MORE INTERVIEWS: WGC-Cadillac Championship transcripts
Q. Any time you shoot 66 at a big event, has to feel good?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Absolutely. Fairly benign conditions today. Golf course was about as easy is a little strong. The greens were firm and fast. Pins were tucked away in places. But, you know, it was kind of there for the taking, if you play good golf today.
The greens are about as good as I've ever seen them here. They are rolling very true, not a lot of grain on them. And there's not huge amounts of rough. You know, it takes a little bit of the control out of things, but the rough is not as severe as it's been in years gone past. It was there for the taking a little bit, but you had to hit good shots.
Q. Difficulty scale?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Difficulty scale, generally, it was probably a 6 out of 10. I wouldn't have called it easy and I wouldn't have called it tough. It was kind of somewhere right in the middle.
Q. Yesterday's practice round?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yesterday's practice round was probably about a 9 and a half I would say. It was tough. I flew in Tuesday night. Wednesday was my prep day, and you know, thankfully we've been here many times and we've seen this golf course in all sorts of conditions.
So I wasn't too stressed out when the wind dropped to nothing today. But it's always a good test of golf here.
Q. Do you change your strategy based on weather, whether or not to go for it a little bit more or whether to ease back a little bit?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, really, you just have to take each hole as it comes, depending on what the wind does, yes, your strategy can change a huge amount, leaving yourself downwind to tight flags, maybe being slightly more aggressive back into the wind.
It really just depends on scenario and pin positions and really how the course is set up; so you have to react. I sit down with my caddie before the round and look at the pins. We mark the pins to stay away from and we mark the pins perhaps to attack. It really just depends on the scenario.
Q. What holes were playing toughest for you today?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Tough holes today, the par 3, 13th, is always a tough hole. You know, 18 is obviously a tough tee shot. But it was playing quite short today, if you got a good tee shot away. Really, to be honest with you, I mean, there weren't really a lot of difficult holes out there today. If you hit the ball solidly.
There were chances everywhere on the golf course. There were tough pin positions, 9, for example, the par 3, was a tough pin to get close to. But the par 3s on this golf course are typically where the meat's at. Like I say, 18 is a tough par 4, but in these wind conditions today, the best players in the world will make some birdies.
Q. Standing on that opening tee box, do you know you are going to have to take it low?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I think you keep an eye on the leaderboard. You always have a number in mind, what's acceptable on a day like today. Thankfully I managed to keep the pedal down nicely today and make some birdies. We shot 3 under going out, which is always a nice start. We figured if we could pick up two or three coming in, it would be a great day's work. That was the number I had in my head.
Q. You played yesterday with Rory and you're obviously like a big brother to him. What words of advice did you have for him?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, you know, I said to the guys last week at Honda, the big brother/little brother kind of relationship ceases to be when little brother starts beating up on big brother quite often. You know, Rory knows what he's doing. He's learning from his mistakes. Last week was a bit of an anomaly. Things just kind of got to him.
He's a talented player, one of the best players I've ever seen. Struggling a little bit with his golf swing right now, but I know him and his coach and caddie are working very hard on things. I have no idea what happened to him today or what he scored or whatever, but you know, I know it's a work in progress. I know it's an equipment change is one thing, but he looks like he's struggling technically to me.
It's only a matter of time before he starts getting it back, back where he can control things. And you know, we all know how good he can be when he gets going. So, you know, I chatted to him a little bit since last week, but he knows what he's doing.
Q. You've gone through you went through a difficult time yourself with your swing and losing it a little bit. Talk about just how easy it is for it to go suddenly and then you have to work hard to get it back again?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I experienced a smaller version of what Rory has gone through back in 2011 when I switched equipment companies coming off a great year in 2010. I went through the doldrums a little bit for about six months. I was struggling more mentally than anything really. I was in a completely new environment, and I was struggling to kind of manage my time and prioritize my life and really kind of got a little bit frustrated with it all.
It took me it was a little bit of a learning experience. Rory is in a slightly different echelon from me. He's been kind of groomed for this type of stardom and he's handled himself unbelievably well the last few years. He's just got a few different expectations of himself this year.
At the end of the day, he's just a young 23 year old kid from humble backgrounds, and you know, when you're thrust into the spotlight like he's just been, it takes a little bit of acclimatizing.