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June 27, 2012

Graeme McDowell


SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Many thanks for joining us, as always, and welcome to the Irish Open in your hometown of Portrush.テつ Give us your thoughts on the week ahead.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, when I got here Monday morning, just driving down by the golf course and just a sense of pride to see this great event here.テつ Obviously we've been talking about it for a long time.テつ It's been a great run the last couple of years for Northern Irish golf, and I guess to be part of the reason why this tournament is here; growing up in this town, you dream of having a big type of event here, it's a culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people; the Northern Ireland government getting behind this, getting behind golf, getting behind Portrush, having a desire to have a big‑time tournament back here, and the changes to the golf course.
テつI think everyone in the town, there's been a huge amount of excitement since the announcement we have been coming here. テつThe town has been buzzing, and there's been a lot of work done around the area.テつ I think we are all very, very excited.
And personally I'm proud to be able to have The European Tour come to my part of the world and the golf course is it in great condition.テつ The weather forecast wasn't great this morning but we got away with it and fingers crossed for a great weekend.
It's exciting.テつ You know, this morning, I mean, you know, 15,000 people out there watching a Pro‑Am this morning, it's incredible.テつ Really good for all of the players and just gives us a sense of what people have thought of what we have achieved the last few years, myself and Rory and Pテδ。draig and Darren, and all of the Irish players really.テつ It's great feedback from the crowd.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ A real sense of civic pride in Northern Ireland, isn't it.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, there's no doubt people are very proud of what we've achieved the last few years like I say, and we are very proud in this part of the world.テつ It's 1953 since the event has been across the border, and it's been‑‑ it's a tough area, a tough area.テつ Northern Ireland has had its problems and it's just great to be here in a much more settled environment.
You know, I get up with fed travelling the world and meeting people who come to Ireland and don't come to the north coast of Ireland.テつ Hopefully we can showcase the event here and showcase this great part of the world.テつ Players like Keegan Bradley and John Daly; speaking to Keegan the last few days, he's having the time of his life up here and he can't believe welcome he's had here.テつ He said, "People might like me better back here than in America."
It's just aテつ great reception from the crowds and the people here; and doing all of the touristy they things and a few guys that came here.テつ There's no doubt that people are proud of this golf course and they are proud of this part of the world and they are coming out in masses to really welcome a great European Tour field to this golf course.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Perhaps assess your game out there.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, certainly the Pro‑Am, it's tough to get into a bit of rhythm, but I've had a couple of days' practise and getting myself ready for the golf course.
Yes, to be honest I haven't played a huge amount of golf here the last ten years if I'm to be completely open about it.テつ But the golf course is in great shape.テつ I putted the greens this morning and hopefully saving them all up for the weekend.
I played this morning, to play with my little brother and Bill Murray playing with his brother; and as you all know, Bill Murray, he's a very, very entertaining guy, just a legend and he was great fun out there this morning.テつ And like I say, big crowds and I think they were fairly well entertained.

Q.テつ With all of the pride and emotion for you personally and for this occasion this week, how difficult is it for to you focus on the fact that there's a golf tournament here to be won; is that hard?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, it is.テつ I was watching Andy Murray playing Wimbledon last night and just thinking how difficult it is for him going to Wimbledon every year, but I suppose he's used to it.テつ Not really a great comparison, but obviously myself playing‑‑ the Irish Open is always a sense of pressure and a sense of expectation from the crowds and whatnot.
We joke about it being the fifth major, but any Irish player would be very proud to have the Irish Open on his C.V.テつ to win in front of home fans is a very special thing.テつ It's just kind of exaggerated even more this week to be in my hometown, a golf course that I've grown up on and I feel like I know fairly well.テつ There's added pressure.
That's why I'm a bit motivated to try and get out of the gates the next couple of days and get into contention early this week.テつ It would be very easy to just kind of get lost in the whole emotion of it all and just to kind of enjoy it, as opposed to what I want to do which is enjoy, yes, but enjoy the business end of things on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon.
I'm really motivated to play well for sure.テつ There is dangers of getting lost in the atmosphere really because it is going to be fantastic.テつ Like I say they came out en masse and they are going to be here en masse this weekend and really creating a great environment for everyone.

Q.テつ How do you combat?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ How do I combat that?テつ I just go through my routine and prepare like I all prepare and practise well and just do all of the same things that I would normally do.テつ Staying with my folks this week and get some home cooking, and it will be a very relaxed environment in the evenings.テつ I have an early start tomorrow morning, so in a way that's good, get out there and get at it.
At the U.S. Open a couple of weeks ago, I talked about getting off to a fast start because you don't really want to get on the wrong side of the golf course and have to chase it; it's a bit like that this week but in a different way.テつ I have to get on the right side emotionally this week.テつ I've got to get the focus and I've got to get the business edge from the word go because if I don't, it would be very easy just to enjoy the craic.

Q.テつ (Can you explain why you've had the most success at the U.S. Open of the four Majors and not The Open)?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, it's a good question.テつ Tough to explain why the U.S. Open has been stand out‑my most successful major.テつ The Open Championship should theoretically suit my game but my record in The Open Championship is not very good to be honest.テつ I grew up playing links golf.
The problem is as soon as you turn pro, links golf is something you don't see much of.テつ My game probably suits‑‑ after playing college in the States, my game went through a real adaption to where I had to really change the way I played the game of golf really.テつ I had to really change ‑‑ I spent my life trying to change my short game from a guy who has grown up on links golf and who plays everything to the front edge and runs it along the ground to a guy who needs to learn to use the wedge and uses more loft.
The game that I played then and the game that I play now are probably different.テつ Shots that I used to hit in my sleep, knock‑down punch shots or bump‑and‑runs are shots that I have to kind of re‑learn when I come back to this part of the world.テつ Yeah, why is my game so adapted to the U.S. Open?テつ I don't know.テつ Obviously I'm straight off the tee which is a great start for the U.S. Open.
I always enjoy golf courses which require a lot of thought, a lot of strategy, a lot of patience, a lot of discipline.テつ I guess preparing as well as anyone does.テつ That's what I did at Olympic and that's what I did at Pebble, and that's what I've done on a lot of U.S. Open‑style golf courses; the harder the better, I suppose.テつ I need to find out what it is inside me that kind of clicks when I go to a U.S. Open and try bottle that up and try to put it into other events.テつ
It's good.テつ It's a good run of couple weeks here, and great to be back up in the business end of a big event, and I'll take a lot of confidence away from two weeks ago.

Q.テつ Obviously you've played tournaments week‑in, week‑out with bigger prize money than there is here this week, but given your opening remarks and the obvious pride you have of being here, where does this Irish Open rank and where do you rank it in terms of importance?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I'd rank it just up with the Majors, I would put it up there with the WGC or our PLAYERS Championship or Wentworth.テつ These are great, huge events with lots of money, but it's about titles and winning in front of your home fans.テつ Winning has its financial repercussions, but as a player, a win is emotional and something you'll remember and you enjoy and celebrate.テつ To win there this weekend, there will be a pretty kick‑ass party somewhere in town Sunday night.
It would be one of the most special moments of my career, right up there with winning at Pebble and the putt at Celtic Manor.テつ It will be buzzing on Sunday afternoon if an Irishman had a chance to win here and it will be a lot of fun.テつ It's got emotional value, as opposed to financial or stature or any of these things.テつ It means a lot; pride, and emotion, and like I say, winning in front of my family and friends.

Q.テつ What's your best go around here?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I really haven't put a card in my pocket off these tees to be honest with you.テつ I think 63 off the back tees, not the new tees.テつ Not quite as good as Rory's 61 in a qualifier for the North of Ireland.テつ But this is a golf course where you can go low.テつ You have a benign day like today, off the old tees, especially, it's pretty short by modern standards.
The course is playing fairly long this week and there's not a lot of fire in the fairways given the amount of rain we've had.テつ The new tee boxes are fairly stout, 7,100, 7,200 yards, there's some spicy enough rough out there in places if you get off the beaten track.テつ It's a good test.

Q.テつ Can you remember when you heard about Rory's 61, a 16‑year‑old shooting a score like that; did you know him?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I do remember.テつ I don't remember where I was but it was one of those moments, obviously you hear about these young players coming and going, young stars from Britain and Ireland and you hear names.テつ Perhaps you hear their name again and perhaps you don't.テつ I remember ‑‑ obviously I grew up playing played the North of Ireland Championship for years and years and watching when I was a young kid.テつ When I heard Rory, this young 15‑year‑old upstart had kind of shot 61, my first question, well, which course was it on, Portmarnock?テつ No.テつ And I was like, okay, this kid might be special.
I remember I guess from a timing point of view, might have been at The Open Championship, might have been at The Scottish Open, something like that; but I remember being told what he did, and again, taking notice and a couple of years later he was taking cash out of my pocket.テつ Definitely part of the reason the golf course has been modernized; they have Rory‑proofed this place.

Q.テつ Rory was with us this morning and he told us that in relation to the Major wins that Pテδ。draig inspired you, you inspired him and he inspired Darren, at least when Darren said, if he can win, I can win.テつ Can you give us any other reason why Northern Ireland should have had this astonishing success?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I've been asked this question so many times; what's in the water there; what's in the air up there.テつ The only thing I can put it down to is accessibility of the game of golf in this part of the world.テつ I think we have great golf clubs here.テつ I grew up in Portrush, which has a fantastic junior programme here, coaching systems.テつ I think the same goes for a lot of golf clubs around Ireland.テつ They make the game of golf very accessible to young people.テつ They embrace them most of the time, and they encourage them to really get into this game and practise and work hard.
And you know, I think it teaches young children a lot about life and a lot about how to conduct themselves and self‑policing, self‑refereeing, gentlemanly sport, honesty.テつ You grow up a little quick, you look at Rory McIlroy, 20 going on 40, he has such a mature head on young shoulders and I think the game of golf, it makes them grow up fast and be smart.
Like I say, that's the only thing I can put it down and there is that subconscious belief factor as well, no doubt that Rory wins the U.S. Open after watching me win it, and just thinking, if G‑Mac can do that, I've played with him a lot; I know I can beat that guy.テつ It's a big factor, no doubt about it.テつ And Pテδ。draig did the same for all European Tour players really.
When you play with someone week‑in, week‑out, a guy whose game you know, a guy you know you can beat on any given day, you see him do what Pテδ。draig achieved, three major championships is just unbelievable, and I think it gives everyone on The European Tour a sense of belief and a shot of confidence that you can do it on the big stage.

Q.テつ You mentioned that you're disappointed that people don't come up north and it's great to have this; do you think there's room for another championship course just around the corner, Bushmills Dunes?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, obviously there's buzz about the piece of land across the way and what's going to happen to it.テつ Absolutely; I'm all about having as much attraction for people to come up to this part of the world as possible.テつ I have got family and friends and people around this area that would absolutely love it.テつ Economically, it would be huge for the area just to have that type of thing, five‑star hotel, it would be fantastic.テつ
But absolutely, I'm all for it.テつ I know they are having a few problems with it there, but I'm all about competition, great championship golf courses in this part of the world and getting people up to the northern coast of Ireland.

Q.テつ A couple of years ago after you won The Wales Open, you said afterwards you thought it was the startof a great run for you; after Olympic are you getting the same feelings again?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, a little bit.テつ I think I said something along those lines after Olympic; you know, I think we are going to have a good summer from here.テつ And, yeah, I hope so.テつ I believe so.
It's been a frustrating‑‑ it's been quietly a good season for me.テつ Leading into Olympic, I had actually kind of stumbled a few weeks, missed a few cuts, and plus the Volvo World Match Play, and came off the back of a missed the cut at THE PLAYERS Championship, missed the cut at Wentworth and a missed the cut at Memphis.
It had been a rough month, but I knew deep down I was playing well.テつ And like I said, competing on the big stage under all that pressure again, put it down to a learning process and had not been there in a while and nice to get back in there and get the old juices flowing again.
I took a huge amount of positives away from Olympic, and really takes a lot of pressure off a lot of departments, especially The Ryder Cup points.テつ That's a big definitely a big goal of mine is to be on Josテδゥ's team in September and I definitely want to be on the team.テつ I'm 90 per cent of the way there now, which is huge, which means that I can keep my head down and really schedule myself well.
I'm going to play France next week and I'm going to get ready for The Open Championship, go there for a couple of days the week of the Scottish.テつ I'm not going to play Scotland this year, mostly just because I've played a lot of golf the last couple of weeks.テつ I've got a lot of golf between now and the end of September, as well.テつ I feel good.テつ The game is there or thereabouts and just chipping away, and it will be nice to have some more confidence from Olympic.

Q.テつ Just on The Open, what do you think that it's been that's stopped you getting there the last day, getting closeto the lead.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Missing cuts, it's tough to compete‑‑

Q.テつ You've had a few36‑hole leads.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I don't know really.テつ The 36‑hole leads, I was pretty inexperienced a couple of times, kind of let all of the hype get to me a couple of times:テつ Leading an Open Championship, you're in the media centre, and wow, you're leading The Open Championship and come out the next day and have to follow that up.
I guess I've been learning how to prepare for the Major Championships, whether you play the week before or you don't play the week before, and to be honest with you, Olympic now showed me‑‑ playing the week before a Major Championship, I enjoy getting there a little early and spending my time before it gets too busy.テつ Especially when the golf course is that hard.テつ I think Olympic required a lot of patient preparation, because there are a lot of idiosyncracies on that golf course and you really have to learn how to play your way around it and understand how the greens are going to play.
It's part of the reason why I'm not going to play Scotland.テつ I'm going to Lytham for two days and try to see it in a couple of different winds if possible.テつ If you learn how to prepare for the Majors‑‑ we do put a lot of emphasis on them because they are sort of career‑defining and we do want to compete in as many as possible.
I don't know, The Open is one I would definitely love to win.テつ With my links upbringing and on British soil, it would be a great one to win.

Q.テつ (Inaudible).
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, shrine, it's been coming along down there.テつ Building a shrine to another young player, as well.テつ Alan Dunbar, pretty special addition to the trophy cabinet down there.テつ It's been a special two years for Rathmore Golf Club and a very proud of Ireland, he's a great kid and works hard.

Q.テつ Since you're staying at home, how hard is it not staying at a hotel‑‑ how does it affect your preparation?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I stay in houses from time to time during the year.テつ It's like being in a hotel but sleeps better.テつ It's a very, very relaxed environment, I have great people around me this week.テつ I would love to be in the wine bar every night, but it's going to be a little busy down there, so I think I'll be staying in this week and just relaxing.
It's a week to conserve energy.テつ Like I say, I want to be in contention come the weekend and there's going to be big crowds and it's going to be an emotional week and I just have to lay low in the evenings and prepare myself.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Thank you and enjoy the week.

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