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July 21, 2012

Graeme McDowell


MIKE WOODCOCK:テつ Graeme, excellent 67 today.テつ That's put you right into the mix.テつ You must be very pleased with today and looking forward to the final round tomorrow.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I think going out today I said 68 or 67 was really my target.テつ You know, very benign conditions again today.テつ I don't think there have been three more benign days here in this part of the world maybe all year.テつ It's been a lot of fun to be out there.
The golf course, obviously it still is a sleeping giant, I suppose.テつ It's certainly played a lot easier than we all expected in practice.テつ And I didn't really get off to the greatest of starts today.テつ My second shot on 2, I executed it beautifully and maybe just a little pumped up and hit it over the back and didn't get that up and down.テつ My birdie on 4 was followed by a bad swing on 5 when I hit it in the front left bunker there and made bogey.
And through seven holes I was‑‑ I kind of felt the tournament perhaps slipping away from me a little bit and really had to dig deep for some patience and try to sort of put things in perspective, really, that if I could pick a few up from there I would be right back there in the hunt.
The birdie on 8 really settled me down.テつ From about the 14th tee onwards, it's probably about as good as I've swung the club all week.テつ I hit some nice shots coming in, some good putts.テつ Left the one on 16 right in the jaws and left myself a bit of a nasty one on the last.テつ But all in all, very, very happy and very proud of myself with the way I swung the club coming in today.

Q.テつ You say that the course could be a sleeping giant.テつ Therefore, four shots back is not insurmountable, is it?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Conditions like today, perhaps 4‑under‑‑ four shots is insurmountable, because I guess in a way it will be in Adam's hands tomorrow if the conditions are as straightforward as they have been the last few days.テつ Throw a bit of wind across this course like perhaps they are forecasting, he will have to go and work a lot harder and he will have to go win it.テつ He's going to have to go win it anyway, for sure.
But there's a distinct lack of 65s and 66s on this golf course; there really hasn't been many guys going super low.テつ And 67 and 68, you know, they're great scores.テつ And like I say, if Adam, four shots ahead, goes and shoots level par, I've got to shoot 66, and like I say, that's a tough ask on this golf course.テつ But like I say, perhaps we'll need a bit of wind to make that job a little easier for the chasers.

Q.テつ What you've just said, how pleased are you that you're in the final group and you almost get a chance to eye Adam down if you like?テつ Is that good for you?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ For sure.テつ I think since I was a young boy I dreamed of coming down that last fairway on a Sunday afternoon, the last group in The Open Championship.テつ And I can draw on my experiences at the Olympic Club a few weeks ago, in the last group of the U.S. Open.
So this is special for me to ‑‑ back‑to‑back major championships to be in the last group on a Sunday afternoon.テつ I talked about it early in the week; I can't expect to win this week, but what I can expect to do is compete if I do the right things, and to give myself a chance to be within three or four in the lead going into a Sunday afternoon and playing with the leader, that's really all I can ask for myself the last few days.
And like I said, just very happy with the way I've stayed patient the last few days and kept the ball under control generally.テつ And like I say, I'm right where I want to be.

Q.テつ They obviously tried to restrict the low scores with the pin placements, some very tough ones.テつ But did you think the one on 18 was just on the border of being a bit unfair?
GRAEME McDOWELL: テつYou know, I've heard them describe this week as R&A pins.テつ There's no doubt that when you look at your pin sheet it doesn't really tell the whole story.テつ The pins are not just on the back or on the left or on the right of the greens.テつ They tend to find nasty little slopes and humps and bumps.テつ And I think that's why the scoring has not been as low as it could have been.
But it's The Open Championship, and I don't think there's any different from any of the other Open venues we go to.テつ Very often in practice rounds of The Open Championship you look at certain areas of the green and you think could they use that, and sure enough, they do.テつ It's links golf, in a way.テつ This golf course has had no protection the last three days, and if they would have had these pins in flat areas on the greens, someone might have made this place look a bit stupid, unfortunately.
And they have protected the course by putting the pins in tough parts of the greens to putt to.テつ And they are hard to read because there are rolls and humps and hollows in these greens, and very often you're faced with double breakers.テつ It is tough.テつ They've been tough to putt.テつ I've actually putted them fairly well.テつ But there's no doubt that's been a part of the protection process the last few days.

Q.テつ (Inaudible.)
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, obviously I hit it in there pin‑high left and left myself a bit of a nasty one up over the top of a bit of a hump.テつ But in fairness, I looked at that pin in practice and figured they would use that pin.テつ I didn't realise it was such a treacherous putt from pin high left to be honest.テつ I watched Lee Westwood three‑putt it from the back of the green this morning, and when I got on to the back of the green this afternoon I could see why he'd done that.テつ It was on a fairly severe slope.テつ My playing partner, Jason Dufner, was probably in the ideal spot to putt from, which was pin‑high.
But the pins have been pretty fun to putt to.テつ I think 13 was another one.テつ I think I heard it described as smelly early in the day by another certain Englishman.テつ But some tough pins, no doubt about it.テつ With the winds forecast tomorrow, it will be interesting to see what they do with these pins tomorrow, if they're going to keep it in the same vein.

Q.テつ First could you tell us how you‑‑ I think it was yesterday you said there was a slight glitch in your technique that you had to sort out.テつ I presume the way you finished today suggests that everything is on line now?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, my birdie on 8 was a 2‑iron and a little cut 9‑iron there into that front right pin.テつ I made it to about 10 feet and made it.テつ That really kind of got the day back on the tracks, if you like.テつ As far as my technique, I've been chiselling away a little bit on the range with my coach Pete Cowan this week.テつ It's been there or thereabouts.
My starting lines were back today.テつ The ball was starting in the place where I wanted it to start.テつ The last couple of days it had a little bit of a left starting tendency, and today I had it back starting in the correct place again.
And no doubt the last five or six holes is the best I've hit it this week by far.テつ Hopefully I can bottle that up and bring that back out tomorrow.

Q.テつ The U.S. Open, it seems that the disappointment of that didn't last very long, that you used it more as a positive than a negative.テつ Is that so, and if so, how did you build from that?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ For sure.テつ I think you compare the final rounds of myself and Jim Furyk at Olympic, and I was probably able to walk away a lot more positive than perhaps Jim was.テつ Jim had it right there and just didn't get the job done the last three holes.テつ I kind of blew mine early doors.テつ Through nine holes I'm 4 over par, and my U.S. Open chances are kind of gone.テつ I battled really hard on the back nine to give myself a glimmer of hope, and it was only a glimmer.
But in a way I was able to accept my disappointment a lot quicker because by the time I got to the 10th tee I'd nearly kind of written myself off and kind of shook it all off and finished positively.
So, yeah, I took a huge amount of positives away from Olympic.テつ It's the first time I've really kind of put myself in the absolute heat of the battle in a little while.テつ I was reminded me that I'm able to control my emotions correctly.テつ I'm able to stay in the moment.テつ And I'm able to kind of get the attitude right for that type of a challenge.テつ And those are really the positives that I took away.
And hopefully the positives I'll be able to draw on tomorrow, I'll need to go into tomorrow and get my attitude right, get my enjoyment levels correct, and just accept that today can go‑‑ tomorrow can go great and tomorrow can go badly.テつ And I'm willing to accept anything that can happen tomorrow as long as I can commit and prepare and do all the things that I can control, because end of the day I can't control that little white ball 110 percent.テつ I can just try and hit the shots that I can try and hit, and perhaps it will go my way tomorrow.テつ And I'd love that opportunity.

Q.テつ You'll be trying to win your second major championship tomorrow.テつ But can you relate to Adam Scott trying to win his first and the emotions that he'll be going through, perhaps different than the ones you'll be experiencing?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I'm sure myself and Adam will be experiencing slightly different emotions tomorrow.テつ But it will all boil down to the same thing.テつ It will boil down to pressure.テつ It will boil down to being scared, probably of failing more than winning.テつ I can't really relate to what Adam is feeling because he's a hell of a player, and he's been a hell of a player for a very long time.テつ He's got the unfortunate burden of never having won a major championship.
But come the first tee tomorrow, that burden will kind of be irrelevant, a little bit, because like I say, we'll both be experiencing the same kind of nerves.テつ When it comes to the closing it out tomorrow evening, that will be a different scenario, no doubt about it.テつ And like I say, I just need to get as close as I can coming down the stretch tomorrow.
The golf course is the main challenge tomorrow.テつ I don't think we need to be worried about each other.テつ I don't need to be worried about anybody on that leaderboard apart from myself and the golf course.テつ Come the last five or six holes, that will start to change, and we'll see what we have to do.テつ Up until that point it will just be a case of trying to position myself and trying to hole some putts.

Q.テつ You talked about this a little bit a second ago, but you did have that slow start at Olympic and you clawed your way back.テつ What does it say about the grinder mentality you've been able to put together in some of these majors to keep yourself in it when a lot of guys falter and can't get it back?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I can't really speak for anybody else.テつ But my own emotional roller coaster that we all experience at these major championships, I guess I've played in quite a few of these.テつ Obviously there's a lot more experienced guys than me running around.テつ But I've been able to learn from my experiences, tough beats, leading early in the week and blowing up on the weekend.
I guess I've learned to control my own emotions on weekends at major championships.テつ And like I say, I guess I'm proud of myself to be in the last group in back‑to‑back major championships.テつ That's something I'll certainly be putting in the confidence bank.テつ And like I say, the roller coaster that I experienced at Olympic, I guess you've always got to be patient, you've always got to be accepting, and that's what I'll try and do tomorrow.
I've got to try to come out of the blocks and position the ball well and give myself chances tomorrow, because you get on the wrong side of this golf course it will beat you up.テつ But I guess having that belief factor, I guess that's what it boils down to.テつ I've got the belief to know that if I get in the mix tomorrow that maybe I'll have the peace of mind to be able to do it.テつ And just give myself the chance is all I can ask for.
If Adam Scott goes and plays great tomorrow, he's going to be a hard man to catch, no doubt about it.テつ But I'm happy to be looking the guy in the eye tomorrow, and it will be a great battle.テつ There's a lot of quality names behind us, as well, and just looking forward to the challenge.

Q.テつ With it being a direct head‑to‑head, how much help will the British fans be?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I mean it's not a direct head‑to‑head, obviously.テつ There's a lot of quality players just kind of right on my heels.テつ Adam has obviously built a little bit of daylight, I don't know if he finished 10 or 11, whatever.テつ There's a little bit of daylight between himself and the rest of the pack.
It will be a case of keeping your head down for 13 or 14 holes.テつ And that's kind of what I did at Pebble.テつ I'm in a very similar position to what I was at Pebble in that I'm going to be three back.テつ He's going to be the guy who's going to sleep on the lead tonight.テつ He's going to be the guy with all the pressure.
And what I did at Pebble was just keep my head down for 11 or 12 holes and just come up for air and see where I'm at and refocus and get the head back down again.テつ It's really not a head‑to‑head scenario.テつ I'd like it to be a head‑to‑head scenario coming down the stretch tomorrow.テつ That would be fun.テつ But up to that point I've got to control my ball and see where that leaves me.

Q.テつ Is it ever helpful to visualise yourself lifting that Claret Jug?テつ Is that something you've ever thought about?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, it may have crossed my mind from time to time.テつ There's no doubt I think we all read books about how powerful the brain is, and if you feed the brain with good thoughts and good images, it's fairly good at delivering.
I'm probably not the only man in this field that's thought about picking this Claret Jug up, and a few of these guys have had the opportunity to do it a few times.テつ But there's no doubt I can pretty much imagine what it would feel like.テつ I've already thought about a few various liquids that I'd like to put in there and taste what they might taste like out of the Claret Jug.
But like I say, I'm not the only man that wants this thing tomorrow.テつ And like I say, all I can do is dream big, and I certainly will be dreaming big tonight.テつ But tomorrow I'll go out there and try and control my emotions and try and control my ball and maybe hole a few putts and give myself a chance.

Q.テつ Last year Darren won; how much extra motivation will that give you?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I think I replied to a tweet of Darren's at the end of last week, and he was getting a few snaps and a few family portraits done with the Claret Jug.テつ And some of the photos were pretty cool.テつ And I said to him, I've got a funny feeling that we'll maybe be bringing that Claret Jug back to Northern Ireland next week.テつ I was talking really from the opportunities that myself and him and Rory and Michael Hoey and the quality of players we have in Northern Ireland.テつ I was talking about us as a whole having an opportunity to bring that back.テつ And I guess it would be fairly prophetic if I happened to get the job done tomorrow evening.
But there's no doubt I think Darren will be an inspiration and someone that I'll think about a little bit tomorrow.テつ But like I say, I can't let the emotions get ahead of me.テつ I've got to stay in the present tomorrow.テつ And like I say, if I get that chance, so be it.
But I've got a lot of quality players to beat tomorrow, and I've got a fairly quality golf course and a pretty large job ahead tomorrow.

Q.テつ I know it's stroke play and not match play, but how much confidence will you take from the way you got the job done in the last day of the Ryder Cup?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, like I say, I think in the Ryder Cup coming down the stretch there, it's just another kind of reinforcement to me that I can have the peace of mind under pressure to do the right things.テつ It doesn't always go my way.テつ It doesn't always happen.テつ But I guess I've got a great man on the bag who keeps me on the straight and narrow, who keeps me thinking correctly when I need to, when I'm walking down the 8th fairway today ready to throw something in the nearest bush because I'm feeling the British Open getting away from me, and he's the guy that says, be patient, a couple of birdies and we're back in this thing.テつ So having a guy like that beside me down the stretch under pressure, I guess, like I said, it's just another reinforcement to me that I can control my emotions, control my state of mind and give myself the opportunity to hit great shots.テつ Not necessarily going to hit great shots, but give myself the chance.
And like I say, a lot of quality players tomorrow who are also very good under pressure.テつ Like I say, hopefully I'll be one of those guys with a chance come the last six or seven holes tomorrow.

Q.テつ I know you've talked a few times about the letdown after you won the U.S. Open and how you let the game slip away and things got away from you.テつ But do you feel now that you've climbed the mountain back again?テつ Do you feel you're still doing it, or where are you in the journey, I guess?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I'm certainly climbing back up that mountain again.テつ I guess I've talked about the six months' experience that I went through from about March through August last year, how tough they were, how frustrating they were, how much I learned from that, I suppose, and how much I'd love to have that problem again.
And obviously someone is going to walk away from here tomorrow night as a major champion with the Claret Jug.テつ I'd love that to be me, and I'd love to experience what it is to go through all that excitement, all that spotlight again.テつ I think it would be a different deal this time around.テつ I feel like I've probably learned enough about my experiences to deal with it better.テつ But like I say, given the opportunity, we'll see how we do.

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