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February 8, 2008

Graeme McDowell


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks for coming in, Graeme. Another good day for the Irish, and particularly good day for you, you must be very pleased.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I played similar to how I did yesterday. The golf course, you can't get too fitted up on, you have to be very patient, hit it in the fairways as often as you can and that's kind of what I've been doing, hitting some pretty good irons and giving myself some chances.
I have to say I really have not strayed too far out of position in two days. You know, there's trouble waiting around every corner on this golf course. You've really got to -- I feel like I'm playing golf at a slightly lower intensity level this week. You've really just got to be extra patient and hitting a lot of short chip shots off tees and really just trying to find the fairways.
And, you know, despite the golf course being very short, par is a great score out here. So you know, you've just got to take your chances when you take them and take your pars and walk off with a smile.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You have to feel you make a real concerted effort to hold yourself back out there.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I really have been, just trying to slow myself down. Patience is kind of the key word this week, despite five or six chances coming in there. You just can't get frustrated at all on this golf course, because the second that you try and push it, that's when you find trouble and there's bogeys, doubles and all sorts of things waiting for you out there.
I would have loved to have picked one up coming in, but I realise there's a lot of golf to be played in this tournament, and, you know, if I can just keep hitting the ball the way I'm hitting it, I'll be hopefully there or thereabouts come Sunday afternoon.
SCOTT CROCKETT: We'll take the details before we take some questions. You started like Damien at the 10th and bogeyed the short hole. What did you do there?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Early on it was quite cold. I hit 6-iron to 12 and just didn't quite get to the green. Had a nasty lie and pitched it 12 feet by and missed the one back.
15, I hit a pitching wedge there to about 12 feet.
17, I hit a 7-iron to probably seven or eight feet.
1, I actually got it up-and-down from there 40 yards in the trap short left and I put 3-iron around the corner, caught the edge of the trap and I hit a good bunker shot to about six, seven feet.
2 was a 9-iron, pretty much stiff, about three feet.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Any real chances coming in?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I had some good chances coming in. The par-3 5th, I probably hit it to is it feet and probably 15, 20 feet on 6. I played the par-3 7th very well this week; I hit it to ten feet twice there and missed both times, but three is a great score there.
I had a simple up-and-down on 8 from like 50 yards and didn't make it up-and-down. And 9, I hit it to about eight feet and missed again. Like I say, yeah, I would have loved to pick 1-up but two off the lead, I'm not going to complain at all.

Q. Is it nice to play a course which is so different to what you are used to?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think it's nice to come to a golf course which tests completely different aspect of the game. It tests probably -- it's as far away from a physical test as possible. It's much more of a physical test and short game test.
So it's very good to come to the golf course and see one like this where you nearly contemplate leaving driver out of the bag this week. There was only two tee shots I thought would need I driver on, and we actually did toy with the idea of leaving it out.
Like I say, you really have to try to make sure your head was right. I'm not surprised to see guys like myself and Damien McGrane up there. I think mental strength is one of my own strengths as far as being patient and finding fairways and my short game has been improving a lot. So I really think it's not really a plotter's golf course but certainly a smart golfer's golf course. So you have to think your way around and not get frustrated and the driver stays in the bag.
The holes that we are hitting drivers on, 10, for example, 10 is like a driver, 5-iron, so you have to hit driver there. And I forget what the other driver is, the par-5 14th. It's just a golf course you can't overpower at all. It tests the mind rather than the biceps a little bit.

Q. How are you now compared to when you started the year in Abu Dhabi?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I finished off the last three or four months of last season in some really good form and had a good off-season and was excited to get back out and play golf.
I would say I went to Abu Dhabi with a little too much expectation and looking for perfection. I hit the ball fantastic and struggled on the greens. I was working on some new tough with my putting and reverted to my old self the following week.
My expectations are very high this year and I think I have to maybe control myself a little bit and yeah, a little rust, shed that off and it's been nice to play consistent golf the last few weeks. Finished 20th at Qatar, which probably could have been better, and very happy with my performance last week in Dubai, and had to switch to a different mind-set this week, and I'm glad I'm able to adjust my game and play solid so far this week.

Q. Has Damien always been on a even keel temperamentally?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Damien's always been even-keeled. I didn't play a lot of golf with Damien growing up in the amateur ranks and stuff. I didn't know him until I came out here and met him three or four years ago.
He seems to me like he's, I guess, Damien's character, he's a real dogged competitor is a good way to describe him. He's obviously not the most fantastic ball-striker you'll ever meet, but he will find a way of getting it around. Obviously a testament to his mental ability that he was able to go out and give Tiger a game on Saturday; I'm sure he was disappointed on Sunday. Yeah, he realizes that he probably doesn't have the physical attributes that a lot of these players have, but he's got a great short game, chips and putts well, and like I say, he's a real sort of dogged competitor and he will find a way of getting it around.
You know, certainly looking at the leaderboard, I wasn't shocked to see his name up there.

Q. Do you have goals for the year?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think there's the obvious team I want to be on in September, no doubt about that. But I've got a lot of improving to do. I don't think my World Ranking really reflects how far I think I've come in the last 12, 18 months. I think my game has turned around a lot. I've been working very hard and I want to make an impact on the World Rankings obviously.
I'd like to get back in the winner's circle, and like I say, hopefully get picked for the team later in the season. But you know, there's a lot of goals out there in the future, but probably for the time being, I'm just trying to do things right, trying to work hard, trying to just be consistent, get my consistency levels up and try to compete every week as much as possible, and like I say just keep working hard on my game and keep improving. That's really the short-term stuff.

Q. What would you like your ranking to be at the end of the year?
GRAEME McDOWELL: In the world? End of this year, if I can get myself back in the Top-50 this year, I would be very happy with that. I'm off to a decent start. I made a pretty good impact last week in Dubai, and as you start getting higher and higher up, it is tough to keep moving up. Top-50 is where things start to happen for you. If I could break into that barrier again and start getting myself into majors and WGCs, that you can when you can start to make consistency pay.
Yeah, Top-50, and then after that, start looking higher obviously. But consistency is a word I've been striving for the last few years. But it's difficult. It's a long career out here and it's difficult to keep improving and not get disappointed with yourself.

Q. You look a lot fitter - have you undergone a fitness regime over the winter?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I started working with a guy in probably September, October time. I had some back issues at start of last year which I had hurt myself in the gym and had really lost my interest level and lost my motivation from a fitness point of view and stagnated the first six months of last year and worked hard on my technique and game in general.
But towards the end of the season, I felt like I'm still on the right side of 30; I felt I wanted to give myself a chance bit of a rip the next couple of years and see if I could beat myself into a bit of shape. I've always kind of fought the bulge a little bit, if you like. But yeah, I've been working pretty hard. I think I'm starting to tone up a little bit but I've got a pretty long road ahead of me from that point of view.
I guess it's looking forward things like career longevity and obviously physical stamina, equal and mental stamina and stuff. Yeah, it's something I'm concentrating on at the minute.

Q. Do all pros think that way because of Tiger?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt. I listen to a few of the older pros talk about the differences in the tour the last few years, and especially when we say in hotels like, say, Abu Dhabi a couple weeks ago when we are all in the same place, you go to the gym at four, five in the afternoon and 20 players in there.
The shape of the Tour has changed, yeah, Tiger has raised the bar from a physical level. He's the guy we all look to. You know he probably could have been a great American football player and he probably could have done anything because he's got the athletic capabilities. He's beat himself into some unbelievable shape and he seems to be getting better all the time. I think that has spurred guys into the gym and has us all lifting weights and working harder and running. That's something that's of pretty high importance to me at the minute, as well.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Well done today. Good luck tomorrow.

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