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June 28, 2018

Graeme McDowell

Paris, France

Q. Seven birdies, how pleased are you with your play?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Very pleased, especially the way I played the first kind of dozen holes. I made two clumsy errors on the greens from 12 and 15 feet where I three-whacked them both. To be making seven birdies on the golf course in the conditions we had today, I felt like the first nine holes we got it reasonably benign in comparison.

Obviously the wind has gotten up over the last six or seven holes. I feel like it's particularly tough this week. The fairways are narrow. The rough is beautifully graded but if you start to miss it, but you count on these really strong crosswinds, you'll pay the ultimate price.

Q. When you're a two-time champ, back-to-back champ, coming back to a golf course that you won, how much of a difference does it make, especially a place like this?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's always nice to come back to a place where you played well, good feelings, good visuals.

One of the important things of this golf course is something that Captain Björn, we have been talking about, it's just a level of comfort that you have to have on this golf course because it is a super intimidating track. You stand on the tee boxes and all you can see is high rough and you have to be comfortable about where you're positioning the ball off these tees.

Having been coming here for years and having some success here, I do stand on some of these tee boxes and feel a level of comfort. When you get a win, you do back to trying to steer it and the fairways become a little looser.

Q. Ever since you've been named vice captain of The Ryder Cup, you've been playing some serious golf, back five in The Italian Open. What's clicking for you again?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it's coming back to Europe and not having that weight on my shoulders. I feel like I'm struggling to get it across the line over there. I just feel like I'm playing with pressure on my shoulders.

Having come back to Europe and getting the vice captaincy and weight of The Ryder Cup being taken off my shoulders, I can come back here and free wheel. It feels nice and I get the old feelings back that helped me become a Top-100 player in the world, helped me back a Top-50 player in the world and prepared me to win a major championship. This is kind of where I grew up and this is where I feel most comfortable and it's nice to come back and enjoy playing good golf.

Q. 3-under 68, do you how assess that round?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Very pleased. It's a round that includes seven birdies, a few mistakes and it's a round I felt could have got away from me in the end. I started to wobble a little bit as this wind started to strengthen. The fairways become very, very hard to find and the setup of this golf course is really tough this week. I mean, I think this golf course has evolved unbelievably over the last 15 years. I think they have really turned this into a magnificent test of golf but when you whip a 25-mile-an-hour wind across it, it becomes like any sort of linksy golf course. The rough is very penal and it becomes very difficult to score but making seven birdies out there is very pleasing.

Q. When you're standing on the tee as a past two-time winner, do you still have that level of comfort or is it very challenging from the first shot?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think something we've been talking about with Thomas Björn, our Ryder Cup Captain is how comfortable you have to be on some of these tee boxes on this golf course because it's an intimidating course at times. Having been here for many years and having had success here, I do stand on some of these tee boxes and feel more comfortable than other guys but it's a great track and you know, I'm sure Thomas will be very keen to see some of his top, top players playing well around here this weekend. Of course, I'd love to play well and obviously put myself somewhere back on the edge of his radar again.

Q. There were a few occasions today where you gave yourself a bit of a talking-to. Is that just the high standards you're trying to push?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it's just the nature of the course today. I felt like I grind and grind and grind -- my pace putting was off more than anything. I couldn't seem to get the ball close to the pin and I was clumsy a few times and I started to leave a few short.

My putter is my strength, especially speed putting, and I just felt like I was a bit off with that on the second nine holes, and in wind like this, you really have to putt strongly. It was more an inward talking to myself and keep myself fired up, because I felt great out there today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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