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August 3, 2010

Graeme McDowell


RODDY WILLIAMS: Graeme, thanks very much for coming in and joining us and welcome to the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. Last time you were in America you left here on a bit of a high. How has it been since you were last over here on this side of the pond.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yes, I did leave the States on a pretty big high last time. It's been a busy five weeks. My schedule probably couldn't have been more difficult from the point of view of Barclays, Scottish Open, British Open, Irish Open, three pretty high profile events anyway, that and the fact that I'm going in there off the back of the U.S. Open and everything that goes with all, all of the attention and the attention from players and just people around me. It's just been amazing. I've enjoyed it all and it's been quite mentally draining and sometimes physically draining. But probably mostly mental, emotional energy spent, and I certainly haven't felt like myself on the golf course ever since.
But as the weeks go by, I'm starting to feel better and better, and I've just had probably one of the best days of practice I've had probably in five weeks there today. I'm feeling really good about myself both mentally and physically and feeling my game coming around again and really feeling ready to go, so excited about that.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Obviously taken a lot out of you but you came to get back to business.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. I always joked that if I won a major you wouldn't see me for dust. I'd be sitting on a beach sipping cocktails. There is a lot of golf to play this summer. It is the Ryder Cup year. I'm excited about that. A lot of goals this year, leading the Race to Dubai back in Europe and got a lot things to play for. You've got to enjoy it, switch back on again, and these are two big weeks that I'm really excited about it. Going to take some time off after the PGA and get ready for a really strong end of the season.
I've been trying my best on the golf course. The last three or four weeks I've been trying hard. Didn't quite have it in the time, but there's been a lot of good stuff there, and like I say, as the weeks have gone on I've felt generally better and better and really felt good to be here this week and I'm excited about the next few weeks.

Q. It sounds as if maybe there's no way you could have known what you were going to have in store until you had to go through it after winning the Open. It's almost been overwhelming to some degree, and could you talk about maybe not realizing how difficult it was going to be to go through all that?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. I read a great quote, I think Michael Campbell said it, he said that when you climb to the summit of Mount Everest, no one really ever sort of tells you how to get back down again. A lot of people die on the way back down. It was a very interesting quote and an good analogy. When you achieve a goal this big; winning a major championship was my ultimate goal playing the game growing up. You know how to win, you know how to pick the trophy up and make your speech afterwards, but kind of the stuff, the weeks to come after that, just everything that goes with it, just the media attention, just the attention from the people back home, just everything, it's just been overwhelming like you say, and response from players and people around the world just via my website and emails and text messages.
It's quite incredible. It's a lot to deal with, no doubt about it. Definitely it's been a good learning experience the last four or five weeks, to learn. Thankfully I've got a great management team behind me, plenty of great people helping me out with everything. There's no doubt about it, it has been much more physically and mentally tiring than I ever thought it would be. Like I say, I've really not felt like myself on the golf course, not even close to it.
It's been frustrating from my point of view, but I think it's important that I try to give myself a bit of a break because it is a life-changing experience, and it's been busy. You know, I wouldn't change it for the world. I certainly don't want to give the U.S. Open trophy back and get back to my quieter life. I certainly enjoy everything that goes with it, being part of the press center at the WGC event says something what you've achieved and the type of player you are and everything that goes with it. It's definitely acclimatizing and getting used to the new lifestyle and as soon as I get my head round all out, like I say, week by week I'll feel better and better.

Q. I'm trying to remember when the last putt was holed at Pebble say around 6:00. Do you remember what time you actually left the golf course that night?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I got done with my media requests by about 9:30 that night. They actually kept the players lounge open for us and had some food and had some friends waiting for me downstairs. It was probably about 10:00 by the time I left the golf course, and we definitely took the party into the middle of Carmel and had a good time. It was a pretty busy couple of days in LA after that and a lot going on. Flew back home Wednesday and had a lot going on Wednesday and Thursday. The first two weeks were a real blur. And then the week after I was at the JP McManus Pro-Am down in Adare Manor for a couple days which was just chaos and up to Loch Lomond which was just chaos and across to the British Open which was pretty busy, as well.
The four weeks right after Pebble were four of the toughest weeks I've kind of gone through as a player. I certainly there were a few Champagne swings at Loch Lomond for sure. The British Open, I was feeling physically better but mentally I wasn't the same guy on the golf course. I didn't putt good. I was frustrated out there. I didn't feel like myself out there. My first round at the British Open, I really kind of had some weird emotions going on inside me, and definitely it's been difficult to deal with for sure.
Like I say, as each week goes on, I kind of am feeling better and better, and this week somehow getting over here this week, I don't know, I feel like it's been good, good to get over here and get back to business a little bit because it's been pretty intense back home.

Q. What do you mean weird emotions?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Weird emotions first round of The Open. I don't know. Really just kind of not as focused as I should be. I was still very emotional about everything that was going on, I suppose. And just -- yeah, I guess the enormity of it all was still kind of hitting me. It took me half of the first round to really kind of get my focus going at all. I've played a few rounds competitively since then when I really -- if I'm normally a 6 or 7 out of 10 normally focused intense person I've been more like a 1 or 2, just really not myself at all. It's been strange. It's been good, though.

Q. You played with Padraig in the Irish Open last week and I know you wanted to pick his brain and sit down with him this week about coming down, sort of welcome to my world. What are you hoping to get out of that conversation?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I'm certainly looking for a reason why he said that. It kind of interested me when he said that because Padraig strikes me as a very calculated person. He certainly is a very analytical person and tries to make the most of every situation. It would be very interesting just to see how he dealt with the aftermath of what he did, winning three majors in the space of five or whatever it was. I'm driving with him Thursday and Friday so we may have to put dinner on hold. We are seeing a little too much of each other. I guess I'm just trying to get some other angles on it, you know?
Just kind of getting insight into the things that they had going on in their lives afterward and how they dealt with it, the mistakes they made, did they play too much, too little, how long did it take before they felt ready to go again. Just lots of things. It's just a conversation I want to have with him and a few guys, really, just to try to help me get my head round it a little bit. These are great problems to have. I can't believe I'm sitting here complaining about having this problem. I'm not complaining. I don't want to give the trophy back. I'm very proud of what I achieved, and I certainly just feel like I'm going through a process of readjustment right now, which will take who knows how long.
Today I felt great, and I got out there and it was a nice quiet practice round and got some really great work done, and this is a great two weeks that I'm looking forward to.
I feel fresh and ready to play golf again, which is nice.

Q. I guess they had like a Graeme McDowell day at Rathmore or something. Was that in June or July? I just wondered what that was like, and it sounded like it was an unbelievable turnout of media and all kinds of people?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, that was the Wednesday right after Pebble. I flew into one of the airports up on the north coast there, and they kind of had hundreds of local people kind of waiting in the golf club for me, and we did a sort of official kind of Northern Irish press conference in the golf club which is not very big. None of the rooms are much bigger than this room we're in right now.
It was pretty amazing. They had a big grand stand out in the back where we did some press there in front of the people. A party in the golf club and a party sort of into the night really. So that was my official homecoming. It was pretty amazing.
Like I said, it's been overwhelming, and it was pretty cool to take the trophy back there. It's a small golf club up on the north coast of Ireland. It's still a working man's golf club up there on its own, and it was pretty special to bring a trophy like the U.S. Open trophy into the golf club there. They've got it on display right now and they're very proud of my achievements, and I was excited to be able to do that for them. It's been a whirlwind five weeks. Lots of school stuff going on.

Q. You left it there?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, it's in their trophy case. I think they've upped the security levels around the clubhouse there. I'm sure the insurance premium has gone up a little bit, but they're pretty excited about it.

Q. How many barrels of Champagne did they go through that night?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, there was a few, a few Champaign. I definitely put a few pounds on the last five weeks, a little too much partying. It's been good, though.

Q. About half of the events on the PGA TOUR have been won by international players so far this year. Do you have any thoughts on why that might be?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I think golf is a very cyclical game from the point of view of different countries having great players in sort of each decade and then following up with some lean periods, so I really just think that European golf is having a very purple patch right now for sure. I think we've seen it coming for a long time with the likes of your Poulters, Roses, Caseys, Westwoods, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, the list kind of goes on. You start looking at guys like Martin Kaymer, Sergio for a long time. We've had a lot of top players for a long time, and I think you compare the 2000s to the 90s from the point of view of how much opportunity we get to play in the States now and talking to the older guys, they got very few opportunities to come out here and play golf. Nowadays with the WGC events and the exemption categories into the majors and the TPC, Memorial, Bay Hill, Wachovia, we get so much opportunity to come over here and play and I fell like we come over here and we get more comfortable with the players and the golf courses. I just think we have a lot of top players right now who are playing out here a lot more often, and it's obviously pure mathematics, but also getting an opportunity to get out here and be comfortable and get to know the golf courses, and I think we've had a lot of good players for a long time, but we're just now starting to -- it's been great to see a bit of European domination the last three or four months. It's been amazing to see how many European winners we've had out here. It's kind of crazy but great to be a part of obviously and obviously bodes well for the Ryder Cup.
It's exciting times obviously when you look at how many players you guys have out here. For countries like Britain and Ireland to be competing on that kind of level, Europe, it's kind of fun.

Q. Your coach is on a pretty nice roll right now, as well. I'm just wondering, do you ever fear having any difficulty getting back to see him? He's got so many players doing well at this moment.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, Pete has been out here for a very, very long time, and you're talking about pure probability. He must coach about 30 or 40 players in Europe, so he's going to win a few at some point you'd imagine. But obviously back-to-back major wins, I was surprised to learn that I was his first major winner ever. I found that kind of nuts considering how many great players he's had through his books over the years, and obviously followed up with Louis Oosthuizen.
We were joking. He said he was going to retire if he won a major. We were joking about that in the practice round Pebble Beach. He said he would retire if one of us won the U.S. Open. We found that quite motivating. (Laughter).
We love Pete to death, but we do give him a pretty hard time, as well. He's one of the greatest coaches I've ever worked with, every aspect of his coaching is impressive. Like you say, he's got some players playing extremely well right now, and I'm happy to be certainly one of his top players at the minute. So I guess with the U.S. Open still fresh, fresh on his mind, I guess I'm still getting some attention from him, so that's good. As long as I keep playing well, I guess I'll get some time.

Q. Is there ever any difficulty, though, when a guy works with so many players or does it just all seem to work out?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: It would be really for a normal coach probably to coach that many players, but Pete tends to be on the range from about 5:00 -- dawn until dusk. That's pretty much Pete's working hours. He's out here next week and he stays until next Friday, and there will be no one that stands on the range longer than he does the next two weeks. If you're on the range, Pete is going to be there, it's as simple as that.
If you hang out long enough he will find some time for you. When he's bored he'll come and find you on the golf course. When he's got no more victims left on the range he'll come and find you. He's a great guy. He just has such a passion for it, and we're really lucky to have him looking after us.

Q. A couple of 59s in the States in recent weeks, none in Europe so far. Any reason for that, just coincidence?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I always think it's conditioning of golf courses. You know, last week in Ireland I just don't think the greens were quite good enough for a 59. They had those pins away, as well. They were small, undulating, quite tricky greens. Surfaces -- I think 59 is about putting. You can only hit the golf ball so well. After that you've got to hole some putts. I honestly think it's just to do with -- out here the weather is so much more consistent and they can get the greens to a much, much higher standard than we're used to in Europe and Asia and all these places. I think that's the reason for it myself.

Q. Padraig was suggesting that guys are going at it right from the stand, there's no hanging back, patience is gone from golf, it's grip and rip. Do you see that?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: For sure. I've felt that for a very long time. Kenny, my caddie, has been out here for 18 years, and he certainly feels that the game has changed since the years he's been out here. It's not about laying the ball up to 100 yards anymore. Guys go for it, absolutely everything. You can't really tuck pins away now for guys. Take the majors out of the equations and the greens, like a Pebble type setup or the U.S. Opens in the past where the greens are mega firm and you've got deep rough around them. The greens out there this morning were very receptive. You can't tuck pins away nowadays. Guys just go with everything much longer off the tee and they are so much more aggressive. Game plans are the modern day golfer. Outside of the majors, there's not much game plan involved. It's just hit it as far as you can, go find it and then just aim at the flag and try and hole the thing. Definitely the game has changed. Level par doesn't win too often anymore.

Q. No 59s out there?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Don't think so. I said someone was going to do it last week in Ireland, and I thought I was going to be proved right. I thought Ross was going to do it on Friday. It boils down to you've got to putt really well for a 59, so the greens are going to be very pure and true. This golf course is pretty tricky. The putting surface -- I love coming to this place. The putting surface is about as good as you get, and it's great preparation for next week. I've love to get into contention here this week.

Q. Ollie and Tiger shot 61 here.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Really? 59, it's just a magic number, and it was great to see Stuart do it on Sunday to win by one. That's just a great way to win a golf tournament. It's a pretty special number. I'll tell you what, there's not much rough here this year. There's probably as little rough as I've seen here at Firestone, so from my point of view, the greens are receptive. Will they firm up as the week goes on? I think there's a little rain forecast, so --

Q. You put more stock in the condition of the green than the length of the golf course it sounds like.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: There's no doubt. The golf courses are getting longer and longer and when they can't put any more length, they turn these par-5s into par-4s and lower the par. I think you can only hit the ball so well, there are only so many par-5s you can hit in two. You have to start holing some putts to shoot 59. You can't stiff it all day.

Q. Is 59 still a magic number in both?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I think so. Obviously Ryo shot 58 in Japan. Some kid in Alabama shot 58 in some events --

Q. 57. Louis did 57.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I did 59 on my home course a couple weeks ago. I think 59 is a magic number, no doubt. Anything sub-60 is just outrageous, especially on a championship setup.

Q. You did 59 on your home course?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, it's a par-70, but it's still a real 59. 59 is 59. I was sweating coming down the stretch, let's put it that way.

Q. What did you do on the last?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: The last is a par-3 at my home court. I hit it about 12 feet and lipped it out.

Q. For a 58.

Q. What's your home course?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Royal Portrush. It's the valley links at Royal Portrush golf clubs. 36 holes I play, the small course. It's fun, though.

Q. That's since the U.S. Open?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, that was the Sunday before the Irish Open. I was going in there feeling all frisky. I, had just done 59 and obviously used all my putts up that day because I didn't hole a thing last weekend.

Q. No weird emotions during that 59?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Playing golf with my dad and my brothers, certainly no weird emotions going on. Like I said, when I say weird emotions, I'm talking about my focus levels. I've just not been as focused as I like to be, as I'm used to being. So I'm hoping I'm on my way back. Like I said, that was a good session this morning. I enjoyed it.

Q. What surprises you more, the fact that Louis won the Open Championship or the fact that we hadn't really heard much of him before, hadn't done much before?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: The first one doesn't surprise me at all. Louis Oosthuizen we've known for a long time. Pete coaches him. Obviously Pete has talked him up for a number of years. The thing about Louis is he hasn't played to a more consistent level the last four or five years. He's won a number of times in South Africa but he really hasn't proved it on a bigger stage. But he certainly proved himself at St. Andrews. Obviously hasn't played enough here in the States to be as well known as he would be say back in Europe. But we've known he's been a quality player for a long time.

Q. If we get too many 59s, is that bad for golf? Does it become a perception that they're making it too easy for you guys?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: It certainly takes the shine off the number, doesn't it? When Duval did it there at the Bob Hope all those years ago, it was just super-special. Has it done twice in a PGA tournament this year, obviously Goydos and Stuart and then Ryo 58? Yeah, it's starting to appear more often. I don't think so. I hope no. If someone does it this week, we're starting to get a pattern emerging. I think maybe guys are not so scared of it anymore. There's no doubt, longer, better, clubs, these drivers are just so good nowadays.
I think when you've got a golf course that's soft with no wind, I don't think length is really much of an issue. I think guys -- unless you start making golf courses 8,000 yards. I think when you get receptive greens like it seemed to be last week at the Greenbrier, greens are receptive, and that's an invitation for guys just to aim at every pin.

Q. Goydos said when people saw that he did it they figured anybody could do it?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: That's a Goydos line if I've ever heard one.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thanks very much. Cheers.

End of FastScripts

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