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June 13, 2019

Graeme McDowell

Pebble Beach, California

Q. How is it to be back at this venue and be able to play like today?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: A lot of fun to be back here. Obviously I mentioned earlier in the week I've been here several times now with the AT&T Pro-Am. So I kind of felt like I've done the reminiscing and the sightseeing. Well, you're always sightseeing at Pebble, but you know what I mean.

I wasn't coming here to focus on 2010. I was coming here to try and compete this week. I feel like my game is trying to get in the right direction. I was looking for an under-the-radar grouping this week, but I didn't really get it. But in a funny way I felt nearly under the radar because, you know, Phil and Dustin were, you know -- I felt like it was all eyes on those two guys out there today, and I was just kind of plodding around, doing my thing. So that felt okay to me.

And executed really well today, tee-to-green. Made very few mistakes. Wedge play was a little off. But apart from that, I felt really comfortable on the golf course, and like I say, felt like I executed my game plan really well.

Q. You mentioned the grouping. You bested today. Feel good?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, it's only Thursday. So I'd rather best them come Sunday. But that was fun. I was -- I had a little anticipation in the body the last couple days, to be honest, didn't hit it great in practice. But sometimes that's healthy. You know, I think sometimes when you go out and flush it on a Tuesday/Wednesday, you nearly take your eye off the ball for a second. I didn't take my eye off the ball much the last couple days.

I was -- like I say, I was a little anxious. But I got out there this morning and I hit some nice shots and I relaxed pretty quickly.

Q. This one shot on Thursday (indiscernible) important to you?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, I think I was kind of -- I was aware that the finishing stretch, 8 and 9, was going to be difficult today. And I was trying to view it as a bigger picture. I think sometimes you become obsessed with finishing the round that day when there's so much stuff ahead of you.

So I tried to relax and not really turn the finish into something that it wasn't. It had to be in a great day's work, and obviously it's nice to make the par in the last.

But obviously a lot of work ahead of me. But I enjoyed it. Listen, it was very benign out there this morning. There was obviously lots of red on the board early. We were joking with Piercy was 5-under after 6 that the USGA radios were going off saying, Turn the water off now, you know, enough of this.

But it's about as -- you've got to be careful what you wish for out here because I think it is only going to get more difficult. Greens were starting to firm up. It's a sleeping giant, this place. We all know that. Give it another five-mile-an-hour wind out there, and, I mean, the place starts to change. Like I say, a lot of grinding ahead.

Q. What did you say to Dustin after he made that beautiful chip shot on 8?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I said to him I felt like I was watching Dustin Johnson's greatest ever up-and-down moments today because he hit it in position V, W, X, Y and Z out there. 12, 13, 8, and there was a couple others. I mean, it was just a display of -- you expect it from Phil, but Dustin was pretty awesome around the greens today.

Like I say, it looked like -- even Austin said I think it was 5 of our top 10 ever best up-and-downs today. So it was fun. I enjoyed the pairing today. Phil was intense and he was getting into it, and Dustin just -- he wows. The drive on 18, I think he hit it straight onto the second page in the yardage book. It was past the first page all the way onto the second page, went in there with 7-iron. It was amazing.

Q. And 4 was pretty --
GRAEME MCDOWELL: 4 was pretty awesome as well. But I'm used to that. He did that in 2010 as well. So that's just the way he plays 4. He just rips it right at it.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: In where? On 10?

Q. 4.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: On 4, yeah, I hit great.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Did he hit it on the hazard on Sunday like he did -- but he had a great shot on Saturday right on the front edge. And I forgot about Sunday. I guess I was getting into my own world.

Q. If you play as well as you did in 2010, can you win, or do you have to play better because of how the game has changed?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I don't think level par wins this week. I really don't. I feel like the fairways are soft and they're not going to get any fierier than this, and they're spongy. Makes the fairways play a little wider, so fairways are easier to hit.

But I fully expect the greens to get firmer and faster. I really felt like the green speeds today weren't really anywhere as fast as they can be. Phil hit it 30 yards -- or 30 feet past the pin on 1, for example, and that putt should have been scary fast. It just wasn't scary, scary fast.

But like I say, careful what you wish for, because I think we're going to see it come the weekend.

Q. Were you surprised by (indiscernible)?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Little bit perhaps, but it was kind of how they've looked the last couple of days. Perhaps they got a little scared by that weather on Tuesday, and then the marine layer moved in a little bit. So I kind of feel like moisture levels are staying in the greens and the ground longer than they maybe expected. I mean, obviously Tuesday was incredibly warm and dry.

I think with these conditions right now that the moisture probably remain in the golf course a bit more. But I was a little surprised. But like I say, it's only Thursday morning. Expecting different things tomorrow afternoon.

Q. Whether it was recently or when he was younger, what, if anything, has Rory asked you about winning here and kind of what it takes to win?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Rory hasn't really asked me much about winning here or winning an Open. I mean, I just remember the way he looked at the U.S. Open trophy when I had it in 2010, and didn't take him long to have his own. So that's the kind of kid he is. Uber talented. Nothing he ever does surprises me. I feel like mentally he's in the best shape I've seen him in a long time this year. And I'm happy for him. Love to be there with him on Sunday afternoon, perhaps. But he's a great player.

Q. Whether it's the way you're playing right now or the way he's playing right now, with what's coming up later this summer, kind of feel an up swell back home?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: That'd be really cool to go to Portrush with Rory and I playing well and obviously Shane. All the Irish boys. The home fans will be looking for the Irish boys to play well. Obviously get that little bit of pressure on us. Obviously we're focused hard on trying to compete this weekend.

Q. What was the best story or the best message you took out of Tuesday?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Good question. I think the best story for me was just kind of at the end of dinner, Jack and Tom Watson got up and told some stories, and Jack pretty much took the microphone around to every table and -- bullied is the wrong word, but forcefully asked players to stand up and tell some stories.

And let's just say Tiger was the first guy that got picked on by Jack, and it was like: You, up. You know, it was just Jack, you know, taking his position as the greatest in the game. Certainly it inspirational. It was really cool to sit there. And for me, just as I get a bit older, looking around and feeling part of that special fraternity and the players that you're surrounded by, it's brings -- it quantifies what it is to win the U.S. Open trophy.

You know, it's cool because you don't often take moments out here to appreciate what you've achieved. But it was a cool night.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I obeyed. I obeyed. I got up and said a few words. It was great. Like I say, Tiger led it off, and Gary Player finished it, Jack and Tom. Yeah, it's really cool. Really cool to sort of -- you feel a bit -- you certainly don't feel very worthy standing up talking in front of those guys, but it's definitely very inspirational stuff.

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