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June 14, 2019

Graeme McDowell

Pebble Beach, California

Q. When you go on a run like you did on the front nine, four straight birdies, does it feel like an Open to you?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: You make four straight, you don't feel you should do that at a U.S. Open. I saw the stats yesterday. It looked like it was close to three shots easier or round one than it was in 2010. This place is starting to firm up little bit. Balls were definitely reacting two to three paces firmer on the greens this afternoon than they did yesterday. So extrapolate that into the weekend I think we'll start to see some firm and fiery surfaces. I don't think they can get these fairways any firmer, which is a little disappointing to me, because I feel like the course is playing quite long. I had 220 to 9, I had 200 to 10. The course is playing pretty long. And I just don't think that the way these fairways look that they could firm up much at all. It's all going to be about the greens and the pin positions. I think they can keep everyone honest. I think it's going to continue to get a little tougher. Pebble is a unique golf course. Where the first seven holes are kind of there for the taking and then batten down the hatches, 8, 9, 10, through 14, and then gives you a couple little looks again. So it hasn't shown its teeth yet. I said it yesterday, say it again, you have to be careful what you wish for out here, because you could be out there tomorrow thinking there's the teeth and I don't really like them anymore.

So looking forward to get back at it tomorrow. It was great playing with Phil and Dustin the last couple of days. Good for my confidence, just good in general to be out there. Days like that are important for me right now as I continue to rebuild my game. I enjoyed the last 48 hours a lot.

Q. Your journey since Punta Cana, and the putt at RBC, you talk about gaining your confidence, don't you feel like done something extraordinary this year?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: The goals I had set for myself, my playing credentials in the PGA Tour, getting in The Open Championship, getting myself back in the top 100 and top 50 in the world. I was worried I was setting myself too lofty goals, but as I stand here, I'm really ticking all the boxes, and it's a case of putting the pedal down and looking for more out of myself.

Like I just said over there, I've always been known as a grinder, and the word clutch comes into conversation from time to time which is nice. And I feel like those labels have started to peel off, and it's nice to reattach those a little bit. I played the type of golf that I know I'm capable of, and I want one more run at the top of the sport. And I'm still on the journey back up there. But like I say, days like these last two days are really important for me. I've got to keep working. I've got to keep grinding and it's coming. It's coming.

Q. As far as today is concerned there weren't a lot of really low numbers and to come in under par and to be in the position you're in, all in all, feel pretty good about it?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I'm pretty happy with under par to be honest with you. I'll certainly snatch your hand off for it on the 4th tee and I'm really disappointed coming in, because I bogeyed 14. I had a great look at it on 15, great look at it on 16. And two sound chances on 17 and 18, I didn't make any of them. Like I say, I'm not going to be too disappointed with 1-under par. Looking at Justin up there at 7. Anything can happen on this golf course over the weekend. It doesn't take a big mistake to miss the green on the wrong side. Anything can happen here. It's about staying really, really patient. You don't have to do anything fancy tomorrow. I'm keeping the ball below the flag, hitting the ball in the right places generally and I feel good on the greens. I feel when I get a look I can make some birdies. A lot of work over the next 36. Excited to be here and excited for the weekend and be in contention.

Q. What's the importance of a major of just kind of hanging around, you talk about patience. As I recall correctly you kind of did that in '10, did you not?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Sure. I watched Tiger this morning on the coverage and if I could put a label on him it would be hanging around, you know. No one does it better than him. And this is that type of golf course. It's a little bit of a sleeping giant. You have to keep the ball in play and you have to keep it under these pins. And that's the sort of essence of hanging around. And I've done it that pretty well the last couple of days myself. It's been nothing special but pretty serviceable.

And like you say, as we go into this weekend I haven't really seen the forecast. I'm hoping for a little bit more breeze. But it's about as benign as we can ask for the last two days. Let's be honest, no one is getting away with it, but it's certainly going to get more difficult. The greens were two to three paces firmer today and I'm expecting to see another couple of paces tomorrow.

Q. Did you feel like you hung around in '10? You were kind of there, and you had the opportunity and seized it?

Q. In 2010.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: 2010? Yeah, sorry. Yeah, Saturday was a big hang around day in 2010 for me because Dustin did Dustin's stuff on Saturday. And it was important for me to kind of keep there or keep thereabouts. And Pebble kind of stuck on Sunday, and it was really hard and really tricky. And Dustin got on the wrong side of it early on.

You certainly -- I've been in a few majors now where I didn't hang around because I thought it was all over, and I think of Olympic and Lytham, there was no doubt about it, the best in the world, the guys that won several of these understand that anything can happen. And when anything happens you've got to be there and be ready.

So, yeah, I think that's a good -- good thoughts for the weekend.

Q. We started with people talking about Brooks and his chance at making history and Phil and his chance of making history. And here you sit possibly two days away becoming the first person since Jack to win this tournament at the same venue twice?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: That'd be cool. There's a lot of great story lines this weekend. It's nice to be potentially one of those stories. Brooks is hanging around. I left him out. Tiger is hanging around. There's a lot of great players. Enjoyed playing with Phil the last couple of days. I kind of feel like it was really inspiring to watch Phil out there at 49 years old on Sunday being as gritty and determined and competitive as I've maybe ever seen him. That's really cool to see. And his game is definitely pretty close and right where he needs to be. That was really awesome to play with him. And like I said, I took some inspiration from that. And I'll try to put a little of that into my 40s, myself.

A lot of great story lines this weekend. Nice to potentially be one of those. But I've got a lot of work to do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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