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July 5, 2018

Graeme McDowell

Ballyliffin, Republic of Ireland

Q. Under par, day one. Seemed quite a professional performance to me. How would you describe it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It was a grinding performance. I think when we woke up this morning, it wasn't the sun shining, blue skies we've been seeing all week here at Ballyliffin and kind of felt like Irish Opens of the past. Obviously the weather improved. I felt like the first nine holes with the grass and rough still wet, didn't drive it very well and kind of was out of position and had to scramble from there.

Ball-striking improved as the day went on and was really happy to grind a score out. It was one of those days that could have got away, and was happy to sort of keep it under control and post something sort of half-decent. I really felt building up to today that the scoring was going to be really low, but you know, as they start to tuck these pins away, this course is firm, and I can start to see the difficulty level.

You know, four solid rounds, we'll have a great chance this week.

Q. How difficult is this layout?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it's very good. It reminds me a lot of Carnoustie because the bunkering is not overdone but it's very strategic. You have a lot of bunkers that you have to fly and a couple of that you have to stay short of; it asks you a lot of questions off the tee, this golf course.

The green shapes, there's a of false front and greens that run away from you and it has a little bit of everything. I think this golf course is very underrated here in the north and the guys are really, really liking what they see here. Really happy for Ballyliffin.

Q. How important is it on links golf to really get the mind engaged in the task ahead?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Links golf, compared to like American golf where it's drop-and-stop, you hit a shot and the ball will pretty much end up where you expect it to end up.

When you get into links golf and it gets firm and fast, balls can go into silly positions and you kind of have to be okay with that. You can hit good shots that can go into weird and wonderful places, and you can hit bad shots that can bounce off and get away with it a little bit.

You have to have on open mind and a good short game and you have to be able to pace putt well, and so it definitely is a slightly different mind-set. This is why this is such a fantastic time of the year for European golf to have these three events back-to-back, the Irish and the Scottish and then the British Open. It's a great stretch of golf.

Q. Is that 71 all the more satisfying?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I felt like I could put all the stuff, the frustrations of early in the week behind me pretty well. Woke up this morning and looked like Irish Opens gone by, rain in the window and cold. Thankfully the blue skies came out and it was a very, very enjoyable kind of round of golf.

Got off to a slow start. Didn't drive it well early on on the back nine which is my first nine. Scrambled, scrambled, hung in there and managed to play pretty well coming in the last ten or 11 holes.

All in all, happy enough with 1-under because it could have easily been a day that got away.

Q. Strong finish?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I made some nice swings down the stretch, which was pleasing because I struggled early on. Hit the ball really well in the Pro-Am yesterday in practise, and came out today and felt like my swing was the same but the ball was doing different things. That's just the beauty of the game of golf. Go work on it this afternoon and get ready to go tomorrow.

This golf course is so well set up. As they started to tuck these pins away into the corners, I could see the trickiness of Ballyliffin starting to come out and you really have to play quite decently to make birdies out there. There are chances out there but there are some difficult holes, as well. It was a very enjoyable test.

Q. 19 birdies on the card in France, and six today.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Did I make six today? I didn't realise that. I made enough mistakes today. You know, thankfully the mistakes today were only bogeys because last week in France, they were doubles, so that was pleasing.

I got myself into a few bad spots on especially the first nine holes and managed to get out of them safely and like I say, pleasing to hit it as well as I did coming down the stretch. It would have been nice to knock that one in on the last but I'm not going to complain. Salvaged a decent round of golf today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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