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THE IRISH OPEN


June 20, 2014


Graeme McDowell


FOTA ISLAND, IRELAND

Q.テつ Lovely round of golf this morning.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, decent today, a bit better.テつ Like I said yesterday, feel like I'm going to get stronger as the weekend goes on and nice to go out there and only missed two fairways this morning, and iron play was getting there.
You know, hit some decent irons.テつ You know, starting to get the feel of these greens.テつ They were nice this morning.テつ I made a few nice ones.テつ Big putt on 10, which was the first, my tenth, for a par, and that started off sort of a chain of events where I birdied four of the next five.テつ That was a momentum keeper right there.

Q.テつ You come into the tournament leaving the U.S. Open with a wee bit of work to do for your game but obviously you've sorted things out very quickly.テつ
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ The game remains requiring some work.テつ But feel like as I play my way into the summer, I haven't played a lot of golf the last couple months; as I work my way into the summer, I feel like I'm starting to feel my golf swing, feel my short game and feel my putting.
I'm a feel player.テつ I'm a guy that needs to spend time on the golf course with a card in his pocket to see where he's at, and perhaps I'm just a little under‑golfed there the last few months and I'm just needing a little bit of golf under my belt.テつ

Q.テつ You seem to thrive with the big crowd, a lot of support out there today.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ A lot of fun.テつ Typically this is a big week and a lot of pressure and expectation but I feel like perhaps coming off last week at the U.S. Open, that pressure and expectation, that was maybe lower than normal.
So perhaps a reason why I'm a little bit more comfortable in general.テつ Looking forward to going into the weekend in some kind of contention, and enjoying the crowds here at Fota Island.

Q.テつ Good day at the office on day one and even better one today.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, absolutely.テつ I mentioned yesterday, I feel like I will get stronger and stronger as the weekend goes on, and this morning was a little batter.テつ Only missed two fairways, iron play was a little sharper, and chipping and putting was a little bit sharper.
Still room for improvement.テつ I feel like my third week in a row I'm starting to feel my swing a little bit and trying to really kind of getting into a bit of a groove in my game.テつ You know, perhaps a little bit under‑golfed by design the last few months; maybe not playing enough, and I'm the kind of guy who needs to get a card in his pocket and get out there and get some competitive practice.
So starting to feel my swing but plenty of room for improvement.

Q.テつ 8‑under is a very nice total to have, but still some dangers on the course?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ For sure.テつ This is a great golf course.テつ There's half a dozen tee shots on this course, which are some of the more narrow and tougher tee shots that we face all year.
Holes like 18, there's no room for error on 18.テつ 10 is a very difficult tee shot here.テつ Even 9 where we finish today is a very tough tee shot.テつ Emphasis on driving the ball.テつ That's what I liked when I first saw this golf course, drove it well this morning, found the short stuff, which is key.
Nice to get a few short irons in the hand.テつ Pinehurst No.2 didn't really allow short irons very often and this week, you know, it's been feeling lies to get a short iron in my hand and I've been pretty sharp as well, and I putted well this morning.テつ All good.テつ Looking forward to the weekend.テつ I'll need some more of the same if I want to compete.
A little sharper this morning.テつ Kept the ball in play off the tee, which is key around this golf course.テつ I think I only missed two fairways today.テつ Iron play was sharper and putted a little better this morning.
So I kind of said yesterday that I felt like I would get stronger and stronger as the weekend went on and I felt a bit fresher and sharper this morning.テつ You know, the game's not per cent, but this is my third week in a row and I'm kind of starting to get some feels and some good sensations from my golf swing.テつ Hopefully if I can continue that into the weekend, nice to be into some contention going into a Saturday here at The Irish Open and looking forward to it.

Q.テつ A lot of times it's not just the birdies you don't make but the bogeys you don't make; how important was the putt at the first?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ That was massive.テつ Like you say, sometimes the par putts are the ones that are nearly more important than the birdie putts.テつ That one on 1 was massive because it set off a chain of events where I birdied four of the next five, so very, very pleasing.
Saw the greens better today.テつ Felt my speed better today and I felt like I putted really well.テつ General sharpness was there this morning and hopefully I can stay fresh.テつ I'm really looking forward to the weekend.テつ Should be some fun.

Q.テつ You haven't had the greatest event record here at The Irish Open; 11th is your best finish.テつ How exciting to be going into the weekend with this sort of support and a chance to win?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, it's nice, there's always a first time for everything.テつ For me to be competing in The Irish Open, that's a first.テつ Having some fun with that.
Normally there's some pressure and expectation in The Irish Open.テつ I think maybe coming off the U.S. Open last week with as much pressure and frustration and expectation as you feel there.テつ Perhaps that's why I'm dealing with it a little bit better here this week because it nearly feels like the proverbial walk in the park by comparison.
Having a good time, golf course is fun.テつ I'm just looking forward to two more rounds.

Q.テつ That's what you needed, really, wasn't it.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, a little sharper this morning.テつ Legs felt a bit fresher.テつ Missed two fairways this morning, which is key.テつ Getting it in play around this golf course is huge.テつ Iron play was a bit better, and putted well this morning.
So all in all, just a couple of steps in the right direction from yesterday.テつ 8‑under is a nice total so far.テつ Don't expect it to be leading at the end of the day.テつ Doesn't need to be leading.テつ It's only Friday.テつ Just excited to be in contention in an Irish Open really.テつ Surprised, excited.テつ Having some fun with it and looking forward to the weekend.

Q.テつ It is a new experience being in contention in an Irish Open, should have happened before, but this has to be a chance for you to win, and not just your first Top‑10?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I'm not really sure if the pressure is from last week‑‑ of course, Irish Open brings it's own pressure and expectation level but it's less than last week, and I think that's probably the big factor for me this week.
I'm enjoying it.テつ I'm relaxed.テつ I'm trying to free myself up and enjoy my golf.テつ This is a fun game to play.テつ I mean, we are very lucky to play it for a living but last week, borderline, borders on the unenjoyable, because the golf course is so frustratingly difficult.
So it's hard to kind of not nearly enjoy yourself this week with so many great fans out there, a much more user‑friendly golf course.テつ Yeah, I'm having a little fun with it.

Q.テつ You missed 3‑putts inside seven feet today, could have been a lower round.テつ Over the weekend, if it all goes together, what number do you see yourself shooting?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, it's probably going to take 14 or 15 to win this weekend.テつ I'll probably need another six, seven, or eight to have a chance to win.テつ A lot of great players here this weekend.テつ Robert Rock obviously up there who knows his way around an Irish Open; Mikko Ilonen 7‑under going out this afternoon.
We'll see.テつ I'm just happy to be in contention.テつ It's only Friday.テつ I have a lot of work to do this weekend if my game hopes to continually improve as the weekend goes on.テつ I feel like third week in a row, didn't hit it great at Memphis, hit it a bit better at Pinehurst and hitting it a little bit better again this week and nice to see that type of progression as I head into a very busy summer.テつ Trying to focus on the big picture as well this weekend.

Q.テつ You have the bit between your teeth here, and you have a massive gallery behind you.テつ It's going to get bigger over the weekend, a vibe you may not have experienced in your career so far?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I've played in front of many big crowds before, but maybe none as passionate here as the Irish crowd.テつ So I'm‑‑ there's nothing quite like it when a crowd is pulling for you, and it's a fun experience.テつ Maybe something like you say that I've never experienced before except perhaps at a Ryder Cup.テつ Looking forward to it.
It's just fun to be part of this tournament and like I say, fun to be contending and this is my type of golf course from the point of view, it's not that long, you've got to drive it in the fairway and you get‑‑ it's fun to get some short irons in my hand.
I'd say if I got half a dozen short irons in my hand last week at Pinehurst, that was it.テつ And this week, you know, my wedge play is actually quite sharp.テつ It feels nice to get some wedges in there.

Q.テつ You spoke yesterday about being a little bit fatigued, maybe a bit jet‑lagged.テつ When you woke up this morning, were you back feeling per cent?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I looked in the mirror this morning and I looked a little rough when I got up.テつ I felt fresher this morning than I did yesterday afternoon bizarrely, even though from a jet‑lag point of view, yesterday afternoon should have suited me well.
But no, I felt fresher this morning.テつ I just felt my legs being a little stronger.テつ That's where I always feel it.テつ When I'm fatigued, tired, jet‑lagged, even hung over, the first thing that goes is your legs, and yesterday they didn't feel strong.テつ Today they felt stronger.テつ I'll get my practise done.テつ I'll get back.テつ I'll get some sleep this afternoon, maybe get into the gym later and just stay loose and hopefully the legs will stay nice and fresh this weekend and have some fun.
Win, lose or draw, it's nice to contend.テつ Just have a little fun with it.

Q.テつ A huge weight of expectation leading the home challenge going into the weekend.テつ Is that something that sits comfortably on your shoulders?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, there is pressure and expectation this week, but it's less than it was at the U.S. Open last week, and perhaps maybe that's why I'm handling it better than I generally do.
It's fun to be out there.テつ It's fun to play a user‑friendly golf course like this one that doesn't scare you on every hole like Pinehurst No.2 did last week where it was nearly unenjoyable.テつ Fun to be enjoying my golf a little bit this week.テつ Let's hope this weather continues and we get some more Irish players on the board.

Q.テつ Were you and Paul feeding off each other?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, Paul is a great player, as is Shane.テつ It's always nice to play with two quality players.テつ And great to see Shane make a fantastic four on the last and hope he gets into the weekend and gets another couple of rounds under his belt.テつ A fun three‑ball; battle of the beards.

Q.テつ An important couple of rounds in terms of the whole season and Ryder Cup points and just getting your hands on the trophy.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Like you say, I'm looking at the big picture this weekend really.テつ I've been unhappy with my game now for a few months.テつ Really getting frustrated with myself in general trying to be a little too perfect.テつ Tried to loosen myself up a little bit yesterday and today and try to enjoy my golf a little bit.テつ Getting some good feels coming back in my technique and chipping and putting.
I'm the kind of guy who needs to be on a golf course.テつ I don't find my swing well on the range.テつ I find it well with a card in my pocket.テつ Perhaps I'm a little under‑golfed at this point in the season compared to where I normally am.
That's by design because I'm trying to stay fresh and I'm trying to have a long career, but you know, there's a balance to be found.テつ I need to be golfed but at the same time I need to be fresh, so getting that‑‑ striking that balance is always hard.

Q.テつ Would you like to think there's some intimidation factor when guys see your name on the board?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ It would be nice to think of myself as intimidating.テつ I don't know.テつ I don't know if I'm that intimidating a guy.
This is my type of golf course, so I feel like I can hang with anybody around this golf course; a Rory McIlroy or some of these really long guys.テつ You know, this golf course, yeah, par is important, but accuracy is huge.テつ The rough's very thick in places.
So what I lose in par I'm making up for in accuracy around here so I feel like I can hang with anyone here and hopefully do a little competing this weekend.テつ Like I say, get some more Irish boys on the board.

Q.テつ Why are you driving it so well?テつ You've only missed four fairways in two days.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I'm back on an old backup driver which is a little bit shorter and a little bit straighter.テつ I have a few drivers there in my bag as I go to the range this afternoon.テつ I'm looking for the long straight one, but on the minute I'm on the short straight one.

Q.テつ How much troubling is that quest for length with all these young guys hitting it so far?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ There's no doubt there's an element of me who plays two rounds with Rory McIlroy last week and walks off Friday afternoon thinking I need to go get back to the drawing board and re‑design my game because it demoralises me when I play with those guys because I'm not capable of hitting the shots that he hits, 350‑yard drives and towering 5‑irons.
My caddie said‑‑ Kenny said to me, "I've got two words for you, Jim Furyk."テつ He's trying to keep me driven to play the game that can win tournaments for us.テつ We can't get sucked in by the Dustin Johnsons and Rorys and Tigers of this world, because you know, I'm 35 years old next month, and if I don't have that now, I'm never going to have that unfortunately.
So I need to, I guess I need to get over that, but it's a hard one.テつ It creeps up on me every now and again.テつ I'm thinking, I want to hit it 20 yards further.テつ Maybe I need to hit it 20 yards further.テつ But if that's at the detriment to the rest of my game, then I've got to stay away from that.

Q.テつ You're almost leading the driving accuracy stats; would you consider changing your driver mid‑tournament?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No, I'm only going to change it if it's as straight as the one I've got in my bag.テつ I warmed up with two drivers on the range this morning and ended up back with the original.テつ No, I mean, I'm not‑‑ I'm probably not going to change my driver this weekend.テつ It's just purely for the future, really, that I continue to try to find just something that's a little faster.テつ Trying to get this old man keeping up with these young guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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