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January 28, 2015

Graeme McDowell


NEIL AHERN:テつ Thank you, everyone, and thank you, Graeme for taking the time to join us.テつ First event of 2015, what are your hopes and ambitions for this coming season?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, first start of the year, looking forward to it.テつ Just a great place to come and start the season.テつ I guess my thinking was sunshine and a perfect golf course would be the reasons for being out here and I've been certainly rewarded with both this week.
The golf course is in phenomenal condition, and looking forward to the year.テつ I'm feeling fresh and things are certainly good in my life off the golf course, which I feel is giving me the mental space and mental energy to remotivate and refocus myself on my game and certainly concentrate on certainly the next four or five years ahead and try to be the best I can be.
So I'm excited about it.テつ I've got a great schedule this year, very similar to last year.テつ Every tournament is very, very important to me.テつ This one's certainly no different, and here to compete and here to do the job if I can.
NEIL AHERN:テつ You mentioned about your schedule.テつ You haven't been here in a few years.テつ What were the reasons you decided to start your season here?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I guess there's been various reasons why I haven't had a chance to make it back here with some of the new events here in the Middle East, playing a couple of those, PGA Tour, playing a little West Coast Swing.テつ Just sort of experimenting a little with the start of my year, experimenting with some more time off.
I think you learn something new about your schedule every year and you look back on the season.テつ You think, maybe shouldn't have played that event, maybe should have played that one.テつ You're always learning, and I thought about playing Abu Dhabi, felt like I had not had enough time off.
Felt about starting in Qatar last week, always get kind of scared off by the potential strong winds there, and sort of settled on this one as just, like I say, perfect conditions, perfect golf course.テつ Certainly one of my favourite events in the Middle East and looking around the last few days, wondering why I haven't been back here in a few years.テつ Great place to start the year.

Q.テつ Is wind the reason why you don't like to start your season in Hawai'i?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I would like to be at that Tournament of Champions every year because that means I will have punched in a win every year.テつ Hawai'i is a long way to go; if you're not in the Tournament of Champions, it's also extremely early in the season.
I've certainly been enjoying my off‑season break the last four or five years.テつ I'd like to make a break of at least five, six weeks, if I can, just to give myself a chance to get away from the game for a couple weeks and recharge the batteries and get back to playing again.
It's a long year when you're carrying both cards.テつ There's a lot of golf to play.テつ You can't play less than 26, 27 times.テつ Obviously traveling a bit early in the year, traveling the middle of the year and obviously a little bit towards the end of the year.テつ I played right up until the 13th of December and just felt like I wanted a break, so Hawai'i wasn't something that really interested me this year.
Like I say, there's West Coast Swing opportunities on the PGA Tour.テつ Some of those weeks the weather can be an issue.テつ Certainly not an issue out in this part of the world.テつ That's kind of what weighed into my decision‑making process this year.

Q.テつ And looking at this golf course, given the way you love to shape your shots, you must be really excited and you must be looking forward to playing a golf course where there are so many left‑to‑right and right‑to‑left doglegs?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, this is a classic golf course, no doubt about it.テつ Certainly length helps around here but there's obviously a huge premium on accuracy.テつ The rough is pretty thick this week.テつ You've got to drive it in the fairway to give yourself an opportunity to make birdies around here.テつ The scoring is normally fairly low.テつ Greens are just perfect, as well.
So it's a good golf course for me.テつ Probably of the four Middle East events we play, this has certainly got to be maybe the best opportunity from a golf course point of view for me, and like I say, just kind of the question mark remains why I haven't been back here in a few years.テつ But it's sort of a good problem to have.テつ Looking forward to seeing how I do this week.

Q.テつ Yesterday Kaymer saying he felt even more enthused after The Ryder Cup, that it something that adds an extra.テつ Is it the same for you to be part of that?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I felt like I gained a lot of confidence from The Ryder Cup last year.テつ Maybe not even in the way I played but just kind of in the way that I felt like I handled myself.
You never really see yourself as an experienced player until the day when you realise that you're able to go and enjoy an experience like The Ryder Cup and not be as intimidated as you were in the past.
I think just that whole week, and it boosts you from a confidence point of view, no doubt about it and obviously the wind and everything that went with it.テつ It was a fun week.テつ Played solidly towards the end of the year and like I say, I feel like there's certainly been a shift in my life the last couple years.
Just talking over the last few days with my team and just talking about the fact that in the 12‑month Ryder Cup qualification window, I got married and had a baby and still made The Ryder Cup Team in my own right.
So with a couple of life‑changing experiences but still being able to play the kind of golf that I've been playing; I think it bodes well going into the next sort of five to ten years where I feel like personal life has given me the chance to have the space to play as well as I can on the golf course.
Looking forward to that and obviously looking forward to having a big year if I can.

Q.テつ Can I ask you about the major venues?テつ What do you think of them and will they suit you?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Obviously Chambers Bay is an unknown quantity but it sounds like it's a pure links.テつ It sounds to me like, as opposed to Whistling Straits, which is described as a links, looks like a links, but doesn't really play like a links.
From what I've been able to find out about Chambers Bay, it really is a pure links with grass types and stuff.テつ It sounds like even weather‑wise up in the northwest coast there, I think we could see a bit of brisk weather.
St. Andrews, I think maybe it's not my best opportunity but when I analyse my results around St. Andrews, I competed pretty well both British Opens I've played there.テつ I've had good success at the Dunhill Links, as well.テつ St. Andrews is a golf course I can get around, as well.
Very excited about the prospect of 2 1/2 links golf courses here in the summer; I call Whistling Straits half a links course, because I don't remember it playing like a pure links when I played there.テつ Great venues.テつ And of course Augusta is a Rubik's Cube that I'm still trying to solve but looking forward to that challenge this year again.

Q.テつ It was just replayed back home over Christmas, The Ryder Cup, where does the way you turned the singles match around on the Sunday stand in your career when you've had time to reflect on it?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, that was a pretty special day I suppose.テつ I remember going through various emotions that day, everything ranging from, dejection, disappointment, to obviously elation when I turned the match around.
It was certainly‑‑ it was an interesting week from a lot of points of view, being given a different role from the captain, a role that I haven't had a chance to experience in a Ryder Cup yet.
Obviously partnering with a rookie and sort of taking that sort of leadership role in the team room, leading the team out on Sunday is certainly a position I wasn't familiar with, having played 12th and 10th and middle of the pack my previous three Ryder Cups.
But it was great to get the job done.テつ It was very personally satisfying and I felt like I gained a lot of belief from that, and obviously one of the sort of hottest young players in the world right now in Jordan Spieth.テつ It was a decent win, and certainly was part of an amazing day, which was an amazing week in general.テつ It was probably my favourite Ryder Cup from generally just the whole experience.テつ It was cool.

Q.テつ Can I also ask you about Stephen Gallacher, you crossed over him in a playoff in the Dunhill in 2004 and he didn't really kick on from that straightaway.テつ But the player you played with yesterday, how different is he now?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Like you say, careers kind of mature at various different rates.テつ Looking at Stevie Gallacher, beat me, what was it, 2004, I think he beat me in a playoff in the Dunhill links and maybe didn't kick on the way he might have expected.
But to make The Ryder Cup Team in the style he did last year, and to have a personally, perhaps frustrating week at Gleneagles, and to talk to him afterwards and to hear the way he reacted and how positively he reacted to that week and how much he gained from that week experience‑wise, despite, like I say, maybe not having the week he had hoped for.テつ But I think he's certainly growing as a player and going from strength‑to‑strength.テつ His talents are out there for all to see.
Obviously history beckons this week with a three‑peat; if he can do it this week, and he's an exceptional player, hits it a long way and got a great attitude for the game.

Q.テつ Could you just tell us what your schedule is up to Augusta and what would represent a really good year for you this year?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Schedule is here and Malaysia next week, and then I'm going to play Honda, Doral, Bay Hill.テつ I'm going to play Valero Texas Open, probably the only addition to my early season schedule apart from these two weeks.テつ Week off before Augusta, and I'll go play Augusta, Hilton Head.
What would represent a good year for me:テつ Last year was an incredibly consistent and solid performing year, without having too many highlight reels in there.テつ So I'm just looking for those three or four strong weeks in the big tournaments to turn a good year into a great year.
So, of course, focused on the majors.テつ My performances in the Majors the last two years have been fractionally disappointing, so I'm certainly focusing on those and just trying to compete as often as I possibly can, and like I say, trying to putt those few big weeks in there to turn a good one into a great one.

Q.テつ How would you say married life and fatherhood, how has it changed you as a person and a professional? テつI believe Luke Donald credited fatherhood for the year that he won the money list on both sides of the Atlantic.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Having sort of beginning to experience that, I can see how it can affect golfers positively.テつ The way it feels more me, everything, life is in balance off the golf course.テつ So it really gives that you kind of mental space to pour yourself back into your game.
Obviously I enjoy my home time much more than I ever did.テつ I'm much more settled than I ever was, and when I do go home, it gives you such a different perspective away from the game and allows you to switch off a lot more.
So you're certainly fresher mentally when you do come back out.テつ My schedule has not changed much the last few years because I'm certainly playing the minimums that I can play on both sides of the Atlantic, playing top schedules, the best events, and trying to balance that with staying competitive until the day when the wife tells me to start playing 35, 40 events a year when she gets fed up with me (laughter).テつ We're in the early stages, so I'm enjoying being at home but when I start playing more, you'll know she's thrown me out and told me to go make some money.テつ But no, certainly enjoying that side of my life right now.
NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much.

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