Interview: Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry


October 23, 2013

PAUL SYMES:  Delighted to say we are joined today by Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowery who will be representing Ireland over in Melbourne.  The guys need no introduction, but I will do so anyway.  Obviously Graeme, eight regular European Tour wins, and two this year at Open de France and Volvo World Match Play, and he's also won the RBS Heritage on the US PGA Tour, and of course has a major to his name at the 2010 U.S. Open.  Fourth appearance in the World Cup, came close to winning two years ago at Mission Hills.  Many thanks for joining us today, Graeme.
 
Shane, two wins on The European Tour, most recently at the Portugal Masters last year, making his World Cup debut this year.  Again, many thanks for joining us, Shane.
 
We'll start with you, Graeme.  You mentioned two years ago you came very close so I'm sure you'd like to go one better this time around in Melbourne.

GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, I've always enjoyed my experiences at the World Cup.  As soon as I -- when I heard that the venue was going to be Royal Melbourne, I was excited to be part of the World Cup again.
 
Very excited to have Shane alongside me, great player.  Should bring a lot to the tournament.  Obviously slight format change this year.  A little bit more individual element to it with some World Ranking points, and a lot to play for.
 
But national pride at stake, and losing by one a few years ago at Mission Hills, love to go one better.  You know, yeah, it's a lesser team element, but still, it would be amazing to win the World Cup and add that to the resumé and very good friends with Shane, he's a very good player and I think we'll certainly be one of the favorites.
 
PAUL SYMES:  You mentioned Royal Melbourne, quite linksy in feel, that should suit your game right down to the ground; that's the sort of courses you grew up playing obviously.
 
GRAEME McDOWELL:  For sure, myself and Shane both grew up in Ireland, and playing a links experience, I think as far as playing golf courses like Royal Melbourne, I think we'll be as experienced as anybody out there.  Some great players down there.
 
I haven't played Royal Melbourne in many years.  Played Kingston Heath obviously in the Australian Masters last year and enjoyed that experience immensely.  Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world and very much looking forward to being part of the World Cup and out to Royal Melbourne which is a fantastic golf course.
 
PAUL SYMES:  What shape is your game in ahead of the World Cup?
 
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Game is in good shape.  We'll be in Dubai the week before, obviously chasing The Race to Dubai, and should be fairly sharp going down to Melbourne.  Looking forward to that.
 
But it's been a little bit of an up-and-down year.  I've had a little time off the last four or five weeks and feeling pretty fresh and ready and feel strong in The Race to Dubai.
 
Like I said I'll certainly be feeling pretty sharp and ready to go come the corralled up with in Melbourne.
 
PAUL SYMES:  On to you, Shane.  How excited are you to be making your debut in the World Cup in Melbourne?
 
SHANE LOWRY:  Yeah, very excited.  Obviously I've never played in the World Cup before I've played for Ireland many times at an amateur level, and this is something that I'm really looking forward to come out and it's something that I was kind of looking to all year.
 
You know, when I heard I was going to be playing on the team with Graeme, I knew it's a good chance to go down there and do well, and possibly win a World Cup, and it would be great to do that.  You know, I'm pretty excited about it.
 
PAUL SYMES:  Slightly different format this year, predominately straight player event but with a team event, you'll be pushing each other on.
 
SHANE LOWRY:  Exactly, we were just talking about it over lunch.  I think the ideal scenario would be the two of us in the final group going head-to-head and playing with each other, as well.
 
Yeah, it's obviously more individual this year, which is good for me in the position I'm in at the minute.  I'm about 70 in the world and need to be in the Top-50 in the world.  But obviously the team element is big, as well, and to win a World Cup for Ireland would be great.

PAUL SYMES:  Have you been to Melbourne before?
           
SHANE LOWRY:  No, I've been to Australia twice, both times to Adelaide.  I've under been to Melbourne.  Heard great things about it.  One of my good friends lives down there, so I've heard good things about it, so looking forward to going down there and seeing what it's like.
 
Q.  For either of you, I understand it sounds like you're committed to Dubai the week before the tournament.  So I just wondered, given that the Australian Masters is also being played at Royal Melbourne, do you feel that the players maybe like Adam Scott backing it up, have some advantage?
           
SHANE LOWRY:  Yeah, obviously if you get to play the golf course quite a bit before, he's going to have probably six rounds of golf, six or eight rounds of golf on it before he tees up in the World Cup, so a little bit of an advantage.
           
But I'm sure we'll get down there early enough and get a couple of practice rounds in and see what the course is like, so it shouldn't be that difficult, anyways.
 
           
Q.  And do you feel like the shine has gone off a little bit given some of the top Americans have bypassed the event, given it's closeness to Thanksgiving and the travel factor?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, the World Cup is a very prestigious event.  The organisers have been working hard the last few years to try and inject that little bit of enthusiasm back into the event.  You know, it's such a busy schedule nowadays, there's so much golf to play globally.
           
Australia, as much as it is a beautiful part of the world, it's quite a long way away from the main golfing meccas, I guess, being the U.S. and Europe and even Asia to a certain extent.  Beautiful part of the world.  We are excited to go down there.  I certainly understand the decisions of a lot of the players to give it a miss.  It's the end of a long year.
           
It's very tough to play everything, and I know Matt Kuchar is coming back to defend his part of the World Cup that he won in Hainan Island a couple years ago, and I'm sure Gary Woodland would have loved to be alongside him but isn't eligible to partner with Matt Kuchar this year.  I know Gary well, and he would have loved to be back.
           
It's a decent feel.  It's not as good a feel as I'm sure the organisers would like, but it's a very prestigious event and it's an event that myself and Shane would love to win.
 
           
Q.  And for Shane, I understand you've got twins due in December, so is there any concerns about an early arrival?
           
SHANE LOWRY:  That's actually not true.  Not that I know of, anyways (laughter).
           
PAUL SYMES:  That might be David Howell.  (Laughter).
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  That was great, we loved that.  (Laughter).
 
           
Q.  Just wondering where World Cup fits in, there's so many things, Ryder Cups, the Olympics, a little bit like the Olympic format; can you just tell us where the World Cup fits in and maybe a little feel for pitching a hit to the Olympics when golf comes in?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  In my own career, the team events that I've been involved in have probably been the highlights of my career so far; the three Ryder Cups I've played, Royal Trophy, Seve Trophies, the three World Cups I've played to this point.  I've always enjoyed the team element of golf.
           
Golf is a very individual sport.  We play week-in, week-out, 72-hole stroke-play events for ourselves.  Any time you get to partner with a fellow player, with a fellow international player, it's always a lot of fun, and the World Cup sits pretty high up in events that I love and I enjoy.
           
Like I say, I have played every year that I've been eligible to play in the World Cup and partnered with Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy the last two times I've played.  Shane is a world-class player and a guy I'm looking forward to seeing it up alongside in Melbourne and looking forward to adding the World Cup to my resumé.
 
           
Q.  You had some fine things to say about Kingston Heath last year, the layout of the course, the 10th hole, 140 yards; I think there's a par 3 at Royal Melbourne just over that distance.  Can you talk about how courses with those little par 3s still have a place in big-hitting golf around the world at the moment?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Kingston Heath last year for the Australian Masters, first time I had been back in Melbourne for quite a while.  Really enjoyed the experience.  The Australian crowds are always a lot of fun, very knowledgeable about the game, just a great history and tradition of golf in Australia.
           
Obviously strengthened hugely by Adam Scott this year, and his fantastic season, so I think there will be a really great buzz around Melbourne this year.
           
Like you say, Kingston Heath last year was just a great experience, just old-school golf, standing the test of time.  We kind of get worn out week-in, week-out by playing 230-, 240-yard par 3s all day.
           
It's great to come back and play the real old-school golf courses, protected by wind and great bunkering and firm and fast greens.  I'm assuming coming off the back of the Aussie Masters, the greens at Royal Melbourne should be running unbelievably fast by the time we get to the World Cup.
           
It's been so long since I've been to Royal Melbourne, so I can't really remember much about the golf course.  Watched a bit of The Presidents Cup a couple years ago, kind of recognized a few of the holes.  But just very excited to get back and to experience that great layout.
 
           
Q.  One of the elements of winning a major is the demands on you grow exponentially, I think you didn't win an event in 2011 after you won in 2010.  Looking at the Adam Scott example, what would you say to him, I guess even a little bit of advice to Adam to keep -- how you keep going after winning a major with all the distractions.
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  There's to doubt, the demands on your time increase exponentially.  Adam Scott is a world-class player and has been a world-class player for many, many years; so I'm sure his life is well adapted to the demands on his time.
           
You know, I was a slightly different kettle of fish when it came to when I won my major championship.  Certainly wasn't as experienced a player as Adam Scott, and you know, it certainly took me a little bit of time to adapt to my newfound sort of stature in the game.
           
Like you say, the demands on my time, schedules and really just balancing life on and off the golf course.  I guess the toughest thing is re-setting goals, staying motivated and staying driven to keep getting better and keep improving, and just balance that with all the demands on your time.
           
I don't think Adam Scott needs too much advice from me.  He certainly knows how to handle himself and certainly has proved that so far already this season.
 
           
Q.  Could you perhaps mentioned one or two things you said no to in the wake of that U.S. Open victory that kept you on track?  
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Difficult, difficult to say really.  I had a pretty busy end of the season in 2010, Ryder Cup, and The Race to Dubai season.  2011 was a tough year for me.  It was certainly a year where I adapted to my busier life and you know, certainly got a cross the sort of mental hurdle that comes with achieving a dream like winning a major championship.
           
I'd say it's been a learning curve ever since then really.  You know, really cutting back on my schedule; saying no to playing -- it's tough.  You've got to sort of sit out events like the Seve Trophy, for example, a few weeks ago, just because the demands on your time are so heavy.
           
So you've really got to balance, be a little bit kind of -- I hate to say the world selfish.  You've really got to look at, you've got to prepare yourself, be fresh and be as ready as you possibly can to play each week.
           
So you've got to make tough decisions sometimes from a scheduling point of view, and you know, when it comes to schedules, I think that's always kind of an art form that we are trying to get better and better at.  We are always learning about ourselves when it comes to scheduling and trying to balance that.
           
You know, these are all great problems to have.
 
           
Q.  It's rare on the golf front to have an Irish team, the combination of Northern Ireland and Ireland; going forward for the Olympics how is the break up going to work there in your eyes?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  The Olympic issue is a very interesting and complex one, when it comes to, like you say, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; we'll see.
           
I believe from an Olympic point of view when I compete in the World Cup this year, that should -- I think that answers the questions regards who I will compete for in 2016; I believe that I will be tied to the Irish team at that point, which is certainly not a problem in my eyes.
           
I've played for Ireland most of my career to this point, and will certainly be excited to potentially get that chance come 2016 if I'm still fit and healthy and good enough; that would be a great problem to have.
           
But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Looking forward to seeing how the Olympics fits into golf in general and certainly hope to have that opportunity.
 
           
Q.  Have you got any Australian wine or beer at your restaurant in Florida?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Yeah, we have a little Australian wine on the menu, partial to a little Australian Shiraz from time to time, and certainly enjoyed the Australian hospitality when we were there last year.  Certainly looking forward to spending some more time in Melbourne, just a great city of culture and food and hospitality in general.  So looking forward to going back there.
 
           
Q.  Can I ask you what brand the Shiraz is and when your last trip to Melbourne was?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I think we have one of Greg Norman's Shiraz on the menu.  You might want to double-check that on the website.  Obviously my last trip to Melbourne was for the Australian Masters last year at Kingston Heath.
 
           
Q.  And to play Royal Melbourne many moons ago?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Back in the Heineken Classic days.  I need to look at my records but it was probably 2004, 2005.
 
           
Q.  Okay.  When they were giving the tournament to Ernie every year?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  That's the one.  The Ernie Els Invitational.
 
           
Q.  Shane, when Graeme won a major, there was I'm gathering an up surge in belief of the other Irish players that they, too, were capable of winning a major.  Saw a young fella like Darren Clarke win one and Rory broke through.  Is that a realistic analysis that if you see a countryman break through, it gives the whole nation of golfers a little bit more belief that they, too, can get up there?
           
SHANE LOWRY:  Yeah, I suppose it started back in '07 when Pádraig won his first one.  I wasn't on Tour back then, but I turned pro in 2009.  Yeah, when I seen Graeme winning his and seeing Rory win his and Darren, I think it's a big coincidence that they are all from the same country and just happened to be good enough around the same time.
           
I think no matter who you are, it's hard to win one of those Majors.  And you know, fair enough, we're from the same country and it gives a lot of people belief; it gives a lot of people excitement about the game.
           
So, yeah, I suppose I do have that belief that some day I can win a major, and you know, I don't think I'll be playing the game if I didn't.
 
           
Q.  Right now we've got the horse racing carnival coming up before the World Cup of Golf, which will be the Melbourne Cup, do you think you have more of a chance of taking home the World Cup than an Irish connection will the Melbourne Cup?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  What price is he?
 
           
Q.  Hard to say at the moment.
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  I'll say we'll be shorter odds to win the World Cup of Golf than the Irish connection will be to win the Melbourne Cup.
 
           
Q.  Just a golf one, obviously that's what we're here for, but I'm interested in the two of your thoughts on Rory McIlroy, since he signed a multi-, multi-million deal with Nike, I'm not sure whether he seems to have the same rhythm in his swing or whether it's the pressure of the Nike pin-up boy attachment that he now comes with.  How has he handled it to you guys?
           
GRAEME McDOWELL:  Really, you know, don't have any comment to make on that one.  It's been a long, complicated year for everyone on that matter, so we'll prefer to not talk about Rory McIlroy in this coverings.
           
Myself and Shane are excited to play in the World Cup and that's kind of what we're here to talk about.
 
           
Q.  Who is the No. 1 team to beat?
           
SHANE LOWRY:  Well, obviously I think the Aussies, Adam Scott and Jason Day are going to be favourites going into it.  I mean, but on their day, I think anyone can win.  Me and Graeme obviously think we have a chance going down, and we wouldn't be going there obviously if we didn't think we could win it.
           
So yeah, the Aussies are probably the team to beat down there, but I'm sure we can give it a good go, as well.

 

           
PAUL SYMES:   Thanks very much for joining us, particularly the two guys to my right, Shane and Graeme, and let's hope for a great World Cup.