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April 27, 2011

Graeme McDowell


DOUG MILNE: Graeme, thank you for joining us for a few minutes prior to the start of the 2011 ZURICH Classic of New Orleans. Just some thoughts on being here this week. Obviously, one of the big things that comes up is the conditioning of the golf course and the food and the restaurants and so forth, but just some thoughts on being here for the week?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, it's my first time here in New Orleans since 2006 playing in the golf tournament. Obviously, it was a year after Katrina last time I was here, so we played at English Turn.
First time being here at TPC of Louisiana, and the golf course is in great shape. It's a really good Pete Dye course, some bunkers to be avoided out there, some small, tiny bunkers. But generally it's wide open off the tee.
It's really about the second shots. The greens have some rolling undulations on them. And it's going to, you know, if the wind doesn't blow, it should be a good scoring week.
The golf course is in good condition. The greens are running good, have a good grain on them. But generally a really well-conditioned golf course.
I can say the food here is pretty amazing. We were really well looked after out at the Pro-Am today. I was thinking I was going to come in here and talk to the media and then go for lunch, but I reminded myself of the 2000 calories I've had this morning already.
A lot of fun. Staying downtown this week and just enjoying the New Orleans sort of whole vibe of it. The city is pretty amazing. Going to the casino if I can, and we're obviously going to be eating well, so looking forward to the week.

Q. How do you feel about your game and how you're playing?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, doesn't make for great reading my last six weeks really. Since Doral, I've really struggled with my game a little bit. Long game's been off the ball for sure.
Kind of had it back on track at Augusta, hit the ball well tee to green. Didn't hit it particularly well again last week at Harbour Town. But through 45 holes at Harbour Town, I was three off the lead or thereabouts. Just got out of position a few times over the weekend and lost the flow a little bit.
But, generally, my game's coming around. I'm excited about it. I've had a great run of events coming up here now, from here to TPC, over to Europe for three or four events and then back to the U.S. Open. I've just got a great run of golf coming up now.
I'm feeling good, fit and healthy and the golf swing's getting better and better all the time. I definitely haven't been playing my best for the last little while. But getting things back on track, and I'm excited about the game now.

Q. Have you been to Congressional?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: No, I'm going there Monday. The USGA have their media day on Monday, which I'm going to go and I'm going to play the golf course on Monday morning and hang out at the USGA for a few hours and do some media stuff.
I'm looking forward to getting up there of course. This is an exciting part of the season for a lot of reasons. Obviously, my getting home to Wentworth, and the Golf World Match Play, and PGA Championship, and defending Wales and defending of the U.S. Open. So a lot of exciting golf.
One week at a time. This is a golf course that I feel I can compete. The ZURICH Classic, they put a great event on here, and I'm here to do a job this week and get myself back in the mix for the weekend.

Q. When you played at UAB, did you ever come down to play Tulane in tournaments?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, we used to come here a few times, at least a couple of times every season. I'd say I had a couple of experiences on Bourbon Street there, I'm sure, as a college kid as you do, drinking a few diet cokes and whatnot.
But, yeah, we used to play LSU's event up in Baton Rouge, and I guess we used to come down to play Louisiana tournaments, something like that. I can't remember.
But pretty familiar with this part of the world. We used to jump on the old team bus and drive across here. It's about a five-hour drive from Birmingham. So reasonably familiar with the city. Nice to come back and see it through a slightly more mature eye, hopefully.

Q. (Can you talk about how your game's coming along?)
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I came back a little sloppy after that four weeks off. After I played in Abu Dhabi, I came back a little sloppy after that. It was kind of the nature of the beast sometimes. It's a tough game. You've got to keep on top of it. Just been a little out of synch lately.
But just old habits coming back on the golf swing, but nothing too disturbing. Just kind of old habits. Trying to get stuff back on track again.
I hit it pretty well this morning there in the wind. I hit it good at times last week at Harbour Town. But that golf course will beat you up if you're not 100% on top of your game. I just didn't quite have it last week, but I'm feeling better this week. I had a couple of good days work.

Q. Are there any similarities at all between Harbour Town and here? I would think this place is a little more forgiving?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, yeah. You probably couldn't get two more opposite ends of the spectrum, really, this golf course versus Harbour Town. Harbour Town last week was a real plot your way around the golf course. My yardage book was full of notes of places to hit it and not to hit it. And I just played like 24, 25 holes on this golf course, and I really didn't write a lot in my yardage book.
It's pretty straightforward. It's all right there in front of you. The greens kind of run off around the sides of the greens. There is really not a lot hidden about this golf course. It's just right there and straightforward. Like I say, probably the other end of the spectrum from a Harbour Town.
But there are still a few Pete Dye type bunkers out there. They look like overgrown divots as opposed to bunkers. You don't really want to get into those. It's a really nice golf course. It's fun and a lot more user friendly now.

Q. Anyway to describe how your world has changed? You're pretty famous right now. A year ago at this point, we knew you, but the wider world really didn't. Anyway to describe how that changes you, affects you, your everyday or every workday when you're out and about?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: For sure. It's amazing how my season is kind of a mirror image of last year's season. At this point last year I wouldn't have told you I was on top of my game. I missed the cut at Bay Hill and missed the cut at Augusta. I was a little frustrated with myself, and ready to embark on a pretty tough year of golf between now and the Open.
But it's amazing how my season's kind of turning out that way again this year. So hopefully I can have a good summer. I believe I can. I'm obviously a hell of a lot more confident and have a lot more belief in myself than I did this time last year.
My world changed. Life's a little busier for me than it used to be. I didn't really get invited to the media center on Wednesday at PGA tournaments every week, and nowadays I do. Just various little things like that.
Of course, my management company, my phone rings a lot more these days than it ever did with requests and commitments and just various things like that. My off-course life has gotten a hell of a lot busier.
It's been a learning curve, especially this season, just trying to get the balance right, I guess. Making sure especially with events where I get to the first tee on Thursday ready to go. I don't spend my Tuesday and Wednesday running around trying to keep sponsors happy and fulfill media commitments and really forget about the important things that are practicing and preparing and resting and making sure that at the end of the day I'm still a golfer.
So nothing's changed from that point of view. It's important to me that I get to the first tee on Thursday ready to go.
I've seen the last four or five weeks I've kind of got our head around that a little bit. And most of my pre-U.S. Open stuff has been done, apart from Monday up there at Congressional. I've done a lot of my media stuff now. I'm ready to get down and play some golf now.
I'm kind of back to enjoying the game again a little bit. Not that I wasn't, but I guess I was feeling a little distracted at times. But I'm ready to go.
Life's changed for the better. It's busier because of success. Success brings that and you want that. You've just got to learn how to deal with it. It's been a little bit of a learning process, I guess.

Q. Can you comment on the fact that it seems like in the last couple of years there have been less multiple winners? Would you attribute that to more competitiveness, more depth, and the quality of competition that you face every week?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I think so. I think with the amount of golf we play nowadays, I think the talent gets spread out throughout the year. There's a lot of golf played all over the world these days and a lot of guys are committed all over the world.
I think the young players on the scene tend to be winning earlier and earlier. Take Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Matteo Manassero, these guys are coming out a lot more fearless nowadays.
I'm not sure if the quality of amateur golf is getting better or college golf. These guys are getting more opportunities to experience the professional scene before they come out here. But they seem to be coming out here much more ready to go and ready to win golf tournaments.
You know, with technology and the physical improvements in the 21st century golfer, I think guys are just getting better and stronger and practice harder and work harder. I think that's what's increased the talent across the boards. It's any number of reasons, really.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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