MORE INTERVIEWS: WGC-Cadillac Championship transcripts
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Graeme, thanks for joining us. Start us off with your assessment of the day.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it was an interesting day. Not sure if I can hit the ball any better than I did. Really controlled everything extremely well. Shot 4 under par on the front nine and felt like I could have been 7 or 8, you know. The 3 putt on 10 kind of rattled me a little bit, you know, because Tiger didn't look like he was going to do anything wrong. I really felt like I needed to be making putts like that.
11 was about the swing. The palm tree on the left hand side was just making me uncomfortable and I blocked it and made my first bogey of the tournament. Nice to get that monkey off my back actually. Wasn't playing in my mind at all.
Three or four holes there, was a little bit of a lack of focus, just couldn't seem to, just trying to force the ball into the hole, just couldn't make a putt.
14, I just had such a jumper lie in the right rough and the pitch shot, I was simply just trying to play that pitch shot too slowly and too precisely and just deceled on that, and that was a disappointing 6 there, that was a killer blow. Nice to steady the ship coming in. The chip on 16 was a lot of fun and made some good swings coming in.
Tiger played fantastic. All respect to the way he handled himself today and the way he played. He's going to be a tough guy to catch. But according to the forecast tomorrow, we are going to have strong winds. I think that's an advantage to the rest of the field, because benign conditions, the way he looks like he's playing, 67, 68, he's going to be a tough man to catch. But with tough conditions tomorrow, hopefully we'll have a chance.
Q. Here's a trademark long question. Fantastic 2 putt at the last hole, but the way Tiger is putting today, are you grateful to Steve Stricker that he's gone back to that to that sort of shape on the green?
GRAEME McDOWELL: What's that now, Steve Stricker?
Q. He gave Tiger a putting lesson.
GRAEME McDOWELL: That was nice of him. I'm sure he's regretting that lesson right now. No, he putted fantastically today. He controlled every part of his game very well, very few loose shots. You know, 17 was a really bad break for him. But in true Tiger fashion that we've become very accustomed to over the years to, come back and birdie the last, he was fantastic today.
So maximum respect there. He's going to be a tough man to catch tomorrow but nice 2 putt on the last to make sure I get to play with him, I get to watch it and get to see him and hopefully get a chance to get close to him tomorrow.
Q. You make the eagle on 1 and he misses his; at some point, you played probably as you said, as well as you could was there a point at which you thought, maybe he'll crack if I can do this; if I can get to maybe get ahead, get a lead?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I don't think there was any thoughts of anybody cracking on Saturday afternoon. You know, really we are just trying to position and give ourselves a chance for tomorrow.
Yeah, I played as good as I could the first ten holes. I left a lot of putts out there, though. I made some nice ones and I missed some makeable ones, and you know, Tiger played fantastic. He was very solid, very under control, putted great.
You know, we were it was a lot of fun out there, certainly for the first 11 holes, and even the first ten holes. Like I say, I lost my way a little bit for four or five holes, and he was pretty impressive. But a lot of fun to be out there with one of the best players in the world and getting a chance to tussle with him again tomorrow.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Tiger is in the room.
Q. Do you remember the last time you saw Tiger play this well and secondly, can you just talk about the tee shot on 16?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Kind of hard to answer these with him in the room (laughs). I guess I turned pro 2002, so I guess I missed the sort of early 2000s when he was phenomenal.
I've had a lot of chances to play with him the last five or six years. He was very solid today, very impressive the way he controlled his golf ball and the way he won his 14 major championships do I have the number right there? The way he controlled his ball it wasn't like wow, it was just really solidly good and impressive, you know, so ... (laughing, shrugging shoulders, shaking head). Okay, that's enough of that. (Laughter).