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March 19, 2008

Graeme McDowell


Q. Talk about getting here first of all?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, I got in at 3:00 into Orlando Monday afternoon, so I had a great flight coming over. Couldn't have been any quicker or seamless, so it was perfect. I had a few beers on Monday night on St. Paddy's night with my friends, and hit the wall about 8:30 so I was tucked up in bed pretty early. That was nice just to chill out and empty the suitcase, get a bit of laundry done in the house in Orlando and then drove down here last night, so I'm feeling pretty fresh this morning.
It's pretty breezy out there today, so it should get our attention pretty quick.

Q. Has the last week sunk in yet?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Not really, I don't think. You know, I saw the coverage a couple times, watched a couple replays, jumped on the European Tour website, just to see what it means, Order of Merit, World Rankings and stuff. No, I wouldn't say it's 100 percent sunk in, but I guess when I tee it up here tomorrow I guess the reality will hit home. It opens up a lot of doors. Ken pretty much rushed off after we played on Sunday, so it was good to see him this morning and put it into perspective for us both. It opens doors, like obviously pretty much guaranteed NEC. I think it gets me into NEC. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I would be disappointed if it didn't. PGA, HSBC at the end of the year, so lots of doors opening up. It's nice for me. It means consistent play. I mean, obviously I've been playing well the last six months now and obviously the big results mean more because all of a sudden you shoot up the Order of Merit and shoot up the World Rankings.

Q. Give us a word about Tiger because everyone is talking about him today. Are there any words left?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, I think every superlative ever used. The guy is incredible, isn't he? He's unbelievable. You know, the longer it keeps going, the more he's there to be shot at obviously. I feel I'm playing well enough to sort of give this tournament a run this weekend. If you finish in front of him this weekend, you're probably pretty near the top of the leaderboard.
Obviously he's a phenomenon. I think we're very fortunate or very unfortunate to be playing golf in the same era as him, you know? Unfortunately, because it's pretty tough to win tournaments.

Q. Are you undecided on it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt, I mean, he's lining all our pockets as far as putting money in tournaments and creating a buzz, and he's taken golf to a new level, so I don't think I'm undecided. I think I'm very fortunate to play golf in the same era as him. But as I said, it makes it pretty difficult to win tournaments when he's around.
But he's awesome. It would be fantastic to have a chance to go down the stretch with him on Sunday afternoon. That's kind of what we all play the game for really. We play the game to win tournaments, but nowadays to have a chance to beat Tiger on Sunday afternoon is kind of what we're all trying to do.

Q. What are your thoughts on the WGC's being mostly in America. Is it more difficult for Europeans because of that or is it an opportunity to play in bigger events that players like yourself may not have gotten?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously, the World Golf Championships, after the majors, these are the next most prestigious as far as financially and you get a chance to play against the best players in the world. From my point of view, especially in a Ryder Cup year, I would hate to be sitting at home right now watching this on TV. I certainly don't want to give the guys I'm trying to compete with to get on the Ryder Cup team too much of a head start. It's certainly something I was very aware of come the start of the year, that I needed to play well outside of these events to try and keep myself in contention. Obviously winning last week and getting in here this week was a massive boost for me, and it gives me a chance hopefully. I'm not 100 percent sure if I'm in the NEC Invitational, but I'd have to do a lot wrong not to be in the PGA, for example, and the British Open. So the last one opened a lot of doors from the point of view of getting into events like this and keeping me competing in the big events, really.
I mean, I've played all these events in the past, so I certainly feel like I'm well experienced in playing in these type of conditions and stuff. But like I say, I wouldn't want to be sitting at home this week watching Europeans go by me on the Ryder Cup points list.

Q. Do you miss not playing in them?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Oh, no doubt about it. I miss not playing in the majors. I miss not being able to pencil the majors and the WGC events into my schedule. It's nice to be able to work a schedule around the big events. When you've kind of got a schedule and have to be thinking on your feet all the time that if I play well maybe I'm in here and maybe I'll have to do this, that and the other. So being able to schedule them at the beginning of the year is obviously very important.

Q. You changed a lot of what you did about 18 months ago, where you live, you sort of have a fitness regime and things. That's been very important?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it's been nice to get a good structure around me. The last few years I've got a new caddie, new coach, new management company. I started working with a sports psychologist again, kind of rededicated myself to the game again. I've tried off and on to get myself into some decent shape, so I figured since I'm still this side of 30, I'd better try and push on. So I feel like I've made actually some pretty good progress in the last six months physically. I think injury-wise, I'm probably in the best kind of physical condition I've been in as far as no aches and pains going on, so that's been big. Obviously I've been working with Dale Richardson for about two and a half years, and he's got me fit again. Yeah, I've obviously been working pretty hard, and I think that makes weeks like last week even more special, and you know that you put a lot of cogs in place and you've been working hard and trying to rededicate yourself to the game and getting the rewards is pretty special.

Q. Talk about the friendly rivalry -- the emergence of Rory McElroy spur you on a little bit?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I've gotten to know Rory pretty well the last few months and played a few practice rounds with him. I think a bit of a friendly rivalry is great. I've got so much of that in Europe. I've got great friends like Simon Dyson and Nick Dougherty and seeing guys like that winning tournaments and competing, you like to see a little bit of friendly rivalry. It kind of drives you and spurs you on and makes you realize that you've got the talent and the ability to win, as well, so you've got to keep plugging away.
There's no doubt, I feel like I've motivated myself pretty well in the last couple years, and I know what I've been trying to do for a little while. Like I say, you still need the rewards and you still need the results to let you know that you're on the right path, so that was big.

Q. Have you had any contact with Nick Faldo?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I have not. I believe the boys got together at the World Match Play. Obviously I was disappointed not to be there. But I haven't seen him. Hopefully I'll bump into him this week. That would be nice.

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