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April 22, 2009

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome back.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Thank you. I see I get to hold onto this trophy for another 24 hours or so, do I?
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Obviously a special place for you to return to. Can you give us an idea of your sort of memories coming back here and how much it meant to you to win the inaugural Ballantine's Championship?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, memories of the tournament last year, I sort of remember the golf course being a little easier than the one I've been practicing on the last couple of days. Obviously a bit more rough here on the golf course this year. The wind is blowing a little stronger.
I certainly expect 24-under to win by lots of shots this year. So I think scoring is going to be more difficult. Obviously great to come back. Great memories. Always nice to come back to a venue where you've won. You remember a lot of the great shots you've hit. Felt pretty nice out there this morning.
Memories of the golf course were pretty good.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Would you say that winning here was the catalyst for the tremendous season that you ended up having?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No doubt about it. You know, winning this tournament last year was pretty special for me. It was my first tournament victory in four years, so was huge for a number of reasons. It really got my season off and running. You know, with it being a Ryder Cup year, I thought great aspirations obviously to make The Ryder Cup Team, and there's no feeling quite like winning.
I mean, you know, the confidence that you gain from winning is second to none. Obviously kind of helps you, helps drive you on and help drove me onto having a great rest of the season. Obviously won again at Loch Lomond.
There's no doubt, I look back and see winning the Ballantine's Championship last year as a big jumping block, really, for the rest of the year, so it was huge.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: You talked a little bit about the changes of the course. What are the main differences that you notice this year?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Main differences, obviously a month and a half, two months further on in the year. We've got a little bit of growth in the rougher. Golf course is definitely a little bit greener. Certainly feels like it's playing a little longer.
The rough, obviously, makes it a lot more difficult. I think they have graded the rough really nicely, on a few of the more difficult par 4s, the rough is not too thick and on a few of the two-shot par 5s, they have some nice, thick rough for us. I would say that's the only difference apart from the strong winds. The rough has probably only changed the golf course in the fact that it's a little bit softer than last year, so it's playing substantially longer.

Q. Were you just there to present the prize?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, my Pro-Am team won the Pro-Am this morning. I mean, I have to say, obviously this course has been pretty good to me now, but the win this morning wasn't really much of my doing. I played quite nicely, but it was pretty tough to get on the scorecard when they are shooting 13-under par.
I made a few birdies this morning. I played nicely. But it was all my team, believe me.

Q. After riding the back of your amateurs, do you feel you're trait back into the form of last year?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, like I said, it's obviously nice to come back to this type of venue where I played so well last year. I mean, 24-under par, I made a few birdies out there and some pretty good feelings about the golf course.
Like I said, much more difficult out there. And yeah, I hit it really nicely this morning. The golf course fits my eye. I said that from the first second I saw it last year. It really does; it sets up nicely for me. I like the greens. I putted well this morning. I just need to read these things really well, and I think the golf course is in good condition.
It is really going to be a tough weekend if this wind continues to blow. It's not something I have so much of a problem with; I like to play in the wind.
Yeah, good feelings about the place. But like I say, I have to give this thing back tonight, and it's important that I go out and just focus on my own game this weekend. I know if I play well, I'll compete. I've just got to keep the head down and go for it.

Q. So as the defending champion, I think on your way over to Korea, many thoughts must have crossed your mind. Before you got on the plane, did you think, for example, you have a chance to win this again, or did you think you could really defend this title again? What were some of the thoughts going on in your mind?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, it's been a long time since I defended a title, since 2005. I mean, just because I won last year, I guess what I'm saying to myself is, just because I won last year, doesn't mean I have any specific right to come and win the tournament again this weekend.
Yeah, I like the golf course, but we've got a good field here this year, a lot of good players. We are all level par standing on the first tee tomorrow morning. It's a different challenge, this golf course this year, and like I say, it doesn't give me any particular right that I can go ahead and win it this weekend.
But certainly, certainly, my good feels and my good confidence, I certainly feel like my form is good enough to where if I play my own game, I can certainly compete this weekend. That's all I'll be concentrating on.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Graeme, good luck with your defense this week.

End of FastScripts

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