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July 8, 2011

Graeme McDowell


SCOTT CROCKETT: Many congratulations that was a sterling effort out there. Give us your thoughts on that 64.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Good day's work, obviously. You know, got to the golf course this morning and we realised conditions were going to be easy and it was going to be there for the taking a little bit, and it was nice to get off to the start I got off to. I made a good birdie on 10 and a good par save on 11, and I eagled 12 and birdied 13, 4-under par through four holes. That was a dream start out there.
And I continued to play some nice golf, hit a lot of quality iron shots, didn't convert them all but that's the nature of links golf. You're going to give yourself chances. And the greens are running pretty good, they are a nice pace, not particularly fast and you can really have a go at your putts.
Like I say, it was there for the taking out there. The golf course obviously doesn't offer much of a challenge off the tee. But the greens are tricky. It's tough in and around the greens here. Like any links golf, I suppose, any links golf course in the world, if you don't get the wind, if you don't get the elements, it will be taken apart, and that was kind of how it was this morning. You get no wind at St. Andrews and guys will go low, so it was definitely there this morning.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Did you have a figure in mind when you got out there and saw barely any wind at all?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Not really. Sometimes when it's that easy, it can be tough because you're trying so hard to make a birdie on every hole, and there's really no letup out there. Sometimes you can force it a little too much. And I tried to stay as patient as I possibly could out there this morning and you know there's chances just galore ahead of you, so you have to just stay in the present and do your best on every hole. Happy with that but depending -- doubtful that's going to lead at the end of the day. So just trying to punch a hole and as big a number as I could and give myself a chance on the weekend.

Q. Are you glad it's not more grueling, knowing what's coming up next week?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think the balance is just right. In a way if we had been coming to a brutal test here, a Carnoustie or one of the really, really tough tests, I think in a way maybe you'd be mentally worn out. Especially if you have a windy weekend, it could be a tough weekend taking it into next week.
I think in a way they have the balance just right this week where it's a nice, straightforward links course. It doesn't test you too much off the tee, but it gives you that test in and around the greens, which is the most important thing going into next week, testing the short game, seeing those linksy-type shots in and around the green, and getting some wind and being able to control your ball flight.
So yeah, I like it a lot. We always knew that if we got conditions like this morning, you would be able to go low, but the golf course is a lot of fun to play and like I say, it's giving you that practise in and around the greens, which is key for next week.

Q. Obviously aesthetically beautiful out there but a danger of it turning into a bit of a turf --
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's links golf; links golf without wind is generally pretty low scoring. Is that a bad thing? I don't think it's a bad thing for the guys. There's fans, plenty of them out there to watch us play good golf and we are certainly giving them that.
Like I say I think the balance is just right. Going to give us some confidence for sure going into next week but it's probably going to take 20-something-under par to win this weekend. We'll certainly not be doing that at St. George's next week, but like I say, it's a nice balance of confidence but plenty of links-type practise.
If the wind gets up -- this golf course is tricky enough in and around the greens to where you start tucking pins away, it would be tricky.

Q. You like playing harder golf courses --
GRAEME McDOWELL: Typically I prefer the tougher test but you've got to adapt. It's nice to shoot 64s and such and know that I can do that. I think the art of going low is a very important art. When you play a lot of tough golf courses, which my schedule is set up for, you kind of lose that art. So it's nice to go out there morning and get the low juices going, it's nice.

Q. Were you looking at leaderboards or is it too early for that? I think you said before the tournament that you've been playing well without getting the score, how good was this in terms of confidence?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It was nice. I wasn't really looking at leaderboards, I know Jamieson -- what's his first name? Scott Jamieson, shot 7- or 8-under -- sorry. (Laughter) 7- or 8-under par for those first nines holes, it was one of those, checking the leaderboards purely out of curiosity to see who was doing.
What I knew was there was a low score out there. We were talking about somebody doing 60, it was that kind of easy. The greens, they are a nice pace and receptive-ish. I wouldn't call them firm and fiery yet, but yesterday afternoon was a good test on the golf course, good crosswind and really good practise for your iron play but today was quite benign and you had to go low.
So it was really just about positioning myself for the weekend. Like I say I don't expect to be leading at the end of the day and I don't really care if I am or not. It's going to be a big weekend scoring ahead.

Q. You talked at Congressional how you were looking forward to closing that chapter in your life and opening a new one, is that ability to look forward, does that play any role in how well you're doing here?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Perhaps. I feel quite fresh in mind. That ought to be something to do with the way I feet at Congressional. I talked to you guys on the Tuesday and I was already feeling that way at Congressional, like a subconscious weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It's tough. I really shouldn't be complaining about the burden of being the U.S. Open Champion. I had a great 12 months and played some great golf but it had a negative side to it the last few months leading up to the U.S. Open. I really wanted to push on with my game and I didn't really feel like I could, like I said, talked about spending all of my time living 2010 again.
So it's been great. I feel really good. Like I say, there's another Northern Irishman to take all of the attention off me, as well. I'll let him handle that next week and I'm very happy just to push on with my game and keep working hard and get back to winning tournaments and playing well again which I'm looking toward to.

Q. You mentioned a moment ago, talking about a 60 this morning, is this perhaps the weekend when a 59 will arrive, the Tour record?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt, if we got another couple days like, that yes, someone could do ridiculously low. But it really just depends how The European Tour sets the course up. These greens are tricky, so you can find some evil little positions to put the pins out there and really test guys. It was kind of there or thereabouts this morning. It's very difficult to keep pushing on.
This golf course, in and around the greens, if you get on the wrong side, it can be quite nasty. It's kind of got a lot of fescue rough around the bunkers. The bunkers are very natural in that they are not well prepared and you can fall into the edges of them and get some horrid lies. There's trouble out there and you've really got to stay on top of your game. There's a low one out there. Could someone do 59? Who knows.

Q. Given the scoring from yesterday, were you surprised at the layout, the way they set it up today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Not really, no. The pins were -- were they gentle? Not really. There were some tough ones. I thought the course was quite balanced. I think they have set a good course up, like I say, with the fairways as wide as they are, you can be aggressive off the tee which then gives you a chance to be aggressive into the green. I think the course is really well set up.

Q. What are your movements after this, and is there a possibility of you practising with Rory?
GRAEME McDOWELL: My movements are to go straight down to St. George's Sunday night; once I'm done here, I'll be going straight down. I'm probably going to play 18 holes on Monday morning weather permitting and probably finish off with nine on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday.
So am I going to go play a practise round with the man -- I don't know. Depends on what his movements are. If his U.S. Open prep is anything to go by, he might not get there until Tuesday night again. I know he's spending a couple of days down there this week, and he flew late into Congressional, maybe that's the magic recipe now, we'll see. Of course I would love to have a knock with him, or I might play a few holes with Ben Curtis, a good friend of mine, as well.
It's difficult. Like I say, everyone has their own little way of building up and when they want to play and stuff and he's going to be a busy man. We'll have a chat. We'll see what the craic is.

Q. When is the last time you shot 64? Was it Wales?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I can't remember what I did in Wales. Was it last year?
SCOTT CROCKETT: 64, 63, wasn't it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Hawai'i, and I had a low one last round of the Honda, as well. Nice. Going low is good. I've had a couple of good reasons -- when I had a good season in 2004, I would throw in a 63 or 64 every couple of weeks. Nice to go low.
Like I say, when you play a tough schedule, the best courses, the best tournaments, you kind of lose that art of going low. And it is nice to get that feeling back again, because it's nice to keep going when you keep the foot down when you're making birdies.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Graeme, well done.

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