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November 28, 2012

Graeme McDowell


JOHN BUSH:テつ We'd like to welcome Graeme McDowell into the interview room here at the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual.テつ Graeme, welcome back.テつ Missed last year, but boy, what a record you have here, runner up in 2009 and a win in 2010.テつ Let's get your comments on being back at Sherwood.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, obviously nice to be back in this part of the world.テつ California has been pretty good to me during my career so far, especially this event.テつ Like you said, second in '09 and to win here in 2010 was very special.テつ I was disappointed that geographically it wasn't a good decision for me to come back here last year, decided to go to Sun City before the Race to Dubai Championship because I figured it would be an easier journey from South Africa to Dubai than going from LA to Dubai.
Great to be able to come back here this year.テつ It's a good golf course, good memories for me here, and I very much enjoyed being out there this morning, and it's a fun golf course to play.テつ If you can drive the ball well, you can make a ton of birdies here, and it really is a fun place to come back to.テつ Good vibes and good memories, and looking forward to trying to compete this weekend.

Q.テつ Talk about the recent engagement.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, obviously pretty excited that I've reached that stage of my life, I suppose.テつ I've got a great girl, and it was about time to step up to the plate and be a real man.テつ Yeah, it was a pretty iconic building, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, managed to get out on the helipad there, and it was a pretty special place to do something very special in my life.テつ I'm excited.テつ Hopefully she's going to come here this weekend, so looking forward to that chapter of my life for sure.

Q.テつ How did you select that location for the proposal?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I had been kind of planning it for a little while, wanted to do something a little special, and it just so happened I was on the road for five weeks there.テつ We managed to take five days' vacation in the middle of that in Dubai, and I just kind of‑‑ somewhere we spent a bit of time last year, and I just thought it was a pretty iconic, special place to do it, and I managed to surprise her, and like I say, I guess there's some romance in this body somewhere.

Q.テつ Did you get to read any of the coverage of the anchoring announcement today?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I woke up a little early this morning and I flipped The Golf Channel on, and I did see the phone conference call.テつ You know, nothing that was said really surprised me, and I'm not really sure if it surprised anyone, really.テつ I knew it was certainly an imminent decision.テつ I knew the wording of the rule was going to be key, and you know, it's a very considered and intelligent sort of decision, I think, from the R&A and the USGA.テつ Like I say, I think it was the only decision that could be made, and no one is really all that surprised.
2016 is a few years away now, and it'll be interesting to see how guys react in the short‑term, whether the long putters stay in the bag for a couple years or a lot of the pro Tour is going to implement the rule quicker.テつ I have no idea of the details, but I agree with the call.テつ I think it's the right call.テつ You know, obviously there's a lot of arguments out there about the driver and the ball, really should we be addressing those before we address the putter.テつ I kind of disagree with that comment because I don't think this is a technology issue, I think this is an integrity of the putting stroke issue.
I think the golf ball is certainly another‑‑ it's another argument, but I think having the integrity of the putting stroke maintained, I think we very much got away from that with these long putters, I think it's important that we go back to playing the game the way it was meant to be played.

Q.テつ Do you view this tournament as‑‑ when you got in here and got into the top of the World Rankings and won the U.S. Open you talked about the good vibes here.テつ Do you view this as a tournament that really kick‑started your career?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, it certainly had a lot to do with how 2010 kind of panned out.テつ You know, getting into this event late in 2009 as a last‑minute invitation, finishing second here, first year it had World Ranking points, scraped into the U.S. Open, I was 49th in the world, I think, at the time, and there's no doubt I have to look back at this event as being part of the catalyst.テつ It's amazing how the stars kind of align sometimes and give you a unique opportunity, and sort of the rest is history if you like.
But there's no doubt, I always look back fondly not only at 2010 when I won here but I look fondly at 2009, as well, as certainly something that kick‑started a bit of a chain reaction of amazing events that would be a very defining year in my career so far.

Q.テつ If I can take you become to the anchoring issue, but are you a sill surprised it's taken this long given that belly putters have been around for such a long time?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Listening to Mike Davis talk about it, obviously they've been debating it for a few years.テつ I think he answered it really well.テつ The percentages have increased exponentially in the last three to four years of guys using it, and I think historically it was a method that was a last resort for guys, when they kind of got on in their careers and the nerves kind of went and the yips kind of set in, and what do you do, you go to the long putter.
But in the modern era, it's become a method of putting as opposed to a last resort method of putting.テつ It's become a way of putting, teaching pros are putting long putters into the hands of kids, and I think that the putting stroke is kind of moving in a wrong direction sort of for the future really.
I think there's no doubt the lid has been blew off the last couple years with Keegan winning, Webb winning and Ernie winning with long putters, winning major championships.テつ The straw that broke the camel's back perhaps, but I don't think it's a knee‑jerk reaction to major championships being won with these putters, I just think it's a reaction to the exponential increase in usage of these putters and the fact that it's becoming a method rather than a solution.

Q.テつ We've had a couple of U.S. Ryder Cuppers through here yesterday, and clearly they're all still dealing with the disappointment of what happened in this year's Ryder Cup.テつ From the other side, you obviously played in a dramatic Ryder Cup two years ago and then this one.テつ Was this one any more uplifting for you on the winning side than two years ago?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Very different experiences, I suppose.テつ You know, to sort of have it in the bag in 2010 and to nearly lose it, to have the unique experience of being the last man and sort of win the winning point was an amazing experience.テつ And this time around, to have gone from Massacre at Medinah to Miracle at Medinah, to be part of that‑‑ personally it wasn't my best Ryder Cup.テつ I only won one from four points, lost my singles to Zach Johnson, who is a pretty tough competitor, but just to be a part of‑‑ I guess to have the completely different experience from 2010 to being the guy who kind of had it all on the shoulders and got the job done, to be able to kick back and I guess watch my guys, my teammates do it for me and do it for the rest of it and to watch Martin Kaymer hole that putt on the last green, I certainly had a certain amount of empathy for him.テつ I could understand what he was going through.
There's nothing quite like the elation of a team room after something like that has just happened.テつ There's nothing quite like the Ryder Cup.テつ I put the two Ryder Cups‑‑ three Ryder Cups that I've been part of, even the loss in Valhalla, Celtic Manor was very exciting, and Medinah was something a bit special.テつ They're three major highlights in my career, and I certainly put them in a very different league from any personal achievements.
There's nothing quite like the celebration after just winning a Ryder Cup.テつ It's a lot of fun because you share it with everyone.テつ You share it with a huge amount of people that have put a huge amount of into it, into a big week.テつ It means a lot to the Europeans.テつ We only get one shot at it every couple years.テつ The Presidents Cup perhaps waters things down a little bit in this part of the world from an excitement level for what they think of the Ryder Cup in relation to us.テつ But the Ryder Cup, the fact that we certainly keep things interesting and keep winning it fairly often, I hope it's increased the drama and the excitement and the enjoyment level for the people over this site of the Atlantic, as well.テつ I think it's an amazing event.

Q.テつ At Lytham you mentioned, and understandably you were proud of getting in the final group of the two Opens in consecutive order.テつ You didn't win.テつ I just wonder, in retrospect looking back, are you pleased that you were there, or are you disappointed you didn't take advantage of it?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I think there's a bit of both in there.テつ You know, to get‑‑ to be in the last group of consecutive major championships I think is satisfying.テつ Of course there's a sense of frustration that I didn't do better.テつ But winning is difficult.テつ There's a lot of quality, quality players out there.テつ I mean, I guess if I could take 18 holes back this year, it would be the first nine holes at Olympic on Sunday, and it would be the first nine holes at Lytham on Sunday.テつ If I could take those 18 holes back and play them again, those would be the 18 I'd take back this year.
But it's all a great experience, you know, and I certainly learned a lot about myself this year.テつ I feel like if you can continue to improve and continue to learn about yourself, then I can certainly pour what I've learned back into my game going forward.テつ I've certainly increased my belief that I can prepare well for the big events and I can win some more large events and hopefully win some more major championships.

Q.テつ Obviously you won the Open.

Q.テつ Did that sort of prepare you‑‑ did you learn so much about yourself, and also a sense of belief that you could win a major then?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah.テつ You know, certainly winning one helps with the belief that you can win some more, for sure.テつ 2011 was a tough year for me, but I came through that one, and I feel like I've played very consistently now for about 15, 16 months.テつ You know, yes, I haven't won; yes, that frustrates me.テつ But you can't really measure yourself by wins, you can only measure yourself by improvement and progress and the processes that you're on.テつ I feel like I'm continuing to get better.テつ You know, I've got a nice break coming up after this event.テつ I'm taking 10 weeks off to get ready for a very big season next year.テつ It's all part of the process for me, and I'm still very happy with where I'm going.テつ But I've got a lot to do still.

Q.テつ As you know, there's been a lot of attention given to Rory's pending equipment change.テつ After you won the U.S. Open there was some opportunities that came your way, and I'm just wondering from your perspective how difficult that is, whether it be the difficulty in turning down or weighing the final rewards versus changing equipment and the adjustment.テつ What is he going to face and how did it work for you?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah.テつ You know, it would be very short‑sighted of us as players to accept financial reward for equipment that's not going to take us places long‑term.テつ Rory is 23, 24 years old.テつ He's never going to struggle for cash.テつ He's perhaps one of the most marketable sportsmen in the world right now.
You know, I think the company that he ends up being with, I'm thinking he's probably‑‑ he's looking beyond the money; he's looking about what they can do for him, brand building and making him a household name and a global superstar.テつ I really don't think‑‑ of course a dollar amount comes into it, but he's not going to be taking a dollar amount for a company who has inferior golf equipment, also.テつ He wants to win majors and he wants to win golf tournaments.
For me, what I did after the end of‑‑ at the end of 2010 was I guess what Rory is doing on a much smaller scale.テつ This guy is the No.1 player in the world, he's potentially the next Tiger Woods.テつ Whatever we say about Rory McIlroy, he's certainly one of the best players I've ever seen, and he's changing equipment that he's used all his life.
It's a big move, no doubt about it.テつ I think 20 years ago it would have been a monster move and perhaps a mistake.テつ I think as we sit here, there's about six, eight, ten golf manufacturers on the planet that are making incredibly good equipment, and I don't think there's such a thing as inferior equipment nowadays.テつ I think as long as Rory can find a driver and a golf ball that do what his driver and golf ball do right now, which is pretty amazing, to me that's the key stepping‑stone for him.テつ If he can remain as good a driver of the golf ball as he is right now, I think the rest will fall into place, and I think he'll be okay.

Q.テつ You mentioned technology and that being lumped into some of the debate you probably watched this morning.テつ When you see this rule come forward and you hear what people are saying, can you understand the case that some people are making for bifurcation of the rules, because a lot of these things that are happening seem to be happening because of you guys, and they don't necessarily impact the everyday golfer?テつ Do you have any take on the notion of bifurcation, if that would be a good or bad thing for the game?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Bifurcation?

Q.テつ Splitting the‑‑
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I've actually never heard that word before.

Q.テつ It's a USGA type word used for two sets of rules.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ One for the pro game, one for the amateur game?

Q.テつ Yeah.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I'm not a believer in that.テつ When the grooves changed and stuff, let's be honest, I think the handicapped golfer wants to use the equipment that the pros are using, and that's what‑‑ that's why Srixon pay me to use their equipment, because hopefully if I win some more tournaments and majors, people will want to use the Srixon golf ball.
People want to use what the top players are using.テつ I think for the future and the health of the sport, there can't be one rule for us and one rule for the apples.テつ It's just not going to work.テつ I think it's important that both sides of the game remain consistent.テつ There's no point in me going out there in a pro‑am today and me being‑‑ the amateur is using long putters and anchored putters and me not being able to use that.
It just doesn't feel right.テつ Like I say, I think for the future of the game and for the integrity of the game really, I think it's important that the rules are the same across the board.テつ I mean, I think that this is obviously a very, very important rule.テつ It's going to change the shape of the game going forward.テつ Obviously the professional Tours I assume are going to take this rule and they're going to agree with it and they're going to implement it the same way that the amateur bodies are going to do, and I hope that's what happens.
Going forward with technology, whatever we're going to do with the ball and the driver and these things, I think it's important that‑‑ well, it's nice for the handicapped golfer, the older handicapped golfer, he can use whatever technology he wants, but I think what we're saying is the pro game into the amateur competitive level.テつ Let's be honest, a 74 year old with your buddies is different than playing in the U.S. Open or U.S. Amateur into the pro game.テつ I think we're talking about the integrity of the game at the competitive level, and I think that has to remain consistent.テつ I think rules for one and not for the other are not really going to work.

Q.テつ You spoke about this being a big move coming up for Rory McIlroy and obviously it's one that you've been through pretty recently.テつ Has he sought your advice on this equipment move?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No.テつ You know, I haven't really spoken to him much about it.テつ It's obviously kind of golf's worst‑kept secret.テつ I certainly haven't spoken to him much about it really.テつ He's a pretty smart kid.テつ I'm sure he understands that‑‑ like I said, it's short‑sighted to be looking at a dollar amount or even what these companies can do for him from a brand building point of view.テつ He's still got to win tournaments and he's still got to compete at the highest level.テつ So having a company that's going to do all these great things for him off the golf course, it's all well and good, but he needs to have the equipment in his golf bag and he needs a golf ball that's going to be competitive, and I wouldn't say he's going anywhere that can't supply him with what he wants and have the ability to construct something that's going to work for Rory McIlroy.
No, we haven't really spoken much about it to be honest, because it was kind of a‑‑ like I say, a bit top secret there for a little while, but it didn't really remain very top secret, did it?テつ You guys knew more than I did.

Q.テつ You know Rory very well and obviously he's had an astonishing year.テつ Is there anything he's done this year which has particularly impressed you, either on or off the course?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I just think his level of play.テつ It's just‑‑ I mean, he's just really‑‑ he's became‑‑ I think Caroline, since he met her, sort of July, August of last year, I think to me his work ethic has changed, his personality has changed to a certain extent.テつ He's became very single‑minded as to what he wants to do and what he wants to achieve, and he's certainly physically beat himself into great shape.テつ He's very driven on and off the golf course, spends a lot of time obviously with her when he's not on the golf course, so he's watching her train and compete and training with her.
You know, he's become very single‑minded in his sort of quest to be the world's best player, and I think I've just kind of been impressed how well he's done it.テつ I feel like he's put more pressure on himself and still managed to blow fields away.テつ I think when he won at Kiawah, wins two FedEx playoff events, maybe a little burned out at the TOUR Championship, who knows, played great at the Ryder Cup and finished so strong this year, it's impressive.テつ He's just impressed me how much he's matured and stepped up and really kind of handled the new kind of stratosphere that he's blown himself into as a player.テつ He's handled it incredibly well and very maturely, I think.
JOHN BUSH:テつ Graeme, as always, we appreciate your time.テつ Thank you, sir.

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