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September 24, 2008

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Graeme, welcome back. Big week last week for you, big week this week. How are you feeling going into this week.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, obviously a little tired, a little jet-lagged but my own feelings are get back out here, get back at it really. It's been tough to focus for the last five or six weeks. The Ryder Cup is something we work very hard for, to get on to the team and I was never really going to be able to focus on much else and now it's out of the way and now that it's done I have to look towards the end of the season and Order of Merits and things to work for and it's back to reality I guess.

Q. How different was it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: The atmosphere was like nothing I've ever experienced before. It's so much more intense. It's just a different feeling, obviously match play, it's just a completely different mind-set, you have 12 guys pulling for each other for a change and really you work hard together and you're really sort of chasing one unique goal between the 12 of you and the atmosphere was fantastic in the team room last week, a great bunch of guys and we really worked hard and we just bumped into a team that were on their game. We played well but they played better.
The atmosphere was electric. The crowds were unbelievable, and you know, it was a completely different experience.

Q. Did you sleep much?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I slept unbelievable during the week. It was a tiring week obviously. We were out there, the practice rounds were long. We signed a lot of autographs, weather was hot, it was tiring, and there was a lot going on. As soon as the golf started the weekend was a bit of a blur and I remember sitting at the closing ceremony thinking it was the fastest three days of my life, things flew by. It was a long, tiring week.
I didn't have any problems with my energy levels and I thought that the crowds and the whole atmosphere, you never really have that much adrenaline when you're playing golf but there was a lot of that flying through the system last week and kept you going.

Q. Any drop off in adrenaline level this week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I haven't really touched a club since I came home. Got in late Monday night and really came up here yesterday lunchtime and a few things to do but I didn't really play any golf yesterday. So I'm sure it will be a little bit of a come down. There's always a bit of a leveling off after that kind of a high, and obviously the result wasn't that high but it wasn't the way you felt. It was the experience that was the high and there's no doubt that there will be a little of that going on this week.
I'm certainly here and looking forward to this weekend. I do like this golf course. It's a tournament that I wanted to play. I'll certainly be, in a funny way, not winning The Ryder Cup last week will probably make it easier to get over it and really obviously put it behind and move on really. Like I say I've got seven or eight events towards the end of the season here that I've got to focus on and get my game face back on and really try to finish off a great here and obviously I've set myself up for having a good season.

Q. Any specific targets?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously really trying to keep moving up in the World Rankings and Order of Merit positions and things. I really haven't sat down and got very specific with my targets the next couple months, but you know, certainly things I want to achieve and like I say, I definitely want to put a shine on what's been a really good season so far and I want to finish on a good note.

Q. You must have been pleased with your own efforts last week.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I was, I was very satisfied personally. I was very happy the way I played, the way I feel like I handled the pressure, the whole buzz that was going on. Obviously very disappointed with the team result. I went out there and I wanted to experience the whole thing and certainly picking up the trophy on Sunday night was part of the experience that I wanted to enjoy.
But yeah, I was very happy with my own play. I was involved in four fantastic games. The standard of golf was, blew me away really, I have to say. It was incredible golf. Myself and Padraig, I think we shot 10-under par in better ball and got beat. Myself, Miguel, we were 4- or 5-under in foursomes for a halve match. Standard of golf was incredible and I enjoyed every match. I was up to 18 three times and I enjoyed every match to the very last second. Win, lose, draw it was a lot of fun.

Q. Having won two tournaments this year, how much do you think you'll grow as a player?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, there's no doubt that I'll take a lot of positives out of last week and the whole pressure and adrenaline aspect, there's no doubt that will hopefully stand by me on a Sunday afternoon somewhere in the future, hopefully in a major or something like that. There's no doubt Ryder Cup is Sunday afternoon at a major feeling every day; it's that intense. The way I handled things, hopefully it will be a positive for the future. Really got to ask a lot of questions of myself and felt like I answered them last week. Nice to take that kind of experience away.

Q. The European quest will go on; but do you think there are lessons to be learned going into next time?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think there's always lessons to be learned. I think you probably learn more from defeat than you do from victory. I thought we had -- there was no doubt it was a bit of a change in the guard last week from The Ryder Cup Team point of view. We had some slightly less experienced players on the team. Obviously not having guys like Montgomerie and Clarke and guys like that on the team, all of a sudden you have a much younger, less experienced team and you're looking at obviously guys like Lee and Sergio to be leading us on and yeah, I mean, I thought we had 12 good enough players to win it last week but like I say, America were up for it.
It's probably good for the future of The Ryder Cup, what happened last week. Obviously we were majorly disappointed but I think for the future of the tournament in general, it's going to be a real input of new energy from both sides of the water, and I think they were right up for it last week, and it was great to see really. It was great to see obviously you don't like to lose but you don't mind losing to a team who are right up for it and who just play better.

Q. Is there any truth to the suggestion that if Darren or Colin were there, it would have acted as a possible stabilizing influence; did the team need any kind of stabilizing influence?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't think so. I thought we had a really rounded team. There's no doubt it did have a different shape to it. There was a right of experience, obviously with four rookies on there who actually performed pretty well.
You know, I think you've got to look at guys like Sergio and Padraig who struggled a little bit last week. I think they are on a mission. I think Sergio was sick coming into the event and Padraig has had an unbelievable summer and you look at our top players who did not perform the way they would like to, and if everyone had a sort of, I don't know, I mean, obviously we ran into a team that played unbelievably well. As I say the standard of golf was incredible. Ollie Wilson shots 4-under par on Sunday and gets beat on 16. You can't account for great golf. Doesn't matter who you have on your team. If they play better they play better.
I thought we had a great team. Apart from a couple standard of guys who were not physically maybe 100%, that's probably the only thing you could say really.

Q. You're about 600,000 Euro behind Padraig in the Order of Merit; do you think that's achievable?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it is, and certainly this weekend is about moving on for me anyway. I've got to start looking back at the Order of Merit. I don't think I've looked at the thing in about two months. Honestly I haven't been able to look past last week for a very long time. It was tough to concentrate on anything else. It was a dream obviously and something I worked hard to get to, and now that it's over I think with the defeat, it will be easier to move on from. There's not quite as much celebrating to be done.
This weekend is really good betting back to business really. You know, obviously next week is a huge week as well, and we've got a couple of big weeks and I've got a week off and the Order of Merit is something I'm looking at. I'll need a good week one of these two weeks to get me back in the mix again and I certainly think it's an achievable target. There's enough big events left.

Q. Did the two teams get together Sunday night? What sort of atmosphere?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, we did. Obviously there was a bit of partying late on to the night. Half of the American Team were in our team room. We did have a bit of a get together. It was all very jovial. I think that's a great thing about golf, that you can battle hard for the whole week and have a beer and laugh about it that evening, you know, so like I said there, was a bit of partying going on, and we certainly -- we certainly do it justice when we win and I think the American boys did us justice on Sunday night.
Like I say, it's an unbelievable experience and certainly Sunday night was a lot of fun getting together with the boys and no doubt, it's a lifetime experience, no doubt.

Q. Would you like to see Nick lead the team again?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, obviously we don't really make a habit of having repeat captains. Obviously it was a real privilege to play under a guy like Nick Faldo, one of my heroes growing up. He certainly brought a lot to the team. I thought he prepared well. I thought he certainly had done his homework on the golf course, in general.
Obviously he's going to come in for a bit of criticism with decisions that he made, maybe the singles lineup, things like that, but from the players' point of view, we were very happy the way he captained us. I think we made decisions as a team. He involved everyone, caddies, wives, girlfriends, he really made everyone feel welcome and part of the team. Like I said, we made decisions as a team and we were pretty happy with the way we executed most things during the week. Like I say, the result was disappointing but we felt like we -- we felt like we prepared well and we were just, like I say, outplayed.

Q. Should he come into criticism?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Should he come in for criticism? No, not at all. Like I say, it's only natural. If the guy wins, he's a hero and if he loses, he's the villain. I don't think there's any -- the criticism from my point of view I think is unnecessary. Like I say, we made decisions as a team. I think every player down to the last man thought he was a great captain. Like I say, it was a privilege to play under him.

Q. So how much input did the other players have into the singles lineup?
GRAEME McDOWELL: We pretty much came up with that as a team. We all sat down with guys like Padraig Harrington, he said he wanted to -- I think he said, the ugliest, nastiest, possible game, that's what he wanted to be involved in.

Q. He actually said I want to go outlast?
GRAEME McDOWELL: He said he wanted an ugly game.

Q. He went out in the first game as it turned out.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, obviously I think we end up being one game away from getting the last four games. Obviously I think the Furyk/Jiménez was a pivotal game in the end and obviously myself, Padraig, Westwood and Harrington bringing up the rear.
If we were going to win The Ryder Cup, it was going to be close and those last four games were going to be huge. Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and you wish you had started on the front nine. When you have a guy like Harrington saying he wants an ugly game, he didn't say he wanted to be last but we figured that's what it could be. We had guys like Sergio, Paul Casey wanted to lead us off; guys played where they wanted to play, where they felt comfortable.
Faldo was really all about that early in the week. I think one of the first conversations I had with him the week before the tournament, he said, you know, really picture the Sunday singles and picture where you feel comfortable playing, whether that might be in the middle, whether that might be in the front, cheer the guys in, or do you want to have The Ryder Cup on the line and hole that winning putt. He didn't want guys playing in the last four or five games if you didn't want to be there.

Q. So he produced a list and you sort of discussed it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: We were sitting down with a list. Faldo was there, everyone was there, and really we kind of messed around with it. If we thought guys were playing well we bumped them up the line or down. We toyed with it until everyone was happy.

Q. So not one person said don't do it, don't stack the bottom?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I guess obviously there's no sure-fire method. You don't know how --

Q. No one said that?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No one said don't stack the bottom? We were very conscious that it might not get to the bottom matches, there's no doubt, about you we thought we had a strong team on paper and when we saw the draw we were happy. We thought it was a good looking draw and were very, very content with how it looked on paper. Obviously it didn't get to the last matches. It was their own lineup.
Like I say, what can you do. We were happy with the way it looked.

Q. When you were out there and your game was going well and you realized it wasn't going to come down to you, did you have an enormous sense of restraint --
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt we were very conscious that the last four or five matches could not focus on the board. Harrington was a big believer in that. He didn't want guys playing the last three or four games who were going to be board-watching all day, because you don't want anything affecting your game and certainly around the turn, I turned at 1-up and I was really hoping that my game was going to be needed. I was like, please, at least give us a chance coming this back nine. There was a certain deflation. I mean, 16 fairway, I think it was, when the noise came reverberating back to me and we lost, that was a huge deflation from that point of view.
Up until that point, 13, 14, 15, I was really playing hard. I obviously still had hopes it was going to come down to maybe my match or really that there was a couple crunch points that we needed late in the day. But like I say, no doubt, it's frustrating when you've got two or three great players at the back not being needed unfortunately.
Yeah, we wish we would have stacked the front nine it. But you know, it's.

Q. When did you realize you were redundant?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I really think it was the 16th fairway, obviously when it was over. I think I looked at the board on 15 green and saw it did not look good obviously. I was not really doing my mathematics, sort of until that point, was kind of looking at it going, well, obviously I knew Miguel's game in front of me was going to be the pivotal game, and Furyk, he needed to do something, he needed to get a half-point out of that if he could. No doubt it's frustrating. I guess you always picture what the Sunday singles was going to look like but that was certainly not the script I read.
Hugely deflating to be on the course with two to go, I had a putt on 16 which I could barely concentrate on; the deflation was amazing.

Q. Talk about hugely deflating, was Padraig's play hugely deflating for the team?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't think the team felt it deflated by it. I think he knew himself he wasn't on his game but certainly when I played with him on Friday afternoon, there's no doubt he didn't play that well. But he's an unbelievable grinder. He still did the business when he needed to do it.
Yeah, I think when you have guys like Sergio and Padraig, I don't know if they got half a point or one point or something, but you need guys like that to be two, three points, at least. When you have Sergio not playing five games, when you have Sergio saying that he's too tired to play five games, I guess that's a little tough. That's a little tough to take. Sergio is normally the Duracell bunny of the team, jumping around the place really charging us all with emotion. When you have him not 100% physically, obviously coming off the back of some sickness, that's tough to take.
Obviously we could have done with 12 Poulters on the team last week, really guys who were emotionally charged up and right up for it. It is tough. It's a draining week physically, mentally, and obviously it was my first one, and I certainly wasn't prepared for how hard and tough it was. But like I say, I feel like the crowd and the energy levels and the whole adrenaline sort of kept you going a little bit.

Q. Was Sergio not his usual self even in the team room?
GRAEME McDOWELL: He was pretty good in the team room. He was probably the most vocal of the 12 guys. Obviously the rookies were sitting there not really saying a whole lot, just taking it all in but you had guys like Sergio, Westy, Harrington, guys like that, Sergio was very vocal. He was great from my point of view. Olazábal was fantastic. He was really, really good in the team room, as with well, inspirational. He gave us a great speech on Saturday night. We had just selected our lineup and he gave us a very emotional inspirational speech as well and he was fantastic. He's going to make an unbelievable captain but hopefully he's got a few years of golf left in him.
Sergio was very inspirational in the team room as well but I don't think he had it physically on the golf course, simply because he was not himself.

GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I don't know. Obviously I think he's going to make an astounding captain, whether he thinks he's got a few more years left of golf in him. Like I say, I'm not sure if he sees himself as the next captain. I would say it really just depends on how his on-course life goes in the next six months or so.

Q. What's the basis of the speech?
GRAEME McDOWELL: The basis of the speech? It was really just talking about how much he loved to be sitting there as one of those 12, and really it was -- it was just kind of a pretty emotional, call to arms, if you like. He really talked a lot about how he had seen us come up through the ranks and he had 12 great champions sitting in front of him and really how much, like I say, how much he would love to be part of it and how much -- how proud he was to be involved with the team last week and how much he really enjoyed being with us all, and coming from a guy like that who obviously has been hurting, you know, that he has another chance to tee it up, really I guess it hit home to us all that obviously it's a fickle game obviously and to have a guy like that sort of really trying to fire you up, it was pretty cool.

Q. Did Faldo make a similar speech or not?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, certainly Faldo, we sat down every night in the team room and there were certainly some good chats. A lot of the time Faldo did not have to say anything, like Friday night there was not much need for a team meeting. We knew what we had to do the next day, three points behind.
Like I say, that Saturday night from Ollie as probably the stand out emotional speech of the week. Like I say, Faldo was well prepared. He had done his homework. He really gave us some good stuff to work with, as well.

Q. Going back to Faldo doing his homework, as a thoughtful golf professional, your two top players, Sergio Garcia and Harrington, both out of form, one ill and one exhausted, were the two pivotal singles that day; how did you feel when you saw Sergio at 1 and Harrington at 12, do you have any misgivings at all?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Not really. Like I say, when the draw came out on paper, we were happy with it. I guess you still believe in these guys, whether they are on their game or not. I mean, Harrington is the ultimate grinder. I truly believe if he needed to get that point Sunday afternoon, would he have got it. Obviously the deflation that I felt, he's three, four holes behind me and I'm sure he was feeling it as well.
It's unbelievably difficult to grind it out when it doesn't matter anymore. Like I say, you have to believe in these guys. There's no doubt that even if they were not 100%, they were still the leaders of the team and you have no problems with Sergio playing No. 1 in singles. You expect a guy like that to be able to dig it out when he needs to, and obviously Sergio ran into some pretty hot golf. What can you do? Like I say, hindsight is 20/20 isn't it. Obviously we wish now we would have done something different.

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