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February 21, 2006

Graeme McDowell


Q. Tell us how your game is coming into the event?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Well the last three weeks haven't gone as according to plan having missed the cut in each on which was disappointing. It was not the kind of start to the season I was looking for but I am working very hard. I am working hard off the course and on the course. It has been a bit of a feel issue and I have a little bit of an equipment issue as well and I have been trying to work that out. But generally it is a little bit of confidence really, just trying to get four rounds under my belt and get my confidence back. But my game is feeling better by the week.

Q. Success breeds confidence though, you just need that one cut made and you'll be off and running?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Absolutely. There is nothing really wrong with my game, it is just very narrow margins here and there, very small margins. I haven't been missing the cut by much or anything, so it has been there or thereabouts, I just haven't quite scored up to my ability and therefore haven't really got any momentum going in any tournament so far. But this would be a good week to get the season started.

Q. What were the equipment issues you mentioned?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I put a putter in my bag in Phoenix in my first event which didn't suit me. I had played with it in practice but not in a tournament and I found that it just didn't suit me at all and I putted awful. I have also had a bit of a problem with the shafts on my irons in the past couple of weeks, they just haven't been performing well in the wind and as a result I haven't been able to get the ball close to the hole from the fairway, so I am working on that this week and trying to keep my ball flight a little bit down in the wind. That is pretty much it and apart from that I am feeling pretty good.

Q. Last year you beat Darren Clarke in round one so it doesn't faze you meeting someone of a higher seeding obviously?

GRAEME McDOWELL: No not at all. Obviously there was a lot of hype about the possibility of me meeting Tiger and that would have been a great opportunity for me but, then again, to play Vijay is still up there, he is a pretty decent player as well and I'll have to be at my best to beat him just as I would have had to be to have had any chance against Tiger. But in saying that, I feel that match play suits my game. I have had a good match play record all my life in both amateur and professional so I am excited about the prospect. I like this golf course because it is a course where you can make a lot of birdies and I might need those to beat Vijay. But it doesn't really matter who you play in this draw, they are all good players. I've never played with Vijay before, I know him to speak to and I've met him on a number of occasions at golf tournaments and he is a nice guy but this will be the first time I have actually played with him and he will be a tough opponent.

Q. I think you have said already you are perhaps a little disappointed that the opportunity to play Tiger has been taken away from you?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I think the opportunity to go head to head with him, you don't get that chance very often and it would have been nice, but hey, maybe I'll see him in the later rounds.

Q. Last year, your best performances came in the WGC - American Express and the Open, you are obviously comfortable in the big arena?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Last year I didn't have the consistency level that I would have wanted but there is no doubt that I did perform well in a couple of the big tournaments and that gives me the confidence to go and do it again this year. My season is almost starting from scratch in the fact that I am over here on the US PGA Tour and I feel like I am actually beginning a new career path as such. But I do feel that my game is up a level, I am playing at a different level and the opportunities are there for me.

Q. What is your schedule from a European Tour perspective?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I am back for the British Masters, which is my first one in Europe of the season and will follow that with the Irish Open and Wentworth. But I am pretty much out here full time until the Masters. Then it will be back and forth after the Open and the PGA until the Ryder Cup team gets picked basically.

Q. That is obviously a goal of every Irishman especially?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Sure, and I think the schedule I have just spoken about is open to some adjustment depending on how I play. I am committed to my schedule up until the Masters and after that I might review it and decide to come and play in Europe a bit more, who knows, it is changeable and very dependent on how you are doing. The better you play, holes in your schedule start filling in and all of a sudden you are playing every week.

Q. You battled hard in an ultimately fruitless effort to get into the Ryder Cup; is the quest for this year's team consuming your season?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I wouldn't say consuming but it is certainly a thought that is always there, no doubt about it. But at the moment I am simply trying to play week by week and get my season off and running.

Q. How about your health, any lingering repercussions from the car crash?

GRAEME McDOWELL: No thankfully. That was pretty much the reason for the prolonged break just to get fit again, but I'm feeling great now. I feel like I have been working really hard off the course and I think I am in as good shape now as I have been for a number of years.

Q. What is your strategy in match play, man or course?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Pretty much a little bit of both to be honest. There is no real hard and fast strategy for me, you have just got to be able to think on your feet and play a little more aggressively if the moment calls for it.

Q. Not having actually played with Vijay, you will presumably have to wait and see how it goes in your match?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Well it is pretty much a case of me doing my own thing in the early stages but I presume he will be 20 yards further up the fairway than me from the tee so I won't be able to concentrate too much on him.

Q. Of course that means getting your approach shot in first?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Exactly! I will have that in my armoury for sure.

End of FastScripts.

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