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July 18, 2008

Graeme McDowell


Q. That was a really good response after a round which wasn't going well for a while, a really good finish.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, that's kind of how it felt, obviously. I mean, a slow start. You know, I think four or five days swinging the golf club in this kind of wind I think inevitably takes its toll a little bit, and I felt my rhythm wasn't quite there the first 10 or 11 holes. I managed to find a little bit of rhythm coming in, hit some good shots, and it's obviously nice to pick up a birdie on the way in.

Q. Is that the difference between the Graeme McDowell now and the Graeme McDowell who led the Open two years ago? You didn't repair the damage on the second day back then but you're a completely different player now and you could repair the damage out there today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think I'm in a bit more control of my golf swing than I was a couple years ago. I know kind of where the bad shots come from. Like I said, it's tough to keep your rhythm good when the wind is blowing that hard. You're out there trying to really hit everything so low and so hard and control the flight so much. Like I say, inevitably you're going to hit some bad shots and some snatchy ones. That's kind of what I did this morning. But like I say, I managed to -- at least I knew where the shots were coming from so I could kind of self-correct a little bit on the golf course.

Q. The best shot of the day, maybe the best shot of The Open you've hit was that 3-iron into 16 to about five feet. It was a stunning response, to really clear up that problem?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, absolutely. I was ecstatic about that shot, obviously. I really, really felt like I needed to pick something up on the way in, hadn't really seen the pin on 17 at that point. I certainly was up for birdieing one of the two, 16 or 17, and I certainly didn't think it was going to be 16 and not 17. But yeah, really happy. It would have been nice to make that putt on the last. But I'm right where I want to be. I'm in the mix, don't expect anyone to be going crazy out there this afternoon, and like I say, right where I want to be this weekend.

Q. And with the weekend ahead, two rounds to come, you're just in such a vein of form at the moment and you've been in contention for the last two weeks, won last week, this is such familiar territory and that gives you some advantage, doesn't it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, certainly. I mean, I'm very comfortable in this atmosphere. The crowds are fantastic out there. They really keep us going. With it being so tough and so demanding out there, you need support like we hear in the background there. It buzzes up, keeps you going and inspires you to hit great shots.

Q. You're in the tournament that is a major. You've been in contention to win average PGA TOUR events, but is there anything different in your mind set going into the final two rounds of a major?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't think there's any change in my mind set simply because this golf course is so challenging that you've got to focus hard, you've got to try and make a par on every hole. You take birdie chances when they come, but simply my strategy is 18 little challenges out there where par is a good score, and certainly that isn't going to change on the weekend. I think if anything it's going to be tougher with the stronger winds being forecast.

Q. You're ready for it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think I'm ready for it. You know, I'm going to hit a bucket of balls this afternoon, try and get my rhythm back a little bit. But I think a little bit of relaxation in front of the TV this afternoon is probably on the schedule, as well.

Q. Do you have family here?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I've got my mom and my dad and my brother and my niece coming over this evening, so we've got a houseful, got a bit of mom's cooking going on this week. We've got a really nice house just a couple streets back. It's pretty relaxed. We've had a few of the guys over from Horizon. We've been chilling out. We've got a nice big back garden. We've been hoping to get the barbecue on a few times, but it hasn't quite been happening. Maybe we'll get that on tonight.

Q. What's mom's specialty? What's your favourite?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Specialty? I mean, it's just everything. She's a star, you know? What can I say, everything is good.

Q. How much struggle was the wind today or less or by comparison to yesterday, or conditions?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, I think maybe the wind was five to ten miles per hour stronger than it was yesterday afternoon. I think temperature is obviously a massive difference. Early on we got a little bit of that misty rain that came in, as well, and it's amazing how the combination of both obviously makes everything play so long. Like I say, rhythm wasn't great early on, either. But it felt a couple shots tougher out there. I see some good scores out there this morning, so obviously there was a score to be had. But like I say, I didn't quite put the ball in position as well as I did yesterday, so it felt tougher for me.

Q. When you teed up would you have accepted being in the Top 10 at the end of the second day?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I probably would have. You know, I never really gave it much thought, to be honest. If you had asked me that after nine holes, I would have said, yeah, I'll head into the clubhouse and that will do me.

Q. Was there any sense of fatigue or perhaps things catching up with you? Did you feel just a little mist crawling into yourself?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, the thought maybe crossed my mind, but I think I was just trying to make excuses for myself. Simply, rhythm wasn't there, just didn't hit the golf ball anywhere close to how I've been hitting it. Like I said, I don't want to make excuses for myself. I actually feel remarkably fresh. I've never really felt this good the week after a win before. There's maybe something about this tournament that gives you a little bit of a buzz. Like I said, the golf course being as much of a challenge that it is, I think it focuses the mind and you have to just sharpen the focus a little bit.

Q. Anything specific anyone has said to you out there, the crowd has said to you out there?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, it's just great. I hear a lot of Irish accents and northern Irish accents, and it's been great. I've had really, really good support the last couple days, and like I say, it just keeps you going.

Q. Are you thinking about winning the Open at this stage?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Certainly not thinking about winning at this stage. Maybe tomorrow night I might play myself into maybe thinking that way, but I just think this is going to be such a tough weekend. I think it's wide open. Anyone within four, five, six shots has got a chance. But I'm not going to be thinking about winning. I've got 36 holes of really, really difficult golf to come, and hopefully I can control the golf ball well enough to give myself a chance. That's all I'm looking for.

Q. When you look at the leaderboard and you see Greg Norman's game on top, do you shake your head and can you explain how a 52-year-old who hasn't played competitively almost for ten years is up there?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it says a lot more about physical conditioning, you know? It's fantastic for the Open. Obviously without Tiger Woods in the field, I mean, who could write a better script than Greg Norman leading the tournament. It's fantastic, great to see him up there.
It would be amazing to see him keep it going for four rounds. He's got as good a chance as anyone, obviously. He's obviously controlling the ball well, and it's so difficult out there, it kind of really levels the playing field. I guess a guy with as much experience as him playing major tournaments and playing away from flags, that's kind of what you've got to do out there. So I can certainly see how a guy like that can get around.

Q. Have you ever met or played with him before?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, I haven't. I met him maybe very briefly before. Obviously one of my heroes, I have to say. The guy is a legend.

Q. Did you come over here to watch him play in the Open?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I never really came to any Opens, to be honest. First Open I ever went to, I played in it.
But he's the kind of guy, I think, even to this day, he obviously played in Dubai a couple years ago, and you find yourself standing on the range watching the guy hit balls. He's an absolute legend and a real character, a guy with so much charisma and style and he does a lot for the game of golf, so great to see him up there.

Q. What was the yardage on 16?
GRAEME McDOWELL: 180 yards, 3-iron, as hard as I can hit it.

End of FastScripts

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