What they said: Graeme McDowellDecember 05, 2010
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Chevron World Challenge transcript archive
MARK STEVENS: Congratulations Graeme McDowell. Fantastic finish. If you want to talk about those last two putts, then we'll take some questions.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah. You know, it was -- the four on 17 was pretty key. Just tucked my 8-iron a little bit there. Horrible lie. Just to get that up and down to give myself the opportunity, you know.
Tiger stuffs it in there in real time, and I didn't hit a particularly good 9-iron there but gave myself a 20-foot look at it and poured it right in the middle. It was pretty amazing.
To come back and do the exact same thing in the playoff was pretty sensational. Those are probably two of the greatest putts I've made. Holed a couple of nice putts this year, but they were certainly up there.
To play the weekend alongside Tiger, you know, it's a pretty special feeling to go out there four back and do the job. He was a little cold on the greens today, and I got off to a good start and gave myself the opportunities.
It feels pretty amazing.
Q. Of those two last putts on 18, which was tougher to make mentally??
GRAEME McDOWELL: Probably the first one, because it was an all or nothing. The first was an all or nothing. The second one I had to be a little bit guarding of my pace, because he's in the guaranteed to make. So the second one, you know, they both went right in the middle just the perfect speed.
You know, they're the kind of putts that you make them and you can't really believe it afterwards. I mean, they were the stuff of dreams. 2010 has been the stuff of dreams. It's been that kind of year. Not quite sure why.
Q. Tiger said he fully expected you to make each of those putts. Did you fully expect yourself to make those??
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I mean, I understand Tiger's attitude. It's like the putt in the playoff that he's over, you know, I'm trying to work out how to get to the 10th tee from there because I'm expecting him to hole. You have to.
Mentally Tiger is great match player. He's the greatest player ever, and he expect guys to hole putts like that. Did I expect to hole them? I'm trying to hole them, of course.
I mean, I've putted these greens great this week, but you don't expect to hole putts like that. You just try to give yourself the opportunity. Sometimes they fall in and sometimes they don't. But they were pretty incredible back-to-back putts. It's pretty special.
Q. Was it a match play feel right from the start for you today??
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think it was. I think we were far enough in front of third that -- especially when I got off to a good start, it was match play. I didn't have to look too far to find out what he was up to.
Like I say, his putter looked pretty cold sort of around on the front nine, around the turn, and I sensed an opportunity. I was pretty nervous on the back nine, I have to say. Like I say, when you play alongside Tiger on a Sunday afternoon, you're expecting great things from him. I was a little nervous.
It's been an amazing season. I put that up there, you know, to play with him this weekend and to do it against him, it's definitely another highlight of 2010.
I'm just very proud of myself the way I've applied myself the last six weeks. It would have been pretty easy just to kick back with the great things I've achieved this year. But to finish as strong as I have and to win twice in the last six weeks, I'm very proud of myself as well.
Q. I don't know if you knew, but everybody knows what kind of closer Tiger Woods usually is. I don't know if you've known the stats, but 28 for 28 when he's leading by three shots or more after 54 holes. What's your reaction to being the first guy to change that??
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I mean, obviously I didn't know the stat, but I was aware that he's a pretty good player and a pretty damn good closer. (Laughing.) So, yeah, I mean, to be the guy to break that run is pretty special, of course.
You know, I'm sure he's disappointed. Certainly wasn't result the fans wanted out there. I was sensing the fans wanted -- I mean, obviously I'm up there -- I'm definitely a guy who says that golf needs Tiger Woods and we need him back winning tournaments.
Just great to see him back playing great again this week. I thought he controlled his ball really well the last couple of days. Just kind of got on the wrong side of the 13th there and made double. Apart from that, didn't do a huge lot wrong today.
Like I say, just the putter was cold. Like I say, I think he'll be back winning golf tournaments in 2011. I'm in the camp that say golf needs Tiger Woods back.
Obviously I was trying to go out there and do my job today, but he'll be back winning tournaments very soon.
Q. When you win an major like you did, you kind of raise your status to another level. Do you feel like a win like today against one of the game's best players takes that level up a little bit higher??
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, I don't perceive myself any differently because of what I've done this year. All I try to do is pour the confidence and belief back into my game, you know, and really try and believe.
What this weekend will do for me going forward, is next time I'm in a weekend tussle with him, that's gonna -- that was a really good workout for me this weekend.
For a major championship or a big event -- no disrespect to the Chevron World Challenge, I mean, I love this event. It's so much fun. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere than a PGA tournament or a major championship or something, WGC.
Next time I'm there with him, because I fully expect to be there in Sunday afternoon tussles with him, like I said that's a great workout, and I've pulled a lot of experience from that and I'll be able to use that next time I play with him.
Q. Last year you were runner-up; this year winning. Yesterday you played with Tiger. Did that give you any insight into how things were going to go today? You said yesterday you really wanted to many come out fast, and you did that on the front nine. Was there anything from playing with him yesterday that helped today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, there was nothing really I picked up, apart from the fact that he was playing very well. I thought he controlled his ball well yesterday and he had his scoring hat on, so I really thought that today I would have to go out and shoot in the 65, 66 range to have a chance.
The pins were tricky today. I mean, the great thing about this golf course is it's not the longest golf course in the world, but the second you get out of position on these greens they will beat you up. We saw that with Tiger on 13; with myself on 17.
The second you get out of position around here it's gonna beat you up. The only thing I gained from yesterday was just I knew I had to play well today to have a chance.
Q. Two parter: First, did you ever play with Tiger back when it was difficult for anybody to play well with him because of his intimidation factor? And secondly, you always won a lot golf tournaments in college, and you've had great Ryder Cups. What is it about pressure that you seem to be able to handle and really thrive on?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, first part of the question, no, I didn't really play much with him back in the day. First time I played with him was in 2002. It was my first four or five months or tour, so I was intimidated by most things. Obviously I was very intimidated by him. Deer in headlights comes to mind.
But I guess 2002 Tavistock Cup back in Orlando. I played with him at the Masters in '09. I played with him a few times, you know.
But I played with him in Shanghai about four weeks ago the first two rounds, and Ernie, so that was kind of a nice acclimatization, if you like. I think that's the word you got to use when you play with him. You've got to acclimatize to it, because there's a circus that goes with playing with Tiger Woods. There's an aura around him; there's a buzz, a media buzz, the fans.
It just takes a little bit of getting used to. It's more of the inside the ropes stuff. Just a lot going on. You learn when you play. And it's not just Tiger, it's the big players, you know, Phil, Ernie. Any time you play with big players you have to get used to that, and I have done that over the years.
As far as winning goes, it's a good habit to get into obviously. I've had an up and down career. Plenty of ups and plenty of downs. I've always figured myself as a pretty fast learner. I've learned a lot from my down times, from my hard years. I've worked very hard the last three or four years and made some big decisions in my life, caddies and management and equipment companies.
I feel like I earned my stripes a little bit, and I felt like a year like this one has been coming. Obviously the script this year has been pretty amazing. I didn't quite foresee it being this amazing.
But I really I felt like I had some big golf in me this year, and it's been amazing to be able to do it.
Q. (No microphone.)
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it's funny. I mean, there's no doubt. 53 weeks ago or whatever it was, you know, coming back from China, you know, I really started on a journey which has taken me some amazing places this season.
Obviously I have to thank Chevron and the Tiger Woods Foundation for giving me the opportunity last year. I'm a believer in faith. I think people get there, just different paths all lead to the same place really. But I look back at last year, and I really -- would I be sitting here if I hadn't got into the tournament and been second last year? I don't know. I don't know the answer to that.
All I know is I feel pretty lucky and fortunate to have been here last year, to have done it, and got myself the opportunity to achieve what I achieved this year. You just got to feel very lucky.
Q. Do you think Tiger's people are regretting giving you that invite??
GRAEME McDOWELL: Maybe. I had a joke with Tiger yesterday coming down the 18th fairway. I said, Few more people here this year. I don't really understand why. He told me to quit moaning, you know, because he had done me a favor last year, of course.
You know, if I ever need an invite again, who knows. Maybe I won't get one.
Q. You mentioned that you think Tiger is going to be back to winning tournaments soon. So you think his mystique or aura or intimidation level can ever be back??
GRAEME McDOWELL: Um, yeah. I think he can play his way back into having that mystique again. There's no doubt. He's just got to do the talking with his golf clubs now, you know. I mean, he used to appear invincible. Of course he's made himself appear more human in the last 12months.
At the end of the day, we're all humans and we all make mistakes and we all hit bad golf shots. But there's something a bit special about his golf game, and I fully expect that mystique to return as the golf clubs start doing the talking again.
Q. Talk about 17 and the decisions there.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, just 165 yards. You know, 8-iron shouldn't fly all the way back there, and I pulled with just a fraction and gets all the way back there. It's just one of those head-scratching moments where you're thinking, What the hell am I going to do here?
Back to the tee was a legitimate option. Thankfully I was able to go back in line. There was a bit of a bowl around that pin, which meant if I could hit a little flop shot and just catch the left side of the green, the ball had a chance to come back.
Between myself and my caddie, we worked out the sort of lesser of two evils really. Back to the tee didn't seem like a lot of fun because the 8-iron seemed like a little too much club.
I made the right decision and managed to get it done there and hole a clutch putt which set up the opportunity in the last, which seemed to be taken away from me when he stuffed it in there.
He did the same yesterday. He hit it in there stiff, and I'm thinking, Here we go again.
Q. Talk about your Tweet last night. You said to "bring it on." Talk about that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. My attitude was more bring it on. It's been great season. I was going out there today with absolutely nothing to lose. I figured he probably had more to lose than I did today. You know, four shots back, I've had a dream season. It didn't matter what was going to happen today, I was going to have a cold beer tonight and go, You know what? It's been a great season.
I was really decided to go out there with the attitude today of just leaving it on the golf course. This is my last real competitive run of the year. I'm playing The Shark Shootout next week and I'll have Darren Clarke as a partner. This is my last real competitive run of the year, and I wanted to leave it all out on the golf courses.
Like I say, that "bring it on" was more of a -- it was just kind of bring my attitude up a little bit. It wasn't like I though I could do it today, it was more just go and have the right attitude tomorrow.