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May 18, 2005

Padraig Harrington


GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome, Padraig. Tell you us the state of your health; that's been a source is concern the last day or two.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Certainly been a concern, yes. It's improved. Last night it had improved. At one stage last night where it was really good, but again, light sleep doesn't seem to have done anything to it, but it certainly is 50 percent better than yesterday. So I'm expected to play in the Pro Am today, let alone play tomorrow.

GORDON SIMPSON: Is it a recurrence of the old problem you've had?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's a recurring problem. It is a recurring problem. But I've done well. The problem in my shoulder is related to it in my scapula. They have worked with it a lot over the last couple years. I get that problem one of the traps, stretch them out and they haven't flared up. It's a process of elimination. I have to keep going and I have some new exercises to keep going and some new exercises to strengthen it up. I'm happy enough with how we're going along.

GORDON SIMPSON: I see Monty has already made the pressure on you by saying you would be one of the favorites over this golf course.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Did he really? What can I say? You know, in terms of me personally coming into this event, my game has been erratic. I haven't played anywhere near enough golf. I think after I won Honda, I played six rounds of golf in the next six weeks. So I'm very uncompetitive. I did play two tournaments the last two weeks well, a week ago, two tournaments in the States. So I have done a little bit but that's not enough.

I basically haven't played enough. There's not enough flow in my game at the moment. I am very erratic. I'm not competitive. I would like to say I was doing the right things but I'm not. Hopefully I'll be okay out here and do a few things right and I can compete this week.

As regards the golf course, I don't know, I've been away in the States, and these fairways are at least 50 percent narrower than anything you would see in the States. Not alone 50 percent tighter but that 50 percent is a penalty shot because you're in a bunker. Have you seen the conditions we've played over here? It's always going to be windy out there. This is extreme to say the least obviously. I would not say I've ever seen a golf course as severe off the tee. There are a lot of dog legs and crosswinds, a lot of bunkers, and you can't reach the greens. And if you're wild that's if you're hitting the ball well, you're going to hit it in the bunkers. And if you're wild, that rough is, again, very penal.

So anybody who drives the ball well here is going to have a tremendous advantage in this tournament. It is as Monty wanted it when he was designing the golf course. He wanted the emphasis on driving, and that is for sure what you've got.


PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Not at all. No, not at all. Before I used to get terrible problems with my left shoulder and my neck. Now the left shoulder doesn't flare up because I strengthened that; then it was the upper traps used tighten up and I stretched. They don't give me a problem. I still have a problem in my neck, I do have a slight bulge in my neck because I have slight bulge at C5. It's what I do around that so it doesn't become a problem. It is very much a question of, and still is, working on it step by step, seeing what works by process of elimination. We'll have it all sorted. I'm just glad we found another thing to keep working on, and when we get that right, if it happens again, we'll look out for it. But you know, that's I have a slight bulge at C5.

So I'm always going to have it. This came out from sleeping, that's it, poor posture. It's not nothing, you know, it's a fact of life. Other people would have it and it would not impair them on what they do, but because I try and swing a golf club, it really was only impairing on my driver swing. I could not complete my backswing, and that would obviously have an effect on the longer clubs.

You know, I'm happy with it to be honest. I'm happy that I'm going down the right lines, doing right things and trying to work on the right things; whereas I haven't solved the problem, yet I feel like I'm getting to the root of it.


PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's obviously going to happen the more things like this, it's going to happen more when bigger things around. Obviously you get strengthened a little bit more and you're more prone to something like this. So you take the timing of it, and unfortunately it's always going to happen on a more stressful occasion than not.


PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know. You've got to remember, we're playing Irish Open in May here and seeing the lighthouse this morning, I drive in the door and I see, this is like last year's European Open; you're in quite an exposed venue. Conditions are going to be tough. I really like this course around the greens. There's a lot of run offs around the greens. There's a lot of good you're required to play some great bunker shots and chip shots around the greens. I just find from my point of view, considering the doglegs, consider the cross winds, that it's very tight off the tee. And you certainly you probably don't want to be hitting the ball low, straight hitting is what you really want off the tee, not necessarily trying to not really the modern game of trying to hit it high and carry the trouble because, you know, the ball would be too long in the air. And if you keep that ball up there for seven and a half seconds in the cross winds, you'll do well to hit those fairways.

You could see; you would not have to be told who designed this course. (Laughing).

Q. Have you designed a course yet?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't. I'm going to design a course in Dubai. When I design a course, some of my options will be no rough and there will be some big fairways. I've love to do a course with no rough. It's probably not possible but that would be great.


PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I'm just, as I said, I think from playing a lot in the States and playing over here, I think that I don't know whether we think we're a country because the fairways the German Masters which I won last year, the fairways are 22, 24 yards wide and zigzagging. It was not like they were straight; they were moving quite a bit. You know, you go to like maybe the toughest hole in the U.S. Tour, maybe the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass, it's 36 yards wide and you're only hitting 3 wood into it.

Like as in a lot of times I think you want to curtail and get straighter hitting, but a lot of the times, 24, 26 and then with severe punishment at the edge of 28 yards, it's quite narrow. It's difficult and especially in the conditions in crosswinds. I don't know, I played Pinehurst last Monday and they felt a lot wider, and they said they narrowed them down four yards from the last time it was there in '99.

Q. Are these the narrowest fairways in Europe?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. Do you want to add the world to that? Yes. The only way it could be tougher is if there were well, it would not be much tougher if there was water hazards. They are still more or less penalties.

There's a lot of tee shots where you hang the ball down the right hand side of the fairway, tight to the bunker when you go up, you're only a yard or two away from the left hand side because of the nature of the dog leg.

You've got to remember, if you've got a crosswind, like today which is only a reasonable wind today, today is by no means a poor day. If you've got a right to left wind, it's not like you can move the ball left to right in a strong wind. You can hold it up, and so if you've got a dog leg to the right, it's going to be hard to move it around the corner, because the best you can do, you can get a couple of yards move on it, so it's tough. It's tough when you're in an exposed conditions, as I found the European Open last year very difficult. Retief Goosen didn't find it difficult. I did.

But, you know, I'm just saying that conditions here if we get a good wind, it will be a really, really nice test. You get a tough week, it will be very difficult off the tee, and I don't know what openings they could take by moving tee boxes forward. As I said, most of the time it's not because there's not a problem with length out there. To be honest, the holes into the wind are the ones that they nearly where the ball isn't running too far in the fairways, and it's easier to hit. It's the ones that sit sometimes downwind slightly down off one side where you are getting 20, 30 yards of run; it's hard to keep it from running through the doglegs.

Q. It doesn�t take a brain surgeon to work out who designed this golf course�

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: He's a magnificent driver of the golf ball (Colin Montgomerie); always has been. Hits it low, and he hits it very straight. You know, if you were to watch Monty off the tee, especially when he's in form, and this is something I've paid attention to, it's like a non event. He just goes to the tee and there's no question of hitting 3 wood. There's no question of where, if the wind is out of the right. It's like, oh, another tee shot and he can walk down and put it in the middle of the fairway.

So he sees that part of the game as the easy part, and that's why when he's designed his golf course, he's made that the toughest part of the game, because he doesn't find it so, which that's the nature of why all designers. We're lucky to have different designers. He sees the driving as the easy part and the rest of it, I don't know how he sees the rest of it but he certainly sees the driving as easy. This is as tough as it gets off the tee.

The last thing you want to do is get the ball in the air for seven and a half, eight seconds. I tell you what, that's a long time to keep the ball straight in a crosswind; and it is, most of the holes out here are playing in crosswinds. Dog legging, a lot of the times and another thing, a lot of tee shot are blind. You can't see the fairways. He's gone and made this as tough as you can off the tees. A lot of the time, like I played here last Thursday, you stand at the previous green, and then you can see the next shot and you get a picture of it because when you get down to the tee box, there's a mound or some rough or something blocking out your view. So from a playing point of view, you'd better have a quick look before you walk off the next green of where the trouble is on the next hole.

Q. I heard on a radio interview last night that you haven't had a chance to familiarise yourself with the course; are you going to play a practice round today?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm thinking of playing today, definitely. A couple of holes I played the last day. And obviously the first time playing it, you kind of keep you kind of pull the driver out and hit it and go up and say, that wasn't the right club, at times. 5 and 6 certainly for me, I can remember the jury is still out on what I'm going to try and do off the tee. The penalty for laying up too far is a very long iron downwind, or going for it off the tee if you miss it by a fraction and you're in a bunker that's a penalty shot. So I haven't quite made up my mind how to play at least four or five holes on the course and I do need to get out there and try to play them today to see. I definitely think I'm going to be I definitely think I'll be playing today, and I'm hoping, even if I'm not 100% that I can get around and have a look at it, that I'll be able to fully swing tomorrow.

As I said already, as I said to the tournament director, you know, if I thought I was capable of playing on Friday I would definitely tee it up on Thursday anyway. You can always get away with maybe one day of not being fully fit.

Q. What are the narrowest fairways?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I have no idea. I have really no idea what they are out there. They just look narrow. Maybe they look narrow because instead of having a cut of rough or ten yards of rough, you have a bunker that's playing in the hazard. A lot of times, they are scaring these bunker because of the doglegs. It's not a question of just hitting parallel to them, because if you hit parallel to them, you're a long way back on it and a reasonably long course.

I don't know, I'm sure it will be interesting to do the math or how wide. German Masters was incredible with heavy rough and TPC last year, and this one, I think because of the severity of the slightness rather than the severity of the thickness. It's not like if you miss the fairway, you're probably better off missing the fairway by 15 yards than by two.

Q. On a scale of 1 to 10

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The course? Is ten being good and how can I do this? I don't think it's my place to do it to be honest. As I said, I could see in terms of what Colin wanted, I'm sure he's very happy. And that's the main thing when it comes to designing a golf course is when somebody comes out here, they are playing a Colin Montgomerie style of golf course and what he wants as a solid golf course, and that's crucial.

You know, it's very distinctive. I haven't played too many I don't think I played any other of his golf courses, but this one, you know, you can tell easily it's him, and that's really what you want because we don't want all golf courses to be the same. I would not to play as much as I would not want to play every week on fairways as tight as this, I certainly would not want to play every week on wide fairways. I would not want to play long courses every week and I would not want to play short courses every week. We have to have variety and that's why the European Tour is strong because of variety. This week is providing that.

From what I saw last week, there was an awful lot of trouble early on in the week because again, dog legs and crosswinds and narrow fairways. But it's going good to have variety.

Q. Can Monty expect a few comments this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Players will always if you don't have a good week, players will always give a biased opinion because it is their own and it's coming from them.

You know, I think ultimately we've got to say, he's got what he wants here. You know, that says a lot. It would be wrong for this golf course not to reflect how he wants the game to be played and it is very difficult off the tee but that's what he wants. You know, that is a good thing about this design. Conditions wise, I try to see it in a, you know, a nice the more sheltered sunnier place that these strong winds, or the winds up there aren't very strong because there's no shelter from it and the temperature is down. It's just playing very severe out there. I haven't been out there but just driving in, it's starting to look tough. But that's what you want and that's great.

I admire him for the fact what he's done with that. He's got to put his character into a golf course and not design he's got to design the golf course for what he thinks rather than, you know, pandering to anybody else.

Q. How do you access your prospects this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't feel like I've had any significant run, besides the first four weeks. And when I won at Honda, it was like before I won at Honda, I said going out before that four week stretch, somebody asked me, "Should we back you?"

And I said, "Well, give me a few weeks to warm up. If I show any decent form in week four, back me." Every year, week four has been a good week for me. I start getting competitive at that stage. But since then, just as I was getting into it, I haven't I feel it's all been starting and stopping and I haven't got on any run at all. Every year, you pick up a few things that you want to continue to work on or continue to move with, and this year it's still like going out tomorrow is still like my first week here. I'm just not really and I had some good work with Bob (Torrance). I feel like I'm swinging the club great and I'm really happy with how things are going but I'm just not really competitive.

Q. What's your schedule after the BMW?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: A week off and then Congressional. These are important. But knowing my past run at Wentworth, I need to get more rounds in there and that would be I need to play golf. And regardless of the results over the next two weeks, if I can get in a bit of golf that would help me get ready for the bigger well, for the tournaments. These are pretty big tournaments. The Irish Open is obviously very important to an Irish man, and the Open Championship is the biggest tournament in Europe as far as the Open and they are two very important tournaments and you're coming into the U.S. Open. They are important in their own right and I'd like to be competitive. I certainly would both of these tournaments I would like I would like to finish off my career at some stage having won both of them. That's one of the reasons I'm going to the BMW Championship. It is a big event I would like to win. I don't feel it's one of my most competitive courses, but hopefully I can play well enough I can overcome that.

Q. Is that why you haven't played at Wentworth in May the past few years?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I just it was just the schedule at times.

Q. There has been some concern about European players playing more in the States and not qualifying for the team

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We always end up with the best players don't we on the team. It sounds very familiar. Every two years, we're going to discuss the system is not going to produce the players, but it seems to do pretty well every time. I don't have any concerns, and no concerns because I'm not thinking about it. Really, if I would be thinking about it, I would be concerned.

In my position, looking at past teams, it just comes out, it doesn't really seem to affect it at the end, and most of the Europeans when they are playing early, like myself playing early in the States, my European schedule I've added to it this year by playing the BMW Championship. So even though people think I've gone to the states I'm actually playing more in Europe.

GORDON SIMPSON: Padraig, good luck this week.


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