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AT&T PEBBLE BEACH NATIONAL PRO-AM


February 4, 2014


Graeme McDowell


PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We would like to welcome Graeme McDowell to the interview room.
MARK STEVENS:テつ We would like to welcome Graeme McDowell to the interview room.テつ Graeme, you've been playing all day, if you kind of want to talk about where you've played and the courses and your thoughts on that and then we'll take some questions.
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ Yeah, coming off the back of some nice time off.テつ Really wanted to come and start my year here.テつ Kind of ease into the season, if you like.テつ And come somewhere which obviously, has great memories and great emotions and lucky enough to be able to play here with my dad this week.テつ It's a bit of a special opportunity.テつ Big thanks to the sponsors and everyone involved, really, to help to give me that opportunity.
We came in Saturday morning, played San Francisco Golf Club on Saturday, Monterey Peninsula Sunday, Cyprus Point yesterday and Pebble today.テつ So, it has not been a tough three or four days.テつ It's been a lot of fun and just getting some course time and chucking the rust off the game a little bit and gearing up, really, for the year.
But just a great place to come and ease my way into the season and really enjoy myself a little bit and get off to a nice start, hopefully.
MARK STEVENS:テつ Okay.テつ Questions?

Q.テつ Talk about your history with pro‑ams with your dad.テつ Any?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ I played Dunhill Links Championship with him in 2011.テつ So we had a good time.テつ My dad's a 10 handicap, kind of on the way down, unfortunately, kind of.テつ He's got a busted up knee, and he's got an old port rush links game, doesn't fly it very far through the air, relies on a lot of run and a lot of around ‑‑ along the ground short game.テつ So I'm not really, we don't have high expectations for the amateur side or the team side of the tournament this week.テつ But, most importantly, we're just here to have a good time and really ‑‑ it was fun being out there this morning, sort of reliving some of the memories from last year.テつ Great to be able to have that opportunity to share that with him, so it's fun.テつ His game, like my own, has slowly gotten better and better over the last three or four days, and we're looking forward to Spyglass tomorrow and teeing it up on Thursday morning getting ready to go.テつ So, it's just a fun experience and we're‑‑ we have low expectations and anything else is bonus.

Q.テつ Wasn't this green in 2010?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ It was not this green in 2010.テつ It was weird being out there.テつ I forgot how slopey these greens are here at Pebble, of the how small they are.テつ They're very receptive, which in many ways makes them more difficult, because you really have to control your spin so much more.テつ A lot of the greens are pitched back against you.テつ And it is very difficult to kind of keep the ball close to the flag.テつ And with them being that soft, not that I'm saying bring back the U.S. Open setup, but obviously, it's a completely different test of golf than it was in 2010.テつ But great to be out there this morning.テつ First time back since.

Q.テつ Did you play a lot of golf with your dad when you were a kid?テつ Or are you kind of catching up now?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ No, no, a huge amount of golf with my dad.テつ He was the Junior kind of organizer at my golf club when we were kids.テつ We used to have a great little group of kids, 20 to 30 guys on the weekend getting together and messing around and playing little tournaments that my dad would organize.
He would be the one driving the car all over Ireland taking us around to tournaments.テつ So, he's always been very involved in my golf.テつ He was not a good player himself so, never really kind of got involved in anything I did technically or anything like that, which I think is probably a good thing.テつ It's been a lot of fun.テつ He's enjoyed kind of watching me kind of go through the ranks and it's great to be able to share this type of experience with him a little bit.
And not really sure if he knows what he's in for yet, but the Dunhill Links doesn't really draw a massive crowd. テつI'm thinking Saturday at Pebble here, there will be a few little nerves jangling, shall we say.テつ So, I'm looking forward to it.テつ It should be good.

Q.テつ It's a very special tournament for American people, how is it for European like you?テつ Do you have something special with this tournament as well or it's very typically American?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ No, I think that this is definitely one of the hot spots of kind of great golf courses in the world out here on West Coast.テつ Certainly in the San Francisco area, and we have enjoyed playing a few of those this weekend.テつ First time playing Monterey Peninsula Country Club, it's a beautiful golf course.テつ Cyprus yesterday is a bit special.テつ San Francisco Golf Club there on Saturday is a real hidden gem, that I didn't know much about.テつ And so much history and tradition out here in this part of the world.
So, no, I think this is a special golf tournament, it's got a lot of tradition, a lot of great players have been through this golf tournament and a lot of very famous people.テつ So, no, we're having fun, embracing it.テつ I think my dad's goal for the week is really to have a beer with Clint Eastwood, hopefully, on Friday night.テつ So that's the goal for the week.テつ If we achieve that, we'll be happy.

Q.テつ Is this something you've wanted to do, comeback and maybe play this tournament after winning in 2010 and how did it come about?テつ And one other question, what did you think of 16 at Cyprus yesterday?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I'll start with your second question.テつ 16 at Cyprus is a very difficult hole.テつ I could easily see why, well, how does the story go, Hogan played it 12 times and laid up every time or something like that.テつ When I played it yesterday it was a strong right‑to‑left breeze, 240 flag with no bailout.テつ I hit a hard 5‑wood ‑‑ well, my first hard 5‑wood kind of turned over a little bit too much and ended up on the beach, which I believe is not a hazard.テつ So, you if you can't play it you're back to the tee box, it's not ideal.テつ So, I was able to play it and flip it up on to the green.
My second 5‑wood, I hit it as hard as I could, and it didn't even get to the front edge.テつ So, it was a 3‑wood yesterday to a small target with no bailout.テつ So, I mean, beautiful, picturesque, very difficult.テつ It's a‑‑ 15, 16, 17, I don't think I've seen a better, more stunning piece of real estate to play golf on as those three holes.
Your first question was how does this come about?テつ I mean a lot of people ask me, how come you never been back since 2010.テつ I kind of said well, what's the point of coming back?テつ It's not going to get any better than how it felt last time I was here.テつ It was pretty tough to top the experience that weekend, the emotions, my dad, winning my first Major Championship, and doesn't get any better than that. テつSo it was‑‑ I really wasn't kind of all that sort of in a rush to come back.テつ It's a special place.テつ I must have seen 5,000 photos on Twitter of the kind of little ‑‑ of the trophy and the pictures and stuff in the tap room area, I haven't seen it yet myself.テつ The reason why I wanted to come play this year was two‑fold, really, obviously, to get to play with my dad was great, but that wasn't really the deciding factor.
I started at Riviera last year.テつ I felt Riviera was quite a tricky place to start my season, coming in with the rust on my game, which is inevitable, you're just not game sharp, you're not competitively sharp.テつ So I thought why not come to the pro‑am here, have some fun, play golf courses which are maybe not setup as tough as regular tournaments would be.テつ You get three rounds under your belt minimum.
At least by the end of the week I'll know where I'm at, and I'm be able to start my season from this week and beyond.テつ That was kind of the thinking.

Q.テつ First question, you're writing some kind of stories for the BBC now, diary or whatever it may be.テつ You talked a little bit about the Ryder Cup European team and how you thought that there were at least two or three players that were, I want to say, locks, but certainly in good position to be on that team and that where you know you are, you know, it's going to be hard for you to get on that team.
We feel the same way in the UnitedStates.テつ I just want you to talk about that whole aspect of‑‑ are we in the middle of a transition of guys that we would always think would be on the teams, now, we're starting to see better players kind of moving those guys out?テつ Are we in that kind of transition now?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ Here in the U.S. or Europe or both?

Q.テつ In Europe.
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ In Europe.テつ Yeah, I mean that was just kind of me talking about the Ryder Cup team and the way it's going to shape up this year.テつ And I think I talked about Dubuisson, Stenson, Garcia, and the fourth was like maybe Jamie Donaldson.

Q.テつ Or Gallacher?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ Thomas Bjorn not Steven Gallacher.テつ So, you got four or five names there that were not on the team two years ago.テつ So, you've got to assume that there's guys that are going to miss out this year.テつ Quality players.テつ Like you say, names that we're used to seeing be on Ryder Cup teams.テつ But that's inevitable.テつ Young players come through and new names jump on to the scene.テつ Guys like Thomas Bjorn who have always had it in them.テつ He hasn't played a Ryder Cup in, I saw the stat, I think he hasn't played since 2003.テつ Or the Belfry, 2002, whatever it was.テつ I couldn't believe that.テつ That guy's such a quality player.テつ He certainly still has what it takes to make the Ryder Cup team.
So I'm not going to get too obsessed by what numbers I need, what I need to do.テつ I know what I need to do, I need to play well in the WGC's and the Majors, get some consistency going this year and play the type of golf that I know I can.テつ So I'm just going to try and‑‑ what I was trying to say in the article, like I say, writing a blog for the BBC web site.テつ BBC web site's kind of a web site that I log into when I'm anywhere in the world.テつ It's such a great web site.テつ And I wanted to kind of do something really to connect with my fans more, mostly back in Britain and Ireland.テつ So it's a fun thing to do.
But what I was trying to say in the article was that I want to get stuck into my processes this season and let the Ryder Cup get in the way.テつ It's not going that I'm going to be getting obsessed by.テつ So we'll see.テつ But it's great.
I think here in the U.S., a lot of young guys breaking on to the scene, in the last half dozen years, Bubba and Dustin Johnson and the Webb Simpsons, these kind of guys, Rickie Fowler, etcetera, I mean they have brought a huge amount of passion and interest level from the U.S. side of things, as opposed to the four or five half a dozen guys who I feel like have been playing Ryder Cups and President's Cups for the last 15 years.テつ It's tough to get up for it every year.テつ When it becomes ‑‑ it just becomes a little monotonous, I'm sure.テつ It's a special event, but I think there's been injections of enthusiasm from both sides of the Atlantic regarding young players and guys who really embrace it.

Q.テつ One other thing, because of this whole wraparound season we're like in the 11th or 12th week of the 2014 season.テつ Obviously in a normal situation that means you would be starting in Houston or wherever else the week before Augusta or maybe even after Augusta.テつ Did you really factor in how this is going to change the way you have to look at schedules going forward, because you're about a quarter of the way through the season already and you're just starting.
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I talked about it with my guys and I said, it was pretty fortunate that we played well in HSBC, placed third and put some money on the board, because otherwise I would be starting up I would be about 3 million behind the leader.テつ It's, like you say, it's like not teeing it up until Houston.テつ But, no, I mean end of the day the FedExCup playoffs are, if that is what we're aspiring towards, winning the FedExCup, which is what the PGA TOUR season is all about, getting into the FedExCup playoffs in decent shape is what it's all about.テつ You don't have to be leading the thing.テつ And that's what I've discovered the last few years.テつ I went in pretty decent shape last year and didn't play well in the playoffs and didn't get to the TOUR Championship which I was disappointed by.
So I play a bit more in Europe at the end of the year, I got my commitments in China and Dubai and I enjoy those and I've always played that part of the season, I don't play much the fall series.テつ So, no, I'm not obsessed by changing my schedule to have me in better position coming into February, March on the PGA TOUR. テつLike I say, if I play the way I know I can, I'll get myself in decent shape into the playoffs and then the playoffs are just about playing well when you get there.テつ They're so volatile, there's so much emphasis put on playing well when you get to the playoffs, that's what the season's all about really.テつ Apart from the obvious, playing well in the Major, winning tournaments, competing.

Q.テつ Are you good with the volatility in the playoffs?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I'm good with it.テつ I'm good with it.テつ I think that, yeah, it is what it is.テつ It achieves what it's trying to achieve.テつ Which is to take, to give guys a chance to win coming in.テつ I mean it's very hard to get the system correct.テつ You're in a situation where Vijay has it tied up before the TOUR Championship, four or five years ago.テつ You're trying to avoid that scenario.
No, I like it.テつ I would be the first guy to criticize because, from my own personal experiences, I played horrible the last three years in the playoffs, but, no, I get it and I understand it and I've just got to ‑‑ I'm actually scheduling myself to prepare myself more for the playoffs this year because I feel like I've been beat up by the time I've come to August, September, the last three years now.テつ So my schedule revolves around being ready for the summer this year.テつ Being ready for August, September, the Ryder Cup, and so that's what I'm doing.

Q.テつ You mentioned the Ryder Cup.テつ Victor Dubuisson is going for his first PGA TOUR this year.テつ You went through this.テつ Would you have any advice for him like as a player who went from the European Tour to the PGA TOUR?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ No, I mean I think I played a couple times with victor, he's a very impressive player and very talented young man and I think he'll do just fine over here.テつ It's a very global game now days.テつ The PGA TOUR players play in European, Asia.テつ The European Tour players play in America and Asia and Europe also.テつ And so I think that everyone's getting pretty familiar with playing all over the world now.テつ So I think he'll be just fine and I wish him all the best and hope he's in that team room in September.テつ I'm hoping to be there also.

Q.テつ How many of your victories has your dad been present for?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ I want to say he's been present for about four. テつHe was there at the Scottish Open in 2008, he was‑‑ was he in Wales when I won in 2010?テつ I can't remember.テつ Don't think so.テつ He was at the U.S. Open, of course.テつ He watched me win Tiger's event once.テつ Which we'll count that.テつ Hilton Head‑‑ no, he wasn't at Hilton Head.テつ So maybe three or four.
He's always glued to the box though.テつ He's always watching me on TV.テつ I don't think he misses a shot, whether it be on the laptop, shot tracker, live scoring, I mean he's obsessed by every shot I hit, like it was the first, like it was when I was 16 years old.テつ They're pretty passionate about it and they love it, they support me, win, lose, or draw, its pretty cool.

Q.テつ Do you remember the exchange vividly on the 18th green?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ No, I don't really remember it vividly.テつ I remember what he said to me which is, "You're some kid."テつ Which is very kind of, you know, that's kind of a trademark comment from may dad.テつ And, no, I don't remember much about it.テつ That was the blur, a blur moment after that.テつ After I managed that‑‑ I don't even remember holing the putt, to be honest with you.テつ It was a very, very surreal experience.テつ And that's why it was cool to be back out there this morning and just sort of reconnecting with the emotions that I experienced, because a lot of them, it's tough to know whether my memories are just images that I've seen on TV or memories that are actually emotions in my mind.テつ So it was fun to be out there this morning and see it again.

Q.テつ What was 18 like?テつ A few holes earlier you said you were curious what that was going to be like.テつ How was that different than other holes today walking down there?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ It was certainly a pretty poignant moment.テつ It was, it wasn't as emotional as I thought it was going to be, but it's kind of, like I said to you out on the golf course, it's, there's a fine balance I think in this game.テつ I don't ‑‑ of course, my first Major Championship and certainly the way it happened, to be here at Pebble with my dad and on Father's Day was a very, I don't think that emotional, emotionally I don't think that moment will be beaten in my career.
But I'm not going to put Pebble up there on a pedestal and say that is the highlight of my career, because I want more.テつ I want more Pebbles, I want more Major Championships, I want more things.テつ Hopefully it will not define my career.テつ It will, I'm hoping to keep defining my career as I go.
So there's a fine balance between getting too obsessed by it emotionally.テつ So it's fun, fun to be out there and, like I say, just reconnect a little bit with my thoughts and feelings that day.

Q.テつ Over the last year you've gotten married, you pretty much opened a restaurant, I don't know how involved you are in the restaurant, but how much does that detract, if any from your golf?
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ I think I've done a fairly good job balancing everything that I've been up to in my life lately.テつ I don't have a lot of involvement in the restaurant.テつ I have a couple of great guys who run that, who run a great shop.テつ I'm just part of a four‑man team, kind of, I have three, three partners and a couple of small investors.テつ So my partners run the restaurant, I don't really have much to do with it.テつ It's just fun to be part of.
I've taken a conscious decision to kind of cut back on my off course activities a bit this year, in regards days and events that I'm attending.テつ So just really trying to put the emphasis back on my golf.
So, yeah, I've had a lot of things going on, but I feel like my life has is quieting down off the golf course now as I achieve some balance and start to move on to some sort of new chapters in my life personally.テつ And I guess I feel like I'm in a better place to play golf now.
So I'm very happy with everything I've got going off the course, certainly my wants and needs off the golf course have evolved a lot.テつ I certainly need, I need some good people around me and I still have that and I have good people to look after everything I do.
MARK STEVENS:テつ Well, thank you for your time, Graeme, and good luck this week.
GRAEME MCDOWELL:テつ All right.テつ Cheers.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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