Graeme McDowell: Round One Flash Interview
Q. How pleased are you with that round?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, very pleased. You know, this was a golf course where I spent the last few days just preparing myself mentally for the challenge, really, knowing that this golf course wasn't going to give much and it was only going to take. So I really kind of felt like I got my head in the right place the last few days. It wasn't my best ball-striking display this morning, but you don't have to strike it amazing around here, you just have to position the ball correctly at all times, because unless you're Rory McIlroy, and the ball-striking display he put on this morning, that's about the only way you can attack this course. And with a tiny bit more moisture this morning. We got lucky this morning. In practice yesterday the golf course seemed to be very firm. It seemed to be kind of a weekend set up. I guess the USGA were really relying on some rain last night, which didn't come. I'm assuming they put some water on this place this morning. And we were able to take advantage of that a little bit early on, and actually think about getting at some of those flags.
Q. You said your ball-striking wasn't great?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I played the golf course very conservatively, if you compare my round to Rory's round. He played it aggressively, and I played it very conservatively. I positioned the ball great off the tee. I drove it really well all day. 18, I hit a 5-wood. I see 18 as a conservative tee shot for me. It's such a narrow driver up until that small neck up there and to me the second shot is a bigger target. I didn't want to hit a drive off line. I hit 5-wood for safety. And that was the first time I'd actually hit it in the waste area all day. Got very lucky. I had a very clean lie with nothing around it. It was one of those scenarios where I was very pleased when I saw my lie. But generally kept the ball exactly where I wanted to going into the flags, short of a lot of the greens on the correct side of most of the flags. And I putted very well. I pace putted well and I hold out extremely well, which I've just got to keep doing that this weekend.
Q. No. 5, take us through your trip through there, and what do you think of the hole overall?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, No. 5, I mean, I think 4 and 5 playing as a 4 and 5 are much better than the setup back in 2005. I mean, 5, in 2005, was an impossible fairway to hit followed by an impossible green to hit. 5 is a par-5 green, let's be honest. It's so severe. And the pin today was very severe. I couldn't imagine playing that as a 4. I hit a pretty good tee shot, and there were two tees forward on 5 today. They really want you to have a go at that green in two because it is so severe and dangerous around it. Anything left can really -- if it misses front left, a drop can mean big trouble. I hit an okay drive and I hit a nice 3-wood, which just pitched in a perfect spot and left myself 12 feet up the hill, which was an unexpected eagle opportunity on this golf course. I kind of thought in practice that, you know, the winner of this golf tournament might not make more than 10 birdies this week. That was kind of my feelings. I wasn't expecting it to be quite as receptive this morning. That was basing it off of Went's set-up and Went's firmness. I imagine as the week progresses we'll see that again. We got lucky with moisture on the greens and certainly calling ourselves fortunate with that draw this morning.
Q. Could you elaborate on getting your head in the right place, exactly what that means?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, just, getting my head in the right place was kind of, like I said, understanding this golf course is not going to give you many birdies. And it's kind of the old clichÃ©, not waiting for the golf ball to make you happy. Trying to get the attitude right from the word go. This golf course is difficult and good shots are going to finish in bad spots and you've just got to really, really grind hard. It's not going to give you a lot of opportunities. So it was more just understanding kind of how it's all going to unfold this weekend. You aren't going to make 20 birdies out here, it's simple as that. Like I said, I think the winner of this tournament is going to make 10 to 12 birdies, maximum. That's only three a round. That's what I mean by preparing yourself mentally for the fact that you're just not going to get a pat on the back very often in this golf course.
Q. Were you tempted to try and be aggressive?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Not really. Part of my preparation, I felt like, you know, yes, there were guys like Rory that were going to drive the ball phenomenally well and go into the greens with shorter irons. But I didn't see that as a massive advantage, because I feel like it tempts you into making mistakes, because the greens are so severe that you can't get close with 8-iron, never mind 6- or 4-irons. I kind of felt like perhaps the big drives may tempt you a little too much, and tempt you into making mistakes. For example, the 8th hole today. I hit my drive down there, hit a nice little 6-iron on to that front right corner, where I'm going to hit it every day, hopefully, and Rory had a bomb down there, and missed that hole left. He made a phenomenal 4 from it, but to me that was an example of getting tempted into that left flag and making a mistake. So length's an advantage, but as long as it's used correctly. Listen, I'm not criticizing how Rory is playing, he played magnificent this morning. He hit some beautiful golf shots. I'd like to play like that sometime, but it's never going to happen.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, you guys tell me. I don't know if it's official or unofficially official or what the --
GRAEME McDOWELL: Beautiful. That's extremely exciting. I've been kind of hesitant to comment because I really didn't want to take anything away from the official announcement. So I'm very proud of where I grew up. I'm very proud of the tradition and history there, and to bring an Open Championship back to Northern Ireland is very special. It speaks volumes about how far the country has come. It's going to be a very special thing for Northern Ireland and Ireland in general. I just hope I'm exempt and playing well. I guess it's been a dream of mine as a kid. I've been out there, spent many an hour out there as a kid, and dreaming of playing Major championships. And to have a Major championship come to Portrush. The Open Championship is special stuff. It's a result in a lot of gentle ribbing in the direction of Mr. Dawson the last four or five years from myself and McIlroy and Clarke. Nice to see the fruits of our labor, I suppose.
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