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July 5, 2010

Graeme McDowell


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks very much for joining us, and Graeme, obviously thanks for coming in and being with us this afternoon.
Before we start the press conference, first part of the conference, Graeme to reflect on Pebble Beach and the two weeks of madness it's been since then, and just look back on that. It's a very impressive piece of tin besides you there, let's start with that. Everybody has said many congratulations, we would like to say it again. Just reflect on that life-changing week at Pebble.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Thanks. It's been life-changing, obviously. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. Actually really great to get down here and get on to the golf course and kind of get back to business as usual. That was an amazing reception out there. The crowds were fantastic. I got clapped on pretty much every green and tee, and it was a really, really cool morning. It was great to get back in the golf environment.
It's been a fantastic two weeks, no doubt about it, a lot of partying and celebrating. We spent the first weekend in Ireland, up in Portrush, first couple of days after I won were in L.A. doing Jay Leno and Entourage and ESPN and just all of that crazy stuff. It was great to get back to Ireland and Portrush for the weekend and definitely caught up with the family and friends and some good partying going on and parading the trophy around the place. I feel like I've been attached to that for two weeks and haven't really put it down.
I spent four or five days in Orlando last week just trying to get over there and trying to hide really for a few days. Ended up doing some media stuff over there, as well.
It's been. It's been amazing. It's been life-changing for sure, and really, really great to get back this morning and see a lot of my friends and colleagues and peers. A lot of handshaking and hugs and congratulations, messages from really great players. And like I say, great to kind of get back out into the golf environment a little bit and try and not put it behind me, but try and, like I say, semi-get my head attached if I can.
Obviously Loch Lomond in weekend is important to me and on to St. Andrews next week. It's very important that I get ready to move on and get ready to continue to play well, because my game's in great shape obviously, and I really want to try and give myself a good shot at a good summer.
SCOTT CROCKETT: It's understandable that in the wake of your victory, you said it had not really sunk in, and we can all appreciate that. Is it now beginning to sink in, what you achieved?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think so. I really thought once I got back on the golf course, I kind of got the response from people -- and like I said out there this morning, it was amazing; people were just -- everyone is so excited about it. I really figured at that point it would start to sink in a bit more now, and I guess it has.
Once an hour I have a proper thought where I still can't believe it where I kind of have a reality check. You know, when you achieve a dream, and that's what it was, it was an absolute dream; it was quite a surreal feeling and it does feel very surreal to me, I have to say. I haven't quite sort of grabbed the whole concept of it, but I mean, obviously it's life-changing, it's schedule-changing and it's everything.
You know, I'm looking forward to everything that goes with it and I'm certainly enjoying the attention, obviously has increased exponentially, and you have to enjoy it. There's so much that goes with it, but I wouldn't change it for the world. It's unbelievable, and like I said, people this morning, it was incredible.
SCOTT CROCKETT: A nice moment earlier; JP presented Graeme with a special glass memento.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, a little momentum from himself and Noreen congratulating. JP is a very classy guy, you look at the field here assembled for these two days, that says a lot about what we think of JP McManus. He's a special person in the world of golf and it's a real honour to obviously play my first competitive round back since the U.S. Open out there this morning, and I really enjoyed it. I played with Kieran McManus and a couple good guys. It was nice to get back on the golf course and I got a great reception. I've signed some autographs, that's for sure. It was a busy morning.

Q. In this day and age, with the messaging, texts and e-mails, does anybody sit down and take the time to write?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Every form of communication I've had: Voicemail, text messages, e-mails, handwritten letters. The response on my website has been incredible. I think my website crashed on Sunday afternoon, I had double my annual traffic in one day on my website. It's been amazing, Facebook, e-mail, it's just been incredible, and I mean, so many cool managers from great friends, long-lost friends. It's been amazing; it really has been overwhelming.

Q. Can you tell us about some of the long-lost friends and any of the famous people that have taken the time?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Some cool ones, I've got one from 10 Downing Street, David Cameron, a note from him, he says my next challenge is to help him break a hundred. Some great stuff like that. Some great voicemails. Ernie left me a great voicemail. It was really nice, Jimmy Nesbitt, a Northern Ireland celeb. Just loads and loads.
I have a stack of mail I haven't even gone through yet. My dad has opened it up for me and got it ready for me to read. I haven't sat down and read it, he's listing all of these names: Palmer, Tony Jacklin, just I mean letters and e-mails coming in from all over. So it's been pretty cool.

Q. Of course you won the Wales Open before, but what did you do to make sure that you won two trophies?
GRAEME McDOWELL: My game was there. I've been playing great all year. I just haven't really been holing many putts. I worked a bit on my putting in Madrid, just kind of changed something in my setup just very fractionally.
Went to the next three weeks and didn't see it coming obviously. And I feel like my game has been ready to go. I've been feeling ready to win for a long time, just this year, it was a frustrating season up until that point. I had some frustrating moments, Bay Hill; Korea, I was all over on the golf course Korea, getting frustrated with myself, and just probably losing sight of the fact that my long game is in the best shape it's ever been in. I'm leading greens in regulation on The European Tour and I've never done that before.
My long game in the best shape of my life and I had to put the finishing touches to it. The main difference in Wales and Pebble was my putting, I holed out really well at Pebble. I had a good chat with my caddie over the weekend. Just sort of talking through the week and it was really just about putting the ball in the fairway, and the way I putted during the week, I just holed out from inside ten feet, holed out incredibly well at Pebble and that's why I won.

Q. Forgive me if this has already been asked, but is it a bit scary carrying this fantastic trophy around? Worried you might misplace it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's been a few worrying moments. It's been in a few bars and places in the small hours of the morning, but I guess I always comfort myself with the fact that it's been to a few parties over the years. I would say she could probably tell a few pretty good stories if she could speak. There's been a few bottles of champagne in it and stuff. It's great when you get a chance to sit down and look at some of the names on there, it's really, really cool.
There's definitely a few dents and bits and bobs from years of abuse I would say, obviously not any personal abuse that I've put it through, but like I say, I think that trophy has been to a few parties in its years.

Q. Was a tournament like today, this event, was this the ideal return to competitive golf for you? Could it have been any better?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, it's perfect. This is ideal. You know, I barely touched a club in two weeks. There's no point in denying that. I played County Down with Rory the last two weekends ago, played Portrush once and I played 18 holes at St. Andrews on Saturday, so apart from that, only golf I've played in two weeks.
So coming out this morning and getting the kind of reception I did, there's definitely a slight acclimatisation period I've got to go through dealing with this. Obviously it is great having everyone coming up to you and congratulating you and the reception, but it's also a little bit distracting.
This was the perfect place to come for a couple of days, see the guys, really get the response from the Irish crowd that I've had, which has been amazing and straight over to Loch Lomond.
But by the time Thursday comes around, I will have settled down and got my business head screwed back on again, and definitely today, I wasn't quite sure what to expect on the golf course today. I could hit it a little better than I expected maybe, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow, get a good night's sleep tonight and go out and hit some balls in the morning and like I say, hopefully be ready by Thursday, and you know, really sort of sort getting the game rolling again, looking forward to next week.
St. Andrews is the big week really and not trying to play down my chances this week at Loch Lomond but I definitely have one eye at St. Andrews.

Q. Talking about career-changing and schedule-changing, have you made any decisions about what you're going to do regarding membership with the PGA Tour, for example, what you're going to do there? Are you going to join this year?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'm going to join the PGA Tour 2011 definitely. That was something I wanted to do anyway.
My schedule is barely going to change this year at all. Maybe a couple add-ins there like the Grand Slam of Golf after Dunhill, and obviously I can ink in The Ryder Cup now, as opposed to pencil it in.
My schedule is not going to change much. I'm going to play straight through to the PGA, just a week off before the Irish Open and I'll have some time off probably just before The Ryder Cup. And then start warming up and playing and will play Ryder Cup, Dunhill Links, Grand Slam of Golf and I'll play everything to finish: Spain, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai. So in actual fact, my schedule has not really changed much this season. But obviously next season will perhaps be a little different.

Q. Could you just perhaps give us a brief outline of where you've been since the U.S. Open and perhaps the reaction at places you've been?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, right after Sunday night in Monterey. We definitely had a few drinks that night. Spent 48 hours in L.A., just running around, loads of media stuff, Jay Leno, Entourage, ESPN, just loads and loads of stuff really. Flew out of L.A. Tuesday a afternoon. Landed in London on Wednesday morning, went to Callaway headquarters and did a press conference down there and hung out with them a little bit, and straight up to the normal coast of Ireland where they had a huge homecoming at the golf club, Rathmore Golf Club where I grew up, massive turnout of people and media, and it was pretty crazy, actually.
So that was really, really cool, kind of getting back there and so we had a big night Wednesday night. And I just kind of spent the weekend at home with the family really, like I said, had dinner with Rory on Friday night of that week and played Saturday morning at Royal County Down. Played golf with my dad and brothers on Sunday, had a couple of pints of Guinness, trying to do some normal stuff.
I flew to Orlando on Monday, last Monday, did about four days out there, just did some stuff, GOLF CHANNEL and Golf Digest and lots of stuff like that. So I really just tried to go out there and just kind of get away from the chaos.
I'm from a pretty small town up in the north coast, so needless to say everyone is pretty excited about it. Going out for dinner in my local restaurant certainly has changed, the response people have given me has certainly changed my life from that point of view.
Got home from Orlando on Saturday morning, went to St. Andrews and played St. Andrews on Saturday and came down here last night.
So it's been, honestly feels like about two months ago when I holed that winning putt on the last green at Pebble. Feels like an awfully long time ago. Hard to believe it was only two weeks yesterday. It's been a great two weeks. Like I say, not a huge amount of practise going on there but you know, I always said if you won a major, you wouldn't see me for three months, I would be on a beach in the Bahamas somewhere drinking myself stupid, but reality sets in and a lot of golf to play this summer and good stuff to look forward to. You have to enjoy it, but at some point you have to get the business head back on, so that process is begun this morning.

Q. Can you reflect on the quality of the field there, Tiger and Phil behind you? What does that add to the experience?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think all of the things, Tiger, Ernie, Phil on the leaderboard, just everything that goes with it. You know, that's the kind of that stuff that I haven't really the sat down and thought about. You know, when you add your name to the list of winners at Pebble Beach: Nicklaus, Watson, Kite, Woods, myself, certainly added to the experience, no doubt about it.
I always said that I would take any major, but the one I won is pretty special, Pebble Beach is an iconic venue in the world of golf. I've watched a little bit of the replays and stuff, and you know, it's just amazing, just an amazing place to win, you know what I mean. Certainly all of the little things like that that go with it will certainly add to the whole experience for me.
I'm sure I'll look back in 20 or 30 years and think it was pretty amazing. Like I say, unbelievably surreal feeling and I can't get my head around it. I've got this trophy to remind me and thank God and I'm looking forward to everything that goes with it. It's been a great ride so far, and I'm certainly going to give it my best shot and certainly represent this trophy well.

Q. How important is it to get you the second major as soon as possible?
GRAEME McDOWELL: As soon as possible, you know, it's not hugely important to me. I'm preparing myself as well as I possibly can for St. Andrews next week. You know, definitely this doesn't give me any God-given right to go win St. Andrews.
Basically all I can draw from it is the confidence that I know I'm good enough to do it when the chips are down on the back nine Sunday in a major championship. The confidence I'll take away from that is biggest thing I'll take away from Pebble Beach. I know my game is in the greatest shape it's ever been in and I have a lot of improving to do; all aspects of my game I can get better and better and better.
I'm just going to continue doing the things that have got me to this point. Obviously I feel very fortunate and very privileged to have an opportunity to win at Pebble and to take that opportunity was obviously very pleasing.
But like I say, I've got to keep doing what it is that I've done to get me here, and I'm certainly not going to take anything for granted and obviously going to Loch Lomond this week to compete and be ready to go at St. Andrews next week and like I say, just take the confidence that I know I can do it.

Q. How far was the last putt and how did you stay focussed?
GRAEME McDOWELL: The camera angle is quite funny, you couldn't really see. I can't remember how long it was. It was inside throw-up distance, anyway. It was definitely close enough to not mess up. It was about a foot and a half maybe, something like that. Felt about four feet but it was reasonably close.
How did I stay focussed? There's no doubt, everything goes through your mind in that scenario. The human brain conjures up some weird and wonderful things. I think the phrase, "3-putt will get me in a playoff," went through my head at some point when I was lining up the putt.
Crazy things go through your head, but you just have to shake those out and you just have to laugh and say, well, that's my brain coming up with weird stuff and just get back into your routine. I've practised all my life and you have to believe in your practise really, and I just tried to focus on the speed of the first putt.
The green was looking pretty burnt up and it looked like it could be a slick putt past the hole and I really just started to believe in my feel and really just try and let the practise take over and take the brain out of the equation a little bit, and I managed to lag it up there to a nice little foot and a half tap-in.
I don't remember much what I was thinking over that putt, I really don't. I don't even remember hitting the putt. I don't remember much about it at all. It's kind of definitely a bit of a blank in my mind. I really just remember celebrating afterwards and thinking, wow, I've actually done this and it was probably the first -- probably walking up to that putt was the first time I let myself believe that I had won the U.S. Open. I don't remember hitting the putt at all, it's weird.

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