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November 13, 2013

Graeme McDowell


SARAH GWYNN:テつ Graeme, thanks very much for joining us today.テつ We come back to Dubai.テつ Must be nice being here knowing that The Race to Dubai is in your hands and a win would make you European Tour No. 1.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, absolutely.テつ A lot of fun to be back here.テつ You know, it's kind of amazing how quickly the season wraps up.テつ The way it's set, get the British Open under your belt, and next thing, you're in Dubai kind of finishing off the season.テつ It's amazing how fast the end of the year comes around.
But great to be here.テつ Obviously the Dubai World Championship with an opportunity to try and win one of these things.テつ You don't get many opportunities in a career to win an Order of Merit, a true Order of Merit.
Obviously the FedExCup in the States is kind of‑‑ it's kind of lost it's‑‑ taken that Money List at the end of the year away a little bit with a playoff series.テつ This is kind of the true Money List champion, the most consistent Player of the Year.テつ Unless you're Colin Montgomerie or Lee Westwood or somebody, you don't get too many opportunities to do one of these.
But great to be here, like you say, controlling my own destiny.テつ A win here will take care of all business, and you know, I'm feeling fresh and motivated and ready, and excited to see what I can do here this week.
SARAH GWYNN:テつ When you were a kid, was it one of your dreams to win the Order of Merit?テつ Was that up there with your dreams?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I think you certainly, when you're dreaming about what you would like to achieve in the professional tours, you know, certainly major championships and Ryder Cups and stuff like that are right up there, and Order of Merits, Race to Dubais, are right up there, as well.テつ Certainly something I'd love to add to my resumテδゥ.テつ This is certainly another one of hopefully more opportunities that I'll have.
I've got some quality players up there trying to get the job done, as well this week.テつ Henrik Stenson has had an incredible five, six months.テつ He certainly would be deserving if he got the job done this week.テつ Justin Rose, you know, U.S. Open Champion, would also‑‑ he's also going to be very difficult to beat, and we know how tenacious Ian Poulter is, as well.
Obviously those are the top four.テつ There are other guys who could mathematically get the job done this week, but it's hard to look beyond perhaps those three players, including myself, there's four players, who can get it done this week.

Q.テつ You said a win would take care of everything.テつ It would seem like, you've got a tournament proper title, a Race to Dubai title and a couple of those guys and yourself would probably be in the mix for Player of the Year; correct?テつ This might go a long way towards deciding who wins that particular distinction.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, like you say, it would certainly throw me into the running for Player of the Year, perhaps, as well.テつ That's just one of the many kind of boxes that would sort of tick off if I was able to get the win done this week.
You know, Henrik might be a difficult guy to overshadow in the Player of the Year.テつ He's certainly my Player of the Year at the minute on The European Tour.テつ Just an incredible run of golf since the British Open.
I can certainly relate to the peaks and troughs in a player's career, and certainly Henrik's peaks have been high, like my own, and his lows have been low, like my own.テつ It's great to see a guy who is a friend and a colleague and a great player and obviously coached by the same coach as myself in Pete Cowen.テつ Just great to see him playing as well as he has the last six months.
But you know, would I like to get in his way this weekend?テつ Well, maybe not from a physical point of view, he's a big guy; but from a golfing point of view, I would certainly like to try to get in his way come Sunday afternoon and have that opportunity myself.
But yeah, I'd definitely like to compete this weekend and give myself that opportunity.テつ I won't really be thinking too hard about what the outcomes will be come Sunday afternoon.テつ I'd just love to try and put myself in harm's way come Sunday afternoon and give myself that opportunity.

Q.テつ Sorry to be a little negative at the start of the week, but you always maintain that this golf course has been a little difficult for you over the years.テつ What are you planning to do a little different this year or have you changed your game plan a bit for this year's tournament?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I do feel like I've stood in that recording area out there and had a moan and had a whine and maybe kind of explained why I don't get around this golf course very well.
You know, I do feel like every year I've come back, I've kind of got the hang of the Earth Course here and the Jumeirah Estates.テつ It's typically came down to putting for me on this golf course.
You know, I come here with an open mind this week.テつ I come here certainly as a player who I feel is getting better and learning, and I'm experienced enough to not write myself off around a golf course until I've had a few rounds under my belt.
Like I say, open mind.テつ Yes, I've stood in the recording area out there and kind of moaned a little bit at times over the years around this golf course.テつ But you know, like I say, I'm feeling prepared and ready.
The golf course is firmer and faster this year, which is a little fierier which I think is going to suit me.テつ The rough is penal.テつ This golf course has matured, hopefully as well as I have, and like I say, ready to see what I can do with an open mind this week.
I know I can get around here tee‑to‑green.テつ It's just a case of getting my head around the grainy‑‑ the very coarse grain on these greens and reading them better.テつ I putted fairly well in the Pro‑Am yesterday.テつ Like I say, it will come down to putting for me this week.テつ It's not like this golf course is too long for me.テつ It really will come down to short game and putting, and like I say, I know I'm well capable of competing when it comes to that.

Q.テつ And on a more happier note, it's almost a year to the day when you went down on your knees at Burj Al Arab.テつ How has the year made a difference to you, and how is the ring finger behaving on the golf course?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Like you said, it was the 6th of November last year when I obviously proposed to Kristin up in the Burj Al Arab helipad up there which is cool.テつ This is sort of a special place to both of us.テつ She didn't have a chance to make it over here this year.テつ She's disappointed she's not here supporting me and enjoying somewhere that is special to us.
But the ring finger still feels like I've got six fingers on there at the minute, still getting comfortable with that, but a lot of fun.テつ She's brought a lot of balance and a lot of support to my life.テつ She's an important part of what I do; having someone who lives and breathes the game with you and supports you through the thick and through the thin.
She's a big asset to my team, to my life, and excited to, obviously many more years playing this game with her alongside me and to the future really.

Q.テつ You spent last week back in Orlando.テつ You said you were not going to pay too much attention to the TV.テつ But when you saw Ian, Justin and Henrik all at the top of the leaderboard, did you have any second thoughts?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I didn't have any second thoughts about whether I should be in Turkey or not.テつ But I looked at the leaderboard and I was like, really, those three guys have to play well this week (laughter).テつテつ But they are great players, and certainly didn't surprise me to see them on the leaderboard.
Yeah, I mean, it is what it is.テつ I'm here this week controlling my own destiny, and regardless of whether I was in Turkey last week or not, regardless of whether I would have played well in Turkey if I had been there, I would still be here this week controlling my own destiny and needing to play well; from that point of view, nothing's changed.
Yes, I've let my nearest competitors get a little further in front of me, or catch up to me, and like I say, it doesn't change my strategy this week.テつ I have to play well; I have to compete.テつ And like I say, three quality players, plus the guys behind us; I've got a lot to do.テつ Whoever gets it done this week will have played well and will have deserved it.
Like I say, I based my decision, did not play Turkey last week on not really wanting to be on the road for five weeks, newly married, etc., etc.テつテつ I did the six, seven in a row kind of run the last three or four years and I didn't really want to do it this year.
So Turkey unfortunately was the one I had to give, and you know, I'm playing World Cup next week in Melbourne, and like I say, I just didn't want to finish the year with a long, long journey away from my new wife and family.

Q.テつ Will you buy Victor a drink for doing you a favour last week?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I may have to buy him a drink for sure.テつ No, he's a quality player.テつ I had a chance to play with him a few years ago.テつ Kind of thought he looked like an incredibly talented young man.テつ Great to see him get the job done last week, and yeah, I guess inadvertently do me a favour.テつ So, thanks, Victor.

Q.テつ Just wonder what your thoughts were about The Final Series design.テつ There's been some discussion about whether the two‑out‑of‑three rule is good and whether a WGC should be a designated tournament since not all the guys on the Money List can get in there.テつ
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, no system is perfect.テつ The FedExCup certainly took four, five, six years to establish itself to get its format, rules and regulations correct.
So, you know, I think The European Tour should be granted some time to get this thing right.テつ You know, the two from three was designed to try and get the best fields possible for the three weeks, which I get.
Doesn't suit everyone.テつ It's been a long, busy year; traveling out to China with guys with families in a sort of build‑up after a long season; I get it.テつ Doesn't suit everyone.テつ Like I say, this will take a little bit of time to sort of find its feet and to establish itself and to, let's be honest, it's hard to please everyone all the time.
Should a WGC be part of that three?テつ I don't know.テつ I'd like to see the three events leading to this Race to Dubai having as many European Tour players in it as possible.テつ It should be a chance for players perhaps outside of that Top 60 to get themselves in the Top 60.テつ It should be an opportunity for guys in the 30s, 40s, 50s to try to boost themselves up into the Top 10, Top‑20 and an opportunity to win this thing.テつ We shouldn't be alienating too much of the Top 75, Top 100 players in The Race to Dubai giving the guys short fields, all three of the events; the first week has a lot of invitations; the second week is the WGC and the third week, probably has the strongest European Tour field.
To me, the balance needs to be there.テつ Like the FedEx certainly gets it right from that 1 to 5 to the 100 to the 75 to the 30.テつ You're talking about 125 PGA TOUR players trying to get to THE TOUR Championship; we need more of that balance.テつ It has to be a balance because The European Tour is a global tour.テつ We are trying to attract the greatest and best players in the world to come and play on our tour.テつ It's tough to get it right.
Like I say, The European Tour certainly needs to be granted the time and the little bit of leniency to get it right, because it's not easy.テつ It's not easy to please everyone.テつ We're professional golfers who, you know, are very hard to please, and you know, independent contractors, blah, blah, blah, you know, it will take some time.
But the premise is there.テつ The premise is right.テつ Four extremely strong events to finish off The European Tour season, and it's only a matter of time before it's good, before it's right‑‑ I say good.テつ It is good; before it's close to perfect.

Q.テつ From what you've seen of Rory in the last few weeks, do you sense a change in him?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I certainly think if he won this week, I wouldn't be surprised.テつ Played with him the first round in China.テつ His game looks back to close to his best.テつ This is a golf course he knows how to get around, so I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see him on the leaderboard this week.
Difficult to comment on anything else really, because I really haven't seen enough of him lately to know what needs to change, really where his head's at.テつ He's had a lot of distractions off the golf course this year as we all know, and his game certainly looks like it's back to his best.テつ So tough to tell really.

Q.テつ He came in here yesterday and he talked very freely in a way that he hasn't for a long time about the problems over the year and it seemed like he got an awful lot of weight off his shoulders.テつ We journalists like to think that a moment like that would be the turning point.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ For sure.テつ I think when you find balance in your life, certainly off the golf course, that really frees the mind and body up to perform on the golf course.テつ So, you know, speaking from my own experience as I know that when I've got my ducks in a row off the golf course, I'm a much happier man on the golf course.
So you know, he's a young man, he's a very talented young man, and we all‑‑ we talk about peaks and troughs in a career.テつ We all go through the learning curves and we all experience things that throw us outside of our comfort zone.テつ I can't really relate to what he's experienced this year.テつ You know, he's certainly in a different echelon from any echelon I've ever been in my career; the way he's burst onto the No. 1 in the world, two‑time major door champion and all of the things he's accomplished the last couple years.
So it's difficult to relate to all that he's experienced this year, but I can only assume that he's getting comfortable in his new skin as a global superstar, and we shouldn't sort of take that lightly.テつ It's a big ask, and you know, he's certainly still got the talent and like I say, wouldn't be surprised to see him winning this week.

Q.テつ Why?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Why would I not‑‑

Q.テつ What is it about this game and this course that fit so well together?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Well, what does this golf course demand?テつ If you can drive the ball exceedingly well, which has always been a staple of his game, you can really set yourself up to attack these greens which are hidden from you.テつ You know, obviously with as little iron in your hand as possible, I think is a key to this golf course.
And just feeling comfortable I suppose at a venue always helps.テつ I talked about my general discomfort on this golf course the last four or five years.テつ I can only assume that Rory McIlroy is pretty comfortable having won around here in style.テつ He's the kind of player that when he's on, he can win anywhere, but this is a golf course he's comfortable around.テつ Like I say, I think he's got the tools to get the job done.
SARAH GWYNN:テつテつ Thanks, Graeme, good luck this week.

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