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June 19, 2011

Graeme McDowell


Q. Good day?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, I did, good day. Yeah, I guess that's my problem. It was a lot of fun. I got here as the U.S. Open champion, I loved every second of it, and very happy with that defense of the title.
The golf course softened up and perhaps maybe didn't suit my game the way a firmer, faster golf course would have, but that's Mother Nature and you can't do anything about that.
Tee to green, I played beautiful this week. I think I'm up there in the Top 5 in greens in regulation this week. The putter was cold. I just didn't get it rolling at all. The greens kind of had me foxed, had me confused, but very happy with my weekend.

Q. Last year there was so much talk about the first European in so many years and now you've got two guys from the same country winning it. That's pretty marvelous for your country.
GRAEME MCDOWELL: For sure. I mean, the probability of Northern Ireland producing back-to-back U.S. Open champions is a lottery number. It's bigger than that. It's amazing in golf the way low rules can go. The flood gates open, South Africans start winning nearly back-to-back with Louis and Charl and with what Harrington about four or five years ago and Europeans started stepping up. It's just watching your colleagues and friends and guys you play with week in and week out and doing things like that gives people the belief -- there's no doubt my win last year has given Rory the belief to do it, and Charl and Louis and all of the above. That's great.
My hat's off to Rory this week. It's been waiting to happen. He's been this good for a long time, and it's great to see him, like I say, fulfill his potential. He's an awesome player.

Q. Given what happened at the Masters, how satisfying is it to see him? He's continuing to shoot under par and just building a lead. How gratifying is it to see him really closing this tournament out?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: It doesn't gratify me. I'd have liked to have had a chance going into today. It impresses me, shall we say. Nothing this kid does ever surprises me. He's the best player I've ever seen. I didn't have a chance to play with Tiger when he was in his real pump, and this guy is the best I've ever seen, simple as that. He's great for golf. He's a breath of fresh air for the game and perhaps we're ready for golf's next superstar and maybe Rory is it.

Q. What is it that he does so well?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: He's the best driver of the golf ball I've ever seen. His iron play is aggressive. He's got a great ball flight and he's got a great touch around the greens. His putting has been the only question mark and his little bit of perhaps, how do you call it, lack of being able to close to this point. Those are the only two parts of his game that have been in question. He's putting all the question marks to rest this week, and like I say, he's a great player.

Q. Media day you talked about maybe even par around here would be the number. You've got 15 guys under par. Was it just the weather? Was the golf course set up different than you thought? What's contributed to it?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: You know, the day I came here, I think my head was in a little bit of a mess. I just came off the back of the Zurich Classic in New Orleans and probably played the worst golf of my life. I don't think I could see the wood for the trees. It was a cold, wet day and the ball wasn't going very far.
The golf course setup has been very un-U.S. Open like this week. I know the USGA wanted it firm and fast and wanted these greens 14 on the stimp and Mother Nature has kicked in and the greens have been soft. The rough has not been particularly penal. It's been set up for scoring, you know. It's as simple as that.
I've shot 4-under par on the weekend and barely made a move. That's not U.S. Open numbers. But it is what it is. There's nothing you can do about Mother Nature. The USGA, Mike Davis sets a fantastic golf course up. He keeps us thinking by moving tees around. He sets a phenomenal golf course up. This week it was just soft, and the way these greens were shaped, you're always going to make a ton of birdies.

Q. ESPN has been showing the last two days (indiscernible.) You can sort of feel that there's a buzz going on. You knew what it meant when you won last year. Now you've got Rory coming in and doing it in historic fashion. Talk about what you think this is going to be like, almost like another benchmark in golf?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: Yeah, Ireland is a very small place. People love their golf in Ireland, they're very proud of their golfers in Ireland, and we continue to produce great players. Through the years -- what Harrington did a few years back, people just couldn't believe it. And for me to win the U.S. Open last year, I mean, it was just met with an unbelievable reception, and now we've got the U.S. Open trophy coming back to Northern Ireland again.
Golf is a sport in Ireland which crosses the border. All the trouble we've had there the last three, four decades, golf and sport really bridges that gap. People north and south of the border in Ireland are really proud of what golfers are doing, and we're so proud of our golfers back home. This is going to be big. People are really going to stand up and notice. This kid has been knocking on the door for a long time, and he really is the real deal, so it's exciting.

Q. Have you and Rory spoke much this week?
GRAEME MCDOWELL: I haven't spoken to him much. He was in a hotel, I was in a house, and I notice he's been quite quiet on Twitter. I don't think he's been on there since Tuesday. He's been keeping to himself, and rightly so. I left him a note in his locker this morning, and that's about it. It's funny because we were on opposite tee times Thursday and Friday so I didn't see him, and he's been a little bit behind me these last couple days tee times wise. So no, we haven't spoken much this week. But I'm hoping to watch him finish here today.

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