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December 5, 2009

Graeme McDowell


DOUG MILNE: Okay. Graeme McDowell, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a successful Round 3, 6-under 66 today, obviously taking good advantage of the last-minute invite. It was a great round today. I think on the Back 9 you played the first six holes at 6-under including the eagle and then the bomb at 15. Just take us through the round, a couple of comments, just how you're feeling this year. You'll be heading into Sunday's final round.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I started off today with a low number in mind, obviously to try and give myself a chance to compete tomorrow, and haven't really been tearing the front nine up at all, but I played nice and solidly today. I gave myself a few chances on the front.
I think I only made the turn at 1-under par, so I birdied 10, 11, 12 yesterday and I did the same thing today again. Hit close on 10, two-putt birdie on 11; good shot for 12 and made the putt there, and then hit a great 3-wood on 13 to about 15 feet and made that for eagle. So all of a sudden off and running.
I burned the edge on 14 and then made a bomb on 15, and like you say, 6-under through six holes on the Back 9 looked pretty solid, and obviously made the mistake on 16, which kind of hurt me a little bit, but got it through the fairway there and that was a bit of a 50/50 lie in the trap. Hit it about a foot behind it. Hit it in the hazard. Yeah.
I thought I made the bogey putt, but I'm very happy to get it up-and-down the last, and yeah, it was a good day. No complaints. You know, this game is very tough to get everything out of the run very often, but I'll take that and run today, I guess.

Q. (Indiscernible).
GRAEME McDOWELL: It was bunker, hazard. Didn't hit a very good 4-iron for my fourth. Just missed it short left, and left myself a really tough up-and-down. Actually hit a decent chip and burned the edge of the putt, but my mistake was made on the second shot for sure.
Like I said, these traps, they're kind of -- they're a bit of a penalty this week. They're not like the crispy, perfect lies we're used to. In a way that's the way the bunkers should be. The sand is soft and the ball sits down, and maybe not an unbelievable strength in my game either, so like I said, hit it a foot behind it, it was beautiful. Troy loved it.

Q. Graeme, can you talk a little bit about that last-minute invite, and if we would have told you last week that you'd be here right now, what would you have said?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I wouldn't have believed you for a second, obviously. I mean the first I knew about it was I came off the golf course on Sunday of the World Cup in China. My manager was sitting there, he said to me, obviously we had a phone call to say that Tiger was doubtful for the tournament. You know, obviously we'd been seeing the news and seeing what was going on out there.
And just so happened I was on my way to Orlando anyway via LA. So it wasn't out of my way in any shape or form, and when I landed in LA on Sunday night, Greg McLaughlin from Tiger Woods Foundation said they were still unsure as to what was going to happen and could I stay for 24 hours and just see, and obviously a great opportunity to play in a wonderful event, and I found out around the same time you guys did, around noon on Monday that I was in.
Obviously a huge blow for the golf tournament not to have Tiger here. I feel very fortunate to receive the invite. You know, it was a great opportunity for me, and this is a wonderful week, so I feel very fortunate to be here.

Q. Overseas when the Tiger accident occurred, and of course, here it's been, with all the scandal and the stories, did you start picking it up right away? And what's your reaction? And does it seem like a different tournament because of all the conversation about Tiger?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean I remember waking up, I think it was Friday morning perhaps in China, you know. Bit of jet lag, waking up early in the morning, put on the laptop on to see what was going on in the world, and obviously woke up to the headlines that Tiger had been in a car accident. I mean obviously the shock and the scandal and everything that was going on with it, I mean it just made for some interesting reading over the weekend.
I mean little did I know that it would sort of mean that I would get the invite this week. But yeah, what does it mean for this golf tournament? Not having him here is obviously a huge disappointment. It's a huge disappointment for golf in general really. I mean he is everything that's good about our sport. He's an iconic image in our sport.
And you know, hopefully this all kind of can finish quickly and correctly and we can get him back to where he belongs, at the top of our sport, and obviously doing good things for the sport. So just hope the dust settles quickly and obviously he can get on with his life and get back to doing what he does best.

Q. Sunday, just a typical locker room chatter?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, just typical, sort of locker-room chatter, you know. Probably disbelief more than anything as to what had happened, and obviously the rumor mill was working overtime on the weekend there as to what allegedly happened.
And it was one of those things, you know, when are we going to know -- will we ever know what really happened, and obviously it's tough for him. It says a lot about who he is. It's been a worldwide scandal really. I mean it's been front page news all over the world, all over the planet, he is that big, and like I say, I hope it gets worked out quickly.

Q. (Indiscernible).
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah. I mean obviously myself and Rory were leading most of the week last week at World Cup, but we didn't really talk much about our game in the press conferences there. There was plenty of Tiger Woods questions going on. Yeah, I think everyone was pretty worked up about it, it was big news.

Q. (Indiscernible).
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think it was Friday. I'm not 100 percent sure.

Q. (Indiscernible).
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah. We'd have been eight hours behind you guys, plus a day. Yeah. Plus a day.

Q. So you would have heard about it late Friday?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Probably. Probably Saturday morning perhaps when I woke up. I wasn't sure of the time line, but like I say, it was definitely a morning when I switched my laptop on and saw the headlines.

Q. What's your relationship like with Tiger? How well do you know him, if at all?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't know him very well. I've played with him a few times. Played with him third round at Augusta this year. I've gotten to know him pretty well through a Cup which we play in Orlando. I'm a resident and I play with Tiger in that also.
But you know, I don't know him very well. I mean he's a tough guy to get to know, especially at golf tournaments, because he's there to do his job, and I mean the circus that surrounds him is pretty tough to get inside, so I wouldn't say I know him very well.

Q. So obviously this is a tremendous opportunity. Talk a little bit about that, if you can.

Q. And your game today in terms of -- you had mentioned that the greens were pretty pure. That doesn't often get said about poa annua greens.
GRAEME McDOWELL: No. These things are definitely as good of greens as I've seen this season for sure. They're really, really pure. You pretty much know whether the balls are going to go in the middle or not, and I guess I was kind of just trying to play nothing-to-lose golf out there today really, and that's kind of the action I'm going to take into tomorrow.
And like I said, I feel fortunate to be here, No. 1. I was bringing -- my game's in good shape coming in here. I think if you look at the leaderboard, easy to see that the European Tour has been playing a lot of golf the last three or four weeks and the PGA TOUR hasn't. Obviously a lot of Europeans are at the top of the leaderboard. We've been playing a lot of golf, and like I say, my game's been in good shape because I was really starting to play well, and it was nice to get to know this week and continue to try and play well and keep my attitude good and enjoy myself tomorrow, and like I say, play nothing-to-lose type golf.
So if I can keep my iron play sharp as it was today and feel as good on the greens as I did today. I think some of the pins look pretty tricky tomorrow so it's going to be a tougher scoring day perhaps, but going to have some fun regardless.

Q. Are those the lucky pink pants?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think these are beginning to be my lucky pants, yeah. I've worn them a few times this season. I play pretty well in them normally, but I guess the thing with pink pants, if you're going to wear them, you better play well. (Laughs). So seems to work.

Q. Graeme, I'm trying to think if you're already eligible for Augusta next year.
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm not already eligible.

Q. Could be a big week.
GRAEME McDOWELL: I made the decision I wasn't going to go chasing the Top 50 in the world rankings. I had options in Australia this week, South Africa coming up here in the next couple of weeks.
I kind of made the decision I was just going to believe in my game and get myself in the Top 50 at the start of next year. Obviously this opportunity came along. Like I say, I don't really know where I need to finish tomorrow. I'm not really bothered. I'm just going to try and do my best tomorrow and see where that leaves me.
But like I said, it's obviously given me a little shot in the arm that I didn't think I was going to have. But yeah, if I can play well tomorrow, if I could get the job done, that would be unbelievable.
DOUG MILNE: All right. Graeme, thank you very much. Congratulations on a great day.

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