BETH MURRISON: We're leased to have Graeme McDowell with us at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Course. He shot a wonderful 3‑under 68 today, after an even par 71, and stands 3‑under for two rounds. Would you talk a little bit about your round today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, early start, obviously. I went off the 4:20th morning, so it was definitely a rude awake evening. The wind took probably 11, 12 holes before this woke up. The greens were reasonably receptive.
So once the ball got woke up, it was definitely good scoring conditions out there. I got off to a sluggish start. I hit clubs on 11, made birdie, kind of scrappy start, but made a great putt on 14 for birdie from long range, about 30, 40 feet. And that really kind of got my day going. I played lovely after that, gave myself a ton of chances. Generally played smart, hit fairways and greens, and really tried to keep it below the hole as much as possible, but it's tough to do on this golf course. There definitely are some chances out there, but like I say, the second you got out of position this course will beat you up.
BETH MURRISON: Would you go over the birdies and bogeys on your card today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Obviously, yeah, bogeyed 10. Hit it in the left bunker off the tee there.
My birdie on 11 was a gap wedge from about 95 yards, I nearly holed it.
My bogey on 12 was from the front bunker, bat bunker shot there.
My birdie on 14, I made about a 35, 40‑footer there, it was really nice.
I had a really good shot on 16. I had a 9‑iron, a cut 9‑iron to that front pin position to about six or seven feet.
18 I went for the green in two. I hit it in the left bunker, just because it should hit it left on that pin on 18. I got it up and down.
Birdied 4. I made a pretty good putt on 4 there, I was about 20 feet above the hole, a real right‑to‑left on the scope. That was really nice to make.
6 I hit it in the left rough off the tee, laid it up, and about 75‑yarder, hit it to about 6 feet, maybe 8 feet and made that.
My bogey on 9, I hit a good drive there, pin was front right, and I was going to leave it on the front of the green, but the front of the green looked very uninviting and I tried to hit a cut 6‑iron and hit it past the flag and had a treacherous two‑putt and obviously three‑putted it.
Generally very happy with 3‑under par today. It's great to be in position going into the weekend of a Major Championship. That's what I practice for. I've got two more tough days on this golf course, and I'm just really trying to stay disciplined and stay calm and keep doing what I'm doing.
Q. Could you just talk a little bit more about what happened on 9? Seemed like you had a long wait there. How long was the wait, and did it affect what happened afterwards?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, you know, there was a bit of a backlog on 9. It's a tough hole. There's some pretty nasty stuff around the green there. It was John Rollins and I forget who were in the group in front. They were just having some trouble right at the green there.
But there is some pretty good sights to kind of take your mind off things. No, it didn't affect me at all. I was pretty comfortable with the golf shot I was trying to hit. And like I say, no, you've really got to be ready for that type of delay on this golf course, because there are tricky holes.
We had a similar type delay on 17 yesterday. You've got to be ready for that type of stuff and take in the scenery, it's pretty spectacular.
Q. Have you allowed yourself in maybe a positive motivational kind of way to look ahead to the possibility of winning this tournament?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I'd be lying if I hadn't thought about picking up the trophy on Sunday afternoon. I think that's only natural. But I'm trying to be very realistic about it, as well. I'm really trying to put no expectations on myself this weekend because, A, I know there's a lot of great players out here, and B, this golf course is extremely difficult.
So I'm not seeing the battle with the rest of the field, even seeing the battle with myself and the golf course. So I really, really feel like I'm playing the golf course really disciplined. I feel like all facets of my game are in good shape. I'm probably as ready to go into the weekend of a Major as I've ever been. Is this weekend my weekend? I have no idea, but I'll certainly be giving it my best shot, a hundred percent. If I get a sniff Sunday afternoon I'll be ready for it.
Q. It have you thought about the elustrious company you'd be in, the four guys that have won U.S. Opens here in the past?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I couldn't even name one, apart from Tiger Woods, obviously, 2000. You know, I'm not a massive golf historian, I'd be lying if I said I was.
But winning Major Championships is what I've dreamed of all my life and what I've practiced for. Over the seven or eight years I've been playing in them there's no doubt I've been learning more and more about myself and what it takes to win a Major.
I feel ‑‑ like I say, I feel I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be. That doesn't mean my name's on the trophy this Sunday afternoon. There's a hell of a lot of work to do. This course is ready to bite you any second. I'm going to be relaxed and disciplined and try to keep control of my emotions and see where that leaves me Sunday afternoon.
Q. A stunning weekend 64‑63 on the weekend at your last tournament. You knew you were in good form coming in here. How did you prepare over the last couple of weeks, week and a half or so?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I had a week off after Wales. It was over at my house in Orlando, just kind of acclimatizing a little bit, and cranking the jet lag up a little bit. I didn't do a huge amount last week. I just came off three weeks in a row in Europe. I played plenty of golf, and I wasn't too worried about my game. I thought my form was great. I did work with Pete on Friday night and had four days of preparation on the golf course.
And that was more than normal of what I would do, but I really felt this golf course required some work, required some getting to know and, you know, I played three AT&T's in the past, but nothing prepares for you for level of set up. I really had three great looks at the golf course between myself and my caddie, I really think that we're very good at putting a game plan together, we're very sensible, we're pretty good strategizers when it comes to that kind of stuff.
I've always enjoyed the Major challenges, they're tough. There's no doubt I came off the golf course last night pretty frustrated and pretty ‑‑ I made a promise that I would do better today. I feel well prepared. But it doesn't matter how well prepared, this golf course can still bite you and you have to be sensible out there.
Q. How long was the putt at 9, your first putt, and then your next putt. And also how many times have you found yourself above the hole here today, specifically?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, how long was my first putt? Probably ‑‑ it was all of 60 feet, I imagine. It was a big left‑to‑right swinger over the top. I knew it was fast. I knew it was very fast. And I hit that pitch in practice and I hit a few putts in practice, and I knew it was lightning. In your head you're like, go to get it there.
But it's fast, you know. So second I came off the club. I was like, get done, stop. Obviously just rolled off the ‑‑ rolled on to the fringe. And probably had 15 feet coming back, maybe, something like that. Which I blew four feet by, and I had to sweat over a nice four footer for three‑putt. 4‑putt was in my head, obviously.
But I was trying to get out of dodge. You've got to accept on this golf course, you get out of position, you're going to make bogey, simple as that. There's a few times the last few days that I hit it in the wrong position. You can only do as well as you can and try to get 10, 12 feet for par, and hopefully you make it. I think it's a fair test of golf, I think Mike Davis of the USGA does a great job setting the golf course up, moved tee boxes around, I hit 2‑iron off the tee yesterday and I hit driver today, just the different setups. I think the golf course is fair and I think it rewards good golf, and that's all you can ask for.
Q. Were you above the hole a number of times today, or did you keep it below the hole where you wanted it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I generally kept it below the hole, but I think it's impossible. You can say to yourself as much as you like I'm going to keep it below the hole. I was probably above ‑‑ I've been above the hole probably seven or eight times in the last two days. I've been over the back of the 17th green twice, which is not really recommended for making par.
Yeah, like I say, trying my best, and I hit it past the pin on 1 today. You can try your best to keep it below the hole but it's tough to do all the time. You've got to be accepting.
Q. Everybody says it's hard to play good golf after a win, is that something you normally subscribe to or are you feeding off the feel good from the Wales Open win?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I subscribed to that thought in the past, no doubt about it. This week feels different ‑‑ this win feels different. When I won at Loch Lomond a few years ago, I achieved all my dreams, I was on the Ryder Cup. It felt like a big, big deal. And I went to Birkdale the following week and got off to I a good start, burned out in the weekend, from fatigue or whatever it was, ran out of steam.
This time I feel different. I had a week off after the win, which helps. But this win has been a huge springboard for me. A springboard of confidence, springboard for a good summer. I'm trying to use the momentum that I had in Wales. I feel very relaxed and very under control of what I'm doing, just trying to feed off that confidence.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about how European players haven't played particularly well at Pebble Beach and the U.S. Open. The entire leaderboard is almost made up of international players, non‑American players. Is there something the course sets up for international players, or can you see a trend here with so many guys from so many different countries, a lot of guys haven't played this course here coming in?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Sure. I think you've got to look at the World Rankings. The International flavor, the top 50 in the world right now suggests that ‑‑ especially Europe, we have a real strength of talent coming through. It's only a matter of time before these guys start competing in major championships. It was great to see Lee and Robert Karlsson battle it out in Memphis last week.
International golf is certainly strong right now. The USA has always had the wealth of talent, they definitely dominated the World Rankings in the past. Things are changing. We have more and more top players, guys who are capable of winning major championships. This golf course really has a links type feel to it. It's a British‑Open type golf course. Disregard the heavy rough around the greens. It has a British‑Open type flavor. There's a sea breeze, which has more of an affect on the golfball than regular winds.
My ‑‑ I play a Callaway IX golfball. I'm convinced this golfball flies through the wind much more than golf balls ever did in the past, except this type of a breeze. This is a real heavy breeze, obviously the wind doesn't really have a weight.
But between my caddie and I, we kind of rate winds as to how much they affect the golfball. So a 10 mile per hour wind in line with degrees celsius say in Memphis, Tennessee, the golfball is not going to get affected by it.
But here really the breeze has a huge effect out here, and it really has a British Open feel to the way you've got to fly the ball around and control it in the wind. And perhaps that has something to do with it.
Q. You mentioned 17. What did you hit off the tee there, how did you make your par, and how difficult is that hole?
GRAEME McDOWELL: It's extremely difficult. You know, the golf course is very fair. 17 is borderline unfair, perhaps. It's one of the greatest holes in World Golf. I don't really know how I can hit that back left portion of the greens, it's nearly impossible.
I hit 3‑iron yesterday over the back, I hit 4‑iron today over the back. Not quite sure what to hit there tomorrow, 5 seems like it could be a potential club.
Practice rounds, talking to my caddie, front bunker is the lead. But you go down there and hit a golf shot, you're not going to lay it up in the front bunker. I hit the highest 4‑iron ‑‑ I had such a good shot today, really the way I wanted to, over the back, dead. Had a really good chip shot, which ran 10 feet past the hole.
And you've got one of those putts that you're going to be faced a lot at the U.S. Open, 10 foot par save, big momentum saver. I had a good putt and made it. And I'd have been disappointed to hit three good shots and walk off with a 4, which I had a potential to do, because I couldn't hit a better 4‑iron, I hit a potential pitch, and so you're staring bogey right in the face. It's a tough hole. The front right pin is playable, but I don't know how those back left opinions are playable, it's a bit unfair, but it's a pretty spectacular hole.
Q. Can you tell me, did you have any sort of conversation last night with Rory? Are you sort of surprised that he really hasn't fired this week, it seems, looking at where he is on the board?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Rory has been staying here at Pebble Beach and I've been actually in Monterey, so I haven't been ‑‑ I practiced with him all week, obviously, but I haven't spent a lot of time with him in the evenings. I'm surprised that he hasn't fired this week, yeah, I think Rory is such a talented player. I'm always surprised when he doesn't win every week, he's that good, I think. There's no doubt major championships are a different animal. Rory plays gung‑ho golf. He doesn't put a lot of thought in what he does. He relies on sheer talent and sheer belief in what he does. He's awesome, no doubt about it.
But put him on a test like this where you get above the holes, and I don't care how good you are, you're going to make bogey, simple as that. Phil Mickelson, Mike Weir, I don't care who you are, you get out of position on this golf course, you're not going to get the ball up and down in certain positions.
But that's probably ‑‑ I would imagine Rory has not just really put enough thought into the golf course regards game plan. And like I say, it's just his style of play, he's a gung‑ho player. He's a young kid, he grips and rips it. It's not U.S. Open golf, which you've got to place it, you've got to plot your way around and play smart. And I think that will come with experience. I think he will win Majors, no doubt about it. But like I say, right now he's little bit of a raw talent.
BETH MURRISON: Graeme, thanks again. Congratulations on your fine round.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Thank you.