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July 7, 2010

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: I assume you'll never get sick of being introduced as the U.S. Open Champion.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I don't think I'll ever get sick of it.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Well come back to Scotland, another place you've won before. And how are you doing in terms of your game?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'm on the way back, shall we say. I'd be lying if I said there was much practise the last two weeks. There's been a lot going on, it's been a bit of a blur, a lot going on, a lot of celebrating obviously.
When you achieve one of your biggest career dreams, I suppose, it would be rude not to celebrate a little bit. But always said if I won a major, you would not see me for about three months.
But I think such an important part of the season, a couple majors coming up, St. Andrews next week, and a lot of golf to be played. So, you know, definitely get the business head back on. JP's Pro-Am early in the week was a great way of kind of getting back into it slowly but surely and feeling a lot better today.
I hit it pretty good in the Pro-Am this morning and got some range time organised this afternoon with Pete Cowen, my coach, but I'm on the way back. My expectations are not huge this week, no doubt about it, but I've got one eye on next week all the time. This week it's about getting the body back in shape and the business head screwed back on. I'm playing five of the next six weeks now and I've got to get ready to go.

Q. You sponsored, Al Naboodah Group, have been put a lot into golf in Dubai, have you spoken to Abdullah, as well?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I've spoken to Abdullah by text; I've been with Al Naboodah for golf in Dubai and we do a lot on the European Tour right now, and definitely been a place that's very good to us. Yeah, it's been great to be able to represent the Al Naboodah Group well around the world. And Abdullah, he loves golf, he's an avid golfer himself and he's he very, very excited about my win at the U.S. Open. It's been nice to represent them as well as I have.

Q. Are you looking forward to the Invitational next year and being the reigning U.S. Open at that?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Definitely, definitely, I think the Al Naboodah Invitational, I think they play the Monday of Qatar, Dubai Creek, and definitely looking forward to being in the Invitational. And as I say, it's nice to represent the U.S. Open trophy anywhere in the world, but I'll be proud to be there and especially representing the Al Naboodah Group Invitational.

Q. I know you were out early this morning and you had the two days, but what's the reaction like being back on The European Tour amongst the players and caddies?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Players and caddies and friends and tour officials and just people I've played with over the last eight years have been come up to me. A lot of them are sort of disbelieving, a lot of them are the way I feel really, coming up shaking my hand, saying unbelievable, kind of the way I feel about it.
It's been a surreal experience for me the last couple of weeks. I figured it would start to sink in when I got back into the golf environment. Like I say, I got the reaction from my friends and peers and colleagues out here and get on to the tee and get announced as U.S. Open Champion, just little things like that.
Certainly only scratching the surface of sort of meeting the guys and getting to see a lot of the guys. But it's been great. The reaction has been amazing. Everyone is excited and like I say, disbelief from a lot of the players. It's been an amazing feeling, and like I say, the word "unbelievable" is used quite a lot. It's been great to see everyone.

Q. How wild have the celebrations been and can you give us some examples?
GRAEME McDOWELL: How wild have they been? You know, a couple of good nights back home in Ireland with my friends and family. We had a pretty big homecoming on the Wednesday after the tournament. I flew home from L.A. after I did some stuff out there and we had a huge big kind of homecoming at Rathmore on the north coast of Ireland, huge amount of press and cameras and people coming out just trying to meet me and congratulate me and we had a pretty good party that night. The sun was up as we were still drinking champagne out of the trophy, put it that way.
But examples of craziness, you know, nothing really mad. Nothing mad. Just some good nights, like I say with friends, a lot of people to celebrate it with, and had a couple good nights in Orlando last week catching up with some friends out there, as well. Definitely been some celebrating going on. I'll leave the details out of it.

Q. Do you feel a very different person in yourself?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I don't feel any different. It's weird, I guess people's perceptions, that's the part that's changed the most, or I don't know perception, just the reaction to what I've done. I don't feel any different to myself, being the U.S. Open Champion doesn't change me. Certainly it's not going to change me as a person in the short term and certainly has not changed me as a golfer.
You know, it's the same old me, same old routines, preparation for golf tournaments. I'm the same person. I'm trying to just use what I did at Pebble as something that I can gain belief, confidence, momentum, just everything like that. I certainly hope I'm not going to change as a person in the long term.
I have a very good family network in the north coast there, and I have a great network of friends and people and certainly don't intend to change that and hopefully I can remain the same person. I'm aware that there's pitfalls that come with winning a major, and you know, expectations, frustrations, maybe feeling like I've made it, things like that.
It's still early. I read a great quote -- I can't remember where I read it, but Michael Campbell said, "They teach you how to get to the summit of Everest but no one tells you how to get back down again." I thought that was a really great way to describe it. I feel like I'm young enough to deal with it and I have a long career ahead of me. Just because I've achieved one of my big dreams, there's going to be a resetting process of my goals and my dreams, and I certainly feel like I can deal with it well and move on and hopefully keep playing as well as I've been playing. I feel like I'm coming into my prime playing some of the best golf of my career and I just have to keep doing that and hopefully I won't change.

Q. What part of your game marries with the Old Course?
GRAEME McDOWELL: The Old Course at St. Andrews, played there on Saturday, it's firm and fast. Links not a massive issue; I think my links upbringing will stand me in good stead obviously. Links is in my blood always. We don't play a lot of links golf out here on the Tour obviously, but I feel like I'm one of the guys that slips back into the old links frame of mind well.
I've always been a good distance putter, like a touch putter from long range, and that will serve me well around St. Andrews because it's the type of course where you can use your putter 36 times and shoot 66. Probably links golf, it's about, A, playing golf in the wind off tight links territory and it's all about short game. You have to use a lot of imagination around the greens. You can anything from a lobber to a 5-iron to a putter, and I think that's something I've always enjoyed about links golf is the imagination required for the short game; so many ways to get it on the green.
To me, St. Andrews, keeping the ball out of the bunkers which I feel like I'm a pretty good strategic player, and after that it's about pace putting and trying to scramble around the greens. I think that's probably why I feel like St. Andrews is a course that I can play well around.

Q. Where is the trophy? I thought you were glued to it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Where is the trophy, Conor? Yeah, I had it down at Adare Manor for JP's Pro-Am. I'm feeling withdrawal symptoms here at the minute. It's got a pretty big box to carry it around in, so it is a pretty heavy piece of luggage to be carrying around.
At the minute, it's not going to make the trip with me to St. Andrews next week. Eventually it's going to go back and stay in the trophy cabinet at Rathmore. We will have a party after the British Open where I will officially hand it back to them for safekeeping in the meantime.

Q. You say expectations not huge this week, but can you get your head around it so that they are next week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Definitely. Like I say not putting any pressure on myself this week, one eye on next week. No disrespect to this golf tournament. I've won around here. It's a golf course I know I can play well around. I just need to shake the rust out of the system. I'm going to be practising very hard this week and definitely keeping parties and celebrations to a bare minimum. There will be none of that going on.
So definitely need to get myself back in shape, and like I say, I played St. Andrews last Saturday. Certainly didn't see any hidden tricks on the golf course, and it was definitely firm and fast and it's going to be really, really linksy. I think he wants to get it brown and really running. So it's going to be interesting, not much rough. Getting myself ready for next week, I would like to think so. A couple weeks of not doing a lot, but I've made enough good swings the last few days to know that they are still in there and certainly mentally I can be ready for next week for sure.
Yeah, I'm going there next week with, yeah, definitely expectations of competing and playing well.

Q. Just wondering, what you made of the course, a few new greens out there. They had a bad winter here. Have you had a chance to look at any greens?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I had a pretty good look at them this morning obviously. I think they re-layed four greens total. I was surprised by the conditions, because obviously we have heard some horror stories the last four or five months due to the tough winter, and some great photos in the locker room of the state they were in and kind of the road to recovery.
And where they are at right now, there's a little bit of seed in them, whatever the type of grass here, obviously they have probably had to force it to kind of grow back, and there's definitely some seed in the grass, but I was pleasantly surprised by now well they were rolling this morning.
I think the place, they have done an unbelievably good job to get the place back into playable conditions. And it's soft, it's wet and soft but I mean, that's obviously nothing to do; that's just rainfall, obviously, but no, I'm not disappointed by the place at all.

Q. As you know, pretty good run for English and Irish players like yourself, and Monty was in here saying that he gave credit to Padraig for winning majors and leading you guys on; do you agree or do you have a different take?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I agree with that. There's a certain mentality to watching a guy that you practise with and play with win it. Padraig Harrington was a world-class golfer, but ten years ago, he wasn't a world-class ball-striker. He always had the short game and mentality capability to do it, but when you see a guy work as hard as he has and go win three major championships, it gives everyone belief, because there are guys running around here who think they are more talented than Padraig as far as ball-striking and tee-to-green go, and it goes to show what a strong mind and short game can achieve.
Tiger said the majors are the easiest tournaments to win, and you start to get your head around that when I shoot 3-over par in the last round on Pebble. The course is such a mental test; I can kind of see where Tiger is coming from a little bit.
I think the reaction to me winning, that's certainly going to be something similar to the reaction -- I agree with Monty. Certainly that spurs guys on. Take Rory as an example, I've never seen a guy so excited about next week. I've played with him the weekend after I won at Pebble at Royal County Down, and told me he pulled out of this week; I inspired him and he wanted to get ready for St. Andrews. He want to get ready for next week and now believes he can win majors, quickly and I think it has a positive effect.

Q. You said the Old Course is pretty much as you remember it, and there is a significant change at the 17th. Can you tell us your thoughts on that and what you played for your second shot in there?
GRAEME McDOWELL: "Significant" is a good word. It's difficult. I don't think it's bad. Was it necessary? Don't know. I thought it was a fantastic hole, with a 7-, 8-, 9-iron in your hand. It's going to be an unbelievably good hole with a 3-, 4-, 5-iron in your hand. I played it slightly in the wind, mostly out of the right. I hit a decent tee shot and I had 175 front edge and I had a back left pin that I got to about 210.
So I mean, I feel like I'm going to play it extremely conservative. I'm going to play the hole really conservatively. I don't think I'll be trying to get the ball to the putting surface. I think I'll be laying up to the front edge of the green to most of the pins, and the back left pin I'll be trying to hit it over the top like on 18 tee and try to get it down from there. I don't see how I'm ever going to aim at that putting green with a 4-iron in my hand. That is just too dangerous.

Q. Has it changed --
GRAEME McDOWELL: Has not changed much at all. I said there was not much rough on the golf course but some of the heaviest rough on the course is left of the 17th fairway. But he's given you a bit of room right, so he's asking you to really hug that right side now. It's actually a big landing area, not tight at all. Guys are going to have 4-, 5-, 6-irons in their hand going into that green, and I don't see how I'm ever going to aim at the putting surface unless it goes downwind and I have less club in my hand, which I think is unfortunate, because you know, you're trying to get drama. They want drama. It's a TV sport. It's all about people enjoying the game and seeing some drama and it's given them some great drama on 17 over the years, but when they start getting -- I'm not going to go to the green with a 4-iron. I'm going it lay up and try put out to the hole. It's not really dramatic. Like I say, it nearly has the opposite effect.
It's going to be interesting. Obviously it's a wind direction thing; if it goes into the wind, it's going to be absolute carnage. If it blows downwind, it might not be a problem. It's certainly a pretty significant change. It's an amazing hole, it really is, and it always was an amazing hole.

Q. Inaudible -- is that something you would be conscious of, not chasing the dollars?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I've definitely had some chats with Conor and my chats with Kenny, here, who I respect, as well; he's not just a caddie, he's a friend and someone that's very experienced. And between the three of us, I think we have got our head around that a little bit.
I'm just going to try and maybe have a chat with some people, someone like Padraig or Ernie and some guys and really just try and get a bit of advice of how to deal with a first major and what to do and what not to do. And I think there's definitely some pitfalls that you can fall into and think, obviously chasing your tail around the world trying to make as much money out of it as you possibly can would be definitely -- could be detrimental for sure.
My schedule really has not changed from now until Christmas. I don't think there's any danger of that happening this year for me. You know, I feel like I've got enough smart and intelligent people around me to help me manage that. So definitely, like I say, I'll be definitely asking some people, like I say, what to do and what not to do here in the future.

Q. One of those persons is Pete Cowen, not too sure if you've spoken about this already, but what credit do you give him for the victory in Wales and Pebble Beach?
GRAEME McDOWELL: He's been a big factor the last couple of years. There's been a lot of people helping me get where I am, it's been a long road, all of the coaches I've had along the way, Clive Tucker I worked with sort of three or four years ago, he got my swing mechanically more sound. And then when I started working with Pete a lot more full-time from September of last year, Pete got me back to playing the game again. I thought I had got a little too technical and Pete got me back to playing golf and Pete's really helped my short game turn the corner the last couple of years, as well.
There's so many people along the way. I mean, it would be so many names; I can't mention them all, but like I say, Clive really got my swing technically more sounds. And Pete's really got me playing the game again and ball shaping and short game, and having a guy like that standing on the range with you before you go out in the last round of a major warming you up, it's been great.
Pete has been a hugely positive influence on me and definitely a guy who I respect his opinion and always try to have -- the team of people around me, I always try to make them as good as I possibly can and I feel like I have a great team right now.

Q. When people say "unbelievable" to you, they can't obviously be referring to how well you held on, but do you think you've surprised a lot of people?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm sure I've surprised some people. I hope that I haven't surprised everyone. I hope that people know enough about my game to know that hopefully the win at Pebble wasn't a fluke from my point of view. I feel like I showed enough mental strength down the stretch over the years to know that if I put myself in that position, that I can do it.
And I've always said that my game matches up well to the U.S. Open-style golf course. Like I say, I hope when people say unbelievable, they are just ecstatic for me and just enjoyed watching it and stuff. Like I say, I hope they can believe it. But it's been a great reaction from the guys and I hope I haven't shocked too many people.

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