What they said: Graeme McDowellMarch 24, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
Courtesy ASAP Sports.
DOUG MILNE: Graeme McDowell, thanks for joining us, 1-under 71, great position heading into the final round tomorrow. Just a few comments on the round and how you're feeling about heading into the final round tomorrow, and we'll take a few questions after that.
GRAEME McDOWELL: It was a pretty tough day out there today. The golf course has been described as kind of major-esque. And that's a fairly good description of this golf course. It's firm, fast and giving you a chance to control your irons coming into the greens. They have not been shy with the greens this week. I've been having to putt my way out to the pins, but I guess the big thing was I generally missed the pins on the correct side, which gave me the opportunity then to putt out to them or chip as the case may be.
And you know, I cleaned up really well. I made most of my four-, five- six-footers today which really hung me in there. It was one of those rounds that could easily have been 75, and I hung tough and shot 71 and left a couple out there really.
But all in all really, very happy with my position, I'm in the last group here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of my favorite TOUR events, and it's a good place to be.
Q. Can you reminisce for us about the Chevron Challenge a couple years ago??
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, it was a fun weekend. I played with Tiger both day, and you know, I think the more times you play with Tiger, the more you kind of acclimatize to being in the group with him.
You know, it's not really the intimidation factor of him; it's more the kind of circus that goes with him, the media, the cameras, just everything; you multiply it by ten, 15, 20, from playing with anyone else. The crowds are pretty big, fun here in Orlando and there will be a few beers on board and it will be pretty raucous out there, I'm sure.
I've played with him many times, as recently as Tuesday in the Tavistock. As I say I feel I've acclimatized nicely to playing with him. He's a great guy to play with. He always compliments good shots, and like I say, he's just another guy that I've got to go and try and beat tomorrow. He's not going to be able to tackle me thank goodness, and all I've got to do is just play my golf ball.
Looking back to the Chevron, I managed to make a couple nice bombs on him on the last green, and it's fun to do to Tiger what he's done to other players and what he's done a few times in the last round here at Bay Hill.
Q. To follow on that, before the final round at the Chevron Challenge, you Tweeted, "bring it on." Wondering what would you Tweet tonight, and do you feel the same way going into tomorrow's round??
GRAEME McDOWELL: I Tweeted that before the Chevron?
Q. Before the final round, and you were four strokes back then.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Well, you'll have to tune in obviously to find out what I'm going to Tweet tonight.
Of course I'm feeling the same way, bring it on. It's not just him; it's a bunched up leaderboard. There's a fair bit of expectation on Tiger. You know, he's looking to complete the comeback I suppose tomorrow, because there's no doubt that he's playing great. He's got the ball under control, but he's got to go out there and try to win tomorrow the same way I do and a lot of other players that have got the opportunity to win.
So you know, there's certainly going to be expectation and pressure on him tomorrow, as there is on me. But what am I going to Tweet? Who knows. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited. It's the start of hopefully a great spring, summer for me. I felt this coming inside me because I knew I had been playing decently. It's another opportunity for me to go and try and win a golf tournament. If it happens, it happens; if it doesn't, you know, what there will be a huge amount of positives for this week.
A good night's sleep tonight in my own bed which is nice, but I'll be ready for a good day out there tomorrow. It's tough and you have to be smart.
Q. When Paddy beat Tiger at the Dunlop Phoenix, he said he noticed that Tiger kind of went into this conservative mode because he had the lead and he was hitting middle of the green and he thought, well, he's waiting for me to wait a mistake, he's not putting the foot down; and then Paddy makes birdies coming in and beats him in a playoff. When you beat him at Chevron, what did you notice? At what point did you think back then, obviously four-shot lead, you said at the time, hey, I'll try my best, but he's got a four-shot lead. At what point do you think, I could maybe beat him?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, tough to remember the emotions of that last round. I just remember the first nine holes, he couldn't make a putt and I made quite a few nice ones. You know, I just remember it being nice to be kind of in a tussle with him. Like you say, he does have that very conservative gear where you don't win 14 majors the way he has without knowing how to control your ball flight and play way from flags when you have to, and that's kind of the way this golf course is this week.
So, yeah, it will be interesting to see how they set the course up tomorrow. I see this golf course like a U.S. Open-type setup but with chances. It gives you about half a dozen, six or seven chances that you expect to birdie. At the U.S. Open, typically there are not so many of those.
Like I say, it's tough to remember the emotions of the Chevron. I guess I was kind of ahead on the back nine. I don't really remember what happened to be honest. I mean, it was decent golf. Tough to comment on unfortunately, sorry.
Q. Will you take a different approach with Tiger the final pairing with you, as opposed to anybody else? And is there a chance you can kind of get caught up playing match play against him, as opposed to just playing the tournament?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, I'm not going to change my approach in any way. Like I say, I've played enough with Tiger to know what's going on within the ropes playing with him.
The golf course is going to be the main competitor tomorrow. We've just got to go and play against it. It's an old cliche, go and play the course. But when the setup is this difficult, you really can't be focused on what anybody else is doing.
I guess, I guess, through 15 holes is a time to come up for air and just see where you're at, because 16 is a chance to go take a pin on and maybe make eagle. Until that point to be honest with you, apart from the four or five birdies chances that there is, you've just got to play smart on this golf course.
For sure, if he starts going low or someone starts going low, you have to react, but I'm going to stick to my game plan. It really is fairways and greens, and try and get into more of a groove with the putter than I did today. I felt like I putted very defensively today and I need to hit it a little closer and give myself a few more looks at birdie tomorrow.
Q. With Tiger back on the boards up top and playing the way he is, are you feeling a familiar vibe around him, and just where he's at right now, kind of on the rise??
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, for sure. You know, there's a familiarity of Tiger Woods being on the leaderboard every week, because that's what he did when he was at his best, and you know, up until a few years ago, really. No doubt, it's been a weird couple of years without him kind of competing, but I'm kind of in the camp that believes that Tiger Woods is extremely good for the game of golf and great to see him back playing good again and competing for events.
The atmosphere is going to be fantastic out there tomorrow due to him being in the mix, and you know, there's no doubt that he's done a lot for the game of golf, and like I say, there's going to be a nice amount of expectation on him tomorrow trying to complete the comeback. I know he says he's not on a comeback; he's been around for a long time, but you know, he's still got to win. Still got to go win tomorrow like the rest of us have to.
Like I say, it's fun. It's fun to have him back. We want to win the biggest events and we want to win majors with him in the field because he's going to be possibly the greatest of all time if not the greatest of all time. It's going to be fun for us to look back on our careers when eve had big wins over him.
DOUG MILNE: Best of luck tomorrow.