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May 25, 2005

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, as always, welcome. It's not often we welcome you to Wentworth in the third week of May. So welcome here, and what are your thoughts on the week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, obviously I'm looking forward to the week, or the tournament, with trepidation. I'm waiting to see what I'm going to have. You know, I seem to be playing well, but obviously, and I still do find the greens difficult. So, who knows? If I start getting a roll of putts, it could be my week. If not, we'll struggle on and see if we can be patient and wait for it to turn around.

SCOTT CROCKETT: A good showing last week, obviously not the result you wanted in the end, but a good show.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, it's always nice to feel that there's a lot in hand, and I was only three shots out of the playoff, so you feel like there was a lot to improve on. It felt like I played well tee to green, but I didn't putt as well as I would have liked last week.

So, yeah, it gives you a lot of confidence when you walk away from a week like that where you haven't quite figured it out and yet you're reasonably competitive.

Q. Retief was in earlier and he said he in the past has struggled on the greens here but he feels that they are firmer and faster this year and he's looking forward to that. Is that more or less how you feel, as well?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I certainly feel comfortable with the pace of the greens. People keep telling me they are fast, and I did not notice. I just thought they are as they normally are. They are definitely firmer, which it's an interesting course. They have got rough a lot heavier off the tee, which if you have firm greens, you have to have the sort of wispy rough that you have to have flyers out of. I think that's how a course like this is meant to be played, kind of wispy; if you get in trouble, you can have a go at the green, but it's very difficult to control the ball, and with the firm greens, that will be the nature.

Obviously with the heavy rough, I think the golf course is going to play very difficult, because, you know, hitting the fairways, you must hit the fairway to get control. And hitting it in the rough, there's definitely penalized on the longer holes anyway. You're not going to reach the greens.

Q. Is this a new beginning for you, with this championship, or is it Last Chance Saloon?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's certainly not Last Chance Saloon. I want to win the PGA Championship, and in order to win it, I've got to play in it. So if I don't play well this year I have to see. I have to look at why I didn't play well or what's happened. I certainly would not give it Last Chance Saloon, no.

Q. The last four winners of this event, you can almost call them dark horses, the way they have just come out of the blue to win it while, the bigger guns haven't really challenged in the last four years. Is it there a reason; is it only the greens, or are there other characteristics of this course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, first of all, I think you'll find here one issue is I think one of the things you'll find, the golf course, I only hit three drivers today. So by no means is it a big hitter's golf course. So that, you know, I think some of the bigger name players are big hitters, so that curtails their advantage, let's say.

The greens are very tricky, and I think if you lose confidence on them, you're not going to compete. So if you're gaining confidence, you're going to hole your putts. You saw Scott Drummond do that last year. I think that can take out bigger names; if they miss a couple of putts, all of a sudden they are going to be going in the wrong direction, let's say, as regards their form and confidence on the green.

I can see everybody, a lot of people have a chance here. There's nobody that this course takes out. So, yeah, I don't necessarily think that the big players don't have a chance of winning. I just think that it gives a better chance to a lot of other players.

Q. Having not played this event in the last few years, what would you say is the main reason why you're here this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would say the main reason I'm here this week well, there's more than one reason. There's a couple of reasons.

First of all, I said I would come back to play it, give myself a break and then come back. And secondly, I'm playing more in the States, and I feel like, you know, I should come back and support one of our flagship events.

And fairness to BMW, they run a great event. You know, everything about the event, they seem to have moved it up really moved it up to a new level. I don't think a player could ask for anything more. Everything about this is top class. It's as close as any event to being as good as a major. They put the effort in.

Q. Given that, there is a notable absentee, Sergio; and Thomas Bjorn was in here and he was quite vehement that it's upholding on European born players to support the flagship tournament of the European Tour. What is your view on that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, my view is I haven't done it in the past. So, you know, every player has to decide a schedule for themselves. I think, you know, in my case, I feel when I didn't play the last couple of years, I felt I was supporting the Tour strongly enough by playing a lot of events. I'm actually playing more this year. This year I'm playing one more, even though I'm playing my card in the States, I'm actually playing one more event in continental Europe this year. So I've actually committed to play more. I felt it was my duty to do that.

I think Sergio has always based himself in the States and he has to pick his schedule to suit him. I don't think there's any duty on him to come over and play this event if he doesn't feel like he wants to.

Q. If you have to sort of single out percentage wise, would you say you knew the course in October when they play The Match Play, how much more would you say you knew the course in September as compared to this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think, you know, I played one round of golf; everybody knows this golf course. We're all familiar with it. There's nothing, really, swirling winds and things. I would consider I know this course well.

Q. Whether it be September or May?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it plays different, you know, obviously with the run on the ball; it's going further at this time of the year. You hit a few more drivers in September, but you're still trying to hit mainly to the same points on each fairway and play from there. And you're still trying to judge the swirling winds.

Q. Given your past history in this event, do you come in with lower expectations, and if you do, are there any positives that you take from lower expectations?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, lower expectations are always good. It's the high expectations which I watch out for. I would say I have pretty low expectations. I think I've realized now that I'm not going to beat myself up regardless of what I do. In the past, the one of the problems I had here was I'd spend hours trying to work out why I was putting badly or hours trying to work on my swing and thinking that there was a fault when, you know, some weeks just don't suit you.

I have the experience to realize that this is one individual week, and if it doesn't go so well, it shouldn't affect my confidence or my form going into other events.

Q. How much did you beat yourself up in the past?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I used to try and figure it out what was happening. The greatest one was the year I missed the cut, I shot 4 over par to Anders Hansen when he shot 19 under par. I said if I was a rookie, I might have packed my bags and gone home thinking I'm just not good enough. If there was a Tour pro that saw that that was so far out of contention, he would have lost any aspiration to go on Tour. But, you know, some guys just play well on this course and you've got to leave it at that. Some weeks it's me; some weeks I'm the guy who is finding the golf course ease.

Q. What's the biggest challenge for you this week; is it the greens?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, yeah, big time. Reading the greens, staying positive on the greens, hitting good putts. Just picking a line and going with it and not necessarily judging it by the result, but judging it more by what I've done around the putt, rather than whether it's gone in the hole or not.

Q. Do you find yourself tempted to fire at the flags more often here than you normally would?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. Especially with the firmer greens, you've got to play the right shot every time. Sometimes it will be going at the pins and sometimes it won't be.

To be honest, I nearly have more patience for hitting it in the middle of the green and rolling it down stone dead and 2 putting it. It's the ones where you get it close that are the harder putts to hole.

I'm looking forward to seeing the course be tougher this week. If you told me 19 under par was going to win, I'd be seriously concerned. So I don't know what's going to win, but it feels like a tougher golf course, and it feels like a golf course that maybe you won't have to hole as many putts.

Q. People were saying earlier that this might be a place where you hit the putts a little firmer just to make sure.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The guys who putted well on these greens are the guys who from four feet, everything is straight. The reason I struggle is from four feet, I'm always looking for a break. I want to hit it right half or right lip. I'm always trying to roll it in looking for the high side. The guys that putt well have a quick look and hit it straight.

Q. Are you tempted to do that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't putt well doing that. That's not me. Everybody has certain characters. If I hit my putts too firm, I struggle to keep them on line. Other people, they putt better doing that. Thomas Bjorn putts better doing that; Monty putts very well; Michael Campbell. These are all names you'll see on the leaderboard consistently around this course.

Just look at the years, if you have a picture of the leaderboard Sunday, you'll see the same names: Monty, Faldo, Campbell, Thomas, Ernie. They may not have won last four years, but they were there, thereabouts. Like Faldo always makes a run here, every year. Same guys every year around this course. Horses for courses.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, thank you very much. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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