm not going to see the wood through the trees really.テつ I've just got to try and focus on my game and play as best I can.テつ I have a busy schedule coming up.テつ I'm going to be ready every week I tee it up.
I can't really go put myself under pressure to make the team.テつ I know I need a good summer to do it.テつ Do I sit down every Monday and study The Ryder Cup rankings?テつ No, I don't.
I'm acutely aware that I need a good summer, but I want a good summer for me, not because I want to make the Ryder Cup team.テつ I want to have a good summer anyway.テつ So hopefully the rest will take care of itself.

Q.テつ At Pinehurst ‑‑ and you were talking about premium driving here, how is the driving?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I'm struggling driving the left‑hand side of the road for a start (laughter).テつ Pulling out of the airport last night, I was very confused.
I do have two drivers in the bag this morning there in practise.テつ So it's a work‑in‑progress, shall we say.テつ Been chipping away at it.テつ Yeah, I'm not driving the ball the way I'd like to, but it's a week like this, a week where I can hopefully get dialed in. Pinehurst, you don't get a lot of drivers in your hand.
Typically I drive the ball better on go fl courses where I hit a lot of drivers.テつ When I get on golf courses which maybe I hit a lot of other clubs and I only hit half a dozen drivers a round, those are courses I don't drive the ball well.テつ I've always been that way.テつ When I go to like a Valderrama, for example, you don't hit of drivers around there, and typically I don't drive it well.
Maybe a course like this week where I do hit a lot of drivers is a week where I can get into a bit of a groove with my driver and get my confidence back again.

Q.テつ Talking about driving on the right‑hand side of the road, a bit of a suggestion, I know Dubai is not on European soil, but the thought of The Ryder Cup going to Dubai, given the strong presence of The European Tour in that region, do you think it's perhaps a reality?テつ Do you see it happening one day?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, you know, when you say it, it sounds a little kind of crazy, but you know, when you look at what Dubai and the Middle East means to The European Tour, it would be a pretty‑‑ it would be a pretty amazing Ryder Cup venue, let's be honest.テつ I don't think the Americans would have a problem with it.
They have got some amazing golf courses over there and it would be a hell of a showcase for world golf.テつ Yeah, I mean, like I say, it's a crazy thought, but there's no doubt, The European Tour, Dubai is a big‑‑ is nearly kind of the spiritual headquarters of The European Tour.
So I couldn't really‑‑ I wouldn't have a problem with the argument that it could have potential to be a Ryder Cup venue, which that would be a fun place to have a Ryder Cup.

Q.テつ Thoughts on Portrush getting an Open Championship?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, that's pretty special stuff.テつ I know they haven't put a date on it, not before 2019, subject to course changes and the members saying yes, which I'll assume they will.
Yeah, it's a dream come true for a kid growing up in Portrush.テつ 1951 Open is only a legends.テつ It's not really something that we can relate to in any shape or form.テつ So to have an Open Championship coming back there, that's pretty special stuff.テつ Very proud of Portrush and very proud of Ireland in general really.
I think it galvanises everything that's happened since 2008 when Pテδ。draig started winning his Majors, followed by myself, Rory and Darren.テつ I think it's just rewards for everything that we've accomplished, and getting the Open back to Portrush is a big boost for the pros in Northern Ireland, and political stability and peace and all of these things really.テつ It's big stuff.テつ It's cool.

Q.テつ You went to Hoylake yesterday?

Q.テつ What did you make of the course and the setup, and just in terms of coming into an Irish Open, almost takes one day of pressure off, hit the ground running just coming into the Pro‑Am.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I played there in 2006.テつ Didn't have amazing recollection of the golf course, so it was great to go there yesterday and sort of re‑introduce myself to the golf course and the setup.テつ It was a big green.テつ It was a bit lush.テつ There's plenty of rough around.テつ It wasn't up to speed.
2006 obviously was incredibly fast when Tiger won there when we played there.テつ It was probably the fastest Open we've ever played.テつ They tell me the golf course was like that five weeks before.テつ Hopefully some good forecasts and get the course burnt out a little bit.テつ It's tough, a lot more narrow than I remember.テつ Greens were, like I say, I'm not sure if that's just a Pinehurst No.2 factor, but greens looked big and flat.テつ They looked big and flat out there to me, as well.
But the greens were not a lot of undulations on them at all.テつ Great golf course.テつ Good venue.テつ I really like those venues kind of in and around mid‑Britain, Birkdale, Lytham.テつ I think they are always pretty exciting Opens and crowds and stuff.テつ So it will be a good venue.
Was there a second part of that question?
Yeah, I love coming to The Irish Open but there's obviously a lot of demands on our time here and big crowds and people want photos and autographs and they don't get to see us very often.テつ I do like kind of floating in under the radar in this tournament just from an energy point of view and using my time as effectively as I can.テつ And sneaking in that little practise round for a major championship just takes the pressure off when it comes to the Open, as well.
It was nice to get here last night, and enjoyed my round this morning and we'll be ready to go tomorrow.テつ Got a nice group there with Shane and defending champion, Paul Casey, so looking forward to it.

Q.テつ It's been a storied week for Irish golf with The Open going to Portrush and Rory announcing today he is going to play for Ireland in the Olympics.テつ Is all that's missing an Irish win?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Absolutely.テつ No doubt.テつ I think we have got plenty of chances.テつ Like we spoke about earlier, I'd love to put my first win on the board this season right here this week.テつ Certainly love to add The Irish Open to my resumテδゥ.
It would be a special thing to even contend this weekend with big crowds and hopefully some great sunshine and this is a beautiful, beautiful looking golf course.テつ So it will be really a cool showcase for golf in Ireland this weekend.
PAUL SYMES:テつ Thanks very much.

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