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January 30, 2020

Graeme McDowell

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

Q. 64, wonderful score in those conditions.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, feels good. Like we talked about on the course, I got off to a fast start which was huge, before the wind got up, it was inevitable out here in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi is similar in that you get flat-calm mornings, but you know it's going to blow in the afternoon.

It was nice to get out of there with 6-under par because I felt like I played great today. It would have been a horrible round to let get away but to finish birdie birdie birdie was nice, just feeding off Phil finishing with seven birdies on the back nine. It was Phil the thrill out there. It was fun to watch him and fun to play with him.

Q. Just the one double-bogey on 11; how important to bounce back?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's always important, we call it bounceback-ability or bounce back stat, it's very important.

11 was disappointing. It was probably my weakest shot of the day, the tee shot. I had a big rock under my ball, so I really didn't have a very good lie. I kind of knifed it across the green. Hit a fantastic third shot. Had an okay putt and missed it. It was disappointing, but to respond the way I did and birdie the next and play as solidly as I did the next four or five holes was very pleasing.

Looking forward to get back out in the morning. Should be flatter, flatter wind conditions, and hopefully continue to make some birdies.

Q. Brooks Koepka told me he's learned a lot from you listening about how you grind out scoring in difficult conditions, and he does it awfully well now with four majors. What's the key?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Listen, whatever he's learned from me, I wish would he tell me what it was because I'm watching him and trying to learn from him. There's not a better big tournament player in the world maybe right now. He's a good friend and his caddie is one of my best friends and been happy to see his progress over the last few years.

Playing well in these conditions is really just about trying to stay patient, hang tough, hit fairways, hit greens, and obviously being a good putter helps, as well. Be able to clean up any mistakes you make. Like I say, looking forward to cracking on tomorrow morning and see if we can continue to make some birdies.

Q. A round of 64 for a share of the lead. Talk us through that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Fast start, which was important, because the wind was waking up. When you play golf in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, down here to Saudi, you know you can get flat calm mornings and windy afternoons. Birdieing four of the first five was a big start.

Bit of a blip on 11 where I missed the green down in that waste bunker and kind of knifed it across the green and made five, which was disappointing.

But bounced straight back with a birdie and birdied the last three. Very pleased. Very happy the way I'm playing generally at the minute, and nice to continue that momentum.

Q. Following that setback on 11, how good was it to bounce back the way you did?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, because the back nine is quite tricky in that breeze. You know, 11 is a tough hole, as well. 13, 14, real tough holes. 16, another tough hole. I knew I had some tough stuff ahead of me. Huge to steady the ship a little bit.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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