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July 6, 2017

Graeme McDowell

Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Q. How would you sum that up?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I was happy with the way I rolled it on the greens generally and hit a lot of nice quality shots. A few tee shots that could have been a little bit better position but overall, happy enough with the start. Low scoring, you had to go and do something.

Q. How much local knowledge did you use?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I played quite a lot here in my teens. We used to play our school matches here but I've never played anything of any massive kind of consequence here. No doubt, good memories here, and I have played it probably a hell of a lot more than most guys.

There's a certain comfort level. There are a few new tee boxes and things out there, and the golf course is in great shape and really enjoying it and great crowds out there this morning cheering us all on. It was a lot of fun.

Q. Tell us about the frustration you felt coming into this tournament and your year so far.
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's been frustrating for all the right reasons. Because I've been playing well, I've been walking away on Sunday nights, not feeling like I got enough out of the week. That's a better frustration than when you just know you're not playing well.

The game's not been far away, and you know, perhaps it's a week like this week that can give me that little bit of spark and that little bit of inspiration to really kick me on with the summer. Really pleased with that start and getting back at it tomorrow.

Q. You must be happy with a nice open in The Irish Open.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think so. In a morning as easy as that, from a conditions, point of view, you know you have to go low and sometimes that can be more difficult because it's hard to stay patient. But the putter felt really nice today. I felt like I read the greens well and had the speed down.

You know, ball-striking was probably seven out of ten. So room for improvement going into the weekend. Nice to get it around in a few under par and stay in touch, and like I say, on a morning where you felt like you needed to go low.

Q. Is it a matter of trying to stay patient?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Very much, and playing alongside guys like Justin Rose who had it going, 5-under through 11 or 12 holes and I made a couple bogeys making the turn, bogeying 17 and 18; would have been easy to get frustrated at that point. But I hit a beautiful shot into two and made a couple nice putts on that nine and turned a mediocre day into a decent day.

Looking forward to get back out tomorrow. Crowds were great cheering the three of us on and really good atmosphere out there and perhaps an atmosphere that could give me that little spark and belief in myself to crack on this summer.

Q. Is that what you felt this morning? Did you feel that gives you that added little bit of confidence?
GRAEME McDOWELL: For sure. I felt the crowd gave me some really good energy. I think in the past as a young man in The Irish Open in the past, I've taken that crowd energy and turned it into nervousness.

Nowadays, I'm better at turning that into some fun and energy and really enjoying some of the cheers for myself and the other guys. It's a lot of fun out there this morning. Golf course is in great shape. Not sure if we'll see it this easy again this weekend but it was there for the taking this morning. As you can see from guys shooting 7-, 8-under par, it was on.

Q. Happy with the start out there today? Good to be back home playing?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Absolutely. This morning, a score was available, and sometimes it can be frustrating. You've got to stay patient and know that there are lots of birdie opportunities out there this morning. I managed to hang in there, despite a couple bogeys around the turn and make some nice putts on my second nine, which was the front nine.

So happy enough for that. I think ball-striking was probably seven out of ten. Some room for improvement as the week goes on. All in all, I'd have taken that this morning.

Q. How were the crowds?
GRAEME McDOWELL: The crowds were fun. Obviously we're among two or three really, really great groups, Shane Lowery in front of us and Harrington behind us, and obviously playing alongside guys like Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood, a couple of the hottest players in the world at the minute.

It was a lot of fun and I felt like I used the crowd's energy to really enjoy myself and have some fun. It was nice that my putter behaved itself and kept me on track this morning.

Q. Nice to be staying at home with the family and getting a bit of Mum's cooking, home comforts?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'm trying to stay off the sausages and rashers as much as I can this week. It's bad for my every-growing shape. But it's a lot of fun to be back up on the north coast. It's been a busy few years, having my own family and I really haven't had a chance to come up here very much. Great to be back, staying at home and really enjoying some home comforts and seeing my family and friends.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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