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May 15, 2009

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Well, Graeme, what a difference a day makes. Tell us about that fantastic 61.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, 61, low score of my career, with a card in my pocket, I think I shot 61 one other time in practice.
You know, 77 yesterday, wasn't really what I was looking for. I was extremely disappointed, obviously to come here in front of my home fans and disappoint the way I did.
But I took a the lot of positives away at the same time because I knew I had not played that badly. I drove the ball particularly bad and I had putted awful, but apart from that, there was some signs that my iron play was there or thereabouts and there was some good stuff happening.
I spent a couple hours on the range yesterday afternoon just kind of sharpening up a little bit and had to come out today and fire at some pins and make some birdies. Little did I know obviously that I would do something as good as 61. I certainly thought 66, get myself to 1-under, 2-under par might have got me in for the weekend and that's was what I set my sights on.
In hindsight I needed something ridiculously low to get in, I can't believe how low the cut it, it just crazy but a testament to how good these guys are.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Must have been pretty good to do in front of your home fans, as well.
GRAEME McDOWELL: The crowds have been fantastic the last two days. They are what the tournaments are all about. They are why the Irish Open is a special event and always has been. Irish people love their golf and they came out and supported the Irish players the last couple of days and today was a lot of fun.
Got a lot of nice receptions coming on the greens, and you know, the crowd, they were fantastic. Got to count ourselves very lucky that we are on the side of the draw we are on, and the guys this morning obviously had it very difficult and there's no doubt, we had it extremely benign this afternoon, and the tees were up, the pins were easy and the wind barely blew at all. I count myself very lucky that I had an opportunity to go low and get myself in for the weekend.

Q. It may sound ridiculous to ask a question like this having shot 61, but were there any regrets? Were you thinking 60 or 59 at any stage?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, there's no doubt. Coming up the last, I was a little nervous. It's tough to keep thoughts like at out of your head. It's just the way this game is and that's why it's such a mental challenge. It doesn't matter if you're playing the best golf of your life, there's still doubts that come into your mind, am I going to throw this away on the back nine.
This game tests you, unbelievably, from a mental point of view, and there's no doubt 8-under par through eight holes, I'm thinking 59, and it's very difficult to keep the foot down, you know what I mean. In some ways, bogeying 12 -- 12, was it, 13, in some ways bogeying 13 might be the best thing that ever happened to me.
Kind of gave me that kick that I needed to refocus me and realise that, okay, you're 8-under par through 8 but you still have a job to do here, you have to finish this off. And yeah, there's no doubt, it's tough to stay in the present when something like that is going on. So that's my only regret that you know, I don't have the complete absolute focus required, but I mean, who does.

Q. Was it putting, chipping, approaches?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It was putting mainly. Yesterday I putted horrible. Today I putted extremely well. I hit a great 5-iron to 1 to about eight feet and made it.
Good up-and-down on 2. Hit it stiff on 3. I kind of -- well to be honest with you, I stiffed it the first eight holes, there really was not a huge amount of putting to be done and I made a great putt on 5, the par 3. I made a great putt on 8, so nice 15-, 20-footers that are huge. They are score changers.
I made nothing outside six feet yesterday, so that's the difference. And I just drove the ball four or five fairways better today, so that was the main difference. Doesn't sound like 16 shots, but it was.

Q. Were you fuming last night when you went home, and did you stew on it, or did you just keep yourself positive?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think "fuming" is probably the wrong word. I was just really disappointed, because I felt so good yesterday morning. I actually said to Cam, my caddie, walking down 10, "I feel really up for this this week; I feel great." I had a great warm upon the range yesterday morning felt really good on the greens, and I just went out and nothing went my way yesterday.
I was just disappointed and frustrated more than anything. I wasn't fuming because I felt like I prepared well and I felt like I had gone out there in good spirits and good attitude.
I felt like I maintained my attitude most of the day yesterday, despite when I looked at The European Tour Web site last night and saw my name second from the bottom. That's the worst day I've had in a first round in my whole life, as a professional, being second from the bottom was extremely disappointed, and to do it in front of my home fans, that hurt. That hurt me a lot.
I guess pride kicks in a little bit this morning, you go out there and you realise that if you're not going to make the cut, damn sure I'm going to get as many shots back as I possibly can anyway, and bring a statement of pride back to myself.
But obviously we got above and beyond that today, which was nice.

Q. There's talk of very severe wind coming in tomorrow, will that suit you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I don't think it really suits anyone. It makes it extremely difficult out there. But gives me a chance, for sure. The scoring is outrageously good. Even last night, I mean, 77 was a bad number for me but when I flicked through the scores, I can't believe how many good scores there were. Conditions weren't exactly easy yesterday. 4-under par, the way the cut was going to be was nuts. I wasn't expecting that any shape are form.
The high wind will give me a chance. What am I going to be, five, six, seven back? I have a great chance, if I can get out there as early as possible, maybe get a chance to play nine or ten holes without the wind kicking up. It's definitely going to bring the leaders back and stop the guys accelerating which is kind of what I need and what I needed this morning, as well, I guess. The weather was kind to me, with the guys having tough conditions this morning, and this drop into summer kind of showed its face this afternoon, and I had a chance to make some birdies.
Let's hope the weather is on our side this weekend, as well. The high winds will give me a chance.

Q. Did anyone have a word with you last night or do they trend to treat you a little bit with kid gloves?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think Conor, my manager, was a bit worried that maybe my head might be unscrewing itself. To be honest with you, I felt pretty good, despite an awful day at the office, I have to say. I felt okay.
Like I say, I took some positives away from the round, because I really did feel like I had hit some good shots. That sounds a little weird obviously, but I saw enough good stuff there and I kind of went and pounded myself on the range for a couple of hours and kind of got it out of the system. A pint of Guinness last night and my world was okay again.
I was looking forward to getting out here today and in the conditions this morning, and this afternoon especially, it was nice to go out and make some birdies. And if not, just give myself a bit of confidence and momentum for next week. My record here at this tournament is not unbelievably good at all. I've had a few too many weekends off the Irish Open, and I certainly didn't want another one but I did my best to take the weekend off yesterday again.

Q. When you find yourself with a start like you had today, those first five, six holes, whatever, is there any point during that run that it almost becomes an out-of-body experience for you, there's a mystical quality about it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, there is a certain element of that going on. Part of you can't believe what's actually going on.
I remember hitting the putt on 5, I started birdie, birdie eagle birdie and I hit it to about 20 feet on 5, and that was the first time I had a putt of any significance and came right off the middle of the putter, went right in the middle of the hole. And I'm thinking to myself, okay, great up-and-down on 6. And then I hit a really good putt on 7 again and hit it to 15 feet and made that.
So I'm kind of going, at that point, it's kind of like, this is just pretty amazing. And like you say, you're in that zone kind of state there where everyone kind of talks about, we don't really know what it is, but when you're in there, it's pretty cool.
Like I say, I'm working -- I'm big into the mental game. I work hard on it. I'm a big believer that that's the key to this sport and I work very hard on it. So trying to use a few tools and techniques that I picked up over the years to keep myself grounded and in the present as much as I possibly can without too many thoughts of 59s and silly things like that jumping into my head. But it is, it's a different feeling you get when stuff like that is going on, and it's tough to describe.

Q. Two questions. Did you stop at one pint of Guinness, or did you go on a bit?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think I had two.

Q. And the other question was low round of your career, but does that automatically make it the best round of your career, or do you compare it to round that lead majors or rounds that win tournaments?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't think it's automatically the best round of my career, but it's up there for sure, no doubt about it.
Going low is a special feeling and it's something that -- it's a quality that you like to have, because it is nice to go low. It gives you a major boost.
You know, when I played well in 2004, I finished sixth on the Order of Merit there, I had two 62s that year and I had a load of 64s and stuff and it's a massive benefit if you can do that every couple weeks. It's going to be awhile to settle myself down.

Q. Do you remember when and where you had your other low rounds?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it was in college and I remember shooting 11-under, we were playing a game amongst ourselves, nothing major, but I remember shooting 11-under par that day, and I never even came -- well, I shot two 62s in 2004, one in Munich and one in St. Andrews. They were my lowest with a card in my pocket. So nice to post 61.

Q. Do you feel at all sorry for the guys on the other side of the draw because things obviously went your way and not their way? Is it a heartless game and that's the way it goes?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Of course you do. Some of those guys are my friends out there this morning. It's a cruel game. We find ourselves on the wrong side of the draw -- you know, you'd like to think that it balances out in the wash, eventually, at some point, and it's just nice to get on the right side of it now and again.
You know, I guess you're trying to beat these guys, it's nice to get a bit of an advantage, and it's nice to feel like you're on the right side of the draw for once, and two off, you feel like you're on the wrong side of the draw. It is a selfish sport and you take what you can get this. Game takes enough out of you sometimes. You get enough bad bounces and bad breaks that you have to enjoy the good times and when they are there I suppose.

Q. Will we see the pink shirt again if that's what it does for you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I guess this is kind of a lucky shirt now.

Q. Looks like Padraig Harrington won't make the cut. Do you think he's far away from getting back to where he was?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, very disappointing, obviously, for the tournament, 3 Mobile, that Padraig is not going to be here for the weekend. He represents all that's good about Irish golf at the minute. I have a lot of respect for his game. Looks like he's certainly crucifying himself on the range at the minute for some bizarre reason.
I don't know why this game -- doesn't matter how much success you have. He wins three from six majors and still, he crucifies himself and wants to become better and better and better and better. Surely his game is good enough, you know, if he's winning three major championships in the space of six goes.
I'm sure he's got a master plan, and at some point, he will emerge. His game is incredible and what he's done for his long game, obviously I didn't know him as an amateur golfer, I heard enough stories to suggest that he was not very good tee-to-green. Certainly his game is world-class now. His short game is unbelievable, and his mental strength is just amazing.
So at some point, he will turn the corner and he will be back. But at the minute, it seems a bit head-scratching to me what he's doing to himself because his game doesn't seem too bad for me.

Q. Believe it or not, as you're sitting there, your course record is under threat out there. An Irish amateur player is 9-under for the day with three to play. Had you heard of Shane Lowry before this week or anything that he's done?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Ashamed to say it how quickly you lose touch with the amateur game but I'm not a big paper reader, I guess, and I really don't follow amateur golf much.
He's had a great couple of years on the amateur scene in Ireland, and I realise that he's one of the top players that we have at the minute. And I believe this is his first professional event, so all credit to him going out and realising it's the same golf course. Hats off to him. He's obviously an incredible player, and I'll be looking forward to getting a game with him and seeing what it's all about.

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