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April 16, 2014

Graeme McDowell


JOHN BUSH:テつ We'd like to welcome RBC Heritage champion, Graeme McDowell.テつ Welcome back to Hilton Head.テつ Take us back to last year's tournament, how much that meant to you and your thoughts on defending this week.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, obviously great to be back here.テつ I kind of called it my first authentic PGA TOUR victory.テつ Nice to be defending my first authentic PGA TOUR victory.テつ Hilton Head is a great place to come off of last week.テつ I heard someone describe it as adult spring break.テつ And it finally feels like spring break after the final exam last week at Augusta.テつ It's a nice place to decompress and get away from the pressures of the first Major Championship of the year.
This is a golf course that suits me a little bit more than last week, shall we say.テつ Great to be back.テつ It was a pretty tough morning out there this morning.テつ Not dissimilar perhaps to how the Sunday was here last year at the championship.テつ Just a real tough, breezy day.テつ It was good to get out there and have a look at the golf course.テつ It's in great shape as always.テつ Pit stop at the fairways and it's in great shape.テつテつ
JOHN BUSH:テつ Before we open up to questions, I know one thing that means a lot to you, RBC has started a new online social media challenge.テつ RBC Golf for Kids, you have a charity that's involved in that.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, RBC Golf for Kids is an online campaign.テつ We're going to be working on the next couple of weeks.テつ And basically all the RBC ambassadors have picked a children's charity which is close to their heart.テつ I'm involved with Crumlin Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.テつ I've been working with them the last four years, basically the competition is to get the retweets as many as you can.テつ I think mine is RBC McDowell, and we'll be working on that the next couple of weeks, hoping to win money to our chosen charity.テつ The great thing that the RBC is doing.テつ And obviously supporting kids charities is always fun for us to do.

Q.テつ Could you talk about, this is a tournament a few years ago that didn't have a sponsorship until RBC came in, and what it means to any event for the RBC to bring in the amount of talent such as yourself, all the other guys that are under the RBC umbrella, what that means to a field where all you guys come together to play an event like this?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I think the PGA TOUR has been pretty fortunate to have companies like RBC picking up events like the Canadian Open and this one.テつ I kind of said in the opening ceremony on Monday that RBC have fairly good taste in golf tournaments.テつ The Canadian Open is one of the longest standing on Tour.テつ And the Heritage, one of only four events that remains on the same golf course on the PGA TOUR calendar.テつ The two events have great history and champions in the past.テつ They put a huge amount of money in golf.
And through their ambassadors, through their own players, they bring their own great field to these events, as well, which only attracts more and more great players.テつ Let's be honest, this event has always been supported by the really, really great players.テつ And great that RBC have boosted the field strengths with their own players.
They're doing great things within golf and long may it continue.

Q.テつ Last year you said that there was like a family week for you, and you had barbecue and seafood.テつ Would you talk about the atmosphere at Sea Pines and the resort during tournament week.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, we're very lucky, we found a beautiful house last year, owned by a British couple and we rent that from them.テつ I've got mom and dad, and mom and dad‑in‑law this week and the wife and the little one, and my brother and sister‑in‑law flew in this week, as well.テつ We're relaxing.テつ Just cooking in every night and enjoying some family time.
It really is a completely‑‑ it's a huge contrast from last week, which is intense and high pressure, and obviously high expectations.テつ And just everyone's got a lot of pent‑up emotion from last week.テつ This week is the complete opposite.テつ Like I say a big contrast, just a real decompressor, relaxer.テつ Taking nothing away from the event.テつ It's a big week and an event I want to play well in.テつ And it just has such a relaxed vibe in comparison to last week.テつ I really enjoy it.

Q.テつ I was going to ask you how noisy was that cannon on Monday?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, it was pretty scary.テつ I think I made contact with the ball.テつ I didn't even get a chance to watch it.テつ I was too busy jumping in my skin.テつ I literally jumped out of my skin.

Q.テつ Have you ever done anything like it before?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ No, I've never done anything like it.テつ A few people warned me that it was rather loud.テつ I did wear earplugs.テつ Cool, though.テつ I believe they've been doing the same thing since 1969.テつ So it's great.テつ With so many new sponsors and so much big money to play for, a lot of these events lose their identity and lose their personality and character, because, you know, you play for a lot of money every week.テつ So it's great to come back to somewhere like this where the big players, the Palmers, etcetera, have won this event.テつ The legends of this Tour have been here over the years and supported this.テつ And it remains the same sort of feel and people are a part of it.テつ It really has, exactly on what it says on the title, has a huge Heritage, and it is cool to come back to these events.

Q.テつ In Augusta on Friday, you were disappointed, I saw on Twitter you gave yourself an F.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ That was at the opening ceremony the other day, I was joking that this was sort of spring break after I just made F on the final exam last week.テつ No, F is a little strong.テつ I did a lot of things right last week, things that I've been working on, like driving my ball and bunker play and chipping in general.テつ The thing that let me down the most, the two things that are probably my strengths, my medium and short iron play and my putting.
So Augusta kind of continues to baffle me.テつ I felt about as comfortable as I've ever felt maybe on Thursday.テつ I quickly got outside of my comfort zone on Friday with a double on 1.テつ I kind of got those old feelings back that Augusta gives me.テつ It's one of those courses that there are birdie shots that are out there, but I don't believe it.テつ I only made four birdies in two days.テつ The guys that win there make more birdies than that.テつ I've just got to‑‑ I don't know, I've got a little bit of work to do.テつ I do love it, though.テつ It's a great week.テつ It's a great golf tournament.テつ I just have a lot of work to do before I get the belief level that I need, more to just feel comfortable that there are birdie chances out there.
I didn't really have control of my iron play last week.テつ That was one of the big keys, which was putting so much pressure on my putter and I just didn't putt well.テつ It wasn't an F, it was more like a C‑.

Q.テつ When you're a defending champ like this, did you find yourself going around the course today reliving the last round last year?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ It wasn't too bad this morning.テつ I spent the first nine holes just trying to keep warm. テつIt was absolutely frigid out there this morning.テつ Just a lot of people, a lot of support.テつ I signed a lot of autographs this morning and said hey to a lot of people.
Just reliving‑‑ it was a similar type morning this morning to the Sunday last year.テつ It was tough, real tough conditions.テつ And just reliving the shots that you have to hit in this golf course.テつ And you do have to position the ball extremely well here.テつ This course asks a lot of questions, off the tee and into the greens.テつ It's a real, real good test of golf.
This was an interesting win last year because it was like I was never really kind of contending until the last five or six holes.テつ And then all of a sudden I had‑‑ it was in my hands.テつ And I just played really controlled golf, flighted my irons well.テつ I probably haven't flighted my irons as well as I did here last year, probably since last year.
I've been struggling with my shape a little bit the last six or eight months, especially.テつ Looking back to, you know, I was talking to my caddie the other day, I said, I haven't really felt as in control of my golf ball as I did this time last year at Hilton Head.テつ I hit a lot of quality golf shots here.テつ My fade has eluded me since then.テつ That has been the main emphasis on my game has been my fade shot.テつ I haven't been hitting it that well.テつ And it was really my undoing last Friday at Augusta.テつ I was trying to hit a 5‑iron to 10, just hit a hard cut off that green and I double crossed it in the trees.テつ Shots like that have been killing me lately.

Q.テつ How did you spend the couple of days after Augusta?テつ Secondly, why do you think it is that it's a course that baffles you?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Augusta?テつ I hit balls on Saturday for a few hours or the range.テつ It's such a good facility there, it's kinds of a sin not to want to use the range with Augusta.テつ I hit balls with Pete on Saturday.テつ And Sunday jumped in the car at about 11:00, and hit the same barbecue joint in the way in, as we did last year and settled down and watched golf.
Why does Augusta baffle me?テつ It baffles me that it gets me uncomfortable on the greens as it does.テつ It just gets me uncomfortable.テつ It baffled me why it continues to do that.テつ I feel like I'm getting it.テつ I feel like I'm understanding the golf course.テつ I feel like I've seen so many of the putts now and I know what the course does.テつ But yet I still get uncomfortable out there.テつ That's kind of what baffles me a little bit.テつ I felt so comfortable on Thursday and I felt so uncomfortable on Friday.テつ And that's why I'm just not getting it yet.

Q.テつ Is there another place that does that to you?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Not really.テつ The Majors make you feel uncomfortable, let's be honest.テつ The toughness of the setups can get you outside of your comfort zone.テつ Playing well is just a belief level that you can, even if you do make a couple of mistakes, you make some birdies and right the ship.
At Augusta I end up trying not to make mistakes as opposed to taking the course on.テつ I played too much trying not to mess up, rather than focusing on what can go wrong, rather than focusing on what can go right.テつ It's kind of a clichテδゥ, but I'm really not seeing the good stuff, I'm too busy trying to avoid the bad stuff.テつ That's kind of the way that place gets me.テつ It frustrates me.テつ I've got to get my head around it and I will.
I get the opportunity to go back there a few more times.テつ I'm always learning.テつ I watched the coverage on Sunday afternoon, taking notes about the way the balls react around the pin positions.テつ Like the 8th, for example, Fred Couples leaving the putt 15 feet short down to the corner.テつ Jordan Spieth did the same thing, slowed down in the corner, that's the little nuances you have to know about Augusta.テつ I found myself taking notes on Sunday.テつ Hopefully I'll need them over the next few years here.

Q.テつ A couple of things:テつ You said that you watched the telecast, did you feel that things didn't seem like the same Augusta to you as other years, just didn't have the same interest level because of nothing happened on the back nine?テつ And secondly, this is way past the half season, we don't have that much left when you look at it.テつ Can you talk about that and how important every week is now becoming with the Ryder Cup and FedEx Cup coming up?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ I enjoyed the telecast on Sunday.テつ From my point of view there was so much excitement on the front nine, that the back nine was a little anti‑climax.テつ Everything that Jordan was doing on the front nine, the way he birdied 6 and 7, there, you know, walking off the 8th after a second shot, I thought he was in pretty good shape after a second shot to 8.テつ And Bubba's over the back there and stuff.テつ And 8 and 9 were such a big turning point with the two two‑shot swings.
I played with Bubba three weeks ago and I knew he had a great chance at Augusta the way he was playing.テつ He's just taylor made for that golf course.テつ Six of the last 12 champions have been left‑handers.テつ That blows me away that statistic.テつ It speaks volumes of what it takes.テつ You are shaping the ball right to left so much.テつ And the slice is so much more controllable than the hook.テつ The right‑hander has to hook everything.テつ Hook has top spin and that's hard to control.テつ A slice has back spin and it's a hell of a lot easier to control.テつ Yes, Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson have phenomenal short games, as does Bubba Watson.テつ But the par and the fade are such key weapons around there.
But, yes, no one made a run on the back nine because Bubba just had a stranglehold.テつ His tee shot on 13, you know, he got lucky on 13.テつ It looked like he blocked pin and it looked like he hit it further left than he wanted to.テつ Once the ball found fairway, it was game over.テつ I was just impressed.テつ Yes, it was anti‑climactic on the back nine, but you couldn't help but be impressed with the ball‑shaping capabilities of Bubba Watson.テつ He could literally win six Masters.テつ He's that set up for that golf course.テつ It's amazing.
The second part of your question.

Q.テつ The season.
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ Yeah, just kind of halfway through for the PGA TOUR season.テつ But for my season, I kind of have my season in thirds, really.テつ I feel like this is a third done for me after this tournament.テつ I'll get ready for my second third, which is the summer, through the FedEx playoffs.テつ And then my kind of last third is kind of Ryder Cup through Race to Dubai and things like that.テつ I'm about a third‑‑ I'm kind of midterm break, if you like, coming up, a third of the way through.
I've got a little bit of time off coming up where I'll get ready for a busy summer.テつ And hopefully have something in the tank come FedEx, and I've got a lot of work to do, obviously, to be on the Ryder Cup team.テつ I'm focused on that and playing well every week.

Q.テつ Since you put it into thirds, and midterm break and everything, what would you rate yourself for the first third?
GRAEME McDOWELL:テつ My first third I would give myself, depending on what happens this week, barring a win this week, I would say probably B+, you know.テつ "Shows potential, but improvement required," something along those lines (laughter).
I feel like my results have maybe flattered me a little bit.テつ I haven't played as well as my consistent top 10's have proven.テつ I feel like there's a lot of room, kind of what I was saying with my fade.テつ I need to get my fade back in the bag before I can really compete at the top level.テつ But I'm close.
JOHN BUSH:テつ Graeme McDowell, good luck.

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