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January 25, 2017

Graeme McDowell

Doha, Qatar

BRIONY CARLYON: Welcome to our ten-time European Tour champion, Graeme McDowell. Lovely to have you at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. It's your first European Tour event for the season. Nice way to kick it off for you to come back here after five years. Last time you were here was 2012. Can you give us your thoughts on returning and kicking off 2017?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I've always enjoyed this tournament. Like you say, it's been five years since I've been here. I think maybe a little bit family stuff going on the last few years and having a couple babies and stuff certainly has cut back on my travel a bit.

But great to be back here in Doha. It's an amazing city. It's great to see how things have moved on the last five years from a construction point of view. The skyline continues to get busier and busier here, and obviously they are working towards the 2022 World Cup. It's an exciting time for Doha, and like I say, I've always enjoyed this golf course.

The wind obviously can be very tough here. Perhaps right out of the gates after eight weeks off and the game being a tad rusty, this is a tough place to start the season. But my focus will get there very quickly. I'm looking forward to seeing what the challenge brings the next couple days into the weekend and nice to start the season here.

I'll play here and I'll play Dubai next week. That will be a good couple weeks to get me off and running.

Q. I overheard you talking, refocus on golf and your road back. Can you elaborate on that in terms of how you're thinking?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'm 85th, 90th in the World Rankings right now. It has not been the kind of few years that I expect from myself. There's no doubt that there have been sort of some factors, I wouldn't say outside of my control, but you know, things outside of golf which have definitely been distracting for me. And I wouldn't change it for the world. Having a family is something I've always wanted.

My on-course performance has not been, like I say, good enough the last few years, and some areas that I need to refocus on, obviously general work ethic, goal setting, just patience levels.

I think when I look at a year like last year, when I perhaps played a little better than my results showed; a little frustration kind of sometimes: Chasing maybe too hard coming into that Ryder Cup run a few months before The Ryder Cup Team got picked. You know, just wanting it a little too badly.

As I look I guess coming to the start of the next few years, I've tried to view it as a long road back toward the top of the game. That's where I want to be again, give myself chances to win major championships again. I know I've got a lot of things to work on.

And I've just been rededicating myself the last six or eight months, and like I say, mentally, I think it's really, really important that I stay super-patient with it. It may not happen this week and it may not happen next week. But if I keep doing the things that I know that are going to make me the best I can be, eventually it will come. Just being patient with that.

Q. Did missing out on The Ryder Cup put that into sharp focus?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think that certainly was a big week for me to sit at home and watch that. It was very motivating, very inspiring. When I look to France to 2018, a golf course which I love, I certainly want to be there, that's for sure.

Yeah, I think my focus had come back a long time before that Ryder Cup. But I think not being on that team was a reinforcement to me that I'm not doing what I want to do in the game. And I'm still very, very motivated and that I still want it badly enough to go out there and do whatever it takes. I guess that's the key.

My family are 100 per cent behind me, and you know, they support me. I'm ready to really kind of get the head down for the next five years of my career and see what I can do. Like I say, the last few years have been quite distracting, but I wouldn't change them for the world.

I don't think anyone can ever explain to you what you're going to go through because I think it's so different for everyone. It's been great but golf's been tough. I haven't really enjoyed myself much on the course the last few years. But I feel like I've learned a lot and I've turned a corner, and ready to do whatever it takes now the next few years to get myself back.

Q. Obviously growing up in Northern Ireland, you're no stranger to playing in wind and you've played well in wind before. Does that help you this week; that you're going to be playing in windy conditions?
GRAEME McDOWELL: For sure, I think growing up in the wind like you say, it's something you never forget how to do. I suppose I could say I'm a little more spoiled these days living in Florida. Don't normally see the windy conditions that I grew up in.

But no doubt, I think that element of my game is always in there. It has been five years since I've been here but I've played here many times, so my experience on this golf course, the golf course hasn't changed a huge amount. It's still a very good golf course, and the wind obviously plays a massive part in the scoring this weekend.

So yeah, I'll expect my experiences growing up in the wind and my experiences on this golf course should stand me in pretty good stead this weekend.

Q. You're drawn with Li Haotong and Pablo. I presume you've played with Pablo a few times. Li Haotong, do you know much about him or seen what he's done for China?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I know him to see. He's obviously a great-looking young player and obviously one of the great emerging young Asian players, who we are starting to see more and more are them.

They are becoming better and better and more athletic, and you know, the inevitability of Asian players -- obviously you could speak a lot about their work ethic and how dedicated they are to the sport. You know, it's only a matter of time before we see major champions and world-class players from that part of the world. So he's obviously one of the great young players coming from that part of the world.

And obviously Pablo, I've played with him many times. He had a great week last week in Abu Dhabi, so he'll be obviously in good form and very confident. So looking forward to playing alongside him.

It's a great draw. Get back out there tomorrow morning and get at it. I think we're right behind Martin Kaymer, who knows his way around this golf course reasonably well, as well.

Looking forward to getting back out. It's been eight, nine weeks off. Game is a little rusty. Got a little bit of work to do this afternoon. But looking forward to getting a card back in my pocket tomorrow and getting out there and starting this process and this journey I'm talking about, really. We'll see what happens.

BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you very much, Graeme, and all the best for the week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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