US Open champ McDowell talks to TG

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Graeme McDowell today admitted he is still "on cloud nine" after clinching a memorable US Open victory at Pebble Beach at the weekend.

The Northern Ireland star pitched up at main sponsors Callaway's Surrey HQ - with the prized silverware of course - still in a state of shock after his dramatic, unexpected triumph which saw him become the first Brit to win the US Open crown since Tony Jacklin 40 years ago!

And McDowell, en-route to a right old knees up with family and friends back home in Ireland tonight, took time out to answer TG's pointed questions. And here's what he had to say...

TODAY'S GOLFER: *Did you think you were major-winning material?

McDowell: After I won the Wales Open at Celtic Manor I just felt right and believed I was embarking on a big summer. But I didn't know this (US Open) was around the corner.

I had a quiet belief in myself after going into the weekend leading though I had no expectations of myself and didn't put any pressure on myself. The only thing I promised myself was that if I had a chance on Sunday afternoon I'd give it 100% and that's what I did.

Unbelievably I felt amazingly calm and relaxed and in a real nice place.

TODAY'S GOLFER: *When you sealed victory on the 18th green, you looked in a total state of shock. 

McDowell: I suppose it was an undramatic finish if you like. The course wasn't exactly yielding birdies galore. I didn't really do anything, I didn't make any 'bombs' I just played solidly and within myself.

I played the 18th very much under control so I suppose the emotions when I holed the winning put were kind of the way  I felt which was kind of controlled.

It was only walking off the last green that the enormity of what I'd achieved suddenly hit me, I couldn't believe what I'd just done!

TODAY'S GOLFER:*Where do you go from here?

McDowell: I'm looking forward to going back home - I've got a busy - and lively - evening lined up back home in Ireland and tomorrow I'm going to have a day off and I'm sure it's going to hit me like a ton of bricks!

It's been a whirlwind few days, and a lot of fun..

TODAY'S GOLFER: *After this victory, you must be set up both professionally and financially for the future?

McDowell: The financial rewards are obvious and I've got a great portfolio of sponsors and obviously looking to continue the relationships there. But from a professional viewpoint, it opens doors all over the world as far as most of the prestigious events are concerned.

"I've got a US PGA Tour card now which I'm looking to take up next year when I aim to play on both Tours (US and Europe). The spin-offs are unbelievable but probably the most important is the fact I've secured my Ryder Cup place in Wales in October.

I've been working hard for this for a few years now and I'm fortunate to have such a good team of people around me.

TODAY'S GOLFER: *What are your on-course strengths?

McDowell: My long game has been in the shape of its life and I've been trying hard to throw a good short game onto the end of that as well. There's just alot of cool stuff going on.

TODAY'S GOLFER: *Your success is another major feather in the cap of European golf?

McDowell: We're becoming a real powerhouse in world golf now. I read this morning that we've eight in the top 15 in the world now. There's just some great stuff going on now and obviously to be part of a purple patch in European golf is fantastic. 

TODAY'S GOLFER: *Padraig Harrington must have been a big influence on you?

McDowell: When you see a guy like that work so hard to turn himself into a multiple major champion, a guy you've practised and had dinner with on many occasions. When you actually see that happen in front of your eyes it makes you think this is real and it can happen. It kind of re-inforces your belief that it is possible to do.

TODAY'S GOLFER: *How are relations with Rory McIlroy after you accused him of being a bit 'gung-ho?'

McDowell: He's fine. I spoke to him this morning actually and there's no problem. As soon as I said that, I wished I hadn't because that kind of thing can be misconstrued. Basically I was just trying to point out that winning majors takes nous and experience.

"I wasn't having a go at the his grip-it-and-rip style and he knows that things can be spun round in a negative fashion. He's cool about it. I'm sure his time will come regards the majors.

TODAY'S GOLFER: *What a time and place to pull it off?

McDowell: You could say that! The first Brit to win in 40 years following the likes of Nicklaus, Watson, Kite, Woods...McDowell. Wow! And to do it with Mickelson, Els and Woods there or thereabouts was pretty special, specially at one of the world's greatest golf courses. Plus the sun was shining and it was Father's Day and my dad was there to see it all unfold. Fairytale stuff...

TODAY'S GOLFER: *What was the key to your success?

McDowell: The fact that I had to focus on my game so hard - the second you switched off you're going to make bogeys so I really had to work hard to concentrate on my game, even more so with the unfortunate Dustin Johnson disintegrating around me.

TODAY'S GOLFER: *More majors on the horizon?

McDowell: For sure. Firstly I'm going to enjoy this, relish and celebrate it but no way am I going to rest on my laurels. When the gun goes off at St Andrews in next month's Open I'm going to be ready to go.

I'm in the form of my life right now and I'm taking a lot of belief and confidence from winning this lovely thing right here (US Open trophy). Now that would be some double.

McDowell on....

His emotions walking down 18...

It was bit like a swan, calm on the outside, chaos underneath. I was pretty nervous on the 18th tee. I pulled out the driver and it’s amazing how the brain plays tricks on you and you start thinking about what might happen and various different scenarios. I had thought about picking the trophy up during the day but you really try not to let yourself get into thinking that way. Obviously the emotions were flying around but you just have to get down to business.

I had 231 yards to the pin on the last and I saw Gregory splash out the bunker and not make his putt so that made my decision easier. My caddie was keen for me to hit a 2-iron up there but I didn’t fancy leaving myself a possible pitch because too much could go wrong. Gregory missing the putt made the decision for me and it was very nice to chip down a 9-iron, put a wedge on and get out of there with two putts to win.

His celebrations...

We went up to the players’ hospitality area afterwards and stayed there for a bit. I had to do my media stuff and we had some food and champagne. Just with family and friends, my caddie, a few other caddies like Billy Foster. We had a few drinks and then went to an Irish pub in Carmel called Brophy’s Tavern. It was a long night, with a few glasses of champagne and plenty of adrenaline. I was on cloud nine. I woke up feeling amazing and saw the trophy there in the corner of room and it was just amazing. It hasn’t left my sight since.

The response to his success...I’ve had an amazing response – calls, text, emails, Twitter, my website crashed on Sunday afternoon. I’ve had some great messages from people like Monty, Tony Jacklin, the Northern Ireland actor Jimmy Nesbitt. Tony emailed saying welcome to the club and see you in St Andrews.

His thoughts on the course...

The set up was reasonably fair. I’ve said it all week that good golf was rewarded, bad golf was punished. Apart from 14 and 17 it was fair. The greens were tough, you had to be conservative, but I liked it and I thought the USGA and Mike Davis did a good job. They moved a lot of the tees around and got you thinking all the time. The rough around the fairways wasn’t too bad – they wanted to keep the trouble around the greens. The wispy stuff around the bunkers was a little unfair – Dustin Johnson got caught up in that, and Shaun Micheel double-hit one from there too when he was going well. But apart from that it was fine.

On hapless laying partner Dustin Johnson...

You never want to see a guy go through that. I empathise with him because we’ve all been through it. Of course I’m trying to beat him but you don’t want to see a guy beat himself. He handed me the lead pretty quickly on Sunday and I had a bit of a wait on 3rd tee while he went through his trouble. Those 10 minutes actually gave me a bit of time to get my head screwed on for the day and really focus. The course was so tough that I just wanted to concentrate on my own game and not worry about what Dustin was doing, or what Phil or Ernie or Tiger was doing behind me.

His mental approach...

My mental approach is just to knuckle down and not worry about anyone else. I was most interested in Justin early on and he looked fine to start with. He bombed one on the 2nd and I thought he didn’t look nervous at all. But 15 minutes later he’s handed me the lead. I just I stuck to my game-plan, though. I’ve been very calm for a while. I don’t know why. I wish I could bottle it up and keep it. It was the same in Wales where I felt relaxed and in control. I’ve been working with Pete Cowen for a few years now and I really felt my short game had to improve to have a chance to win. I’ve practised harder and it’s worked.