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November 20, 2010

Graeme McDowell


Third Round 63. 17-Under Total. 193

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Graeme, thanks for joining us. I suppose start us off with your assessment of the round today, 63.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, very happy with that round obviously. It was more of the same really. I played great this week, every round, gave myself tons and tons of chances. Probably the best I've played in a few months, actually, this week.
You know, it's a golf course where if you can keep it in play, control your iron play, it gives you a lot of opportunities on this golf course, and I've made three bogeys in three days. I've kept the mistakes to a minimum, and today I putted much much better, gave myself the same amount of chances. But I've been feeling better on the greens as the days have gone on, I've been reading them better and today I putted good.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: And a great eagle on 10. Talk us through that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, 10 really got me going. I made a sloppy bogey on 8. Simple up-and-down. Didn't convert it.
They had the tee forward on 10. It was 291 yards pin, slightly downhill, back into the wind and it was just about on the money for me. I hit a really good driver there to about 20 feet and made that. That kind of kick-started my back nine really. I birdied 13, 14 and 15. And yeah, it was a good back nine, obviously 5-under par, and it was -- definitely that eagle on 10 got me off and running.

Q. What can stop you tomorrow?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, it's a very bunched leaderboard. You know, there's lots of guys that can come out of the pack and shoot a low number tomorrow. As we've seen yesterday, there's a 60 on this golf course. You can look at guys as far back as 12-, 13-under par with legitimate chances to shoot -- I think you're going to have to get to 22-under tomorrow I think. I would take that right now and sit here.
But like I say, this golf course is set up for scoring. We are placing the ball in the fairways. It's a very short golf course by traditional standards. If you can keep the ball in the fairway, you've got a great chance to score, and you know, there's plenty of guys that can stop me tomorrow. I've got to go play good tomorrow. It is by no means a walk in the park.

Q. Would you like to name a name?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You can go on: McIlroy, Poulter, Dyson. These are all world-class players. I mean, like I say, there's probably at least ten guys who can still win this tournament.

Q. Did you change anything that you were doing putting-wise, any difference in the greens or just the ball was dropping in the hole?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It was just seeing the lines better. These greens are very grainy here at Hong Kong Golf Club. You know, sometimes you read them differently. You've got to read -- generally you read putts purely just on slope. This week you read the greens just by looking at the dark and the light. You read the grain, basically. It's just taken me a few days to get my head around that. I'm still -- I hit three or four putts today where I'm just looking at them and scratching my head and going, how is that going that way. You've just got to accept that around here. They are very difficult to read but I'm starting to read them just that little bit better.
And my speed has been good this week. I really have been giving the ball a chance rolling at the hole when I do pick the right lines. That was really the only change, nothing technique, nothing technical. It was just purely reading them.

Q. Have the greens changed at all in their characteristics today from the last couple of days?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, they have been very good, actually, very consistent. Speed-wise they have maintained their speed. They are about the same -- they are probably firming up fractionally. But generally the course condition has remained very similar every day with the perfect conditions to score. It's been like playing golf indoors really, it's been beautiful. Actually no excuses. You really should be shooting 65 out there if you play anywhere decent.

Q. Can you comment on the decision to play preferred lies?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, we are quite surprised. You know, two weeks ago in Shanghai, we should have played preferred lies and we didn't. We come here, we should be playing the ball down and we are playing it up.
I can see where the Tour is coming from, because a few of the fairways are a little bit -- a little bit beat up. There's a few areas like down the bottom on the slope off 18 on the left side of the fairway which are very bare, not a lot of turf, not a lot of grass there. The fairways are patchy. There are, I mean, 90 per cent of the time, your ball is actually fine and you wouldn't need to take a preferred lie. But there's just that per cent where you can get very unlucky out there and when you hit the ball in the fairway, you don't expect to have a horrible lie.
So I guess they have decided the condition of the fairways is not quite a hundred per cent. It is one of those iffy decisions. Generally, we don't like to play the ball up. I mean, the tours really stay away from that decision if they possibly can. We were surprised at that.

Q. But in any case, it's the same for everyone?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Of course, it's the same for everyone. But it's amazing how it affects scoring, though. It makes it two shots a round easier having the ball teed up for you, and the par 5s, you get a clean lie, any time you're hitting a long iron, you can give yourself a good lie, it makes a difference to the scoring. There's no doubt about it.

Q. You mentioned that the winning score might be 22-under; that means that you have to hit like 65 or even better to win the tournament. So will you go aggressive tomorrow or will you go conservative? Because if you are going to be paired with Ian Poulter, he will be playing very aggressive?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to change my game plan. I feel like I've played this golf course the way it needs to be played for me. You know, I'm hitting seven drivers I think a round. You know, positioning the ball well off the tee.
My iron play is good enough. I think you have enough short irons in your hands out there to where you can play aggressively most of the time. But these greens are tricky. They start putting these pins away in the corners and there's big run-offs in areas that you can't really just hit it into.
So there's times to attack and there's times to be conservative out there and I think I've been reading the golf course well from that point of view. I've been coming here for many years, and you know, I know this golf course very well.
So like I say, to me this golf course is a par 68 anyway, so you should be shooting 65, 66 if you play good. I fully expect to have to shoot 65 to have a chance to win tomorrow, and like I say, I'm not going to have to did anything differently. Just keep playing the way I'm playing.

Q. Will you go for 10 for eagle again?
GRAEME McDOWELL: We'll see. I mean, it was into a slight puff of breeze today and I nutted it and it just flew over the green by about five yards. If I had the decision again, I'm not sure if I'd hit driver. It had to be nutted and thank goodness I did.
We'll see tomorrow. It's great to see -- I love it when they play around with the tees. It makes us think. It makes us -- very often you just slip into pulling driver, and it was great to see the tee up there. It really gives the guys a chance to think and play the hole differently.

Q. Is The Race to Dubai an extra pressure?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Of course. I mean, tomorrow is a hugely important day for me, but I'm really looking at the next date days as hugely important for me. I'm not under any extra pressure because next week is such a big purse that you know, if Martin Kaymer goes and wins next week, it's all over, anyway. I may as well go out and relax and play my golf tomorrow. I'm really feeling under control of my emotions.
I'm not thinking about The Race to Dubai when I'm out there. I'm out there thinking about the UBS Hong Kong Open and I am enjoying it out there and enjoying my game. Like I said I'm looking at the next eight days as hugely important for me and I'm not putting any extra pressure because of The Race to Dubai. I'm just trying to play my golf and give myself a shot at it next week. I'm having fun doing it, which is what I set out to do.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thank you, Graeme. Good luck.

End of FastScripts

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