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May 19, 2019

Graeme McDowell

Farmingdale, New York

Q. The wind is really blustery out there.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, we got it a little bit more benign on the front nine and I'm 3-under par after 8 and really should have been about five and I kind of knew I had to build up a little bit of a cushion coming into that back nine, because back nine is fairly relentless. Especially that wind direction today because really from the 11th tee to about the 15th tee is pretty tough and a stretch which hasn't been too hard, 13 and 14, but it's straight back into the breeze today and then 16, 17, 18 are playing particularly difficult in this southern breeze.

I mean, I'd have loved to have broken par out there. It was a battling level par and fairly happy to get off the golf course, I've got to be honest with you.

Q. How would you assess your game as we head into a month away from the U.S. Open where you won a national title?
GRAEME McDOWELL: My game feels good. It really does. I'm trying not to get too destroyed by this golf course. Obviously going out there, 17 behind a guy who is making it look awfully easy; this is not a golf course that I would pick for me in a major championship and Pebble Beach is a golf course that I would pick for me.

I've got Colonial next week which going to feel like a pitch-and-putt by comparison, Canadian Open. I have some great stuff ahead of me. I'm feeling a bit bruised and battered but I have to say, the game okay and looking forward to the next few weeks.

Q. The scoreboard, looks like a modest enough week in terms of tied 40th or whatever, but no major should be a preparation for another one, but in this case, maybe it could be?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm not sure what this prepares you for, this test. I've just had two weeks off and I feel like I've just played 12 in a row or something. This has been a really long week and I got here Tuesday afternoon and it's been an incredibly long week. This golf course is relentless. That's really the only way to describe it.

I watched the coverage yesterday afternoon. It's really the only coverage I've seen. I watched Dustin and Brooks, and even the way the guys were driving it, I felt a little steery off the tee all week and decided today I was going to go out and actually take my driver on, take it on a little bit off the tee. I drove it better today and I actually got myself in some positions and even had some short irons in my hand and all kinds of fancy stuff like that. It was kind of cool.

Q. A year ago to the month, almost to the week, you began to show some real form at Wentworth and you followed up with the Italian Open and another good week and then you kind of went back again before winning in the Dominican Republic quite recently. Do you feel like you're back, that Version 2.0, you're back?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, tough to cruise into this week because it's an awfully tough golf course, but no, I feel like I'm doing so many things right now and I feel like -- and we talked about it early in the week that the pressure is off my back now. I can just play golf for golf's sake, really, apart from Portrush. That's the only little blip in my horizon at the minute and I'm trying to shove that to the back of my mind as far as I can and now focus on these next few weeks, and obviously going to Pebble, I'm really excited about that.

Looking forward to getting away from this place, and a glass of wine is definitely in my future this evening. It's been a real battle. At the same time, saw enough things that keep me very, very positive about what I'm doing with my game, and I'm looking forward, like I say, to the next month or so.

Q. How impressive is what Brooks has done so far and how impressive has he been since the 2017 U.S. Open?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, he's been incredibly impressive. You know, his display in the major championships over the last 2 1/2, three years, is really incredibly impressive. I watched a bit of the coverage yesterday because I just wanted to see just how these guys were dismantling this golf course. When he played 15 the way he played it yesterday, that kind of summed the course up to me because when I missed 15 fairway, I'm physically incapable of getting to that green in two, and obviously it was a brute force wedge or 9-iron he hit to 15 feet and I was like, yeah, that's how he gets around here, and these guys, they are so long off the tee. This has ended up being a power course not due to the length of it in that you have to drive it really far down the fairway.

It's more a power course because when you miss the fairway, it requires a huge amount of brute force to be able to bounce the ball on to these greens and that's what the big boys have been able to do and it's no surprise, you're seeing Dustin and Luke List at the top of the leaderboard, and they are probably the longest guys on this golf course.

Listen, taking nothing away from Brooks. Fantastic player. Hope he goes and wins this afternoon, because we can start talking about the next real dominant player perhaps.

Q. Can you remember the first time you met him and what those early conversations?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Brooks was being very complimentary I there. He's a tough guy to get to know. I wouldn't even say I know him very well. I may be know him better than most. Obviously just via Claude Harmon putting him in touch with Rickie and kind of Pete Cowen's influence on Brooks to a certain extent. It's really just been osmosis a little bit, sort of hanging out with the camp I've always hung out with; Pete, just good guys like that. Rickie has had a great amount of influence from some of the best European caddies, the Billy Fosters of the world, the Wobblys, the Kenny Comboys of the world, and he's spent a lot of time around a lot of experience and I think guys like Pete Cowen and myself have been able to give Brooks a lot of that, as well. The rest is all his own work. You can't teach somebody to think the way that Brooks Koepka thinks. I wish I could think that way. I wish I could be as -- use negativity the way he's able to use it. He just drives himself to another level. You know, Tiger was very different from that. He didn't seem to need negativity. Tiger just got -- he could go to a different place mentally than the rest of us could go to, but Brooks gets himself there via the little chips, via the negative comments he gets from people and he's able to take himself to places that, like I say, we've only seen from guys like Tiger, really. It's impressive. Like I say, I wish perhaps I need to start listening to him, you know.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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