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November 6, 2014

Graeme McDowell


SARAH GWYNN:テつ Graeme, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.テつ Congratulations on a very nice round out there.テつ Just talk us through the highlights of that one.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, good start.テつ Obviously the course played fairly difficult today.テつ Wind direction had switched completely from practice, fairly strong and a bit chilly.テつ Some of the game plan had switched a little bit and some of the holes were playing pretty long.
But a big key to this golf course is driving the ball well.テつ I drove it very well today.テつ I think I missed only one fairway, which is very important.テつ Set up a few opportunities.テつ And the greens are in fantastic shape and I actually putted very well.
So 7‑under par through 12 holes was a beautiful start, and you know, dropped a couple coming in.テつ But all in all, very, very pleased with 5‑under par on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day.

Q.テつ Obviously you say driving is really important here.テつ Have you ever seen the course so narrow?テつ The fairways look very narrow?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No, this is as tough off the tee as I think I've ever seen this golf course.テつ Obviously it was very low scoring here last year.テつ I want to say, it wasn't quite as narrow off the tee.テつ The rough was fairly thick last year, but it played so much softer and, you know, effectively, the fairways played wider and the greens were so much more receptive.
No, this year, very tricky.テつ Very tricky if you miss fairways.テつ The rough is very penal and very tricky if you miss the greens.テつ The run‑off areas are pretty severe here and the rough is pretty severe around the greens.
Much, much trickier test this year, and I think this golf course has really gone from strength‑to‑strength.テつ Every year we've come back, it's quietly maybe one of the best golf courses we play in the WGC rotation, if not the best.

Q.テつ Obviously it's a WGC event, it's a big event, but how tough is it or otherwise to keep your energy and interest and fitness at this time of the year?テつ It's obviously been a long season, you've had a Ryder Cup; is that a difficult thing to manage?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ This stage of the season has always been a part of the season I've enjoyed.テつ I think historically I've played five, six, seven in a row this time of the year and I've kind of prepared myself for this stage of the year.
Like I say, I genuinely enjoy these events and I wouldn't play them if I didn't feel like I was going to be ready for them.テつ The only stage of the season that I struggle with at the minute is that sort of end of August, September period when they are giving away a lot of money in the States.テつ That's been the hard part of the season for me the last four years.
But this part of the season, I typically take three or four weeks off in or around The Ryder Cup and prepare myself for this sort of‑‑ The European Tour, obviously the Final Series as they call it now.テつ But I've always enjoyed this stage of the season and I've normally played fairly well.

Q.テつ At what stage of the tournament do you start looking at the leaderboard?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I think from day one really.テつ You're trying to gauge what is a good score.テつ I think that's always kind of important.テつ You know, especially when you're not having a great day.テつ It's looking up at the leaderboard on a Thursday and just trying to gauge how the scoring is and kind of where you need to get to I guess come Friday and Saturday.
I think once you get off to a decent start, if you're in contention going into the weekend, I think the scoreboard becomes a little less relevant at that point.テつ You've got to try and put your head down and try and play as well as you can.テつ I think I probably look at the leaderboards more early in the week than I do late in the week if you like, especially when I get myself into contention.
But like I say, on a day like today, especially, gauging what is a good score, if you maybe weren't having a great day just to keep you hanging in there.テつ The tougher the golf course, I think that becomes more important.

Q.テつ And if conditions were similar, what score would you settle for after 72 holes at this stage?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, if we get three days of this, I don't think sort of 10‑under, 12‑under is going to get beat out there.

Q.テつ Really?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ It's genuinely pretty tricky out there today and the greens are very fast and the rough's very severe.テつ So 12‑under‑‑ I thought 12‑under, to be honest, even before it started blowing, I thought 12‑under was a good score.

Q.テつ You talked about the course getting better and better.テつ Now, does there come a point where they are better just to leave it alone, or can you go a step too far in improving a course?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I think a golf course is always of always in transition.テつ If you look at Augusta, they are always kind of tweaking it and in this casing it here and there, year‑in, year‑out.
I think you learn a lot from seeing the best players in the world place a golf course, and perhaps when they see 21‑under par, whatever won last year, they kind of think, what are we going to do to defend our golf course this year.
I think definition of fairways and some new tees this year and some new bunkers, and with the rough being as thick as it is; I'm typically a guy who likes a tougher setup, and I was sort of quietly quite happy when I did see the setup this week with premium on driving accuracy.
There's no doubt, there is a fine line between getting a golf course over‑tricked up.テつ But I think they have got it just right this week.テつ It's really a nice balance out there of risk/reward par 5s and a drivable par 4, and some tough holes and some water and there's just the right amount of everything out there.

Q.テつ Did you need a leaderboard to let you know you were playing good today?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No, I didn't need a leaderboard to let me know that 7‑under through 12 is fairly strong.テつ You know, perhaps sort of, kind of what I was talking about, gauging what's a good score can be a good thing maybe when you're not going well.テつ But it might not be a great thing if you're taking it deep and the rest of them are 3‑under par and you're thinking, whoa, this is a very good score.
No, that didn't affect me today.テつ Generally the fourth was playing 4‑iron, playing over 200 yards back into the wind.テつ There was some tricky holes on the front nine.テつ I made a couple putts I shouldn't have maybe in the first 12 holes and then I made a couple of bogeys that I shouldn't have coming in.
All in all, I think 5‑under was a fair representation of my round today.

Q.テつ Totally different wind today.テつ Curious how you played 14, were you able to get there in two?テつ And also curious about 16 and also the bogey on 8.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, 14 was on in two for me today.テつ I hit a 5‑wood into the front bunker.テつ Hit a Doug Ferguson‑esque bunker shot and then holed the putt.テつ I hit it about 20 feet; the bunker shot wasn't very good.
And then 16 was slight help out of the right.テつ It was about 290 flag, 270 front edge there.テつ It's a perfect number for me.テつ A lot of guy, driver is too much for them and 3‑wood is not enough, and driver, it's just a perfect number for me when the wind is maybe even a tad of help.テつ I hit it to about 15 feet and missed it.
And then the 8th was a comedy of errors.テつ I hit 3‑wood off the tee for danger into the right rough, the only fairway I missed all day.テつ Hacked an 8‑iron down the middle and then I had 215 yards for my third and tugged it left of the green and didn't get it up‑and‑down. テつIt wasn't very pretty.

Q.テつ What did you tug it left with?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ 4‑iron.テつ 8 was kind of a hard hole today, downwind off the back, because you could kind of reach the right bunkers, and it's a tough tee shot, that eighth hole, when it plays downwind.テつ It's a good hole.テつ If you miss the fairway on 8, you're in big trouble.

Q.テつ Is there any sort of concern with your wrist?テつ You've got it strapped?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No, it's nothing sinister.テつ It's just a result of some tough I'm working on in my swing at the minute, especially my short game.テつ I'm really trying to throw the club head hard at the ball and it's putting kind of more strain in my left wrist than I'm used to.テつ I have a lot of kind of pronation I guess in my left wrist, I don't know if it's pronation or supination, you have to look that up but it's kind of a hard move for me to really release my left wrist back against itself.
I've been working really hard on that, with my short game especially and my left wrist has not really liked it much.テつ It's nothing structural.テつ It's just a muscular kind of tightness thing and it just makes me feel a bit more stable when I strap it up like that.テつ Nothing too sinister I hope.

Q.テつ What are your comments about, first of all, Rory cannot make it here and there's something going on with the agencies that might have some relationship with that, so can you talk a bit more about how you feel on that issue and that matter?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I've already kind of spoken at length this year about kind of Rory and I and our relationship, and you know, you can look my quotes up.テつ There are lots of them out there.
You know, yes, he's suing my current management company; and yes, it's caused us a problem over the last couple years, but that problem's been solved a long time ago, and we are very good friends going forward.
You know, disappointing for the tournament that he's not here this week, but he has his own reasons.テつ He does a lot for the game of golf and like I say, it's disappointing for HSBC that he's not here but he's a very busy man, he's got a lot of things going on, and I'm sure he has his reasons for not being here.テつ He's had a fairly successful year so if he's a little bit tired, I'm sure we'll forgive him that.
SARAH GWYNN:テつ Thank you, Graeme, good luck tomorrow.

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