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June 6, 2010

Graeme McDowell


SCOTT CROCKETT: Graeme, many congratulations, what a fantastic performance over the weekend as a whole, but especially today, as well. Just give us your thoughts because that really was one of the truly great shows here we've seen.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, like I said, I really honestly contemplated missing the cut on Friday morning. Kenny said to me the cut was going to be 1-over par, and as I dropped five shots in five holes to be 2-over par I think at the time, I thought, wow, I could be going home this weekend.
You know, an unbelievable final this round in game; you see what Rory did at Wachovia, makes the cut on the number, has a big weekend, wins the golf tournament. Similar here; cuts ends up going to 3-over par, but level par was eight back going into the weekend.
And you know, this had been coming for a while. For 14, 15 holes on Friday, I played phenomenal. I played lovely yesterday, and I just came on and did the same thing today. I've really been -- I've really been playing good now for a while. I've been keeping saying that. It's been frustrating and it's been hard to sort of stay sane and stay patient and stay with it.
But you know, sometimes you've just got to really kind of hang in there in this game and keep working hard and wait for opportunities to come along, and I feel like I've done that this year, this season. I really haven't had a lot to do draw on from a confidence point of view, and you know, probably making missing the cut at Wentworth was a blessing. I played great last week in Madrid, had my opportunities and got myself back in the mix, and you know, was able to pull one out this weekend and really believe in myself. Yesterday's rounds was huge to get me back in the mix.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Simon Dyson said it's the best 11 holes he's ever seen in his life. Exactly how you wanted to start this round out today.
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt. I was really, really in the zone there for the first 11. Even beyond that, I kept hitting great shots, and the putts kind of dried up. I looked up on the leaderboard on 14 and saw I was three clear. Hit a great shot to 15 and 3-putted there, 16 was playing unbelievably difficult. That putt on 16 was huge. It was a tricky finish there today, and, I mean, you know, three-shot cushion was nice but 17 was potential bogey and 18, anything can happen.
It was great to play with Simon today. He's one of my really good friends out here, and he was talking me through how I was going to win it through about seven holes, and I'm trying to play in the present and Dys is telling me how we are going to celebrate tonight. I'm trying to keep Dys from getting too excited, as well as myself.
SCOTT CROCKETT: So many other things associated with the victory, not the least, another turn here hopefully in four months time; have you begun to think about that?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, you know, that's only a first step along the way for me now. I need a big summer. I need to keep playing the way I'm playing. There's no doubt winning here is going to stand me in good stead.
Hey, if I don't qualify automatically and I'm looking for a pick, this is certainly going to be a good feather in my cap. But my goal is to make the team automatically. Valhalla a couple of years ago did nothing but stoke the fires as far as my desire to be on the next team.
I think this is going to be a wonderful venue. Celtic Manor got exactly what they deserved this week, they got a great week's weather, the golf course is magnificent, and you know, what they have done here, the Matthews family, what they have put into this event to get the Ryder Cup, they deserve everything they get. They really have a successful, successful golf course here, and I think it's going to be a great year.

Q. How much were you aware of what Rhys was doing?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Honestly I wasn't watching it. I heard a big cheer go up, and I felt it was him. You know, I saw his name on the board early on and I realised he was having a run, but I really wasn't concentrating on figures.
Like I say, the first time I looked was 14 and I was three clear to that point, but I played with Rhys Thursday, Friday, we played together. So I've been very impressed with how his game has improved over the last few years. Last time I played with him was in Madrid about three years ago. He had a great short game, but he really didn't have the long game to go with it, sort of a la Padraig Harrington-style player, but he's really kind of put a long game onto that now.
It was great to see him making a run. It really did something for the atmosphere out there today. The Welsh fans got what they came for today, or nearly got what they came for obviously. But that was great. It was great to go low and obviously be pushed, and you know, I think -- I'm sure it made for great viewing, as well. This golf course Thursday, Friday, was very tricky, and it's amazing how the scores really came on the weekend.

Q. How did you manage to follow such a great round of yesterday with an even better one today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I really just stayed patient. You did ask me that question, you're always trying to compare your round at the time to the great round you had yesterday, but I really just tried to -- just really tried to focus on my process of hitting good shots. I love the way this golf course sets up. I drove the ball fantastic this week, and that's what you've got to do around here.
The fairways are reasonably generous targets in places about you if you missed them, there was some horrible, horrible rough out there, really thick, wiry type stuff. If you were out of position, you were in big trouble on this golf course; hence the big scores Thursday, Friday.
But if you could drive it good, you could really set yourself up with some medium and short irons on the greens. That's been the strength of my game so far this play is my iron play has been as good as it's ever been. I'm continuing to hit really quality shots from the fairways, and that's what I did well this week. I put myself in the fairway and I haven't seen my numbers this week, but I would suspect I didn't miss a huge amount greens this weekend.

Q. The putter was hot too?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Putter was good. I putted well and I putted awful on Thursday afternoon, better Friday morning, and obviously you don't shoot 64s and 63s without putting pretty good the past couple of days.
I was working on my putting in Madrid last week. I really haven't been putting like myself this year. The putter has been a little cold and I've always been a good putter. I really had to just try and look at my mechanics and look at my technique. I did a slight change in my setup, just a very basic change. My stroke was good and I really worked on my alignment and weight position last week and putted better in Madrid and came here this week and putted good on the weekend.

Q. Have you spoken to Monty this week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, Monty was on the other side of the draw of me Thursday, Friday, and I really haven't seen him at all this week. I heard someone make comment that he was unhappy there was not quite enough rough in certain places, and I was interested to know how he wants the course set up -- from my point of view, it sounds like the way it was this week, from the point of view of fairways and greens being key. That sounds like the way he wants it.
No, I'll be interested to hear his thoughts on the place, though.

Q. Of course you are an Honorary Welshman?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. You know, I did make reference -- and I do have a lot of good friends and people who support me and keep in contact with me. I had dinner with the ex-in-laws there on Friday night, and you know, I really do have a lot of friends and support in this part of the world.
Like I say, Celtic Manor was my home practise facility when I used to live here in Cardiff. As a semi-honorary Welshman, it's a proud moment to pick up this trophy. Conor, my manager, just said to me I got an e-mail into my website saying that I had won the Scottish and the Welsh; now what about playing a little better in the 3 Irish Open. It's a valid point.

Q. How does this course suit Europe versus America?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, obviously very difficult to be specific when it comes to a European game versus an American game, but driving of the golf ball is the key around this golf course, I really believe that. I think we're better drivers of the ball than they are. They play a lot more wide-open resort-type golf courses than we do. I really do think that tee-to-green, we are a better team than them, and so I think driving is key. So not just long, but straight; accuracy is key around this golf course. And it's not a short golf course, as well.
In the past the Americans have been longer than us. I don't think that is the case anymore. I just think we are better drivers of the ball than they are. You look at Rory, the Westwoods and Sergios; it's guys like that who are really good, top drivers of the golf ball.
And the short game, obviously, in and around the greens, it seems like the pattern, the way The Belfry switched around a few years ago, they go into run-off areas and that's kind of the pattern that we believe that is our type of short game. Compared to the American short game, high rough around the greens, get your lob right, have a slash at it, that U.S. Open-style rough is kind of America- style setup.
Our type of setup is a lot more options and run-offs around the green where you can bump it, run it, flop it, anything. I really think that this golf course is the place we'll win The Ryder Cup right back. I think we'll have an unbelievable team and I think it's going to be a great tournament, but I think the golf course suits European golf.

Q. Would you be happy to come back here to play in The Ryder Cup under these conditions?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Absolutely. I'd play anywhere, any time.
Yeah, I think the golf course is well setup. I loved it. My only criticism of the golf course was there wasn't enough rough in places. It was a bit patchy. There was areas the rough was thick and there was areas it wasn't so thick. I think it was a little patchy. I mean, obviously, it's been a weird year from a growth point of view. It's been a cold winter. But generally the course was really well set up.

Q. Loch Lomond and St Andrews have been good to you in the past, are you looking to lock down your Ryder Cup spot in those two weeks?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No doubt about it. Like you say, they are two of my favourite venues. Obviously winning the Barclays a few years ago, it's kind of -- things are kind of lining up the way they did a couple of years ago. I got off to a similar-type start in my season 2008. I was frustrated but playing good, then winning in Korea at the Ballantine's Championship, got into the meat and bones of the season and win at Barclays and get myself on the team.
I feel like I'm on a very similar process again this year. I'll be coming -- obviously Pebble Beach is next on the list, but I'll be certainly be coming back, France, Loch Lomond, St. Andrews and focussed on having a big three weeks there and make sure that nails my place on the team. So looking forward to coming to those two places.

Q. Will this course present a different proposition in October?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt about it. You know, you can put the best event in the world on and if the weather is not kind, there's not much you can do about it.
That's a risk we're going to take. Any time you're going to play The Ryder Cup in Britain or Ireland or anywhere in the world, I suppose, you're always -- the weather can kill you. Fingers crossed, there's not much you can do about it obviously; it can blow, it can be cold, it can be wet. Again that will play into Europe's hand.
I think this golf course could be exceptionally difficult, if they have the rough up the way I suspect they are going to, and you get it cold and windy out there, it's everything you want. This golf course has all the length you want and I think they have a fabulous amount of tee options. There's so much they can do with the course to move it around. But like I said, it's all you want out there if it's cold.

Q. You said Europe were better than the Americans tee to green but surely we are as good on the greens as well too?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No doubt about it. Like I say, it's very difficult to be specific now and say that we are better tee-to-green, we are better drivers of the ball to them, blah, blah, blah.
The Ryder Cup is going to be a putting competition; always is. We got outputted a couple years ago at Valhalla, and so it's whoever putts the best. Like you say, we have got some pretty good putters on our side. But there's so much talent around the world these days, it's very difficult to be able to kind of boil it down to a certain time of game.

Q. Thoughts on Rhys' potential?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think Rhys has got a lot of potential. Like I say, I've been surprised how much he's improved, how consistent he is. I mean, he didn't go away last weekend in Madrid and he certainly didn't go away this weekend.
No, he's got a lot of potential. He's got a great short game and a hot putter, and like I say he's starting to put a long game up around that now. That's a dangerous combination, and he seems like he's a very cool customer. He's obviously a tall, fit lad, and obviously came through the college system the same way I did.
It's great for Wales. I really hope he gets on the team. It would be amazing to have a Welshman on the team. It would be great for the fans and just the atmosphere for the general, and I'll be watching his progress for sure.

Q. Even if he does miss out this year, do you think he will be a Ryder Cup player eventually?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Like I say, all you can do is do your best any given weekend, trying your guts out to get on The Ryder Cup Team this year. I had the same problem 2006, K Club. I didn't get on the team. You know, has it made me a worse player, a better player? Maybe it's made me a better player. It made me want it more in 2008 and made me dig deep and rethink where I was going wrong.
If he doesn't get on the team this year, it will drive him onto bigger and better things perhaps, but he's good enough to get on the team. Difference between me in 2006 and 2008 was I wasn't good enough.
It hurt. Obviously I did some media that week, I did BBC5 on the sidelines and in the evening; I was subjecting myself to 15 hours of Ryder Cup a day just to show myself what I missed.
Like I say, I certainly was going to throw everything but the kitchen sink to get on in 2008. But like I say, I think he's good enough to get on the team this year, but it's going to be a seriously competitive team.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Many, many congratulations, Graeme, well done.

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