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May 13, 2009

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Graeme, thank you for joining us. Your thoughts on being back in Ireland this week.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, obviously great to have a sponsor like 3 on board in the current environment, no doubt about it. You know, not that the tournament needed rescue, but certainly in doubt for a little while, and great to have a sponsor like 3 on board who have booked the event for three years and at a great venue here and obviously put up a lot of money and great effort and given the tournament a lot of support.
It's been fun to be one of 3's ambassadors and obviously help out with promotional work and help them to promote an event, which obviously is pretty close to my heart and an event which I believe deserves an important spot and to be recognised as one of the top events in Europe, because historically it's been a great event and needs to be reinstated to that kind of prestige on the Tour. So, great to see.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: And how is your own game coming into the week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I feel pretty good about my game.
It's been a bit of a stop/start year so far. Looking at playing a lot of golf for the next two or three months. Excited about getting on a bit of rhythm and momentum and great to be back on The European Tour, as well.

Q. With the weather is blowing like this, some players are put off; do you find yourself licking your lips on days like this?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, there's no doubt about it, the Irish Open has had a bad reputation for the last four or five years. Nothing to do with the tournament itself or the tournament golf course; just the weather has not been very kind to us.
The guys kind of know what they are going to give them when they come over here, I suppose: It's going to be cold and windy and potentially rain, there's no doubt.
I don't hope for bad weather, I hope for sunshine and get lots of people in and watch some great golf, but when we hear the tent rolling around us and realise it's going to be a pretty tough day out there and you have to be preparing yourself for the weekend and put warm clothes in the bag.
No doubt, it suits the Irish boys when it blows like this, and this is a great links golf course. It's going to be a really good test especially if it blows like this. You certainly have to think about the positives and realise it's going to be a tough test and prepare yourself for any eventuality, really.

Q. You mentioned the tournament deserves a spot on the calendar, which I assume you mean that it doesn't have right now; would you like to see the tournament played nearer to the British Open, for example, at a links course?
GRAEME McDOWELL: For sure, there's no doubt that this is a little early in the season for Ireland. I think it deserves a better slot than this. I think we have got the type of sponsor in 3 behind us now that we can push for a better slot, and you know, obviously it's a great tournament and deserves a great field and a great time of the year.
Obviously that slot, Loch Lomond has got that tournament right now and it's a great tournament in its own right. Ideally we would love to see it the week before or after the British Open because obviously we have golf courses that suit that kind of event and it would be great to go on a little 'links swing' if you like. But obviously that's completely up to the politics of the Tour, but anything later in the year would do us nicely. Let's get the sunshine going and let people see what we have got over here.

Q. Along those lines, from what I've heard, the British Masters is not on this year, which would leave a blank date for the calendar and we would obviously change this one, but in another year that might open up?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously the British Masters, that's a little later, but there's no doubt in the current climate that events are going to be struggling, slots are going to be opening up, and there's no doubt, I think any time between sort of June and September suits this event really, really well. Golf courses are in the best shape. Links golf is playing fast and firm the way it should be.
Like I say, we have got a great sponsor, getting plenty of great support now and we are not exactly struggling for great venues, so let's get a good date. No disrespect to this week, let's hope the sun shines this weekend and we can have a great event.

Q. You talk about the current climate there and how great it is to have 3 on board, big sponsor. Is there any concern among the players about what's happening with Leisurecorp at the moment? There seems to be a problem there, another company taking over; what's being said amongst the players?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously we have heard the rumour mill sort of churning over the last few months, but it's all speculation to this point. Obviously heard a little bit of sort of news through the grapevine yesterday that Leisurecorp were not doing very well, and obviously it's easy to see that they are on a nice roll now and we realise maybe the company was struggling a little bit and obviously that raises question marks because they are a huge supporter of the Tour.
It's not good news for all involved perhaps, but fingers crossed we can get something positive out of it. In this Race to Dubai and what Leisurecorp have brought to the Tour in the last couple of years, there's no doubt it's been huge. Let's hope that we can continue the relationship and something good can come of it.
Like I say, The Race to Dubai has been a huge boost for the Tour this year. We have great interest from all around the world and players from the U.S. joining our Tour and boosting our field and boosting our profile across the world. Hopefully what's been happening with Leisurecorp does not hurt us in the long run.

Q. On a separate note, Colin Montgomerie now has three wildcards for the next Ryder Cup; what are your feelings on that? Does it suit you that there's one less from the World Points list?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm just glad that they didn't take one away from the European points list, as opposed to the rankings. I don't think we have to go changing our qualification system, you know, just because we lost one. Obviously our domination in The Ryder Cup over the last sort of ten years has been there for everyone to see and we don't need to panic and go changing our system.
Obviously taking one automatic qualifier away from the World Rankings and giving an extra pick, chances are the guy that's going to be next in off the World Ranking will get picked in any way, so it's no big deal.
It's important to The European Tour retain the fact that Ryder Cup players should be European Tour players, and I'm just glad they kept the five from the points list. That's the important part.
But like I say, I think Colin will do an unbelievable job for the team next year. Obviously I hope I can be part of it. Yeah, I was surprised to hear that announcement yesterday, but you know, it's not exactly a knee-jerk reaction. It's one more pick, like I say. We'll be picking the best players in form at the time so it should not really be affecting things too much.

Q. Has your schedule been an off-Ryder-Cup-year-type schedule for you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it was certainly taking a chance just to experiment a little bit more than anything, really, just to see how my game would react to maybe coming back on a schedule a little bit, playing a little bit less golf pre-Masters and just to see really how it worked out.
I have to say I don't feel like it's been a success, so you know, it's been a learning experience really. I have to say that I think I'm the type of player that reacts better to playing with chunks of events like the ones I have coming up. I'll learn from how my schedule has been set up this year and obviously with a Ryder Cup year coming up next year, I'll be playing more chunks of events in here in Europe.
It's been great to have a chance to play a little bit more in America this year again and get myself back in the World Golf Championships and the majors. There's no doubt they are the key points of the schedule, and you've got to just learn how to place the rest of the stuff in and around it. It's been a learning experience. A bit frustrating, the start of the season, but I'm certainly arriving here feeling pretty fresh and ready to go. From that point of view, that's been a good help, as well.
It really is a fine balance. I'm sure there's guys arriving here this week feeling like they have played too much golf, and I arrive here feeling like I'm a bit under a golfed. There's a happy medium and the better you play the more you enjoy your golf and the more energy you gain; and vice versa, when you're not playing well this game can be a bit of a grind. You have to get balance right and you're always learning from that.

Q. How much of an adjustment do you have to make for a week like this on links turf and everything, and how much of an advantage is it that you practice in it during the winter?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt it's a different type of golf course, and you certainly have to adjust your ball flight and adjust your whole way of thinking. Your short game has changed immensely. So obviously with my links upbringing, I slip back into the old links kind of golf pretty easily. So I'm not sure how the other -- maybe the continental guys can't handle that. Obviously John Daly here this week, he's obviously a pretty decent links player with his British Open win.
I feel like I slip back into the short game and creativity that links golf requires and ball flight and ball shaping, which is key this week; which if it blows like this, ball control is huge. It's something that I slip back into quite nicely so I guess from that point of view it's a bit of an advantage growing up on the north coast.

Q. You've done well in the Open in recent years. Have you seen Turnberry at all and will you be testing out any stuff this week that you might use at Turnberry?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I've only ever played Turnberry once and that was quite a few years ago, so I have not made it across there yet but I am planning to putt a couple of extra practice rounds in pre-tournament.
So from that point of view, links golf is pretty predictable as to what we are going to find; firm, fast, a lot of stuff around the greens, a lot of pace putting, obviously ball flight control in this type of wind. From that point of view, I think this is a great warm-up, and certainly will get us thinking towards the British Open, first event on links soil this year and will whet our appetites a little bit. Like I said, I'd like to get a couple visits to Turnberry in my schedule the next couple of months.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thank you for joining us, good luck this week.

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