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June 17, 2014

Padraig Harrington


STEVE TODD:ツ Many thanks for joining us.ツ Always a pleasure to have you here at The Irish Open.ツ Twelve years since we have last been at Fota Island Resort.ツ You had a second and a sixth here last time we played here, so I guess it's a venue you've been looking forward to coming back to?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, somebody informed me last week about my second place, I had forgotten about.
It was one of those ones where I think I shot 64 in the last round and never really had a chance of winning realistically.ツ I think sixth place, as well.ツ And I won as an amateur here, so it's obviously been a happy hunting ground for me over the years.
I do like the venue.ツ I like the atmosphere the venue gives off.ツ It's an ideal place for professional golf when you have got a hotel on site and you have got a beautiful golf course and you've got a fantastic setting and good practice facilities.ツ There's not much more the players could ask for than you've got here.
STEVE TODD:ツ Paul McGinley earlier was in earlier talking about the buzz there is around this tournament.ツ Having won one of these, does that take the pressure off and have you enjoy it a bit more?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ No doubt, I'm not under as much pressure as the other lads who haven't got one.ツ It is important to win your National Open at some stage in your career.ツ It's something you want to tick off for your C.V.ツ Obviously Shane has one; so there's two of us with it.
Yeah, there's an awful lot of extra‑‑ early in my career, it was pressure, a lot of expectation.ツ Then you realise that it's not necessarily expectation.ツ It's more just people who want you to win and they would like to you win and they are not trying to put more pressure on you.
When you look it like that, it kind of deflects it a little bit and you can relax a little bit more.ツ There's no doubt at an Irish Open for an Irish player, there's more stress around the week.ツ There's more things to be done.ツ There's more people to say hello to, and you know, you've got to stop and say hello to everybody.ツ It just mounts up in the course of a week.
So it's one of those events that you just know you're not going to be able to go through your normal routine, and you know things are going to be just slightly out of kilter and knocked out of kilter and once you accept that, it's easier to get on with things.

Q.ツ Your reaction to the news in Irish golf about Portrush hosting an Open?ツ
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, it's unbelievable, The Open coming to Ireland.ツ And I do think it's unbelievable.ツ Well, certainly was unbelievable three, four years ago.ツ It was such a long shot.ツ Obviously after The Irish Open went to Portrush and they saw the success, it really did move it on chances of The Open Championship coming to Ireland.
The last couple of months, it's not been far off for certainty; so it was no shock about the announcement.ツ But for sure, it's been an incredible amount of effort and encouragement to get it here.
I'm sure when it does come, it will be‑‑ I'd say it will be one of the greatest Opens ever.ツ The people that will turn out and the atmosphere will be second to none.ツ Only St. Andrews maybe could pass because it's the Home of Golf, but I think the raw atmosphere around an event like The Open Championship at Portrush will be unbelievable, just phenomenal, and as I said, I don't think players‑‑ you know, it would be rare if they will experience what they will experience when The Open is at Portrush.

Q.ツ Where would you rank Portrush in your list of favourite golf courses?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I've always said Portrush is right there at the top of one of my favourite courses, if not my favourite course in Ireland.ツ I like the fact that you're playing a links golf course that gives you something.
You know, I always found it sometimes frustrating playing a links golf course; and the fact that I won two opens on the tougher links golf courses kind of goes against it.ツ But you know, it's tough when you go out on a links course and you feel like you're only going one direction; that you can make a bogey and you're never getting it back.
Whereas Portrush, the beauty of it was, if you hit golf shots, you could make birdies and eagles and if you hit bad shots you were making bogeys and double‑bogeys.ツ It enticed you into‑‑ it was a more enjoyable links golf course.ツ Absolutely fantastic layout and a fantastic golf course and I really hope that they just don't do much with it.ツ I don't believe there needs to be a changes.
Obviously they are changing 17 and 18 and maybe a couple of par 5s in the middle can be par 4s.ツ But the layout of the golf course is spectacular, just the way the golf course plays, and it's a course that is could be enjoyed.

Q.ツ Why do you think it's important for a player to win their National Championship?ツ Is it from a pride point of view?ツ Self‑esteem?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ All those reasons.ツ It's something you set out on your C.V., you want to achieve certain goals in your life, and your national championship should be right at the top.ツ Each player when they play their own tournament.
There's more pressure involved.ツ So a good example, if you go into your National Championship, the stress and the focus, the expectations, are similar to what you deal with in a major tournament.ツ So the capability or the satisfaction of going and dealing with that and going and winning is a big deal.
So this week, there's focus on every Irish player and the focus of putting them under a little bit more pressure; whereas we could all turn out next week at the BMW and nobody really is going to take notice unless you get into contention.ツ Whereas this week, if I have a bad week, they take notice of it.
There's a bit more pressure and there's a bit more hype and a bit more talk about it, and for sure it's something everybody I assume over the years, all great golfers want to win their national title, and certainly you see over time, players who haven't won their national title, it's one of those things that will be a bye note on their little history that they didn't manage to succeed and win in their home Open.ツ

Q.ツ Going back to the question about The Open going to Portrush, could the R&A perhaps‑‑ I know there's about seven or eight courses on the rota at the moment, but could the R&A be displaying more initiative like the USGA is doing taking the U.S. Open to Washington State next year, by taking it to new venues?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think the R&A are doing a great job.ツ I think this is showing initiative going back to Portrush.ツ I think The Open should be played on a links golf course.
Any links golf course that is capable of holding The Open should be in the hat and I'm sure the R&A would consider any golf course down the road based on, is it a good enough venue.ツ At all stages, each venue was a new venue.ツ So it's not like they haven't done it in the past.ツ They are successful events and the golf courses are great venues.
Remember, it's a little bit like coming here this week or moving The Irish Open around.ツ If you're not at a venue for five years, I think you go back to St. Andrews and longer for some of the others, it's like a whole new event every time they go back.ツ To be honest, the R&A are spoiled for choice.ツ They have too many venues.
Comparing Britain to the U.S. in terms of size, like it's a small place compared to the U.S., and to pick eight venues and to find even more venues, and there's so many things going into it.ツ Like you have to look at a venue like this for The Irish Open, and it ticks all the boxes for the professionals:ツ It's got a hotel on site.ツ It's got a dramatic finishing hole with a great atmosphere and amphitheatre feel.ツ It's got it's 1st and 10th tee box right beside the clubhouse.ツ It's got a good practise range.ツ It's got a phenomenal pitching area, all the things the pros want.ツ It's not far from the airport.
This is a perfect venue.ツ Everything comes into consideration when it comes to a professional event.ツ There's so many more things than just having a links course.

Q.ツ Going back to the significance of The Irish Open to winning your first major title, would one possibly not have happened without the other or how significant was it?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think it was very significant.ツ Certainly for me, I worked myself up into a frenzy coming into The Irish Open, especially my early ones.
And learning to deal with that, was a big process for me learning to deal with how to prepare for a major tournament and handle the stress in and around a major event, no doubt about it.
So, yeah, it was massive and gave me a huge confidence boost, because I would have prepared for The Irish Open and hyped it up the exact same as a major at that time.ツ And it was very much the fifth major for me.ツ So, yeah, big time.

Q.ツ What's your preparation for your national open?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ It does vary at times but I think that's a book rather than an answer.ツ There's lots of things in terms of preparation.ツ I just understand that a week like this, things don't happen smoothly.
Like I finished there on 18 and was coming over here, and I had one, two, three, four, five‑‑ I had six, seven personal stops on the way where I had to stop, and it wasn't a hello.ツ I had to stop and address the person because I mightn't have seen them for a while and things like that.
That doesn't happen if I'm in the U.S., you're just walking on.ツ There's not people‑‑ if I met one person where I would have to stop and say hello‑‑ like I basically allowed and I knew when I finished my round of golf, it's going to take me 15 minutes to walk over to the press centre.
So you realise over time that you have to allow for that and it's impossible to finish at 29 minutes past three o'clock and be here at 3.30.ツ Actually there was eight, eight stops on the way.
So this is what I'm saying about when you're coming back, especially as well for me, as well.ツ I'm not playing as many events in Europe, so there's players I have to stop and talk to that I haven't seen in a while.
This is one of the reasons why I went and played in the U.S. Tour, to familiarise myself going into Majors, so you wouldn't be meeting always acquaintances and just getting caught up on things.ツ Where I go to a major in the States, the week after a U.S. event, it's just another week in terms of preparation.ツ
ツツツツツツ There's very few people there that week that I haven't seen in the previous weeks; whereas a week like this, it's a new week.ツ There's a lot of things going on, and there's different functions and different things all the time.
You know, you've got to embrace that.ツ You can't think that you can come to a major event or an Irish Open and believe that everything is going to be perfectly smooth and balanced.ツ That's just not the way it is.ツ And the minute you accept that, it's much easier.ツ It's much easier to get on, and you know, you just‑‑ I'm here, came down last night.ツ I managed to play nine holes today.ツ In the States, you'd have the full 18 in or something like that.
That's just the nature of it and so you just kind of relax and take it as it is and not worry about it, knowing that as an experienced pro, I'll be able to deal with it anyway.

Q.ツ Paul McGinley was in earlier, how do you think he's coping with the demands of being a Ryder Cup Captain?ツ He's obviously asked every second question about The Ryder Cup; how do you think he's doing?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I'm surprised it's only every second question.ツ Only every second one?ツ I would assume it was nine out of ten.

Q.ツ How do you think he's coping with the demands?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think he's doing brilliant.ツ I've known Paul for years and I know how much The Ryder Cup captaincy has meant to him and how much The Ryder Cup means to him.ツ And you know, we have fun with Paul that he'd over think things or whatever.ツ We often say that he'd be ringing up Martin O'Neill at half time for Celtic.ツ He'll probably be doing it for Ireland telling them what to do in the second half.
But he hasn't put a foot wrong with this Ryder Cup.ツ He seems to have done everything perfectly‑‑ perfectly; I wouldn't second guess anything he's said or done so far.ツ Been tremendous, spot on.ツ I can't even give him a hard time over it.ツ Like we would give him a hard time if we could find any chink in the armor, we would be right in there to have a bit of fun with him.ツ But he's spot on so far.

Q.ツ Related to what he said, he said he's 47 and he accepts he's in the twilight of his career as a tournament profession.ツ You and he are only five years apart.ツ Will you be saying that in five years' time?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Five years' time?ツ Yeah, I don't know.ツ I'm fitter and stronger than I've ever been at the moment.ツ I don't know.ツ I don't know.ツ You'll have to wait and see when it comes.ツ I'll be gearing up for the Senior Tour at 47, I don't know.
I really don't know.ツ Have to see how I play the next couple years.ツ So I feel fit and strong, but you know, who knows what happens.ツ Certainly players, they burn out.ツ It not a physical thing for sure, so we'll wait and see.ツ I've maintained everything I need to maintain to compete.ツ But it will all be based on whether you're burnt out or not.
So I can't give you an answer for sure, and if I thought I was going to be 47, well be it would probably be 46 or 45; it would come a bit quicker.ツ I'll try to delay that thought a little quicker and maybe I'll last till I'm 47 or 48, who knows.

Q.ツ With The Open in Portrush in five years' time; is that motivation?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think every open, every major is big enough hype to be buzzed up.ツ With anything, I would hope that I would be trying to chill out a little bit and take a little bit of the expectation down when it comes to The Open in Portrush.
I don't think I need any extra boost, no.ツ I don't think I need more.ツ I think if anything, just like I was explaining this about week, you're actually trying to take it down a notch or two and not get too hyped up and relax and chill out a little bit and not get too stressed.
So I would assume that would be the case come five years in Portrush.ツ Yeah, it will be a bigger deal for sure, but we try and not make it so.

Q.ツ You were saying this could be one of the greatest Opens ever.ツ Can you explain what you imagine happening or what might make it different or special?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think some golf courses lend themselves to creating a great atmosphere.ツ Portrush is a tight place.ツ There was limited crowds and it was raining at the last Irish Open there, and yet the atmosphere was electric and I think that's very important.
Some golf courses, you know, could you put 100,000 people on them and it would feel like they are empty.ツ Well, not the case in Portrush.ツ There will be a buzz, an atmosphere everywhere, in the town.ツ Throughout Northern Ireland, there will be a big buzz about it.
Like I said, the great thing about events when you come to Ireland, you can pull up to a petrol station 15 miles from the venue and you'll likely see the person behind the counter in an Irish Open t‑shirt trying to look for a few tickets (laughter).ツ There's the nature; there's a buzz everywhere when a big sporting occasion comes.
I think we've had a Ryder Cup and we've had a few big sporting occasions, but having an Open Championship, one of the biggest events in golf on the island is going to be a big occasion, no doubt about it.ツ There will be a lot of people talking about it.
There will being just an atmosphere that, as I said, it will be hard to manufacture the atmosphere that will develop in Portrush.ツ Even going back to the north of Ireland, there was always a great atmosphere about the Irish Open and the Amateur was played there, as well, and it was a great atmosphere.
It's a golf course that lends itself; there's plenty of birdie holes in Portrush and eagle holes and scoring holes.ツ So the actual golf course itself, you'll hear lots of cheers going out, because guys can play well on it.ツ It's not groans and oohs and aahs because guys are struggling to make pars and bogeys. There will be some birdies made in Portrush, and that's a good thing.ツ You always remember the big cheers up there.

Q.ツ Do you think Cork has a history of taking sports events to its heart, and is that something you remember from The Irish Open here in 2001, 2002?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I do believe that Munster people turn out for their sport, no question about that, Cork people particularly.ツ I think Fota Island lends itself very well to hosting The Irish Open, a big golf championship.ツ I think the atmosphere you'll see around the 18th all week, particularly on Sunday, out on the golf course; the course is quite an exciting golf course, plenty of water on it.
I think people that turn out will have a real family day out.ツ I think there will be plenty of ice creams eaten this week.ツ The ice cream advance will do well by the looks of it around Fota Island.

Q.ツ When you were talking about the longevity there a minute ago, you were saying it's not a physical thing and then you mentioned the word "burnout."ツ How does burnout manifest itself?ツ Is it principally in the putting,ツ and would you relate to what happened to Phil last weekend, for example?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I couldn't relate it to Phil Mickelson at all.ツ He won a major last year, so don't know.ツ Don't think you could put him in that category.ツ He's come into the prime of his life.
As regards me, this is really Skully's (ph) friend's idea.ツ I'm trying not to think about it or put myself in it.ツ That's one of those‑‑ I suppose it's one of those traps, the more you analyse and think about it, the more you're going to be there.ツ So I just play golf and just get on with it.ツ I like playing golf, really, really like it.
If I wasn't playing a tournament here, I'd be out playing golf.ツ So it's not like I don't like playing the golf.ツ So that's what I keep doing is keep playing away.ツ As I said, I believe the performances are there and I believe I can just do the job going forward.
It's up to you guys to, I suppose, weigh each side of that story, but I'm going to stay confident and believe it's going to turn around with more big wins again.ツ That's where I've got to be; even if that means I've got to create a lie or tell myself a lie, I'll go on with it.ツ I'm not going to go down the other road, anyway.

Q.ツ You seemed to be going well at Byron Nelson and then you came over to Wentworth and did okay for the first couple of rounds at your last event and things seemed to go awry.ツ Where are you now?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ As I said, I've had a few decent rounds there, good rounds, not finishing out tournaments.ツ So where I am and trying to finish out tournaments, which is a better place.
I'd rather be in a position of trying to figure out why I played well and didn't play well rather than trying to find my game.ツ So I'm not trying to find my game.ツ I'm trying to sustain it and figure out I didn't haven't played as well coming down the end rode.
So I'm comfortable and I have ideas for that.ツ Every week you have no ideas.ツ It's a question of moderating which one is really working well and that's where I'm at.ツ I'm actually in a good place in that sense.ツ As I said, it's a lot better when you're trying to sustain something than actually trying to find it in the first place.

Q.ツ The reason I mentioned Mickelson, shouldn't have, sorry about that, but are putting problems a symptom of being in your 40s?ツ Is this something that happens to professional golfers when they get into their 40s?ツ Is it part of the wear and tear, putting problems like these?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Okay.ツ I honestly believe the answer is no.ツ And if the answer was yes, I'd still tell you no.
STEVE TODD:ツ Thanks for joining us.ツ Good luck this week.

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