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July 15, 2008

Graeme McDowell


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we've got Graeme McDowell with us. Thanks for joining us. Congratulations on your win at Loch Lomond. Could you have hoped for a better preparation for this week's Open Championship?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, not at all. I mean, no substitute for winning. The confidence and obviously momentum coming into a week like this is hugely important. My game has been good for quite a while now and it's always nice to get some rewards, and like I say, get one across the line, which is always very, very important for confidence in general. I'm very happy with the way things have been going, obviously.

Q. Can you tell us how the celebrations went on Sunday night, and did you have to curb them because of what's happening here this week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, we actually drove down. One of my friends was getting married actually in the area, so we kind of planned to go to the wedding. We arrived down about 11:00. There were a few glasses of champagne, no doubt about it, but things were fairly low key, considering. I've got a week off next week and it's my birthday kind of the following week, so I figured I was going to postpone the celebrations for next week and hopefully punch in a good week this week and really have something to celebrate next week. Yeah, a little less upbeat celebrations than it would have been under normal circumstances.

Q. Sometimes when you do as you did at the European Open, come so close but miss out, there's a little bit of an anticlimax for you. How is it that you managed to keep things going into Loch Lomond?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I feel like I've been working very hard on my game, things have been good, and I've felt this kind of run of form coming for a while. I've been playing very solid, very happy with the things I've been doing on the range with my coach. Like you say, to come close at the European Open, to be honest with you, Ross was kind of tough to catch, so it wasn't as if it was a massive disappointment to me. I played decent on the weekend and I really didn't have a chance, so it was great to come into Loch Lomond and -- I've really paced myself this year. I've sort of took a bit of time off sort of after Korea and Doral, five or six weeks off there in a space of a couple months and really tried to pace myself and keep myself fresh for this part of the season, which is obviously the most important part of the season. I've been feeling very fresh mentally and physically, and it's been great to kind of keep going and have some really consistent golf at this time of the season because it's busy. This is the time of the year when guys start hitting the wall. They play a lot of golf, majors, et cetera, et cetera, and it really is easy to play yourself into a bit of a tizzy at this point of the season. Everyone has been playing so much. Frankly, I've managed to schedule myself really well to where I feel like I'm very fresh at this point, so that's been pleasing.

Q. How exciting is it to be in this crop of European players who are suddenly coming through, Ross and Oliver Wilson and these sort of guys?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, certainly there's no doubt we're going through a little bit of a changing of the guard phase on the European Tour. It's great to be part of that, obviously. We've got some serious talent coming through, and it's nice to have won twice this year when there's so many good players out there nowadays.
At the end of the day, it is tough to win golf tournaments because the standard is high. The guys are getting so much better. There's always someone shooting 15, 20-under par each week, and it's great to be part of something new and different in Europe, and certainly I think the future is bright. As I say, we've got a really good bunch of talent coming through that it's nice to be part of.

Q. You won at Loch Lomond and I don't think anyone has gone from Loch Lomond and then won the Open the following week. A, do you think that's possible; and B, how much of an advantage do you think playing links golf all your life must have this week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it's certainly possible. I certainly feel like out of all the four majors this is probably the one I feel I've got the game to win. With my upbringing in Portrush, links golf, it's always been in my blood a little bit. I'm a pretty good wind player, and certainly my short game comes flooding back to me when I get onto links turf like this, the bump-and-runs. Obviously my first real practise round this morning, I hit a lot of little bump-and-run shots. I feel like my feel and my touch was really good with them. I feel that always comes back to me pretty quickly with links golf.
Like you say, no one has maybe ever came from Loch Lomond and won the British. No Tiger Woods in the field this week, which obviously helps everyone's chances in general, but it would be great to be the first man to do that.
But like I say, hopefully I've left something in the tank a little bit. I'm certainly resting up as much as I possibly can here these next couple of days really trying to prepare myself, and it's going to be a long, tough weekend if it keeps blowing like this, this I imagine it's pretty exposed here, it's going to be a tough test and the golf course is set up pretty difficult.

Q. You've spoken before about how this year finally fit your schedule. Does that leave you with any kind of a feeling that you wasted some years?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't think you're ever wasting time when you're learning because this is a wonderful game and you learn a lot about yourself, and you're always learning all the time. If I keep continuing to play competitively for another 20 or 30 years, or whatever I may have left, I'd imagine I'll continue to learn.
I don't think there's ever anything -- any such thing as wasted time out here. I mean, I've had a pretty up-and-down career obviously, but I feel like I've kept learning about myself and learning how to play this game consistently and properly, how to structure myself, put a team together, have good people around me working with me and hopefully I've kind of turned the corner now and I can keep moving up in the world and keep getting better, which is something I've always contented myself with, especially the last couple years. I feel like I've been improving. Sometimes maybe the results maybe don't show that, but I think if you're honest with yourself and kind of give yourself a true analysis of where your game is at, I think you can always be content that you're moving in the right directions.

Q. You've played a lot of links courses. Where does Birkdale stand in all the ones you've played? And what do you think of the 17th?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I have to say, this is up there probably in my Top 5 favourite links courses around. I've been really, really impressed by it. It kind of reminds me a lot of some of the really good Irish links like a Waterville or kind of Ennis Anis Grove or even a Portrush, so it's got the real rolling dunes, the real -- it's got the real classic links feel to it. It's not tricked up, it's just a solid, tough test, fair. You hit good shots, you get rewarded. The place is not tricked up in any way, shape or form.
17, a bit tricked up, that 17th green (laughter). It's actually just a very difficult tricky little green. Obviously it's a nothing tee shot. It's a pretty straightaway tee shot, it's a short par-5. There's going to be bad shots that end up stone dead and there's going to be great shots that end up in three-putt territory. It's a funky little hole. It's a funky little green obviously. Maybe a little bit out of character with the rest of the golf course perhaps in that the rest of the greens maybe aren't that difficult, and all of a sudden you walk on the 17th, and you go, "Who designed who this?" It's going to offer up some drama, no doubt about it. Like I said, there's going to be bad shots you get away with, rolling off slopes and end up stone dead. It's going to be interesting. I haven't really sort of liked or disliked it as such. Maybe I'll start to form an opinion as the competition begins, whether it's good or not so nice to me perhaps.

Q. Your iron play has been spectacular this year. Have you done something special with that aspect of your game?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Nothing majorly different. You know, I've been using the same Callaway X forged irons now for about a year and a half. I switched shafts this year to Project X, which is supposed to be slightly more consistent ball dispersion, supposed to be a little bit tighter with the shaft. As my techniques continue to improve I think I've been moving the ball a little more left to right in the air than I have done in the past, which means my irons are coming in a little softer to the greens, which has probably got a lot to do with why the ball has gone a little closer to the hole. That's probably the changes I've been making. My iron play has been great this year, and last week at Loch Lomond it was especially go, so obviously I'm hoping to continue that this week.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Thank you very much for joining us.

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