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October 26, 2006

Graeme McDowell


GORDON SIMPSON: Graeme, first out today, but I doubt very much if you'll be first out tomorrow based on that performance. What was the main key to your round today? You played very well.

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I played really, really solid tee to green. I've been working pretty hard the last couple of days, really just trying to get control of the golf ball again and generally just placed it in the fairways and on the greens and gave myself a ton of chances all day long. Apart from probably No. 7 where I had a good scramble for par, I really wasn't out of position. 4 under felt about the worst I really could have shot today, so very content the way I struck the ball that's for sure.

GORDON SIMPSON: Does this represent your best return on this course?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I would think so. Close to it, anyway. I feel like I played pretty solid here the last few years. I'm not 100 per cent sure. Obviously with it being so soft, the golf course is probably lending to good scoring more than normal, there's no doubt about that. It's easier to hold fairways and it's easier to hold the greens, and we're out there first this morning and the greens were absolutely just perfect. We really had no excuses for missing putts.

Q. Tell us what happened on the 7th.

GRAEME McDOWELL: I hit a really good tee shot I really hit my tee shot, 210 yards into the wind back to the pin. Tried to hit 4 iron. Had a bit of a scrappy lie, pretty much laid the sod over it. It was nice, just short of the green. I hit a very average pitch shot to 12 feet and made the putt. That was a good momentum keeper because I played solid up to then, 2 under through six. Hit a pretty bad approach, scrambled, got myself back into it and played some nice golf after that.

Q. Position on this course is very important off the tee to get to some of the pin positions, do you think the fact that it is so soft will lead to a lot of low scoring?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think so. It's still tough around the greens because the greens are still quite quick. But with it being so soft, I will not be surprised to see someone shoot 6 , 7 under par today. The wind was kind of gusting a little bit. You know, first seven, eight holes out there, we got the best of the day I would say and then the wind started puffing up. It's tough to tell where the wind is coming from out there sometimes. I see that being the only tough part out there really.

Q. Could you do your other figures, Graeme, please.

GRAEME McDOWELL: Birdie on 5. I had a good little shot in there from about 100 yards to about six feet.

Birdie on 6, I hit a 7 iron to about eight feet.

No. 10, I had a wedge to about probably seven, eight feet.

11 was just an up and down from the side of the green. I hit a pretty average chip shot again. I made about a 10 footer there.

You know, my birdies, I holed some okay putts out there but generally I didn't feel like my chipping and putting is up to scratch, so I'll be spending a lot of time this afternoon just starting to feel a bit more comfortable with it, with my scrambling. I felt like I left some shots out there today but generally pretty content all the same.

Q. Coming into this event 59th on the Order of Merit is not what you would he have hoped for on the year?

GRAEME McDOWELL: No, it's not where I want to be. I've certainly not had the kind of year that I expected to be having. This game kind of ebbs and flows, and I feel like I've learned a lot this year. It's a lot of things, scheduling, technical issues on my swing, and really just hard to I don't know, I just feel like I'll be a better player after this year, no doubt about that.

I'm excited to get this year over, that's for sure. I'm excited to get going again next year. I'm committing myself back to Europe now for these next two years and really get my head down and get back to what I do best and win golf tournaments and really get in the mix. I think that's the way where you get the most enjoyment from the game. I really haven't enjoyed much of my golf this year, I have to say. It's been a tough one.

Q. Missing out on the Ryder Cup in Ireland, would have to be

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, that was very disappointing. And obviously being there and seeing the guys win on Sunday. I had a bit of a flat feeling inside because I realised that I wanted to be there, I wanted to feel what they were feeling a little bit. So that's going to really drive me on to the next Ryder Cup. There's no way I want to miss this next one. I know I've got the game. I've just got to give myself the chance.

I don't really feel like I gave myself the right chance this year, playing too much in the States, got off to a bad start. You never know what's going to happen. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I had started in the States and played fantastic golf, then it would have been the right move.

But I started out there and I played some shocking golf and came back here low on confidence and really didn't feel there's barely been a three, four week spell this year where I felt happy with my golf swing. It's came and went a lot this year. I put that down to probably too much golf, too much traveling, and really just a lack of confidence really from not giving myself enough chances.

Q. You've got a very experienced caddie on the bag this week in Ricci Roberts. What's the arrangement there, and what's the relation there and how important is that going to be on a course like this?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm just excited to obviously have a chance to work with guys like Ricci. He's won four majors. He's won lots of golf tournaments around the world. It's great just to get an insight into how one of the best players in the world does it. Certainly around a golf course like this, it is great. He's a good influence on me and we get on very well. You know, it's just great to have a great guy on the bag like that.

It's a short term move. I fully expect him to get a phone call from Ernie unless I start playing some better golf. I would say he would take that opportunity to go back to Ernie. As I say, a short term thing and I'm obviously very excited to have a chance to do that.

Q. Is it week to week or this week?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Third week on the bag. This is probably going to be one of the last ones I would say. I'm not 100 per cent sure how much I want to play after this. Yeah I would say this would be our last week but hopefully I can make it a good one for us.

Q. Can you give an example of where Ricci specifically helped you today?

GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, he's very good I think he's very good pre shot. He says great things, very simple stuff but really good: "See your shot, commit to your shot." He's a very, very positive person. I've been impressed by how enthusiastic he is. The guy's won 50 tournaments worldwide and four majors. And he's obviously having a break from one of the best players in the world and working for me, and I'm struggling. I've been impressed by how enthusiastic he's been and he's really been driving me on and keeping me going.

Q. You say you had this insight from him into how Ernie plays. Can you give us example of something that he said that struck a chord?

GRAEME McDOWELL: He really just gives me an insight into how Ernie would see shots and play shots, and technique wise, especially in the short game. Obviously Ernie has would you know of the best short games in the world probably. He really helps me with my technique a little bit around the greens. I'm very quick to say, you know, "What would Ernie do here, how does he prepare himself for this type of event." It's just stuff like that, really, it's very small things.

Obviously Ricci is a pretty sharp guy. Technically he's been helping me with my golf swing. And for example, he told me that all him and Ernie ever do technically is work on stance, posture, grip and alignment and that's really it. Just really trying to keep things as simple as possible.

Q. You said you won't go to America starting next year. Will you concentrate solely in Europe?

GRAEME McDOWELL: I had the opportunity to go chasing my card in the States the last two, three months, and I really made the decision that I wasn't going to do that. I was going to basically give up my card out there and come back and play solely in Europe and really just get myself concentrate on winning, get myself back up in the World Rankings and really getting on the path to getting on the next Ryder Cup Team really. I realised very quickly that if you're not in the Top 50, trying to play both sides of the Atlantic is just about impossible. Been a very difficult year.

Q. Can you give us an example of the crazy scheduling or the time you felt things were most out of kilter?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously there was the mess earlier in the year when I didn't get into Bay Hill and TPC. The week after that, I played Atlanta, and the week after The Masters, and then I played 19 of the next 22 weeks, which encompassed two major qualifiers, British Open and U.S. So that was two 36 holers.

I think I was Transatlantic probably six times during that period. By the time I got to the British Open, I was absolutely fried. Obviously led early in the week there and played badly on Sunday. I came off the golf course and I was just about beaten up by that point. That was when it really hit me. I realised that I had overplayed.

But, you know, you qualify for the British Open and the U.S. Open and all of a sudden these weeks start filling in and you wonder, where in the hell am I going to take a week off. That becomes the very hard part. The fact that I've been chasing and I've needed to play well, I think that's been the problem this year, instead of just being content with my schedule and being content inside and obviously feeling good about myself and being able to just relax and go play and take weeks off. So it's been a scheduling nightmare this year, basically.

Q. I'm sure, yeah. When you say basically give up the U.S. Tour and the card, do you mean literally give up, or just keep it but not play there?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, obviously I'll be giving my card up completely. I'm not really I don't know if I'll have any access to events next year. If schedule allows, I will maybe attempt to get some invitations. Obviously if it fits my schedule. But I'm not going to play anymore than, apart from the majors, I would doubt if I'll play anymore than two or three times out there. It's going to be as big a European Tour schedule I've played probably in three years. I haven't played any of the Asian stuff at all in the last two, three years. So it's going to be interesting.

Q. You were saying that you were not enjoying the game. You obviously enjoyed your round today. When was the last round of golf you really enjoyed and you felt, this is good, this is me.

GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't think enjoyment is the right word.

Q. Fulfillment.

GRAEME McDOWELL: I love golf. Fulfillment, obviously there's been a lot of frustration this year. It's just been being very hard on myself, being very frustrated myself and I'm trying too hard. That spell of golf I played 19 of 22 weeks, I was playing a lot of golf. But I was also working very hard as well and I felt I worked probably as hard as I have maybe my whole career and I wasn't really seeing the results. That was the frustration part for me. That's what was translating into lack of enjoyment. I just wasn't happy. I wasn't happy on the golf course because I knew I was being overly hard on myself and because I was wanting it so much, I couldn't stop myself.

So it was nice to be out there this morning and play with Simon first thing. The course was beautiful and just go out there cruising around and trusting my swing a little bit, seeing the ball go into the hole for once. Yeah, like I say, just the frustration and the beating myself up's been the big thing the last few months.

Q. You spent a lot of time with Simon practising and out on the course this week; does that help?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think we were both very relaxed out there this morning. Yeah, I don't know why I decided to play 18 holes with a guy I'm going to play another 18 holes with today. Simon is a good mate, has been for a long time. Good to see him at his first Volvo Masters.

Q. Can you give an example where Ricci gave you an insight into how Ernie would play a shot or something he said that helped you?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Like he said to me, on the 17th, "let's make a little shot here." And I looked at him, like what do you mean. "Let's make a little shot here." He says that a lot. I hear what he's saying. It's just about manufacturing a shot, which is something I like to do, too, gripping up and down the shaft.

Q. Do you think a caddie of his experience can make a difference in a round?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I would say it's definitely worth one or two shots a round, absolutely.

End of FastScripts.

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