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April 10, 2014

Graeme McDowell

Q.テつ In general what's your perspective?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I only made one bogey at Amen Corner.テつ Wasn't that bad.テつ Eight feet on 12 and just off the ledge of 13.
I did hit a bad drive at 11, I'll grant you that.テつ But par 5s are the killer of the day today.テつ I played the par 5s about as well as I can play them tee‑to‑green and walked off 1‑under par for the day.テつ That was the killer.
Right fringe on 2, 3‑putts.
Middle of the green on 15, 3‑putts.
Front edge on 8 with a potential up‑and‑down for 4.
And 13 was my only birdie really.
Disappointing that I didn't take more advantage of the par 5s, because I played them better than that.テつ The rest was steady away.テつ My iron play was not as sharp as it needs to be.テつ I didn't hit it close enough.テつ I put my putter under a bit of pressure, but I hung in there really well today.テつ Put the ball generally in play off the tee, a few ragged ones on the back nine.
But all in all not a bad start.テつ Level par is not a bad score to these flag positions today which I thought were tough for day one.テつ We're lucky we had benign conditions.テつ You're not going to get this golf course any more perfect than it was this morning.
As I say, pins were tough.テつ It will be interesting to watch the later play today.テつ The putt I had on 15 from back right of that flag, I don't think I've seen a faster putt than that in my life.テつ I hit it half as hard as I felt I had to, and it went 15 feet past.テつ I mean, it was literally putting down a marble staircase.
These greens are only going to get firmer and faster.テつ I think we are in for a firm, fast weekend.テつ I think it's going to be a lot of fun; the tougher, the better, I hope, for me.テつ Had a good time this morning.テつ Enjoyed it.

Q.テつ When you have the experience that you have around here, clearly when you get to 2‑over and you head into holes that offer opportunities but also difficult holes; is that the experience that got you in at level par?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Generally feeling comfortable.テつ This is probably the most comfortable I felt around this golf course.テつ Didn't try to overdo it in practice and didn't really try to, you know, over sort of perfectionize my practice rounds and fall in love with where am I supposed to be, where am I trying to be.
I know this course now; you play it well, you hit it to your spots and you chip and you putt and you try to enjoy the test for what it is.テつ It's a challenge.テつ It's going to eat you up.テつ It's going to throw you bad breaks.テつ That's just Augusta.テつ Bad shots are going to catch slopes and go close, and good shots are going to catch slopes and go far away.テつ That's just Augusta.テつ I tried to embrace it and have fun with it this morning and generally I did that well today.

Q.テつ Wishing for a firm, fast Masters‑‑
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I think it has to be firm and fast for me to have a chance to compete.テつ I don't feel like it's been like that the last three or four years since this golf course has got longer.
It's probably set up worse and worse for a guy like me.テつ I need a little release in these fairways and I need the greens to be probably fairly punishing for guys.テつ They are still a tad receptive today.テつ I look for them to be firm and fast tomorrow.テつ I thought the course was very difficult setup today.テつ I thought a lot of very difficult pin positions and I think it's reflected in the scoring.テつ No one's really going crazy out there.
It's in perfect, perfect condition.テつ It's in great shape.

Q.テつ What happened on the second green, did that put you on guard a little bit regarding the pace of the greens?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ You know, I had that line in my book.テつ I've played that putt many times in practice.テつ My book says slow.テつ The putt is slow, and I just killed it.テつ I knocked it five feet past and left myself the one you don't want at Augusta, five feet coming back down the hill towards Rae's Creek.テつ I hit a good putt.テつ Just one of those things.テつ I over‑adapted to the fact that I know the putt up into the corner is too slow.
Generally I pace‑putted well today.テつ I 3‑putted 10; I 3‑putted 15; I 3‑putted from the right fringe on 2.テつ I had a lot of hits with the putter today for a guy who felt like he putted okay.
It was a long range day with the putter.テつ Generally I was very happy the way I rolled it from short range, though.テつ I need to get a little sharper with my iron play tomorrow.

Q.テつ Were you nervous‑‑
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I wasn't nervous on the first tee.テつ I was very happy on the first tee.テつ Like I say, I'm trying to embrace this tournament.テつ It's not a perfect golf course for me, but if I can play well and have some fun and enjoy the challenge‑‑ I hit some nice shots out there today.
Generally, I actually hit some nice shots today.テつ I had some fun.テつ I drove the ball great on the front nine.テつ There's some good stuff.テつ Like I say, just couldn't seem to get the ball close to the hole.
Shots like into 6, the back right pin on 6, I knew I couldn't miss that flag left.テつ I pitched it about eight feet from the flag just left and I finished up in the front left edge of the green, so tough 2‑putt there.テつ Nearly made it actually, but that's just this golf course.テつ You can play well, but you still have to pace‑putt really well.テつ You have to chip‑and‑putt well.
Played with Rickie Fowler today, chipped the ball really, really well.テつ That's what you have got to do around here.テつ If you're going to be aggressive like he is‑‑ I'm probably a little more conservative than he is going into these greens.テつ He's an aggressive, really aggressive player and you have to chip well and he did that, and he still scored here.

Q.テつ How difficult is it to go from the challenge and frustration to wanting to make it fun?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I think it just comes with experience here.テつ I guess I've banged my head against the wall for a few years and realized it doesn't really work for me here at Augusta.テつ I've never kind of been as chilled out in practice as I was this week.テつ I only played 24 holes of practice, 25 holes of practice, which is probably the least I've ever played coming in here; but probably the most comfortable and relaxed I've been on the golf course.
I say that, go back out there tomorrow and we'll be grinding away.テつ I say I'm comfortable and relaxed, but still, you're grinding over 6‑ and 8‑footers for pars all day long it feels like, but it's fun.
Like I say, if I was to design a golf course for me to win a major championship, it probably would not look like this, but who knows.テつ Like I say, a little firmness and a little fastness this weekend, if I can get hot with my iron play, I think I can compete this weekend.

Q.テつ Did 17 play differently without the tree there?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, I mean, I hit a really nice drive down 17 and my caddie said to me, well, you're never able to do that when the Eisenhower Tree.テつ I typically rattled it around the branchs there of the Eisenhower.テつ It was right in my flight, the Eisenhower, especially the way I used to drive it a little left‑to‑right.テつ It was my most hated tee shot; that and 10 and 13 and maybe 9 (laughter).
17 wasn't my favorite tee shot; let's put it that way.テつ To say I enjoy it slightly more now is an understatement.

Q.テつ On a course like this, a tournament like this on Thursday, is it easy to lose patience or is it easy to stay patient?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ It's probably easier to lose patience on a Thursday, I think, because you've spent three days preparing for hopefully what you're going to do as opposed to what you don't want to do.テつ I think I've been guilty in the past of trying to be too perfect with my preparation and knowing this golf course inside out and this is where I'm going to hit to this pin and I'm going to miss to just the side of that pin.
You stand on the sixth tee today and you know long right is the miss, but it's hard not to go pin hunting.テつ The brain knows where the flag is and next thing, you tweak it a fraction and you feel like an idiot.テつ It's hard to be patient on this golf course in general, but you just have to be, really.テつ Like someone said, the back nine, although it's a more dangerous nine holes, it's a more scorable nine holes.
I'm walking off 11, 2‑over par, yet I've got some great chances ahead of me.テつ But also, I've got some water and tough shots ahead of me.テつ 12 and 13, if you play well, you can make some birdies, or if you play badly you can make two doubles.
It's a great golf course from that point of view.テつ That's what makes the back nine so special; it's risk/reward.テつ Play well and you can shoot 5‑under or play poorly and shoot 5‑over.
I stayed fairly patient.テつ I'm trying to think, my only little bit of frustration today was when I 3‑putted 15.

Q.テつ How far?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ 40 feet above the hole.テつ I hit two beautiful shots as good as I could hit them and I knew the thing was fast.テつ You know, I knew it was quick and I hit it and I was like‑‑ I hit it half as hard as I wanted to, and it still went 15 feet by.
I was frustrated walking to the 16th tee.テつ Hit a beautiful iron in there and got up‑and‑down on the last and was able to salvage something at the end.テつ Level par was my target walking off the green.

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