What they said: Graeme McDowell

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March 04, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: The Honda Classic transcript archive

Q. We are assuming Rory is going to get it done, and he got quite a jolt from Tiger, Tiger got to within one eagling 18??

GRAEME McDOWELL: It was a lot of fun out there today. Right from the word go, I was on the range, Tiger I guess eagles 3, it was just roars going up all over the golf course, bombs going off all over the golf course.

Just a fun day. I couldn't quite get any fireworks going myself. It was kind of mediocrity; hit it to 30 feet all day. But played some nice golf this week but just could not really get in the tussle.

Yesterday I just couldn't get it going. But for Rory to go out today with a two-shot lead and have Tiger shoot 62 on him and Westwood shoot 63, it just shows you how hard to win golf tournaments on any tour in the world but especially this tour. I think regardless of what happens today, this golf season just got a lot more spicy.

Obviously Tiger is back doing only outrageous things that Tiger can do, and you know, we have got a world-class field around him now, as well. So I'm excited to be part of that, and you know, obviously I'm pulling for Rory. Hope he can get it done out there and become the world's No. 1 today, because I think he deserves it. I think he's the best player on the planet right now.

Q. Given how much you've seen Rory up close, it seems like his putting has really improved, especially the 5-footers, he's made a ton of putts today, par-saving putts??

GRAEME McDOWELL: That's the biggest difference in Rory's game. A couple years ago, yeah, he was probably a little question mark from inside six feet. His stroke was a little bit kind of lifty and across the line. The work he did with Dave Stockton I guess pre-Congressional last year has made a huge amount of difference, and now he believes he's a great putter. That was the missing link, because the rest of his game is all there.

He's the best player I've ever seen tee-to-green, period. I didn't have a chance to play with Tiger early to mid 2000s when Tiger was the man, but Rory McIlroy is the best -- he's the best player I've ever seen. Like I say, as soon as he learned how to putt, he was going to be a dominating force, and you're starting to see that now.

Q. Where is he mentally compared to two years ago??

GRAEME McDOWELL: I think he has a huge amount more belief than he had two years ago. Yes, he was not a stand out closer two years ago, because he didn't have the putting ability. Now he has the putting ability and he's starting to win regularly. Like we all knew he could. And that's fantastic to see, it's great for golf.

Like I say, I golf the story line, going into a great season, I'm excited to be part of golf right now. I think it's healthy, and I think it's better than it's ever been. Great to have Tiger Woods back playing the kind of golf we know he can play, because he's exciting for golf, let's all be honest about that and great to have him back on the leaderboards and we all want to win majors with him in the field and it's exciting to be part of golf right now.

Q. What do you think this does back home, how is it received? Will they get their heads around the fact that they have got the little man as No. 1 in the world?

GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it doesn't surprise me, but I mean, it's going to be exciting. Irish golf has had an amazing run for six years. I told someone the other day, that amazing run is only just beginning because Rory McIlroy is about to become the world's No. 1 probably and he's going to win multiple, multiple majors and it's exciting and Irish golf is going to be healthy for a long time to come.

Obviously I'm hoping to be part of that, as well, because I think I've got a fair bit of improving to do, as well. Like I say, if I can somehow hang on to the curly-haired man, you know, I'll be okay. But listen, I'm so happy for him, he's a fantastic player, he's a great kid and he's going to be a fantastic world's No. 1 and I'm just excited to be a friend of his and part of a team that he's a part of, and I'm excited for the game of golf.

I think Rory has upped his intensity level both on and off the golf course. I see him working harder and I see him getting himself in great shape. I see him just kind of being a lot more single-minded and tunnel-visioned off the golf course. I think he's working harder and he has a huge amount more belief in himself and he knows what he wants to do now and he knows how to do it. It's pretty scary to see what he can do with a golf ball, you know, and he's now starting to kind of show it. So, it's cool.

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