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June 19, 2009

Graeme McDowell


BETH MURRISON: Good morning. Here we are again at the 2009 U.S. Open. Very happy to have with us Graeme McDowell who has recorded a very impressive 1 under 69. Can you talk about coming out today and what the conditions are like finishing your round.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Golf course was in unbelievably good condition considering how much rain fell yesterday. Of course, the maintenance guys, all credit to them and the grounds crew. The golf course was in great shape. Fairways were very playable considering we're putting the ball down and the greens are running great.
Conditions were reasonably benign out there this morning.
BETH MURRISON: Could you go through your birdies and bogeys on the round, please?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Started on 10 yesterday. Bogeyed 11, which was just hitting it right in the rough. Laid it up. Didn't get it up-and-down. Bogeyed 12. 12 was playing exceptionally long yesterday morning. Driver 3 short of the green. Didn't get it up-and-down.
Birdie on 14. I hit a pretty nice 7-iron. 15, 20 feet above the hole. Made that. Par 15, 16 was when we got called in. 17th this morning and I had a hybrid to about eight feet. Nice way to start the day. Birdied 2, which was a pretty good shot out of the right rough. Pulled an okay lie and hacked it up there about 10 feet and made that. Birdie on 4 was just an up-and-down from about 80 yards.
My bogey on -- what did I bogey? Bogey on 6. I had 3-wood in the right trap, didn't hit a good trap shot. Missed an 8-footer for par. Finished off decently. Had a few chances coming in. But generally pretty happy with that effort.

Q. Kind of curious, you're not one of the more heralded guys compared to Phil and Tiger. Psychologically is it easier to come in the first round and feel more comfortable; the attention is on the big guys and mentally you can play the game easier as opposed to in later rounds when people discover Graeme McDowell?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt our side of the draw was pretty quiet. Tiger's over on the other side of the golf course. He's got some pretty big crowds out there. There's no doubt the emphasis is slightly taken off us.
We're out there. The other half of the draw and things are quiet and we're able to go about our business and I certainly enjoy -- I enjoy the atmosphere. The bigger the atmosphere, I certainly tend to enjoy it a little bit. Helps my focus, intensity levels a little bit.
It will be played out in the weekend. No doubt we're the quiet side of the golf course, we're able to go out there and us against the golf course and try to go about our business really. So it was nice.

Q. What are you doing best right now in your game, and what's the penalty for missing the fairways here?
GRAEME McDOWELL: My arm play has been very solid now for a few months. When I do hit it in play, I give myself plenty of birdie chances, feeling pretty good with the putter. The penalty for missing fairways, the rough is reasonably penal.
They've got it nicely graded, though. If you do slip into the first cup, you can pull a lie and you can get the ball on the green. You start straying off into this second cup and into the wispy stuff.
Nasty spots that you can hit the ball into and have major problems. If you can keep the driver under control, the golf course is very long but quite playable and quite fair, really.

Q. Would you say that growing up in dodgey weather and Beltray sort of prepared you for coming into these conditions here at Bethpage?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. Over in Europe we're certainly not blessed with consistent weather as perhaps maybe they're used to here in the PGA TOUR. Golf courses, it can be not perfectly presented. So we are used to sort of digging in, not getting too down on ourselves about conditions and the condition of the golf course really and just getting on with it really.
I think we all realized what was coming this weekend. There was no shock of the water yesterday. And part of my preparation this week was mentally preparing myself not to be beaten before I got off the first tee yesterday, really, and not getting down in the dumps about the conditions, really, and let the rest of the guys do that.
So I'm sure growing up in Ireland, like you say, some dodgey weather certainly helps that from a mental standpoint. But it's the same for everyone out there. Like I say, you've got to make sure you're in the right place mentally so you can go out there and obviously focus on the positives as opposed to the negatives.
This is not the type of week really where you can wait to make three birdies in a row to make you feel happy about yourself. You've got to create that yourself.
So this golf course will beat you up in a heartbeat. You've got to artificially create a little bit of joy and happiness out there. Try to enjoy it. We work hard to get here. No point in coming here and being down in the dumps all day.

Q. So following up on that, how are you feeling about the round? You must be feeling like you've got through it in pretty good shape?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm happy with my round. Obviously my seven holes yesterday morning were key. I'm sure a lot of guys feel they maybe damaged their chances this weekend in the space of five or six holes yesterday morning. And I played very well for my seven holes to be 1-over par.
16 I hit a drive on a 3-wood as I could on the front half of that green, and it was a testament of how long I was playing. I'm imagining guys are hitting irons playing downwind. It's the luck of the draw, really.
I was happy to hang in there, give myself a chance to come out this morning and shoot under par.
So I'm very happy. I've got a lot of work to do. It's three rounds coming up. Very important rounds. And there's definitely some areas of my game that I can work on.
I can definitely drive the golf ball better than I did yesterday morning. Working on that. Enough positives in there. I'll be focusing on those and resting up, watching a bit of the coverage this afternoon.

Q. Are you done for day now?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yes. They told us we'll not be teeing off before 9:00 tomorrow morning. So it's nice to know obviously what's going on and be able to prepare ourselves for that. So just depends on what the guys do this afternoon regards how much golf that gets played.
Like I said, they told us not before 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning. I can do work rest up for tomorrow.

Q. Is that nice you don't have to run like 36, some guys like at 11:00?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'd like to get straight out there right now. The weather's perfect out there. The golf course is in decent shape. Obviously this golf course is a tough walk. So physically that's the only disadvantage of having to play 27 or 36 holes in a row.
It's heavy going underfoot. It's kind of energy draining, you feel like. Obviously this golf course is pretty mentally draining as well. You're always battling for everything you get.
So from my point of view it's difficult enough to play consecutive holes. But given the opportunity I'd like to get straight back out there to be fair.

Q. This is a bit of an off-beat question. I see the Golf Channel off to the side. Curious, do the pros ever watch the Golf Channel, see the tips that Tom Lehman dispenses to amateurs myself? I'm curious if you learn something watching these shows.
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it's a fabulous channel. I watch it quite often. I stay away from it all major weeks, the analysis of the golf course and how difficult it is.
It kind of gets a little overbearing. So I think the guys do a great job. But I don't really need to know every bogey that's waiting for me out there.
But, like I say, we were certainly tuning into the Golf Channel and ESPN about what's going out here and they're informative, keep us up to date what's going on. I don't concentrate too much on all the negatives that the boys like to show us out there.

Q. Like him showing us how to best approach a bunker, is that something that the pros pay attention to as well?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't watch lessons with a pro too often. But guys like Tom Lehman, it's always interesting to hear another professional's attacks.
We have our own on how to play a shot. But certainly guys, two-time major champion like Tom, looking to take as many tips from him as you can. I'd tune in now and again.

End of FastScripts

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