home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 2, 2020

Graeme McDowell

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

STEVE TODD: Very pleased to be joined by our champion, Graeme McDowell, many congratulations. It was a tough old battle out there today. Give us your thoughts on everything that transpired, and how pleased you are to be left holding that trophy?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, today was always going to be a battle. Golf course was set up very difficult save yesterday. I got off to a shaky start. It's just one of those golf courses, if you start missing fairways, you start getting out of position, it's tough to not make bogeys, and I bogeyed 1. Hung tough the rest of the front nine which was really big.

I got a really bad break on 9 when my second shot kind of scooted through the green and ended newspaper the back bunker and had a bad lie and came out sideways and I made bogey there.

I guess the real turning point was 14, I suppose. It was the first time I had a really good look autopsy the leaderboard and kind of did some calculations and felt like I was 10-under at the time and I thought 10-under had an outstanding chance to win.

I saw Pieters was in the clubhouse at nine, so you know, I realised I only had kind of one shot at hand, if that, and it kind of refocused me for a second and after a really good second shot into 14, I buried that putt, which you know, obviously was one of the big strengths of the weekend was the putter. That putt was massive. I hit a freight shot to 15.

Q. How massive was the putt?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Pretty massive, yeah (laughter) hard to quantify, literally quantify -- sorry, I thought you were trying to be philosophical. 20 feet, 25 feet, something like that. A foot longer.

It was actually a bit of a break on 15, I hit it in the right semi, and was able to take the spin off the second shot. Couldn't really see, the sun was off the ocean and is it was tough to see, beautiful picture, but the birdie on 14 and 15 was just massive.

I thought to myself at breakfast if I could somehow get on to suspect tee with a three shot lead, that's what I want, and I stood on 17 tee with a three-shot lead. It was nice to have that cushion coming down the stretch because literally 16 was a lay-up par 3. 17 was a pin you just couldn't get at from the fairway. It was a lay-up again, and it was appealing to my U.S. Open side.

And you know, on 18, it was weird, just trying to get out with five and your brain is trying to work out how to make eight. It was tough. I didn't love -- my bunker play hasn't been great this week and the bunker was the easy leave. I got down there and I was like, man, I wish I could have left it somewhere else. But it wasn't a really fancy, it wasn't a fancy five to win, but hey, I'd have taken six, so it would have been absolutely fine.

To win against this quality field, I believe it gets me back in the Top-50 in the world maybe, which is a massive goal for the foreseeable, and just a lot of boxes ticked this week and hopefully I can use this to kick on and have a good year now.

STEVE TODD: You just touched on, it's five years, six months since your last victory on The European Tour. You've won on the PGA Tour. How sweet does this particular victory feel?

GRAEME McDOWELL: What was my last win?

STEVE TODD: Open de France.

GRAEME McDOWELL: That's nuts. It's special to come out here. It's a long way to come. They have assembled a great field here. Golf course exceeded my expectations. Just to win against a quality field and really only four tournaments into the year, a year that I've kind of like visualised being a great year to get off to having a top five in Hawai'i and to win here, massive for momentum and massive feedback for everything I feel like I'm working on many my game.

I started working with Kevin Kirk back in August of last year and he's injected a lot of focus and motivation into my practice and my way of thinking. He helped me get my ball flight back a little bit, and it's amazing to be getting these leaps forward this soon, really. It's nice to test yourself.

I think one of the guys asked me earlier in the week if I get out there with a chance to win on Sunday afternoon, will I still remember how to do it. You're always worried that that stuff goes away. That's the intangibles. That's all the X-factors that you can't practise. You cannot practise what it feels like to kind of try and win a golf tournament coming down the stretch. Just have to hope that it's there. I was very happy with the shots that I hit under pressure coming down the stretch today, aside from that bunker shot on 18, which wasn't very pretty.

But you know, aside from that, I wouldn't have taken too many of those shots back coming down, coming down those last six holes and that's pleasing and that's just the kind of confident and momentum that you need to be pouring back into the game to hopefully kick on into the rest of the season.

Q. Going to ask you, you got a text message from Lee Westwood. What does that mean for you? You talked about Lee earlier in the week, getting his win in Abu Dhabi, what does that do?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, we spoke about it last week in Dubai. He's the kind of guy I look towards. Talking about a guy that it's never gone away from him. The guy is a winner, won 45 times around the world, if that number's correct -- it's big. It's inspiring to see these guys win in their 40s, guys that have been through it, done it, kind of looked like they have maybe were kind of coming into the sunset of their career, and then you win a big event.

So when he texted me last night, I was on the way back to the hotel leading by one, it was nice. It was a nice reinforcement. I kind of felt like he was in brackets saying, you know, I can do it, you can do it too, Mate, so go and win that thing. It's nice for guys like that. Tommy Fleetwood, lots of great people texted me. Nice to be back up there.

My goal is to get back in the Top-20 in the world and to be competing. I want another chance at a major championship on the back nine on a Sunday. This is all the steps. It's a lofty goal. There's going to be a lot of steps between here and now, but this really gives me the kick-on that I need, of. It's going to change my schedule the next few months I hope. I'm not sure if I get in México or Augusta at this point. I'm going to be close to it. But hopefully it will change my schedule a little bit and these are great problems.

Q. Given what happened on Friday, what was hanging over you, how special is this win under the circumstances?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, you know, The European Tour rules officials handled it very well in the end. Of course I felt hard done by in the moment. It was just kind of one of those, especially when I found out how important that bad time was; that it was a real bad time. Was going to haunt me as the weekend went on. Played with Paratore yesterday. He was a fast player. We never really kind of lost touch.

But it's always an interesting dynamics when you're in the final group on the Sunday. You can detach yourself easily from the pack. Sunday, guys play fast on Sundays. I wish we could play that fast every day. There's this subconscious plane in front of you and they fly around the joint. The pace of play was faster today.

Victor and I got off to a scrappy start and found ourselves a little out of position. So Mark Litton, he's loitering with intent. I'm running around that front nine, and I spoke to him walking off 11, I said to him, "We realise we're our out here and we're trying our damndest and can't seem to get back in position."

He said, "I'm watching. I see the effort. I appreciate it."

You know, Snoddy, he gave me the bad time on Friday. I feel like he kind of got the brunt of the negativity that was created, that I caused him and I want to apologise to him. You know, these guys are just out here trying to do their job. That's a new rule, a new pace of play policy that needs to be enforced, and they are trying to make an example of players, not necessarily me, but they are trying to make a statement that you know, The European Tour are trying to do everything they can to make this game faster.

I was glad I didn't -- I was glad we didn't get monitored and put on the clock coming down the stretch because that would have been something not necessary, not needed. It's just one of those intangibles. It's the last thing you need when you're trying to win a golf tournament.

And there are a lot of hard shots out there on at second nine. My second shot to 13, the Rubik's Cube. Like I say, disappointing what happened. Thankful we all handled it well. I was really happy with The European Tour and the way they handled it, and you know, now we can all move on.

Q. With the U.S. Open under your belt, you've obviously had bigger wins than this, but emotionally, how big is this considering the journey you've been on over the last couple years?
GRAEME McDOWELL: This is a weird win because I've kind of felt it coming. Not a lot of my wins in my career have been like I expected. There was a certain sense of expectation with this one. I felt like it was part of my journey back, in that sense; this I'm playing well enough to win and if a win gets in the way, it's great, it's going to be a steppingstone.

So I'm not as emotional as -- I'm trying to look at the bigger picture where, you know, I need to keep cranking on and I need to have weeks like these where I'm competing against the best in the world. So yeah, I certainly wasn't Westy level a couple weeks ago. (Tim) Barter was trying his best to make me cry, didn't quite succeed, but thought about it for a second.

But like I say, this is an important win. But it's not like kind of end of a road or something. I feel like it's just part of the journey a little bit, and I feel like I'm getting back to being good enough to compete on the big stage.

This is a weird week, I mean, no disrespect to this place, but there were 15 people watching us. You know, it didn't have an intensity of a big, big, big tournament, even though the best players in the world are here. The No. 1 world player in the world is here; Dustin Johnson. You've got some seriously highly ranked golfers here and with a great strength of field on a great golf course and a tough golf course.

But that kind of external 25,000 people creating that atmosphere, it didn't feel difficult from that point of view, which was kind of nice, I suppose.

Yeah, very important win, and hopefully one that I can really double up on and kick on from here. I'm excited to see how my schedule is going to develop if at all. Really, really a nice stepping stone and I'm proud. It's a beautiful trophy.

Called my kids right off 18 green. They were jumping around the house. My little boy was shouting, "Daddy, you won." That's the kind of stuff excited about we'll kick on, see what happens. I'll kick on. Playing Pebble next week and see what happens.

Q. How important was it to play with Dubuisson today and how pleased are you to see him back at the top?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I was very excited for Victor. I was a little worried going out there today that I wouldn't be able to get my game face on if it was him and I coming down the stretch. I certainly have a soft spot for Victor. I think he's a great kid. I want to see him succeed. I said to him on 18 green, "I want you to go have a good season. Get yourself on leaderboards and get out there and love the game again."

You know, happy for him. He didn't have the kind of day he wanted today but I can still see the talent's there. He's a very talented kid, and he's young. He's got a good ten, 15 years of golf ahead of him. He's the same as everyone. If he can get his mind in the right place to play this game, he's as good as anyone.

So I wish him well. Great to play with him today. You know, it was -- I managed to get myself in a very good focused place out there. We didn't really chat a whole lot. A, we were a little out of position and we were running around the place. And B, just trying to get our game face on and trying to knuckle down, and this golf course was so testing.

It's weird to win on a golf course where so many shots made me feel uncomfortable out there. It was nearly major championship-esque in places in that you really had to be disciplined with your targets and play away from flags. There were a lot of tee shots which I didn't like. 13, especially. I played that hole very conservatively today. Ended up missing a short putt for par.

Then 16, you couldn't go near that flag on 16. Hit a very conservative shot in there and tried to two-putt and get out of there, which I did well.

But wish Victor well. I hope he has a big year, I really do.

Q. Knowing how difficult it is out here and how the players keep moving up quickly, good players, what made you think that you could actually accomplish what you're talking about right now to get back in the Top-20?
GRAEME McDOWELL: To get back in the top 20 -- it felt a long way ahead of me. I think I've sort of broken that top 50 barrier probably three, four, six months faster than I thought I could.

I knew it was going to be a journey. I had kind of geared my mind for patience. I mean, if I haven't learned anything in 20 years, I've learned that you've got to be damn patient out here. It's not about your bad weeks. It's about really making your good weeks into great weeks.

I don't know. I don't know. It was really just a good team. Kenny, having him by my side, it will be 14 years in June. Like I say, Kevin Kirk has really brought an interesting dynamic into this team. He's told me, "There's absolutely no reason why the best golf of your career can't still be ahead of you." It's little things like that that have resonated with me.

We all know it's small percentages. It's fine lines. These guys are all good, really good. Like I said earlier, a guy gets in the right mind-set at the right time, he can win any golf tournament. It's just been a mixture of my life just settling down in a happy place. Golf swing kind of settling down and start understanding what I'm doing and really just some really good positive talk to where, hey, we can do this. You're still good enough.

You know, let's be honest. We're trying to -- we try and kid ourselves realistically as much as we can. The game of golf, there's a lot of self-talk that goes on. It's a lot like life. You're out there trying to tell yourself stories all the time, stay in the moment, stay in the present, you've got this. You're talking to yourself all the time, and it's just about the quality of that talk and that's really -- if I start to tell myself, hey, this is a really lofty goal you have yourself here, these guys are really good, maybe you're not good enough anymore, you're old, you're not in really good shape, you're a bit fat and maybe you're not very good; if that was the quality of my talk, yeah, I'm going to have a tough time getting there.

But the things I've been saying to myself the last six months, I've been way, way better than they have been in a long time and I think that's really all it boils down to, that combined with some hard work and some good preparation and a bit of luck, you know. It's really about the attitude.

Q. When you started your professional career, had you ever thought or imagine that you would win a tournament in Saudi Arabia, and that now you've come here and you've witnessed an international standard field and event and everything, what are your thoughts on this?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think one of the things I'm most proud about in my career is the places I've won golf tournaments. I've won a lot of tournaments in some fun places like Korea and now Saudi Arabia, and México and Dominican Republic and cool places where golf is a new sport.

You know this, week really exceeded my expectations on a lot of levels. The hotel is very comfortable. The golf course was fantastic. They took great care of us, and obviously golf is an emerging sport here and anything we can do to contribute to where this nation wants to go, you know, I'm not going to get political in any shape or form. I'm a professional golfer. I'm here to play a professional golf tournament and it was a very good professional golf tournament and I'm very happy to be sitting here with the trophy.

I wish this country well, I really do in golf, and hopefully I'll be back to defend next year.

Q. Will you play next week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I am. My partner will be very disappointed if I don't show up. I'm on a Jeddah - L.A. flight tomorrow morning at 5.00, so going straight to Pebble.

Q. 5.30.
GRAEME McDOWELL: You on it, too? Everybody's on that plane. I think I'm going to go to Pebble. My partner is the ex-CEO of Patron tequila, so I don't think we'll have a tough time having a few bevies and celebrate quietly. And the weather is great next week. I'm excited and we've got a family vacation the week after. I think we'll probably stick to the plan, yeah.

Q. Did you enjoy Bryan Adams?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Bryan was good. Love his music. Had some of his albums when I was a kid. Really enjoyed it. Like I say, I think they did a really nice job with the staging and the things they have done this week. It was a fun event, aside from the obvious glass of red at dinner at tight, zero complaints to be had this week. I don't even know what the purse was this week.? I didn't even know what the purse was. When I was in contention, I'm like, I'm not even going to look. I'll just find out after.

STEVE TODD: Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297