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February 24, 2011

Graeme McDowell


PAUL SYMES: Congratulations on another win, Graeme. You said you didn't play your best perhaps today, but got it done.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, that's probably a fair description. It was an interesting day this morning, obviously playing against Ross, one of my good friends. It's tough to have that killer instinct you need. You have to put the blinkers on and get down to business.
We both played well this morning. The front nine was reasonable quality golf. The back nine disintegrated to a comedy of errors. I threw him the hole. And on 14, he threw it straight back to me again. So that was really the key to the match. That was really the key to the match, you know.
I'm making the turn. I made a great birdie on 9 to make the turn at 2-up. Like I say, middle of the fairway on 10, and threw him that one, and he had a chance to get back into it, but just didn't drive the ball the way I'm used to seeing Ross Fisher drive the ball. I'm sure he's disappointed.
I'm very happy to have survived another day. And it gets fun from here on. It's nice to be into the Friday match for the first time in this tournament for me. I'll be lying if I said I felt completely in control of my game this week. I haven't been -- I've been a little frustrated. I haven't been playing my best. But I'll be feeling better as the days have gone on and hopefully my confidence will continue to grow.
PAUL SYMES: Give your thoughts about your opponent tomorrow, he's in good form.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, Stewart Cink is a hell of a match player, as I found out from the Ryder Cup in the past. And obviously Y.E., he's a solid player, got a great short game. He's going to be a tough competitor. So I'm looking forward to the match.
It's been an interesting couple of days. A lot of big names going out in some style. But it's the nature of the beast on this event. You don't have to shoot 65 every day, all you've got to do is win and stay standing. Looking forward to tomorrow and I'll just say hopefully I can continue to keep playing better and give Y.E. a good game tomorrow.

Q. You put the play down to a little business of the rust since you've been off for a while and had your teeth yanked and been to the Super Bowl. Maybe laying low, as simple as that?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I think so. My coach came into Orlando on Friday, had two days on the range, Saturday and Sunday. My game felt great on the range Saturday and Sunday.
Came here Monday and took it on to the golf course, didn't play well Monday or Tuesday. I was a pretty frustrated man.
I walked off the range yesterday morning after my warm up, I wasn't too confident on the first tee. I hit the ball well yesterday.
Today I feel better, apart from a couple of scrappy holes I played okay today. It's just getting the confidence back, getting the sort of -- I don't know, getting on to the golf course and getting the feel back. I'm not a guy who can simulate tournament play very well in my time off. I'm a guy who needs to get on to the golf course, and match play this week and get out and see where it's at. It's been a frustrating week for me so far, but still alive and kicking, so anything can happen.

Q. Can I just ask you about Rory's match. Can you believe that?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: No, no, I can't really get my head around that right now. Ben Crane is a hell of a player. But this golf course sets up for the Rory McIlroy type driver of the ball. Ben Crane is not really known for length.
It's an interesting one. I know his caddie has been a bit sick this week, but he doesn't hit the shots. Yeah, I mean -- what was the scoring like? Was it good? Bad? Ugly?

Q. Crane is 7-under.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Well, a hot putter can wear you out in match play. That's probably my only thing I can sort of say in Rory's defense there. A guy who is just holing everything on you can wear you out, a Harrington or like a Ben Crane, a guy who will get it up-and-down from everywhere. Just when you think you're going to win a hole, boom.

Q. You've played Rory a lot, have you ever beaten him 8 and 7?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I've never beaten him 8 and 7. We practice a lot. I couldn't see me beating him anytime 8 and 7. It's interesting in this tournament, you just run into the wrong guy on the wrong day and you're sent packing. It's not nice.

Q. How will he respond to such a beating?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: You know, talking to Rory early in the week there, I think he's responding well. I'm sure the weekend in Dubai was a tough -- tough to accept for him. And I think he's looking inside as to how he can continue to get better, you know. And I think he's -- listen, I mean, everyone's career is going to have setbacks, and this is just a mini setback. Dubai was a mini setback.
As long as he can learn from those and put what he learns to good use, it's only a matter of time in my opinion until he becomes a phenomenal player, and a prolific winner. That's a tough beat this morning. If a guy is 7-under par against you, this golf course is not that easy. These greens are firm, the pins are not easy. That's pretty good golfing out there.

Q. Perhaps it's a commentary on your mental fortitude that you can dog it out on days like this, where you don't feel you're hitting it well, and something that Rory has got to learn, maybe?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Perhaps. I guess I was lucky in that Ross wasn't on his game either today. I just feel fortunate, I suppose. But there's no doubt, you know, to be the best Rory can be, he's got to develop that dogginess side to him. He's one of these guys that makes the game look so incredibly easy. It's an easy game to be positive and enjoy it when everything is going great. But how do you respond when things aren't going so well? I haven't played a lot with him competitively. It's tough to sit here and judge the guy. Like I say, I think he makes the game look unbelievably easy. Maybe he has to learn how to deal with the tough days and just grind it out.
This is probably an unfair judgment because you have a tough day out here and you're going home, generally. There's no turning 72 into a 69 out there today. If you get beat, you get beat. It's not like stroke play, you can hang tough and hope to shoot 65 tomorrow. It's a pretty brutal format, this, and I've been on the wrong side of it many times. And like I say, I'm feeling pretty fortunate to be still alive and kicking right now.

Q. Is there a particular hole or shot on this course that gets your attention more than others?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Par-3s are pretty tough on this golf course because the greens are extremely firm and very undulating, so I think there are really good stiffs out of par-3s on this course.
I like what the Tour does, they move the tees around a lot and they really give us a lot of different looks at holes. I think that's really something the PGA TOUR does very well. They change it up, they keep guys on their toes in regards thinking their way around the golf course. Like I say, I think the greens, the greens are this golf course -- anytime you've got a medium iron or long iron getting into some of these targets, it's a pretty tough test.

Q. I think you're all but guaranteed to go up to No. 3 in the rankings now. How does it feel to be a better golfer than Tiger Woods?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Wow, you know, yeah, I'm perhaps a better golfer than him in the last 12 months, but he's definitely the greatest player that's ever lived, I think. The World Rankings are -- it's very nice. It makes nice reading right now. Of course, if someone told me at some point in my career I would be No. 3 in the world, I'd be proud of that fact. But it's no God given right to do anything. It would be nice to slip past Tiger for a little while.

Q. Did you get a new club deal, do you have a No. 1 clause in there?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I don't know, I'll have to have a little look at that, cross that bridge when we come to it. That's what I have one of the greatest agents on the planet for. I say just go do it, Lawrence, you know. So hopefully is the answer. (Laughter)

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