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July 7, 2013

Graeme McDowell

Jean Van De Velde


MICHAEL GIBBONS:テつ Many, many congratulations, Alstom Open de France champion.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Merci beaucoups.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:テつ Sum up the day for us.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, great day.テつ There's always been something about this golf course.テつ I was surprised to learn, actually, at the start of the week that 17th was my best return here.
Yeah, I've always felt like this golf course is one that I can get it around.テつ Like I say, I was surprised to learn at the start of the week that 17th was the best finish I had had here because I felt like I had played this course better.
Obviously coming into this week, it's been a couple of months of kind of strange golf for me, too many missed cuts, a little bit inconsistent, but it's never really felt far away.テつ There was no real panic button.テつ It was close and it was kind of there, and a bit of hard work required.テつ I hit a lot of balls at the weekends and a lot of balls at start of the week.
Felt my confidence coming back, hit the ball beautiful Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and today, I was very realistic about my chances.テつ I knew it was going to be tough.テつ A lot of quality players within three or four shots.
Myself and Richard actually dragged each other along nicely on the front nine.テつ We both played well.テつ He really hung in there, played some great golf, and I knew it was not going to be an easy day.テつ In a way, the way he played, kind of inspired me to play better, and you know, it was a really good battle with him.
Kind of really boiled down to I guess the turning point was 15 and 16.テつ 15 was an average putt which I thought missed and it went in.
16, I still don't know how that putt went in.テつ It was a right‑to‑left putt that I was trying to hit right edge and I felt like I started it left edge, and it managed to go in.テつ The crowd sucked it in, a bit of magnetic‑‑ something was magnetic on that 16th green.
I felt very fortunate to birdie 17 and have a four‑shot lead down the last.テつ I hit my second shot to 17.テつ I said to my caddie:テつ "I know I need to stay in the present, but what the hell are we doing off the 18th tee, that's all I want to know." Thankfully I had that nice cushion and I was able to get across the line.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:テつ How important, to win such a prestigious title on such a tough golf course.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, this is a beautiful trophy with a lot of great names.テつ I look down and I see Byron Nelson.テつ That's a pretty good start, 1955, Byron Nelson.テつ Some great, great names on this, Peter Oosterhuis, Henry cotton.テつ One of the most prestigious events on The European Tour.テつ To me, one of the best courses on The European Tour; tough, well setup, fair.
It's going to be a phenomenal venue come 2018.テつ I think the guys, Jean and his team, have done a fantastic job here.テつ This golf course has got better and better every year and I think we are in for one of the greatest Ryder Cups of all time in a few years' time, so excited to put my name on this great trophy.
JEAN VAN DE VELDE:テつ We are delighted, all my time, and of course the Alstom French Open, to have such a worthy winner.テつ Graeme, this is a gift, it was a great week, the weather was there, the crowd came in quite a lot, the support, and the support for you‑‑
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I think I had more support this week than I had in Ireland, if that's possible.テつ I had a lot of support last week, as well.テつ It was great.
JEAN VAN DE VELDE:テつ We are so happy to have you as a winner, congratulations.

Q.テつ What was the key to winning this week, long game or short game?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Probably my long game.テつ I hit a lot of fairways.テつ Drove the ball really well Thursday, Friday.テつ My 3‑wood play especially was very strong off the tee.テつ That was a 3‑wood I hit down there in the 72nd hole.テつ My 3‑wood was probably my trusting club my needed to get the ball in the fairway.
I put a new driver in the bag this week, which was good but I was a little loose with it.テつ Missed a few fairways left, but I hit a lot of greens, I think I was leading greens in reg going into today.テつ That was the key really.
Short game was tricky around this course.テつ The rough was quite sticky, and the greens were quite firm and fast.テつ You had to be very careful to leave the ball on the correct side of the pin, and I hit a lot of greens.テつ I putted well.テつ I don't think I had a 3‑putt all week, which is quite good on big greens like these ones.
Yeah, so it was really just really smart, well executed game plans.テつ I was very rarely in trouble.

Q.テつ Mentally speaking, how did you handle the whole day?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I handled today the way I handle kind of all opportunities to win.テつ It's not my first and it's not my last.テつ I really try to put things in perspective, try and go and have a good day, and realise that it's not necessarily going to go my way.テつ So just be accepting of the fact that if it goes wrong, it will be okay, I'll be back.テつ If it goes well, I can handle and control my emotions.
Thankfully I'm starting to become very comfortable under pressure.テつ Yes, I've missed a lot of cuts this year and my game has looked inconsistent but really hasn't felt that inconsistent.テつテつ It just been‑‑ when I've gone off the boil, it has not been massively off the boil.テつ It's just been small fractions here and there, missing cuts by one and two.テつ It was not really hard to get things back on track this week.
Like I say, when I put myself in position, thankfully I've managed to learn how to calm my emotions and learn how to respond under pressure, sometimes.

Q.テつ You entered this tournament on the back of three missed cuts; did you expect such a great run, and when did you feel that your game was kicking in and that you had a real shot at winning here?
MICHAEL GIBBONS:テつ Last eight tournaments.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Like I say, it's been a funny season, inconsistent.テつ When it's been good, it's been really good.テつ I knew kind of probably the last 12, 13 holes yesterday, I felt the old juices kind of starting to flow again.
I hit a lot of quality shots coming in yesterday, and I got a lot of belief from that.テつ You know, if the putter had been a little hotter, perhaps I could have got my nose in front a little earlier in this tournament, but you know, the stacked field, I had to remain calm and realistic going into today, but like I say, last 11, 12 holes yesterday, I just knew inside that I had it this week.
Like I say, Richard Sterne was a great competitor today.テつ He pushed me all the way, and if it wasn't for those little yips into the hole on 15 and 16, who knows, he played really well today.テつ He's great player.

Q.テつ More of a general one, I think I'm right in five of your nine European Tour victories are National Opens, five of them:テつ Italy, Scotland, Wales, U.S. and now French.テつ Is there anything in particular you can think about why that would be?テつ I mean, because these are obviously the most important events in these countries, aren't they?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ To win National Opens is very special, and I had not really thought of it like that.テつ But I select my golf courses based on how they feel and how they set up for my game as much as I possibly apart from the Majors and WGCs, the events that are forced into your schedule, if you like‑‑ force is the wrong word; that you're definitely going to play.
Outside of that, I try to bring myself to golf courses if I feel like I can win.テつ This one has always been an event that I love to come to.テつ Like you say, to win National Opens, is a bit special.テつ You look at a trophy like that, it speaks volumes about the prestige and tradition of The European Tour.テつ There's some amazing names on there.
I look forward to having a closer look at it, but it's a bit special to win a National Open.テつ Like I say, the reception I received this week was amazing.テつ Like I say, I always get an amazing reception in Ireland, but the people here this week really blew me away with the way they treated me.テつ It was amazing.

Q.テつ Maybe a more female question.

Q.テつ When you're on the course like today, it's a very important game.テつ You talk with Richard Sterne; do you talk about golf or can you also talk about‑‑
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ We talk about women.テつ (Laughter).
No, we talked about babies and getting married.テつ He just had a baby‑‑ not himself obviously, his wife just had a baby there about a month ago.テつ We talked about that and we talked about, he was giving me a little bit of‑‑ a little bit of stick for the putt on 15.テつ He gave me a little bit of a shoulder budge as I walked off the 16th tee as if to say, you lucky so‑and‑so, after I got that nice bounce on 16, as well.
He's a good kid.テつ I've known him for a long time.テつ I like to interact with the crowd.テつ I like to interact with my playing partners.テつ It's a way of kind of taking my mind off what I'm trying to do.テつ Like I say, the crowds were amazing out there.テつ I had some great little young kids following me around the last four or five days, and that really takes my mind off things and I'm able to relax and enjoy it; I try to relax and interact with the crowd especially.テつ

Q.テつ Do you think the next step is to be more consistent, and what do you need to do to putt yourself more in position to be winning?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I had a very consistent season last year. テつTo be honest with you, perhaps I've‑‑
JEAN VAN DE VELDE:テつ Do you want me to answer that one?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yes, please.
JEAN VAN DE VELDE:テつ I think after tonight, he's probably top six in the world.テつ If that doesn't show consistency; you're going to miss cuts and you're going to have great tournaments.テつ I'm pretty sure that missing cuts, as you say, something happened here and there, and you have that bad bounce and you have that putt that doesn't go in, it goes in; the level of play is so high nowadays.
But what is so great to see is that when he is in form, nobody has touched him so far this year.テつ So three victories, what kind of consistency do you want.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, three victories in 12 events or whatever.
JEAN VAN DE VELDE:テつ Would you rather have him be eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nines, tens, eights, nines, 10, 11, 12, 13 ...
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I would rather have 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0‑‑ exactly, thanks.

Q.テつ You only had four bogeys in the week.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Funnily, that's the way I play when I'm playing well.テつ I don't make a lot of bogeys.テつ My caddie said to me on Thursday morning, he said, "Let's try to make lots of birdies this week to off‑set the inevitable bogeys that are going to come on this golf course."
テつ And I did exactly the opposite.テつ What did I make, 13 birdies, which is not a lot over four rounds, and only four bogeys.テつ So I completely got the opposite from what he told me to do.
But like I say, you know, I was leading the scrambling stats on the PGA TOUR for the first four or five months of the season, which means when I miss greens, I make pars.テつ I worked hard on my short game in the off‑season, stood me in pretty good stead this week.テつ My long game was the key this week.テつ I drove it better, got it in the fairway, iron play was pretty solid.
It's nice when you're not making many bogeys.テつ I putted well this week from short range, even though I didn't make a lot of those eight‑, ten‑, 15‑, 20‑footers for birdies, I really hung in well with those kind of five‑, eight‑, ten‑par putts.
Those were key, and they really, like I say, 15 and 16, were just kind of those lucky breaks that you need when you win tournaments.テつ You know, it was nice to follow that up with a beautiful birdie on 17 and give me all the breathing room I required on one of the toughest finishing holes on The European Tour.
So very special, a very special win out here.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:テつ Congratulations.

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