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NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL WORLD CHALLENGE


December 4, 2013


Graeme McDowell


THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR:¬† We'd like to welcome the defending champion of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Graeme McDowell, thank you for joining us.¬† In three starts here you've finished second, first and first.¬† So obviously this place is pretty special to you.¬† Congratulations on your third place finish and your first start of the '13‑'14 wraparound season in Shanghai.¬† With that, I'll turn it over to you for some comments on being here this week.
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, thanks, Doug.  Always nice to be back in this part of the world.  It's been a golf course which has been incredibly good to me.  Like you say, the last three times I've played here, obviously, a little disappointed that this will be the last time we'll play here in the near future.  But going over to kind of my neck of the woods next year, which will be fun as well.
So this is a fun event.  It's always been a fun way to end the year and the season for me and kind of four, five weeks on the road.  It's a great golf course; one I've always enjoyed playing and just kind of rewards good driving of the ball and good iron play.  It's always in immaculate condition and no disappointments this year.
It's in great condition.  Maybe a little firmer, and the greens certainly last year it obviously rained hard here last year.  So it's just a lot of fun to be here and I'm excited for the weekend.

Q.  Be honest, which course has the nicer homes, Sherwood or Isleworth?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  That's a tough question to answer.

Q.  I'm waiting.
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, I don't know.  I can't comment, really.  I'd have to do a little house shopping and have to look at them.  Certainly slightly more scenic out here.  I want to say Isleworth looks a little more spacious, but both amazing places to live.

Q.  Politically great answer there.
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Thank you.

Q.  I wonder if you could comment on what kind of year it's been in golf in terms of so many players being able to walk away not willing to trade their season for anybody.  Scottie and Phil with the majors and they won, and Stenson with the double and Tiger with his five wins.  It's rare you see that many people take so many of the spoils, if you will.
GRAEME McDOWELL:  For sure.  I kind of sat down in October or November of last year and set myself a World Rankings total points that I wanted to try to aspire towards to try to get me towards that No. 5 in the world target.  I've got to say I got pretty close to that target that I set myself to try and achieve, but I wasn't really factoring in how many great players around me were going to have incredible seasons.  So making an impact in that top 10 in the world has been very difficult to do this year because you just get so many guys playing incredibly well.
The names you mentioned, Dufner won his first major championship, guys like Dustin popping back up, playing phenomenal.  Ian Poulter, the way he's played the last five or six weeks, just a lot of really quality players in the world.  I think it's just great for the game, really.  Obviously, Tiger Woods drives this great game.  We're all very lucky to be playing these days.  But he's got a lot of extremely talented competition.
Great to see Phil getting the job done at the Open championship was probably, from a neutral point of view, one of the highlights of the year.  Adam Scott is just a quality player.  Great to see him playing the way he has this year.  It's been an inconsistent year for me.  Certainly a year that I feel I'm going to learn a huge amount from.
Taken a lot of energy into this off‑season.¬† Pretty motivated to have a very constructive off‑season and come back stronger next year.¬† But some serious competition out there.¬† I think that the bar continues to raise, which is great for the game.

Q.  Why are there so many great players right now?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I don't know.  Tough to say, really.  I mean, the schedule has gone so global.  Maybe the schedule has kind of settled itself.  Guys are comfortable now on the golf courses they're playing on.  I don't really know.  It's tough to kind of put your finger on why so many guys are playing as well as they are.
But there's a huge amount of quality golf to be played all over the planet right now.  Tough to give an answer to that, really.  I think a lot of guys are just starting to believe in themselves now.  Who knows.  It's fun to be part of though.

Q.  Graeme, welcome back to L.A.  I want to get your thoughts on playing in this area here.  You've obviously had success here, but are you going to play Riviera in the future as well?  Now that we're losing out on this tournament from here on.
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, I mean, California has been pretty good to me.  Maybe not as good to me as it has been to the host of the tournament, thanks to Doug Ferguson's tweet the other day.  Tiger Woods has had a Hall of Fame career here in the state of California.  I've had an okay run.
Yeah, I'm certainly going to miss coming back here to Sherwood.  It's always been a week I've enjoyed, win, lose or draw.  I've always enjoyed the hospitality here.  It's always been a great place to end the year.  I think it's also great maybe that this tournament will reinvent itself and perhaps breathe some energy and some good stuff into the event.  It always attracts a great field and taking it kind of outside of Sherwood will create a bit of a buzz and bit of interest.
Orlando, I certainly don't mind that geographically.  That will work for me.  Obviously, with the Tavistocks' involvement, they've been doing great things in their run to Orlando in the last ten years I've been living there.  So I think it's good all around for the event.  But I'm going to miss coming back here, of course.  But there is plenty of golf in California.  The people have always been really good to me, and we'll be here in the future.

Q.  (No microphone).
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I don't think Riviera's on my schedule next year.  Pebble, I think so my schedule.  So I'll play Pebble.  I'm not really sure what else I'll play in California next year off the top of my head.  But looking forward to getting back to Pebble, obviously.

Q.  (No microphone)?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yes, I am.  This is probably one of the last three, four, five years I did the kind of grueling Asia, Dubai, around the world in kind of 40 days, literally end of season run.  This year coming into that run I had five weeks off to get married which was really nice and restful.  I played two in China, had the week off, and I played Dubai and the World Cup in Melbourne.
So I haven't played quite‑‑ I mean, it's been a lot of travel, but not as much perhaps as I have done the second half of the year in the past.¬† So I feel like I'm going into an eight‑week break.¬† The ten‑week break worked quite nicely last year.¬† I felt really good the first three, four months of the season.¬† Kind of tapered off into the summer a little bit.¬† That's one of my big goals next year is to be on top of my game and come to the U.S. Open, British Open, US PGA.¬† I felt like I flat lined the last couple seasons especially into the FedEx Playoffs.¬† Need to work out how to find energy for that great event.¬† I just haven't gotten my head around it yet.
Just kind of like nearly I'm conditioned to once the PGA is finished, I'm conditioned in the past to take a little time off and get ready for this really busy end of the season.  I just haven't really done the FedEx thing well.  So big goal for me next year is to be ready come then.  But I think I mentally need the break this time, but I don't physically need the break.  Mentally I know I've got a huge amount of homework to do in my game physically and just technically.
So I'm excited about the off‑season for a change rather than begging for it.¬† You know what I'm saying?¬† So probably fresher at this point than I have been in a few years.

Q.  Couple times you've followed up success here with really good seasons.  Obviously, 2010 after a close call here it actually vaulted you up the World Rankings, which helped.  Obviously last year you won and had a nice year this year.  I'm just curious, is that coincidence?  Is there anything to ending the year strong that kind of carries over?
GRAEME McDOWELL:¬† Yeah, I think it's always nice to go into the off‑season knowing that you finish strong, you've got a little confidence, a little momentum.¬† Winning twice here, it certainly doesn't register on the official events won globally, but it registers in the mind.¬† It registers when you beat a world class field like you play against here when you beat Tiger Woods around a golf course which he's dominated on.¬† To beat quality players, yeah, confidence is everything in this game as you know.¬† So that little injection of energy and confidence going into an off‑season can spur someone on to the early part of the season.
But win, lose or draw this week, like I was saying to Jason, I feel like I'm going into this off‑season feeling like there is a lot of good going on in my world and feeling like I have a huge amount to work on as well.¬† That is kind of motivating.

Q.  (No microphone)?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, yeah.  I started at Riviera this year.  Felt like Riviera was a tricky place to go start the season with the inevitable rust on the game.  I figured I haven't been back to Pebble.  Hoping to maybe play with my dad, which will be an amazing experience.  He hasn't been back since, and I figured it would be a way to ease back into the season a little bit, a bit of fun, and maybe slightly easier conditions than a firm, fast Riviera.  So, looking forward to it.

Q.  You've been a pretty steady Twitter guy for some time now.  How much do you gauge reactions and input from fans and how much do you use it to consume thought of other players and stuff?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, I kind of go through phases with Twitter.  I feel like I'm on a down phase at the moment.  Just kind of lost my Twitter mojo lately.  But, you know, I don't know.  I mean, for me Twitter is about getting the balance right.  Of course I have sponsors that I'm trying to give value to, so getting the right balance there.  Not putting stuff down people's throats either, you know what I'm saying?  So trying to get that right key, and getting people insight into my life and what I do.  Trying not to get too into my personal life.  I try to keep my private life private.
Of course, when I play good, it's nice to see some feedback.¬† When I play bad, I don't switch the thing on, generally, because I don't want to hear that feedback.¬† I do‑‑ it's a great way of finding out what's going on in the world.¬† I do follow a lot of things and news networks and people.¬† It's just kind of ways to grab a snapshot of what's going on in the world.¬† For soccer games back in Europe, it's kind of a good way to quickly find out what's going on.¬† It is a good way to gauge people's responses.
I do read a lot of my replies.  Sometimes I feel like if I've maybe made a comment or opinion, I try not to get too opinionated on there.  Because it's the inevitable, no matter what you say, you're going to get positive feedback and you're going to get negative feedback.  A lot of guys handle the negative feedback okay, and a lot of the guys maybe don't handle it so well.  I try to take the rough with the smooth pretty well.
But like I say, I've kind of lost my mojo on there a little bit and need to get it back.  But that's my thought.  It's a great tool.  That is the way the world is going.  It's a great way to interact with fans and give them something they don't normally get from the TV screens.

Q.  How special is it to be at that next chapter in your life now as a married man?  At this point how special is it to be at this next chapter so to speak?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I'm very excited about it.  I think it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier about having a lot of motivation, lot of energy inside me at the minute.  I feel like I'm achieving a lot of balance in the things I'm doing off the golf course, and I'm really trying to get the calmness off the course so I can really throw myself into this game for the next five to ten years, which I hope will be the prime of my career.  You're always trying to get better.  I certainly believe I have a huge amount that I can get better at and improve.
Even though I feel like I've achieved a mediocre amount or medium amount in my career, but I have a huge amount more I feel like I can do.  I'm excited and energetic about the next step of my career and next chapter of my life.  Family and priorities changed, so I feel like I've had a couple years where I'm trying to work out how my new priorities fit into my life.  I'm making sure golf remains very, very high up that list.  So it's been a little bit of evolving as a person.  I feel like I've kind of done that well and I'm ready to go now.

Q.  You've really risen to the occasion on some of the big stages.  Obviously, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and Ryder Cup come to mind there in 2010.  What do you make of those moments, being able to come through in the biggest stages?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I'm obviously very proud of them.  It's nice to give yourself those opportunities.  Win or lose, that is kind of why you practice and what you play for.  I've been very fortunate that a few times I've made the putts or hit the right shots at the right times.  But I've also hit some bad shots at the wrong times.  You know, you just got to go with it.
But I'm very proud.  Those are moments in my life I'll look back and be very proud of when I'm done with this game.  But at the minute, I'm just very keen to keep looking forward, really, and trying to improve and trying to hang with these incredibly good players that are playing.  A lot of them are playing here this week.

Q.  I'm curious your thoughts on your buddy, Henrik Stenson, who just missed out on a Swedish athlete of the year to a skier.  I was just curious how you guys consider yourselves as athletes and what you know about Henrik as far as being an athlete and just those kind of comparisons?  It's one of the oldest things where are golfers really athletes?  We've heard it forever.
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Henrik Stenson is a pretty good athlete.  If you're going into a fight in a bar, he'd be right up there, and a guy you'd want at your back.  He's a pretty strong guy and a hell of an athlete, yeah.

Q.  (No microphone)?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  He can play most sports.  I'm not sure he's much of a sprinter.  But he'd be a pretty good football player.  The beauty about golf is it takes all shapes and sizes, but it's a hell of a lot more of an athletic game nowadays than it used to be ten years ago.
So, yeah, I think golfers are evolving as athletes and it's where kind of the game has moved on for sure.  It's not the game it used to be ten, 20 years ago.  But still, you don't have to be in great shape to play this game well, but it helps for career longevity, I assume.  So would I call myself an athlete?  I don't know.  Who cares?  The golf ball doesn't know.

Q.¬† Just talking about bar fights‑‑
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Haven't been in one lately if you're asking.

Q.  No, Henrik would be a pretty handy guy to have in the Ryder Cup next year.  How much is that on your radar at all at this stage?  How do you think the two sides are going to shape up and the captains as well?  You have a Rottweiler in McGinley and?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, I think of course it's on my radar.  One miff goals next year is to be fresh for the FedEx Playoffs.  But one of my huge goals next year is to be fresh right after the FedEx Playoffs.  Hopefully at Gleneagles in Scotland and the Ryder Cup, I want to play my fourth Ryder Cup next year desperately.  They've been the three greatest experiences in my career so far.  My three Ryder Cups are definitely the three best weeks of my life as a golfer, so I want that fourth.
I think the captains are going to be fantastic and very passionate.¬† Paul's going to be a very methodical, well‑prepared, well‑schooled, educated captain.¬† Okay, he might not have the playing credentials of Faldo or a Montgomerie, but I think the debate about whether a Ryder Cup captain should be deserving or whether he should be just have the credentials to be a great captain as in needing people skills like the CEO of a business.¬† It's not winning major championships doesn't necessarily make you a great Ryder Cup captain.¬† I guess there is a lot of debate out there as to how much impact does a captain really have?¬† I'd love to be in McGinley's room.¬† I think he's going to be a hell of a good captain.¬† I want to be part of that whole thing.
I think Tom Watson's going to be phenomenal for the whole Ryder Cup dynamic.  I think America's going to have an exceptional team.  I think as the last few have, I think this one will be very close and very competitive.  I want to be part of it for sure.

Q.  Have you played the course in the Johnny Walker?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, I have.  Not lately.  I know they've moved a bit of dirt and shifted a few holes around 18.  I haven't played it since they completed it.  But I might try to nip up there sometime this year.  But, yeah, I've played that golf course many times, yeah.

Q.  Do you think that's going to be a big advantage for the European team or is it the kind of course that doesn't require that much local knowledge?
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I really think the days of playing in Scotland and I think the American players are as well traveled these days as some of the Europeans now.  We all play a similar type schedule, so the type of golf we're used to I think is pretty much a level playing field these days.
I think Gleneagles is not a classic Scottish golf course.  I mean, it's kind of inlandy.  So it's a good track.  I think everyone will enjoy it.  I think it will be a hell of a good Ryder Cup in Scotland.  It will be great if the weather's okay.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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