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May 13, 2008

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome, first man in this week. It would be nice to be last man in on Sunday?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, that's the general idea. If I'm sitting here Sunday evening, I'll be a happy man obviously. It's always nice to come back to the Irish Open. Great venue here at Adare, and you know, I think everyone is pretty excited about it. This is the only event we have this year in Ireland, so let's hope people get up for it. I think there obviously is a lot of players on form, and I'm certainly pretty excited about the week.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: A lot of Irish winners in the tournament after you started the ball rolling this year - great for the tournament?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I started a little bit of a trend. Something kind of sparked. Obviously it's great to see so many of the guys winning. Obviously I was extremely happy to get across the line in Korea and watch Damien do it and Peter do it, and it's been a great run and great to see a strong field here this week, and so many Irish players playing well.

Q. How do you feel coming in this year compared to previous years?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously Korea did a lot for my confidence, and winning breeds winning. But the amounts of confidence you do get from winning a tournament is massive and there's no substitute for that.
I've been working pretty hard on my game for a couple of years now, so it's nice to get a boost from some good results and certainly enjoyed my golf the last six, eight months. Things have been going well, and I'm happy with the way my swing is going, and certainly liking what the ball has been doing. I'm scoring well and I feel like I've been playing reasonably consistent and giving myself chances on the weekend as often as possible, and obviously to get one across the line was pretty important really. Keeps frustration away and it helps me keep more patient. Big run the next three or four months, so just go and try to keep doing what I'm doing really.

Q. Do you find you're maybe putting too much emphasis on getting into The Ryder Cup Team?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Did I say Ryder Cup first or did you? Certainly I haven't made any secret of the fact that it's one of my goals this year.
But you know, I'm certainly not going to be teeing it up on Thursday morning with The Ryder Cup on my mind. I'm fully aware of the amount of pressure that can stack up come June, July, August, but I feel like I've given myself a good enough start where I can stay patient and just take each week as it comes.
Certainly not going to get ahead of myself. I've got a lot of golf to play. And like I said I'm certainly not going to be letting the pressure stack up too much. I think The Ryder Cup is going to be a by-product of playing well and that's certainly how I'm going to look at things.

Q. Peter Lawrie was talking about the importance of his caddie earlier - is that something you put a lot of stock into with Ken?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Certainly, I can relate a lot to what Peter is saying. Ken and I very often have pretty honest -- is probably the only word to describe it -- pretty honest chats with each other, and normally directed to me, really, because Ken is a pretty experienced caddie. He's been around, very few times do I ever fall out with things he's doing.
I think it's great to have a mutual opinion on things, because sometimes from the inside looking out, we get a pretty skewed opinion of our games. You know, there are certain areas of the games maybe we shouldn't be beating ourselves up, and maybe we let ourselves off the hook sometimes in areas we need to be working harder, probably short game and putting the most important.
I had a pretty good chat with Ken on Sunday night after Malaysia before I won in Korea talking about a mental attitude; that I was starting to get a little bit frustrated. I had been playing so well, and kind of reversed on the weekend in Malaysia after putting myself in good position. You know, we had a really good chat about things, and just realised I was trying a little too hard and worked on that for the next few hours and funny enough, I had a trophy in my hand a week later.
So I can certainly relate to what Peter says. I have a great caddie on the bag and I put a lot of the trust in him and respect his opinion on most things.

Q. Do you work with a sports psychologist?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I work with Karl Morris. I've been working with him for five or six years on and off. Certainly that conversation sparked a phone call with Karl, kind of looking for his spin on things a little bit. And certainly we figured out and kind of came out on Thursday in Korea with a slightly different mental attitude on things.

Q. Have you seen the replay of the shot in the play-off in Korea?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think I probably watched the replay quite a few times. I mean, I've got the DVD of Sunday coverage from SKY. I'm a big believer in trying to store shots like that last one playoff in my mind as long as possible so you can recall it when you need to hit a big one next time.
Yeah, I do study the replay, certainly looking at my routines and kind of the way I go about things, and obviously great shots and great putts are nice to have in the memory banks.

Q. How far did you think Jeev's approach was, from where you were standing?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Certainly eight feet at most. I could tell from the crowd reaction we had not hit a decent shot in there in the play-off. It's a tough hole, and certainly the crowd reaction was different. Again, Ken kind of had some good words for me. He said there's plenty of room inside, and I don't remember feeling particularly nervous about the shot.
I was pretty much zoned into the play-off. It was matchplay, kind of that scenario and I felt pretty good about the shot. I had a similar yardage and just hit one of those kind of dream shots that just came out exactly how you wanted it to, and certainly one that I won't forget in a hurry.

GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, I mean, I think it's nice to -- I'm certainly trying to picture the shot I'm trying to hit, and you know, I think when you've seen it on TV enough times, it's nice that you can recall good images. And I'm quite an image-based guy, the better I can see the shot in my head, the easier I find to kind of find the swing and the control to hit the shot, so it's something I do work on a little bit?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I did. Like I said, it pretty much came out the middle of the bat, and I kind of -- it's just one of those, I think every now and again, even a handicap golfer, a 30-foot putt, somewhere in your mind you are just kind of seeing it going in; and five seconds later, it's in the hole. And you think, well, how could I not think that way more often? And certainly that shot I hit in there was a little bit like that. I had a pretty good feeling in my head. You know, obviously executed the shot well.

Q. Did you watch the other Irish boys winning recently?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I watched it, it was fantastic. Actually I watch pretty much all the guys. I don't think I saw maybe the way Damien finished up, he was cruising and I finished up maybe 40 minutes before him. So I didn't see him finish. But certainly watched Darren finish and Peter finish, and obviously didn't get a chance to see Michael, but kind of following his scoring. No, Peter was pretty amazing. What a finish to get into the playoff.

Q. What would winning an Irish Open mean to you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Winning in front of your home fans, family, friends, it's very special. I can only imagine. I haven't won obviously on home soil.
You know, I would certainly agree with Padraig; if I was to win this week, or win an Irish Open in the future, I would imagine it would feel very, very special, just having so many close friends and family there to watch and winning one on Irish soil. It was great to see him do it last year, and hopefully he's broken it open for us and certainly we've never had a field of Irish players assembled like we have this week with a chance to win. So let's hope for another Irish winner?

Q. Is there extra pressure this week from fans, media and the public?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I can't walk out of the clubhouse without having six or seven media guys around you now.
No, I agree completely. There's just a lot more to do. Your family and friends calling you up saying, "I'm coming down, Thursday, Friday can you leave me some tickets." Obviously your media requirements are different and people want to talk to you. Just so much more goes on the weeks of the Irish Open and home events.
I certainly made a little bit of a conscious decision with my management team this year to really quiet things down these weeks and try to be a bit more structured with my timing and make sure I do things correctly and give myself enough time to do the important things, which are go on the golf course and work hard on my game and put the preparation that I would on a week, say, out in China where there's no distractions at all and I just have all the time in the world to prepare.
So try to make sure I give myself time to do that this week and like I say, don't get too distracted with all of the buzz that goes with an event like this one?

Q. Peter Lawrie was also talking about how he wrote his goals for the year and put them in a sealed envelope - is that the kind of thing you do?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I didn't do specifically that but I'm definitely a goal-setting kind of guy. I had a good chat with my sports psychologists and my management about what I'm trying to achieve this year. There's certainly different ways of doing it. I've heard of that, where you kind of write them down, seal the envelope and rip it open in December and see how you've done.
I try to be specific with my goals and I know what I'm trying to achieve this year and there's no doubt if you really to sit down and chat with the guys on the range there and asking them, I would imagine they are pretty specific with their goals and stuff. There's no doubt I do agree a lot with goal setting. I think it's important.

Q. What are some of yours?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Ryder Cup and try to get myself back in Top-50 in the world and to win a tournament was one of my goals. Actually to make a multiple-win season is what I'm looking to do this year. That was kind of what I'm trying to do. Like I said The Ryder Cup is going to be a by-product of achieving things I want to achieve this year?

Q. Thoughts on Rory, any advice for him?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Certainly I've played a lot of golf with Rory and have done the last few months. He's a pretty intelligent, mature kid for 19 years old. He just turned 19.
In my six years out here, I think it's a massive learning experience and certainly things I would say to him would be like to really stick to his guns, do what's right for Rory, as opposed to doing what other guys are doing. There's 20 coaches out there that you can turn to in your hour of need but I think it's important to stick to doing what he does best, what's worked for him in his amateur days, coaches-wise and training-wise and his mental process. Just because you're out here doesn't mean you have to try and change things.
But I think he's a pretty intelligent guy. He seems to be learning pretty quickly and I think talent can make up for a lot of mistakes and he's certainly got bundles of that.

Q. What are some mistakes that you think you made?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think probably scheduling. I think scheduling is a massive, massive thing. I'm still learning how to schedule myself properly. I think every player is different. I think you've got to learn what makes you tick and how you make your season quality rather than quantity, and I think it's very important when you see the best players in the world only play 15 to 20 events, I think that says a lot about how these guys view physical and mental fatigue and preparing themselves far the majors and Top-50-in-the-world-type tournaments.
So I think scheduling is one of the things that I feel like I've learned a lot in the last two or three years. The five or six months I played in America, I think I played a stretch of events where I played 19 in 21 weeks and couldn't understand why my head was coming off regularly towards the end of that stretch. I was just completely worn out and exhausted and mentally fatigued and trying to ward that before it happens is key.
Spending time with his management and caddie and scheduling himself properly would certainly be something to learn in a hurry.

Q. Can you remember a time when you had -- would you like to see the Irish Open played up north at Portrush?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I've always dreamt of playing a tournament in Portrush. It's certainly something that I would love to see happen.
When I was growing up playing amateur golf, it was a very strong province from my point of view, we played Interprovincial Boys' Youth and Seniors, and it's a very strong talent up there. And certainly Ulster and Leinster seemed to be the strongest all the time.
Yeah, it's great to see myself, Darren, Rory, and even Michael here this week, so many good young players coming up-and-coming through the ranks and competing and winning tournaments. Certainly I would be all for seeing an Irish Open going north of the border.
I think it really would be massive, and what's been going on politically it would really signal good things with relationships and it would be great to see the Tour up there. If it were to go up to Portrush it would be pretty special for me but I would take it anywhere, County Down, whatever, that would be nice. I certainly haven't heard any massive rumours -- but you boys are the rumour merchants..........

Q. But they start with you guys.....
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, you know, there's been whispers, but let's hope those whispers become a little bit of reality. I would love to see it happen?
I think that would make a lot of sense and be a really fantastic thing. Like I say, Portrush would be pretty cool for me?

Q. any reason for the treatment this morning?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Nothing untoward. Just haven't seen my physio for a couple weeks, feeling a bit stiff. Probably more fit and healthy than I've been in three or four years, so feeling really good?

Q. Happy with your draw this week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: For Thursday, Padraig, that will be fantastic. I haven't played with him in a few years, so I will be looking forward to that. I'm sure there will be a lot of buzz around the group and that's what you look forward to, when a player comes back to this part of the world, everyone gets excited because we are back in front of the home fans and really knowledgeable fans and good atmosphere this week, next week?

Q. do big crowds ever phase you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Not the educated crowds like you get in this part of the world, people who know about it and understand it and great etiquette. I think in other parts of the world where maybe golf is a new thing, the crowds can be tougher, with mobile phones and cameras and such. But not in this part of the world, it's great?

Q. ?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think if anything, I find it an advantage. I think it helps focus your mind a little bit, when you step on the first tee, there's instant energy. Sometimes it can be tough when a tournament doesn't have much atmosphere. Crowds create atmosphere and they create energy and they help focus the players. I'm a guy who likes that.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Graeme, thank you.

End of FastScripts

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