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May 17, 2011

Graeme McDowell


STEVE TODD: Many thanks for joining us. First time back in Europe since I think Valderrama on European soil, a victory there.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, first time on European soil since Valderrama. So that's pretty amazing.
Yeah, great to be here. I just played the front nine, first time playing the golf course. It's obviously pretty breezy up there. Nice track, though. Greens are firm phenomenal. It's going to be a good test. It's a great match-play course. There's a lot of danger out there, but it looks like it's going to be a fantastic match-play course. I wasn't here a couple of years ago, but everyone had great things to say. I mean, hotel is beautiful, could and looking forward to the weekend.
STEVE TODD: You must have taken a lot from your performance over the first three days last week.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, Sunday certainly didn't go my way. I would have preferred to do it the way I did it, as opposed to making the cut on the number and shooting a few under par on the weekend.
To walk away having shot 5-under par, the way I did it, to lead the tournament through three rounds, play as well as I did, just kind of run out of steam the last round to be honest with you. I'm not sure if I just didn't eat properly or drink enough on Sunday. Just didn't feel myself on Sunday afternoon. I had a pretty flat warm up and I just felt very flat all day energy-wise.
So it was certainly not what I had in mind, but I took a lot of positives away from the week. I got back to playing the way I know I can play. I felt pretty comfortable under pressure, and bodes well for a great summer hopefully.
STEVE TODD: If we can turn your attention to this week, match play, something you're going to forever be remembered for and just reflecting on your group, Louis and Jhonattan Vegas.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, should be a lot of fun Thursday afternoon, British Open Champion begins the U.S. Open champion. That should be a great game. Jhonattan Vegas, never played with him before, so look forward to that match on Friday afternoon.
Interesting format. You could technically lose a game and still qualify for Saturday morning. Match play is something I enjoy. We don't get a lot of opportunities on the Tour, so to come and play match-play championships, this being one of the more famous match-play tournaments in the world; grew up watching lots of Wentworths and great to be part of one for the first time.
So, looking forward to it. It's a great group and should make -- it's a great field this week. It should make for a great weekend's golf.

Q. I'm sure you'd prefer not to go back to the weekend but could I just raise the subject of a lot of guys Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Rory McIlroy have all gone out leading and failed to finish off the job. Would you prefer to be leading or coming from behind?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt, mind-set of being a couple back is different from the mind-set of being in the lead. I was telling myself going out on Sunday afternoon, that it wasn't my tournament to lose; I still had to go win it. There were still so many guys within three or four shots of the lead. It wasn't like I had a two-, three- four-shot lead. If I don't double the last in the third round, that was kind of a crappy break.
I walk into the fourth round with a three-shot lead. That's a different mind-set. But I felt like my mind was in the right place going into that fourth round. You know, we were definitely going out there with no pressure ourselves. Felt good under pressure.
Physically I just didn't feel great. I just completely ran out of steam, like I say. I don't know if I got my nutrition right between rounds, it was just a long week in the heat. I'm not sure. Like I say, my energy levels just fell off. I bogeyed 6 and 7 and I felt the energy drain right out of me and I was very flat for the rest of the day. My legs were tired and I just didn't swing the club good at all.
So, you know, I went chasing and didn't happen. I was disappointed, very disappointed, of course. I had a great chance to win one of the biggest events in the world. You know, take a lot of positives away. It was coming off the back of some awful golf, so I was very proud of myself the way I performed the first three rounds.

Q. Do you think it might be difficult to recover mentally as well as physically, and now with the jet-lag coming across, after you were tired on Sunday?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Recover physically or mentally?

Q. Both.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Physically I should be fine come Thursday. We deal with jet-lag all the time.
Mentally, like I say, I'm trying to take the positives away. I'm certainly not beating myself up. I'm not -- Sunday was not about technique. It was not about nerves. It was just purely physical fatigue. You know, I've been grinding hard on my game for three, four five weeks, searching, hitting more balls than I generally do.
Hot conditions in Florida, trying to play 31 holes on a Sunday with an hour and a half between rounds, like I say, I'm not making excuses, it was the same for everyone but I just didn't feel good, and like I say it was nothing to do with pressure. Mentally I'm not taking any negative as way from that. I'm taking the positives of the way I conducted myself for three rounds. Very happy with that.

Q. Inevitably, the comparisons between you and Rory from the sound of it, it was an easy comparison, because you don't seem to have been that adversely affected by it.
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, I think Rory's Sunday afternoon at Augusta was very different from my afternoon at TPC. It was the Masters, for a start. THE PLAYERS Championship, yeah, it's the fifth major, you've heard the comments, but it's nothing compared to the Masters.
My 79 was more a factor of the way I played the last four or five holes when I was trying to get out of the way. The guys -- my day, my race was run. Kind of went pin hunting on 13, hit it in the water, pin hunting on 17, hit it in the water. I finished double-bogey, bogey. I turned a 76 into a 69. Yeah, Rory shots 80. His day was done by 12.
So I guess of course they are going to draw comparisons in the two round but they were very different. I'm sure mind-sets were very different and the pressure on Rory was a hell of a lot more than it was on me Sunday afternoon in the PLAYERS Championship. The Masters, it's something a bit different.

Q. You had the Media Day at Congressional about a month ago, something like that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it was two weeks ago.

Q. Read the transcript and you sounded very sort of almost fearful of what might happen. Does that change now with what happened the first three days?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'd be lying if I told you I was looking forward to the summer, two, three weeks ago. I certainly wasn't feeling very good, good myself, my game. There was some technical issues in my swing that were just stopping me from hitting the shots I wanted to hit.
So you know, certainly wasn't looking forward to my schedule. I have a busy schedule, obviously, between now and September, really. It's pretty flat out golf, the three major championships, some big events, the FedEx Playoffs, Wentworth, some big, big events to look forward to. So my mind-set has changed immensely in the last week just due to the golf I played last weekend. Sunday, for me, is just a blip in the radar.
My body felt a way that it very rarely ever feels, and I'm just completely walking it out of the mind. Yeah, I hurt and I was disappointed and all that stuff.
I feel like I've moved on quickly from it, because like I say, that came from -- I came back from sort of rock bottom with my technique, and the way I was playing and back to leading a world-class field through three rounds on a difficult golf course. I'm very proud of myself the way I played last week and take the fourth round completely out of play, I'm looking forward to the summer now.

Q. But especially knowing how tough Congressional is going to be, you need your game?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You need your A Game. You need all aspects of your game in great shape. You've got to drive the ball very well and I drove the ball great last week at THE PLAYERS Championship, so I'm very, very happy with that.
The U.S. Open is going to be a great test. I'm now excited about it. I wasn't excite that had Monday morning, 7.00 tee off at Congressional, coming off the back of New Orleans, probably the worse I played in years. It's been a pretty wet spring in Washington and the golf course was reasonably soft, but it will have change immensely in four weeks' time when we come back.
But it was a fun day. It was nice to get up there. It's tough to believe it's nearly been a year since Pebble. It's incredible. I'm excited about this week, Wentworth and defending in Wales which will be a nice little practice for defending the U.S. Open. It's going to be a great little four, five-week stretch ahead.

Q. Without stating the obvious, how many boxes do you have to tick off before you go to Congressional?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Are you talking from a golf point of view?

Q. What do you need to achieve without stating the obvious?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Boxes to tick, I feet like I ticked a lot of boxes last week, playing in front of big crowds, leading, back in the old feelings again. It's been a strange year, and I've had a couple of good finishes but I really have not been at the business end much.
So nice to be in the business end again for the weekend. Experience that a little bit. The crowds at THE PLAYERS Championship are pretty big, tough golf course.
Like I said, defending in Wales will be good practice for me, as well. It will be good to go in there and realise, again, it's not your tournament to lose. Just because you're the defending champion doesn't exactly mean that they are trying to take the trophy way from you. You've got to give it back on Thursday morning and start again.
What else? Just all aspects of my game, really. Just trying to keep chipping away at it. Last week was the first time, putting some new swing thoughts into play. So I've got three weeks coming up to really bed those in and make sure I can go to the U.S. Open with a good, clear mind and ready to go.
But, you know, the last five or six weeks have been tough, but I feel like I've got my head around my new life, on and off the golf course, and really got my priorities straight and cleared my head. Really kind of, like I say, prioritise my life a little bit better and just got back to enjoying my game.
I'm looking forward to it.

Q. What's the biggest change about your new life?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I think my new life is just a hell of a lot busier than it ever was. Just a lot of things going on.
It's just busier. It's good. It's good busy, though. Just a lot of -- I'm in the media center every week now. Just commitments off the golf course. And just takes away -- especially at events. It takes away from your preparation time.
My preparation time is now a little bit more difficult. You've got to make time to do the things I like to do. I'm a meticulous preparer on the Tuesday and Wednesday. I like to make sure I'm on the first tee on Thursday, like Bernie said, all my boxes ticked, if you like.
Just been getting my head around making more time for myself to make sure that I still have time to prepare. And get my game in shape and get the golf course -- make sure I know what I'm doing. It's good, though. These are all good problems. These are not bad problems to have.

Q. Has your admiration for Tiger gone up, that he won 14 majors living the life you've had for the last 12 months, and he had it for a whole decade.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. I'm not comparing my life to Tiger's. His life is very difficult. You can understand why he doesn't play as much -- why he doesn't play many golf tournaments. It's certainly demanding physically when you can't walk into a restaurant or a bar without getting hassled by people. You can only imagine what he goes through. But it's a great life, as well, let's be honest. We certainly get well rewarded for what we do, and you know, golf at the business end of things is where you want to be.
So I'm certainly not complaining. Like I say, it's just taken a little bit of adapting to mentally and physically. Like I say, I've got to make sure my priorities are in the right place. But I'm certainly enjoying the new world. My golf game has not been where I wanted it to be but certainly saw the signs last week that I'm back.
So I'm very excited about the summer.

Q. Without getting too technical, was it a Eureka moment, or something that you had not noticed before?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it was, it was a little bit of a feeling I was having in my backswing. When I play badly, I get the golf club closed and inside on the way back. I was really -- to combat that, I was feeling a certain move in my backswing which was the opposite of what I should be feeling. I was kind of like cheating the loft which then had to be shot back down again and I was just pulling everything.
We went back to the basics of the golf swing and I started to get some new feels and realised that I had my right hand in completely the wrong position on the way back. So like I say, I was cheating a loft, and then without actually putting true loft on the golf club.
So it was definitely a little bit of a light-switch moment, if you like. But like I say, it needs a bit of bedding in still. I made some tired-looking swings on Sunday afternoon but that was just down to legwork and tired legs. But generally I was very, very happy the way I hit the golf ball the first three rounds. I hit a lot of quality golf shots. So it was very pleasing.

Q. Luke Donald's gone to No. 2 in the world this week. Can you give us an indication of what you've seen from him in the last six months that's taken him on this great run? And the public perception is he's a quiet guy but can you give us an impress of what he's like hanging out in the team room and things like that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I think he's put a little bit of length on off the tee.
First time I played with Luke in a long time was probably The Ryder Cup last year in a practice round, and he just impressed the hell out of me. He was very, very good.
He's not the longest hitter in the world, probably goes into most holes with one or two clubs more than most guys but his iron play is just laser-like. He's one of the most quality-looking iron players I've seen in a long while. And his short game and putting are just very, very solid. He's a great putter, great bunker player obviously. He's just got the complete game, without being a bomber. He's just got the all-around game. He really has.
Personality-wise, yeah, he is, he's quite a quiet lad but he's very intelligent. He's not a guy I spend a lot of time with. Obviously he's been a PGA TOUR player for the last four or five years so he's not really a guy I get to spend a huge amount of time with, but from the time I have spent with him, he's, like I say, just a very intelligent, relaxed, pretty calm kind of guy. He definitely knows what he's doing.

Q. Do you remember talking to him in Walker Cup and thinking where you might be in ten years time, the two of you?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I look back at that seen in 2001, there was a lot of quality golfers on that team. Guy the that have gone on to play very, very well.
I want to say maybe 75 per cent of that team have gone on to hold full cards at some point or another, maybe even more than that. It is funny looking back. You do remember having conversations with guys hoping and dreaming. He's obviously got a great opportunity to be the world's best player here very soon and I would love to do the same myself.
So it's nice to see guys like that come through and be part of it.
STEVE TODD: Many thanks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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