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July 28, 2010

Graeme McDowell


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thanks for joining us, 3 Irish Open is always a big week for you anyway, but coming here as U.S. Open Champion must be very special for you.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it's very special. The Irish Open is a very important event to us as Irish players, and to be here in Killarney is obviously very exciting.
Kind of see the last couple of years a bit of a revival of the Irish Open and we are trying to get this event back to one of the best events on the calendar. Historically it's been a great event, great field, great champions of this tournament, and it's great to have it in July. Wouldn't think it looking out there, but fingers crossed for a good weekend.
We are here in kill narrow any, there's a bit of a buzz about the town and 3 have done a great job promoting this event and I've tried to tell as many guys to get themselves here this week. The field isn't as strong as maybe we would have hoped but it's great to be down here. And as an Irish player this is definitely our unofficial fifth major this week, so like you said it's great to be here as the U.S. Open Champion and looking forward to the next few days.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Are you starting to see the effects with people and are reaction?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's been good. Last couple of days have been pretty quiet and I haven't really experienced too much of it all yet this week. But I'm sure there will be a few people around today and I've got a reasonably high-profile draw the next couple of days, so I imagine there will be a few people out watching us. Very much looking forward to that. The golf course here, it's a nice little track, not a lot of rough. It's going to be good scoring and the place is in good condition and it should make for an exciting weekend. So hopefully we should get some Irish names on the board and I am fully expecting to be one of them.

Q. Is it nice to play a course where it's not just a bomber's course?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, definitely. There's no doubt, the modern golf course, you have to look at that one in Sweden last week, what was it, 8,200 yards off the tips; where does it stop? It's nice to come back and play a golf course that they tell me has not changed since '92 when Faldo won here. That's impressive. Obviously they have turned a couple of par 5s into par 4s. Obviously with the winters here, there has not been a lot of growth and the dry spring, they struggled with the rough a bit. I'm sure The European Tour would have liked a little bit more rough.
But like you say, it's nice to come and actually have a golf course where 4-under par is going to be a disappointing effort probably if the weather is good, where you're going to be trying to shoot 6- or 7-under par. I think people who are watching TV and who come to watch golf want to see us making birdies. It's a nice change from U.S. Open-style, level-par type golfs courses.
The golf course wasn't as easy as I expected it to be. Kenny called me on Sunday and said to expect 59s around here, blah, blah, blah. I played on Monday, and didn't think it was sort of 10-under par every day type of place. The greens are tricky. The greens are elevated. A lot of run-off areas. There's going to be a enough tests out there, I think if they get a little bit of wind for us, it's going to be a tricky enough little place. But expect a lot of birdies, as well.

Q. You now know the course where you can shoot 59.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, I had 59 up at my home course where on Sunday which was my first 59. It was -- my golf course, at Rathmore there, the valley course in Portrush, it's only 6,400 off the tips, so that's a golf course that you can get it going around.
But shooting 59 is obviously a very pleasant number to shoot. It was my first one, hopefully the first of a few and it's a pretty special number for a golfer to shoot. It was nice to go out and play a game on Sunday and see that my game is in good shape and kind of go low and get that feeling going, because I think you need to be comfortable going low this week I would imagine in.

Q. How nervous were you at the end?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I was quite nervous actually, I was. I said to the guys walking to the 15th tee, I was sort of trying to put pressure on myself to try to get it going. I said I need to birdie two of the last four, and I was nervous putting a couple of swings coming in. So it was nice to have that buzz when you're just out for a knock off with the lads, it was good.

Q. Some terrific young amateurs coming out of Rathmore, guys like Alan Dunbar; is it something in the air? How are you producing all of these players?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, from such a small club. I think it's just the quality of golf courses up on the north coast. You have Alan Dunbar from Rathmore here this week and Paul Cutler from Portstewart, and they are pretty much two of the top young amateurs in Ireland right now. So it probably says a lot about the quality of golf courses we have on the north coast and probably the quality of the junior programs, and obviously the golfing union system, as well.
When I was growing up around Portrush, we had a lot of goods, young players coming out of there, guys who were Irish nationals and who could have gone on to the professional ranks. It's nice to be obviously part of that kind of thing. I mean, like I say, the junior systems up there are very, very strong and continuing to produce players like Alan and Paul and I hope they do well this weekend.

Q. Is a 59 this week in any way realistic?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I would say there's a 59 out there this week. I'm looking forward to getting another good look at the golf course today. I played on Monday, in a decent little breeze. There was a couple of holes that played pretty long. But I'm looking forward to getting out there today again and getting a really good look at the golf course and just seeing how the ball is reacting on the greens. Kind of felt like it had the potential to get quite firm on Monday, but obviously if there is going to be a little bit of rain running around, it will keep the greens a bit more receptive. The greens are quite undulating with big run-off areas; if it did get firm with a bit of breeze, it could be tricky. But if it going to remain soft and not much wind, I think the putting surfaces are good enough. That's the key to shooting very low; the putting surfaces have to be good and I think they are good enough out there this week, so could happen.

Q. Your confidence at the moment must be sky-high, the U.S. Open, you shot 59 on Sunday, can it get much higher, your confidence?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I'm feeling good. Definitely my confidence levels are good right now. There's definitely been a bit of an acclimatisation period for me the last few weeks to try to get my head around what I've achieved and get my head around the rest of the season and how I'm going about what I'm trying to achieve for the rest of the season.
I'm feeling good. I'm swinging it well in practise. My head is feeling a lot fresher this week. I've had a really nice chilled-out week last week up on the normal coast and I think for the first time at the weekend there, I was starting to feel fresh again and starting to look ready to enjoy my golf again. Not that I didn't enjoy Loch Lomond and the British Open; but they were busy weeks for me, and I was coming off the backs of a couple weeks of enjoying Pebble Beach.
So I'm here this week ready for three weeks in a row now and I'm fresh and ready to go. It's probably the best I've felt since I picked the trophy up at Pebble five weeks ago or whatever it was now.

Q. Is there any good days on the calendar now given the golden age of the Tour?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's not. Schedule is obviously hugely important and there's so many big events around the globe right now, different players do their own things. The top players in the world are chasing appearance money in different part of the globe, and that's just the nature of the 21st century golfer. There is no really great date anymore, unfortunately.
When you look back 20 years ago at events like the Irish Open and the English Open and Spanish Open, they were premiere events and the premiere players played in those and it's not like that anymore unfortunately.
Like I say we need sponsors like 3 who can come in and revive a golf tournament like this and try to give it a little extra added dimension. I think getting this date is obviously a huge factor. The Irish Open has had some bad luck the last six or seven years. It's simply had bad luck due to weather. It's been nothing else, great golf courses, Carton House, Baltray, Portmarnock was probably the last really great Irish Open I can remember as far as good weather good golf course, good setup, Michael Campbell won it I think. It's just had some really bad luck and hopefully we can turn that around this week.
We have a great sponsor and great date on the calendar this week. Disappointing that Westwood and Thomas Björn and some of the really top, top players are not here but scheduling is hard nowadays and with the four majors and three WGCs; that's the framework of every top player's schedule nowadays, and it's very difficult to get the best players playing at a regular golf tournament every week.
Hopefully we get a good weekend and a good champion.

Q. How close are we to getting an Irish Open up in the north and how much would you like to see that happen?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, obviously there's a lot of different factors in that. Sponsor is obviously a huge part of that. I think there's plenty of golf courses in the north that would make a phenomenal Irish Open venue. Portrush has changed the golf course. They have lengthened the golf course to modern standards. They want tournament golf back, you know, and the British Open is that a pipedream, who knows.
But would the Irish Open -- would getting the Irish Open there be a good stepping stone to perhaps getting the British Open? Perhaps. It would be great to see it going up there. I've always dreamed of playing a professional event at Portrush or a County Down or something like that. I think it would be great.
I think when you look at the way Irish golf is right now with the strength both sides of the border, there's no reason why the Irish Open couldn't go up there. I would be a big supporter of it. I think having one established venue for the Irish Open maybe wouldn't do Irish golf justice.
We have so many great golf courses around Ireland; it would be great to moving this event around. I would definitely be a big believer in taking it to the great links courses around Ireland. I think it would be huge for the game. Obviously it's about sponsors and about golf courses wanting the event, and I know we could get a good field together if we went to some of the good courses.

Q. Your schedule after the PGA?
GRAEME McDOWELL: After the PGA, I'm taking a bit of time off after the PGA. I have at least about three weeks off, getting myself ready for The Ryder Cup. Haven't quite kind of got the framework in there, but I know I'm going to play at least once before The Ryder Cup. And then after that, Dunhill Links. It's a pretty busy Asian swing at the end of the season so depending how things are going in The Race to Dubai, I'm going to play a fair bit of golf. Like I say it's going to be just reacting -- Dunhill links and I'm going to go to Bermuda for the Grand Slam of Golf and then I'm pretty much focussed in Europe until The Race to Dubai.
So it's really going to depend where I'm at, if I'm having to chase the leader or if I'm in the lead how much I will play or how little I play. You can play every week under the sea to The Race to Dubai, you could play every week; some guys will, and I don't know if I'm going to do that. I'm planning on playing a fair bit of golf after The Ryder Cup.

Q. And the one week you play in September will be in Europe?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It will be on The European Tour, yeah.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: We wish you luck for the week.

End of FastScripts

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