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June 2, 2011

Graeme McDowell


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, as always for coming in and joining us and well done on a decent start. Is that how you would put it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'd call it a decent start. You know, the scoring is not phenomenally good out there. Peter Hanson played beautiful there to shoot 6-under, and I see seven on the board, but the scoring is not unbelievable. The course is running pretty fast and firm, so it's playing reasonably short.
But the greens, the greens are not as good as I've seen them here at Celtic Manor. It's amazing how firm the rest of the golf course is, but the greens are very receptive and very soft and there's quite a lot of growth on them.
So they are tough to putt. They kind of get weavy late in the day, but I could have -- I felt like if I got hot with the putter, I could have went a little lower today. Generally very happy with 4-under par, very happy with the way I struck the ball and those was a lot of good things, a lot of positives out there.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Nice to get back playing, rather than just speaking about it.
GRAEME McDOWELL: For sure. It's been a busy week but nice to get out there this morning and a decent start. Like we talked about, some good vibes on this golf course, some good memories and it really fits my eye. A lot of these tee shots fit my eye.
I've played this course enough to where I feel like I really know my way around. I enjoyed that round today. Some great playing partners, Peter and Jamie this morning, we all played nice and solid, so it was good to feed off each other this morning.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Nice eagle at 15.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I hit a decent little tee shot in there. The pin was back right and my drive hung on to the back left edge of the green and I made about a 25-, 30-footer for eagle and that really got me going, because I just made bogey on 15 after missing the fairway left.
14 is without a doubt the toughest hole on the course. You have to stand there and hit a great tee shot, and if you don't, it's a tough four. I was happy with that and went quiet in the middle of the round, had some great chances and just couldn't convert. Like I say the greens are tough, tough to putt and I was very happy birdieing 6 and 7 with just some nice sort of ten-, 12-footers there.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Didn't hole one at 16. Aren't you' supposed to hole one at 16 every time?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, you know, 16 let me down badly today. I hit it to about 20 feet just short of the pin there and I thought I made it, but you know, I guess I've used all my magic up on that green.
SCOTT CROCKETT: It's tough with the plaque they put on the green.
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's a tough second shot past my statute there, you know. (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT: It's truly awkward, it's very thoughtless of them.

Q. Only a 67, but five shots better than your first round last year.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Didn't know that. But yeah, five shots better, is that right? Yeah, so --
SCOTT CROCKETT: So win by seven then.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Win by seven. Cool. Yeah, obviously very happy with the opening round.
It's always nice to play your way into the round, stayed patient. Hit the ball solidly. I played with Luke Donald the first round last week and he shot 7-under and Peter Hanson, he looked like he was going to go bananas at one point, as well.
It's nice, you never have to look too far on the leaderboard when you you're playing with the guy who is leading. Like I say, we fed off each other nicely today I felt.

Q. Was there much Ryder Cup chat between you and Peter?
GRAEME McDOWELL: No, we didn't talk about it a huge amount. We just talked a little about the course setup, what's changed. You know, there was -- Peter hit it into a bit of a re-turfed area through the first fairway today. Obviously some damage from the Ryder Cup that had been returfed.
But to be honest with you, we didn't really talk much about The Ryder Cup today. You know, we've sort of had those conversations. I've gotten to know Peter pretty well, he's moved into Lake Nona in Orlando the last year and a half and got to know him pretty well. Great lad to play with. He was good to play with this morning, it was a good three-ball.

Q. I don't want to be negative --
GRAEME McDOWELL: Don't do it then.

Q. You mentioned last week you didn't putt well and at the Masters, as well, is there --
GRAEME McDOWELL: Is there a pattern? I'd say the pattern is probably slow greens.

Q. Is that what it is?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I feel like I've become a good fast green putter and a really bad slow green putter. I used to be a good slow green putter and a bad fast green putter.
So I need to -- when I lose my speed, when I lose my feel, speed's the key, really. I'm a pretty good greens reader in general. Speed, I've got back to just working hard on my speed drills again and putted beautiful at The Players. Putted pretty well at the Volvo World Match Play. Putted horrifically at Wentworth last week. The greens were particularly slow there and I just couldn't get the feel for them.
I putted okay this morning. I was happy with my speed, that was the main thing this morning. The greens tend to break a little bit more than they seem. There's a lot of grass on them. The grass is quite sticky here, as well, but my speed was good. I was happy with that.

Q. One of the hard things about pursuing your world schedule and the different locations, the greens over here would generally be slower.
GRAEME McDOWELL: For sure. For sure. I think that's the huge difference between The European Tour and the PGA Tour is maybe quality is the wrong word. Consistency is probably the right word, consistency of green surfaces.
I would say if a few of the PGA Tour players who maybe don't travel, made it to a few of our events, the toys might come out in the Pro-Am if they see the greens we putt on.
I'm a firm believer that that's what makes us tougher players here in Europe because we do have to adapt to conditions with, weather conditions and just playing golf all over Asia and all over Europe, it's impossible to have the same surface week-in, week-out. Toughens us up. Frustrates us sometimes.
Certainly frustrated last week at Wentworth. But you've got to dig in and try and adapt as much as you can.

Q. Are you going to have a complete chill-out next week before going up to Washington?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Pretty much. I'm going to chill out probably through Thursday. I'm going to fly to Orlando Thursday and Pete is coming in Friday. Going to have the two days in Orlando just away from the golf tournament to really do some good technique work with Pete and fly to D.C. probably Sunday night so that I can then just go and do my work on the course.
I've definitely got three or four days of chilling out planned next week, maybe go wear out a groove in my mom's couch in Portrush next week, something like that.

Q. Much needed?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Probably much needed. It's been four weeks on the spin, but it's been good. I was a little tired yesterday on the golf course and Pro-Am, it had been a pretty long day, but generally I'm feeling okay to be honest with you.
Mentally I'm feeling good and fresh and I'm really looking forward to the summer and I'm looking forward to this weekend first and foremost, but excited about the golf course as well.

Q. What's your maximum number of weeks to play in a row?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I played seven on the spin at the end of last year and I managed to do that. I don't know. I don't know what my max is. Just really defends what part of the season it is I suppose.
The end of the year, you can really just kind of go for it, you can just leave nothing in the tank but at this time of the year, you've got to be conscious that we've got a lot of golf coming up.
I've got a lot of golf to play between -- I don't really have a significant amount of time off between now and the end of September. You've got to pace yourself. And, you know, I'm a three-, four-week in a row kind of guy at this time of the season.

Q. Your game looks in pretty good shape today for sure. Are you confident that the troubles that you had in New Orleans are behind you and that for the U.S. coming up, you're in as good of shape as you can be?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I'm very confident that New Orleans is behind me for sure. The ball flight pattern that I had going on there was not very pleasant.
And you know I feel like I've got a better understanding for my golf swing and what I'm trying to do with it. Am I playing -- am I on top of my game? No, I would not say I'm 100 per cent on top of my game, but certainly well on the way to getting there.
I can certainly -- ball flight, my ball is much more under control and I can see my way around the golf course now. I was very happy; I hit some nice little cuts into those pins today. I was really, really happy with that ball flight, to see that coming back into my game was nice, and you know, drove the ball really solidly in today, as well.
It's all simmering nicely, shall we say. Of course, I need to get into the mix this weekend and I need some confidence and I need to get myself back in the business end of it like The Players, and whether I finish it or don't finish it, get the old juices flowing again, I suppose.

Q. Slightly different atmosphere on the opening tee today, especially on 11; what was the crowd response like generally?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Good, good. The crowd response has been good this week. Decent little turnout this morning I suppose. Looking forward to tomorrow afternoon.
But you know, it's weird, it's weird walking about this week. It really feels like the Irish Open or something. I feel like I've got a huge amount of support in the crowd from people, and like I say, you know, it's really like I'm a bit of an adopted Welshman around here these days, it's great, it was a beautiful morning as well, it was enjoyable to go and shoot a few under par and really hopefully play my way into next weekend.

Q. Do you think back to that first tee at all? It just seemed more so this year, or last year at any time that first tee?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah that, was pretty amazing. I was at The K Club back in, was that '06? I remember that first morning there, where it was kind of low cloud and the atmosphere, it was nearly like you were in a dome or something, everyone stamping their feet on the grandstands. I had never experienced anything like that before until the first tee last year, and that Friday morning was something a bit special.
As golfers, we don't get a chance to experience that and we do love it and there's no way to replicate that, really, even at the British Open or something, because like I say, everyone is always pulling for their guy. It's nothing like 99 per cent of a crowd pulling for you and it's pretty amazing.
SCOTT CROCKETT: We do have Peter Hanson waiting, he's coming to tell the truth about Graeme McDowell.
GRAEME McDOWELL: He can talk you through the round. He was awesome.

Q. Was there one sudden Ryder Cup flashback?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I guess walking down 16 and 17. Walking down 17 for sure, I was sort of walking down as you come down to the bottom across the path there and back up again, there was a TV camera following me there, which sort of reminded me a little bit.
But yeah, probably that was the moment when I had a quick flashback, just to what that felt like the last time I walked down there and how different it felt this morning.

Q. Hairs up the back of your neck?
GRAEME McDOWELL: A little bit. A little bit. The Gala Dinner the other night, the video they show, I had hairs going up the back of my neck. That was amazing.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much.

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