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February 22, 2005

Padraig Harrington


CHRIS REIMER: We welcome Padraig Harrington to the media center. Your first trip to the States this year. Talk a little bit about coming back and the Accenture Match Play Championship.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I played last week in Malaysia, had nine weeks off previous to that. It's good to be back out. I'm looking forward to the season.

Obviously I'm a bit rusty. I'm happy to take my break and worked on a few things, and I'm just trying to get those things and just getting competitive, getting the competitive edge back. So obviously difficult to going into a match play round; you don't know what happens. But hopefully with match play if you get a couple of rounds you can build up your confidence quite quickly, and who knows from there. The toughest match for me would be the first match this week.

CHRIS REIMER: Any thoughts on your first match with Jeff Maggert?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Really it's just about sorting myself out, making sure I'm sharp when I get on the first tee, which is difficult when you haven't been playing, but that's the key for me is to try and get some level of competitiveness in my game when I go out there.

CHRIS REIMER: Looks like we're going to have some wet and muddy conditions. Do you prepare differently for that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't necessarily think you prepare differently for hitting the ball. But these greens tend to spin a lot, they tend to be quite soft. You can't hit your short irons to fall into the green; you have to punch them in or hit them in to try to keep a bit of spin off the ball. That would be the only thing I'd be aware of that I'd be hitting a few knock down shots trying to control the distance without getting too much spin.

Q. What do you think of this format?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I like the format, just a traditional game of golf, match play; it's how it was meant to be. It's not very fair, it's not a just game. It was designed to be played one guy against the other a hundred years ago. So this is real golf, to be honest, even though we're not used to it. I suppose as a professional golfer, you want the four round, 72 hole play, the best conditions, the fairest, but that's not really how golf is meant to be. It's meant to be one on one, not always it's not meant to always be a very just game, let's say. Match play never is.

Q. It's interesting the way that you say that; you maybe have a better understanding of that than the normal golfer out there, the normal American golfer for that matter. It almost sounds like you guys could do this more and like it, but it's never going to happen.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you answered your own question, there (laughter). As an amateur everything is match play, so you play a lot of match play. You have to learn to love it. And the only way you can do that is by one on one is really what it's about. The 156 guys are just so everybody you compete against; it's not how it was meant to be originally. So you just have to convince yourself that this is the real game.

Obviously we only get two opportunities a year, and maybe one or two team events on top of that, so maybe four opportunities a year to play match play. You've got to relish those opportunities when you get them. It's a tough format, but obviously if you've got the right frame of mind, it can suit you.

Q. Could you talk about the nine weeks off, what you did? What were the highlights? Did you work on your game? Did you stay home and shoot pool? What did you do?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, the highlights of staying home, that's for sure, having nine weeks off. I did work on my game. I got in the gym, tried to do as much as I could in the gym in that break, and I did practice, go and see my coach. But mainly I took time off and shot pool, played table tennis, pinball, darts, everything I can get a hold of, just chilled out, really. When you take nine weeks, you can practice, you can work out and you can take a rest. If you take three weeks, you can't do all of them. That's really why I take such a break; I can get everything in, without rushing.

Q. Did you have any home improvement projects you had to complete?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, thankfully not, because they wouldn't be an improvement if I got a hold of them. That's not one of my skills. But my skill is knowing that it's not one of my skills.

Q. I seem to remember you last year, I think it was at the Masters, saying you were a little you hadn't played enough golf up to then; is that accurate?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, that's true. It was more the U.S. Open, actually. Masters, yes, but particularly the U.S. Open. By the time the U.S. Open came around last year, I had only played eight or nine events at that stage. So this year I've added an extra, I think a strategy, three or four, four maybe. So it's just to get myself more competitive for those tournaments. Early on in the year, I'm playing more early on in the year. Hopefully I can survive through to the end of the year, but the emphasis is now more on early in the season rather than late in the season.

Q. You've had the latest start of the year of any top players. Did you consider starting earlier?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, never considered starting earlier. The only way I can start earlier is to finish earlier in the season. No, I wouldn't you sit home and you see the results coming in, and one part says, oh, should I be playing? And the other part says, no, and you're quite happy to be taking the break.

I know what I do suits me, and that's the main thing.

Q. What tournaments are you adding?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm playing next week in Doral I'm playing Ford next year and Honda the following week. And then I'm going to play Shell Houston Open, New Orleans Classic and Wachovia.

Q. How many extra tournaments is that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Four, and obviously THE PLAYERS and The Masters. It's actually five events, but it's four.

Q. You must have subtracted from last year.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not going to China, which is opposite Shell and New Orleans Classic. But then I'm not going to Memorial. I'm playing the PGA instead. So it's tough when you miss such a good event as Memorial, but there's so many good events out there, if I played Memorial I'd end up playing six or seven events in a row. As much as I don't want to miss it, I will be missing it.

Q. You talk about looking at the scores and everything. You look at last week and what the guys went through sitting around in LA

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't really look at them; I'm aware of what happens. I wouldn't certainly I certainly don't tune in too much. If I'm there and it's on, or I'll ask how it's done. Last week I was aware of the delays. That's golf. Professional players are well capable of recovering from sitting around for two days, and I'm sure plenty enjoyed the rest, anyway.

Q. Are you structuring your schedule at all around the majors, trying to give yourself a good run up and try to peak at the majors?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm playing more in the early part of the year, in order to be more competitive for the majors, yes. I would have thought the schedule I had last year was nice for peaking for the majors, except I hadn't played enough. I had nice run ins for the majors and wasn't rested. This year I'm playing a few more, which more events make it more competitive, but obviously it can tire you out. It's a different schedule this year, and hopefully it's something to try out.

Q. You were talking about the unfairness of match play and you're saying that's the way golf is meant to be. You're saying it was a lot of relish. I'm wondering how do you come to embrace the unfairness and all that about it?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, if you play enough match play you learn to live with it, that's for sure. I think you don't realize that was the way the game is meant to test your character as well as it's meant to test your skill. And obviously the way the modern game has gone, everything is about uniformity, get everything perfect and fair. It wasn't that way years ago; it was hit it and find it and hit it again. There was no drops, no nothing. You just have to get it to the hole. That's how the game was designed, and it really is a test of character.

Obviously as the game has progressed, it's manicured fairways, manicured rough, manicured greens; the hazards are even manicured. That's the opposite of some of the way the game was designed. The match play brings it back somewhat. It brings back a little bit of inequities into the game, which is what it's meant to test, is your character, and that's what match play does.

Q. I know you would be aware that Maggert is one of the straightest drivers out here. When you play a guy that hardly misses a fairway, what sort of mental attitude do you have to bring to that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I wasn't actually aware of that. I'll expect that tomorrow and, you know, that means that if I expect it I can't really it can't really hurt you, can it? If you think he's going to hit every fairway and he misses one so to be honest I'm I really wouldn't I'm more concerned about my own competitiveness than I can only control myself; I can't control what he's doing. So I've got to focus much more on myself and not worry about what Jeff is doing. It would be a big worry, if he starts to birdie the first nine holes, that's a big worry (laughter).

Q. I'm a little embarrassed to ask this question, but are you the best player not to win a major?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I obviously wouldn't put myself in that league, but thank you for putting me in it.

Q. Best European player not to win a major?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, there's a few other Europeans, plenty of Europeans that haven't won a major. I think a lot of the guys that haven't won a major that are up in that category are European. I think the Europeans will address that in the next number of years; there's enough good young players coming out that it will happen. Who knows who it will happen for, but given time, you can't rush these things. You've got to be patient, see what happens. But it's nice to be in that group.

End of FastScripts.

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