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March 2, 2015

Padraig Harrington


DOUG MILNE:ツ Pテ。draig Harrington, congratulations on your sixth career PGA TOUR win, second victory here at The Honda Classic.ツ It's a long week but you certainly got the job done with the win.ツ You move to 26 in the FedExCups and return earn a return trip back to Augusta.ツ A lot going through your mind, so I'll turn it over to you for some comments.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Obviously a lot of things are being said about what this means going forward.ツ The one thing you learn is you don't win as often as you think.ツ I'm just enjoying winning The Honda Classic.ツ I'll take it, whatever it is, a week or two, enjoy it and that's it.
It's not about what it means to my career or what it means going forward.ツ You don't win that often.ツ When you win, make sure you enjoy it.ツ So that's where I'm at the moment.
And in time, I will start to see things like invitations to the Masters and that.ツ But right now, I won on the PGA TOUR this week, and, well, actually last week and this week, as I did say to my wife last week.ツ I said, "I hope I putt well next week."
"What about this next tournament?"
"Monday is next week."ツ But it's amazing how your putting turns around from one week to the next.ツ (Laughter).

Q.ツ How do you explain a 43‑year‑old vanquishing a 21‑year‑old?ツ
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ You don't see age out there.ツ If I saw anything out there, I saw experience against inexperience.ツ I know Daniel Berger, I know his caddie somewhat, and I know how good a player he is from his caddie, Grant.ツ Kind of been following his career since he's come out here.ツ I knew, just like playing with Patrick Reed today, really tough competitors.
To be honest, I knew I was going to have to bring my game going into the playoff.ツ I did know experience was on my side, which is always nice, and you know, I felt myself in the first playoff hole, I felt I played it a little bit like I was happy to be there.
And the second playoff hole, I definitely had changed my mind‑set.ツ I said, you know, I'm first up on the tee, I've got to take control of this.ツ I've got to hit the shot.ツ You know, sometimes that happens, when you hole a putt to get into a playoff, you're going wow, this is a bonus, this is great.
But thankfully I got a way with that 18th, and Daniel looked like he hit a good putt.ツ I definitely felt like I got a second chance coming to the 17th, and being first up, I knew I had to hit the shot.ツ I knew I couldn't afford to bail out.ツ I've got to hit the shot.

Q.ツ What was the club on 17?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ 5‑iron both times.ツ Three‑quarter 5‑iron both times.ツ I'd have hit 6‑iron if there wasn't water short‑‑ actually the water left of it was pin‑high.ツ That was the danger area for me.ツ That would have been a really perfect 6‑iron, so a three‑quarter 5‑iron.ツ I tend to play my best golf in the windier conditions to have soft enough greens that I can hit knock‑down shots.

Q.ツ Appreciate the answer.ツ Just needed the club.ツ (Laughter)?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ (Smiling) oh, yes.

Q.ツ Curious, the 15‑footer you holed on the 18th in regulation, does that moment or what you felt, all that stuff, could you compare that with anything else previously in your career?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Not because I didn't win holing the putt ‑‑ the only thought to me was I stepped at least a foot too early.ツ I gave it a little punch before it got out, and it moved left with the grain and only just got in the left side.
You know, you don't let yourself get away with yourself at that moment.ツ The worst thing you can do is get excited because you got into a playoff.ツ The job is only half‑done at that stage.
Yeah, I was not allowing my emotions to get away with it me.ツ To be honest, all day I was pretty good.ツ I never once considered how important this win is to me.ツ You know, I'm playing on exemptions‑‑ not exemptions, invites.ツ I got an invite this week.ツ That changes everything for the three years.ツ I'm back at the Masters.ツ There's lots of things that this does, World Ranking points, but I never considered that all day.
I was very much in the moment all day, which is good. There's no doubt, the big advantage for me this week if I'm going to look to anything is the fact that we were called off after seven holes yesterday.ツ Things were not going well for me.ツ And I knew coming back out today, that I was the challenger, and for other guys were leading, it's a tough golf course to lead on.ツ

Q.ツ Obviously I know you had a couple of wins in Asia, but nothing on the big tour since the PGA in 2008.ツ There's been some down times‑‑
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ The Grand Slam, as well.ツ (Laughter).

Q.ツ Was there ever a low point, or can you talk about maybe the frustrations of trying to battle back?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think I got in contention three times since 2008, and I've won the three events‑‑ four times now.ツ So I really have struggled to, as a lot of people who win major tournaments, you look back at them and you try and live up to them, play up to them.
You know, I just got very intolerant of my mental game, my focus.ツ It was all‑‑ never swing related, all focus related, and just got frustrated with it and found it very hard to really separate from the bad shots.
In terms of playing, it was disappointing.ツ I had the yips in 2012.ツ I had my best ball‑striking year ever in 2012, in terms of the stats, but I had the yips that year.ツ I was looking at, you know, when you get things like that, it's really frustrating, it's really hard.ツ You don't know what to do. You grind your way through it and it is a tough thing to get through.
And again, as I said with my mental game, I was pretty much, you know, I struggled the last‑‑ especially this year, after finishing strong last year, I was very positive coming out this year.ツ But I was back to the same old situation coming out this year.ツ It's disappointing, I've got to say.
I'm fascinated with the game.ツ So in that sense, I'm quite an optimist that when I start back, it's disappointing when it happens but when I get out the next day and practice, I'm right back on the horse and I feel okay about it.
But yeah, there's no doubt low points in those years, because you know, in 2008, 2009, I'm very much in the penthouse.ツ I wasn't quite down to the doghouse but not far away from it.
So, yeah, there are low points, no doubt about it.

Q.ツ Talking about your mental game, Bob Rotella summoned you to dinner on Tuesday night.ツ How pivotal was that meeting with Bob?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ You know, absolutely.ツ Bob and‑‑ just like anybody, even you could go‑‑ I could substitute even Caroline, my wife, in for this.ツ They are listening to the media, the world, what I'm doing and making assumptions.ツ Bob took me aside to make sure I'm doing what I said I'm doing, the right stuff.ツ And it wasn't a question of‑‑ I've always been doing the right stuff.
As much as people make assumptions, they see me doing stuff out there and think I'm doing one thing and I'm usually doing the opposite most of the time.ツ I'm doing the correct stuff.ツ I'm just struggling to do it.
I was putting so much pressure on myself to get it right and to live up to my mental focus, say, of 2008, that, you know, what I couldn't live up to it.ツ You know, Bob was there, ensuring that I wasn't getting distracted and sticking to the plan, and as I said, I did find some peace last Saturday.
It was interesting, I had a bad day on the golf course last Saturday, and we were out early and we were tired.ツ I was sitting around, and I was thinking about, you know, I was tired and I heard one or two players say, "No, I'm finished for the day, heading home.ツ They wouldn't go down to the range."
I really wanted to leave.ツ I said:ツ No, I'll go down to the range, and I found something down there.
Again, nothing to do with my technique.ツ I found something to do with my focus, and I got a little bit of peace, and probably for 50 percent of the time this week, I had peace out on the golf scores and I hit plenty of really nice golf shots.ツ I hit plenty of poor ones, but I definitely was in a better place.

Q.ツ You talk about having the yips in 2012, and last night you missed two short ones.ツ What was the difference between that and making all the putts today?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I was just trying so hard to tell myself that it wasn't back last night, I could tell you.ツ I hit a few very, very iffy putts.
But I practiced my putting last night, as Alex will tell you, until about 7:00 in the dark, and I got something going again with my putting.
I came out here today, and one of the things that helped change my putting around was if I had a 10‑foot putt to win on the 18th green, actually a 15‑footer as it turned out today, I wouldn't want anybody else to putt it.ツ So as much as I was struggling, I still would choose myself to read that putt and hit that putt.
That gives me confidence, and my wife reminded me of that this morning, actually, before I went out; that, you know, just if I had a choice, I would pick me.ツ I wouldn't pick anybody else to hit the putt.ツ I stood over the putts‑‑ I wasn't confident, but, you know, I wasn't getting in my way.ツ It wasn't like, oh, this is it.ツ I just, okay, hit the best putt you can, run it at the hole and thankfully a few of them did run into the hole.

Q.ツ You talked so much about the mental side and the focus.ツ Can you just walk us through maybe your thoughts on 17 tee?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Which 17 tee?

Q.ツ In the playoff.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ In the playoff, yeah, there was a cart behind the tee and we couldn't get going.ツ It was obviously clearing up‑‑ I would say he was clearing up the trash.ツ So we pulled up, and he revved up and went to the next one; so we were just making sure there was no distractions.
The last thing you ever want to do in those situations is be standing over a ball and anticipating something that may or may not happen.ツ We cleared it up, and I was never going to hit that shot until I was clear in my head, especially after messing it up in realtime.
You just have to‑‑ the sad thing about it, I had the same target in play, I ended up aiming at the same spot behind the pin.ツ But as I was committed to it, and the main thing I did ‑‑ unfortunately, in realtime, if you ever want to see a lapse in mental side, my routine got a little bit out of skew on it.ツ Thankfully in the playoff, I knew I had to take the shot on.ツ I knew I had to hit it.
Going first, I just couldn't afford to bail out and leave the door open.ツ I knew I had to hit the shot.ツ It was classic match play.ツ You've got to hit the shot and put the pressure on him.

Q.ツ Did you and Daniel say anything to each other, and did he call you Sir or Mister?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I don't remember if he called me Sir or Mister.ツ I don't think we had a big chat or anything out there.ツ But it was a very‑‑ I think I gave him a warm well done to get in the pray off and he to me.ツ It wasn't‑‑ there wasn't much tension in it at that stage.ツ It was quite nice.ツ I know his caddie, Grant.
So I think the fact I know his caddie, Grant, and I've been talking about Daniel pretty much every week of the year, we meet Grant and ask him how it's going on; as much as I didn't know him, I would have been on a very cordial terms in that sense.
So I did want to win, but I wasn't‑‑ I didn't want to see him losing necessarily. ツIt was much more, let's go and win this.

Q.ツ You used to always talk about just getting to the back nine with a chance and that's when the light goes on?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ My caddie reminded me, with nine holes to go, he said‑‑

Q.ツ I didn't finish my question‑‑ go ahead.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ (Laughing)ツ I'm four shots behind I think at that stage and he said, look, would you have taken this on Thursday, and I said, yes, that's what you want.ツ You want to be in contention with nine holes to go, because anything can happen coming down the stretch, and it did.ツ Sorry, Doug.

Q.ツ No, I forgot what it was now.ツ I guess what I was eventually was going to ask, apparently you just answered it, four shots behind was close enough for you, but if all the focus on 17 and whatnot, curious about your second on the 11th after a poor tee shot, walking off that tee, you're five shots behind at that point and curious what the iron was, the shot you were trying to play, because it was a pretty good one?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ We had 210 yards slightly downwind out of a very iffy lie.ツ 5‑iron was going to cover but I had to go down the left‑hand side with 5‑iron.ツ So I went with 4‑iron, three‑quarter 4‑iron and I knew I couldn't afford to hit it left if I went to a 4‑iron because I was going to go over the back.ツ I hit a good shot.ツ It was hanging on that right‑hand side, but thankfully I did take enough club that it covered the right‑hand side.
That's why, ultimately, when you look at this golf course, you see a lot of players in the lead struggle, because there's a lot of golf shots that you're forced, like on 11, you're forced; you can't go left on 11.ツ There's water right and you're actually hitting your second shot into 11 trying not to hit it left.
Same on 17.ツ There's water right but you're trying, you know you can't afford to hit it left.ツ So there's a lot of golf shots out here that even though there's trouble one side, it doesn't allow you to bail out to the far side or you're pretty much guaranteeing yourself for a bogey.ツ I had to take it on on 11, and that's one of my best traits.
When I'm forced into things, I can block out the dangers.ツ Whereas, you know, in the middle of the fairway, I probably would be afraid of hitting a stupid shot into the water on the right; whereas when I'm in the rough on the left, I'm going, I've got to hit this shot and if it goes in the water, so be it, I'm not going to win the tournament unless I take it on.

Q.ツ Were you losing hope at that point?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ No.ツ I was digging deep.ツ Especially after hitting the bad tee shot on 11.ツ That changes my mind‑set.ツ Because if I've hit a bad tee shot, I'm thinking, well, I have to hit great shots if I'm going to win here.ツ I have no options.ツ It's not like I'm standing there thinking, I'm hitting it lovely, I can be patient.
After hitting a bad shot, I'm thinking, no, I have to really take everything on.ツ If I've got a chance from 20 feet, you'll find that every single putt I had today ran by the hole.ツ There was nothing‑‑ when you don't feel 100 percent with all your shots, you can't be patient.ツ You've got to attack when you get an opportunity, and 11 was a perfect example.

Q.ツ Unlike yourself, most casual golf fans have never heard of Daniel Berger today.ツ He's got three Top 10s this year now.ツ Talk about what you see in his future?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I've seen a lot.ツ He's a big, strong kid.ツ He's a modern player.ツ He hits it a long way.ツ I was quite a afraid going to that 18th hole against him.ツ I knew he had a distance advantage on me and.ツ Whereas I had to hook mine down the left‑hand side of the fairway, I felt he is a bit longer and he could hit it down the middle and be able to reach it.ツ I was‑‑ and that's probably why I didn't play great.
I was happy to get through the 18th hole in a halve.ツ I was never trying to play it to win.ツ I was always thinking he had the advantage.ツ I know from talking to Grant how well he's played this year.ツ I hope he takes confidence from this and knows that he, in the words of Gary Player, that's a win.
So it's a‑‑ okay, he lost in a playoff but he was good enough to win this week and he'll be good enough to win weeks down the road.ツ He looks like he's got a strong character and will be probably a player you can watch for on the TOUR.ツ I think he looks like he's come, from what I hear, he's been pretty tough how he's come about it.ツ He's got a bit of guts in him.

Q.ツ You were stepping through with your right foot on all your practice swings today.ツ Was that sort of a discrete way of practicing that happy swing that you were working on?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yes, absolutely.ツ Similar sort of thing.ツ When I hit my bad shots, I just stop, plain and simple.ツ My right side just stops, and then my hands get active.ツ It was just trying to encourage my right side to keep going forward as I hit the golf ball would you tell me having to physically try and do it or think about doing it.

Q.ツ Earlier this week you said if you could swing like Happy Gilmore, you'd be happy.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ It looks like, Pete Cowen was with me on the range today and he said, that is the drill for me.ツ When he looks at it, it does everything he wants in my golf swing for me would you tell me having to work on it.ツ It might not be the drill for somebody else, but for me it gets the club down and in front of me.ツ Gets my shoulders ‑‑ all the things I'm trying to work on but obviously you wouldn't want to be thinking about that when you're swinging a golf club.

Q.ツ When you won before, it was in your 30s and you've seen a lot of players come through and we talk about Daniel Berger and all these other guys.ツ How much harder is it now in your 40s to win out here?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ It has got harder to win on the TOUR.ツ The standard keeps going up.ツ Sometimes describe it, it's like a hundred‑meter dash.ツ Everybody lines up at the line and they all just sprint off.ツ If you're not 4‑under par after nine holes, you're feeling like, oh my God, how am I going to make it up here.
On a week like this, it all changes.ツ When you get a tough golf course, really tough week, kind of feels like a major.ツ As you see, guys get away from you and you're not worried.ツ You know that it's hard to be the leader on this golf course, just like it's hard to be the leader at a major.ツ So there is a little bit more patience on a tough course.
But yeah, it's much tougher on TOUR now, a lot of really talented players and it's very, very hard.ツ I feel for guys‑‑ it's very, very hard for the young guys to set themselves apart.ツ It's hard to become a household name.ツ You can do it for, you know, play well for six weeks, three months, but the to consistently win tournaments and contend over here, it's incredibly difficult.ツ It's a big, big pond out here with a lot of talent in it.
There's so much talent; it probably puts a lot of us under a lot of pressure to absolutely play at our very best every week, and maybe sometimes we put ourselves under too much pressure to do that and don't perform.

Q.ツ In Phoenix two years ago, you said, and I'm paraphrasing, that you get up every day thinking, how can I make my swing better or make it evolve.ツ Do you think the game attracts people wired that way, or does the game with all its moving part turn you into tinkers?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ No, that's a character trait.ツ I think you're born with that character trait.ツ I was.ツ I grew up with no practice range, so that's why I've always been fascinated, obsessed with trying to swing the club and hit it better.
The short game side of the game, the mental side came easy to me for most of my career, so that's what I am.ツ That's what I enjoy.ツ That's what I look to.ツ You will find more PGA TOUR pros are non‑tinkerers than are tinkerers.ツ There's very few that actually tinker.ツ There's probably ten of us, and the rest of much more on the mind‑set of not really thinking too much about their game whatsoever.
So if you want to, if you're looking for a character trait to make it as a professional, it's the guy who doesn't think too much has got better odds (laughter).

Q.ツ You've done okay, though?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I've done ‑‑ okay, yeah.ツ But the higher percentage are the guys that just play with a lot more rhythm and don't think too much about their technique and the higher percentage are successful pros, but that's not who I am.

Q.ツ Heartfelt congratulations.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Thank you, Karl.

Q.ツ I looked at you coming off the 18th last night that you looked quite low.ツ How was your dinner last night?ツ You say you found something on that putting green and things were fine and how important was that phone call from Caroline this morning, how essential was that?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I spent about hand hour with Bob Rotella last night on the putting green hitting putts.ツ I went to an old drill and putted away.ツ Certainly gave me some confidence.
I then went out to dinner with Shane Lowry and Steven Grant, probably stayed later than I should have.ツ After I long day, I think I was still in the Thai Kabuki, certainly after ten o'clock, after a long day, 10:15, 10:30.ツ But we were having good fun, and I have to say in that whole time, I don't think‑‑ we talked a lot of golf because Stephen Grant talks a lot of golf but I never discussed anything to do with my golf.ツ I never thought anything about my golf, so I really did get away from it for a few hours.
Got up this morning and as I said, I was talking to Caroline and she just said to me was I was heading out, she said, "Remember, if you had a putt, you wouldn't ask anybody else to hit it for you."ツ And to be honest, I wouldn't ask anybody else to, maybe I would for a drive or two (laughter) but for a putt I wouldn't.

Q.ツ So that was your mantra for the day?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ That definitely helped on the greens, absolutely, 100 percent, I stood over every putt and I just said, look, just give it your best go.ツ There's no‑‑ it's not that I hit all the putts perfect but there's no, just hit it and see what happens.ツ And I had a good day.
Obviously the putts were dropping, which was‑‑ I holed about, I'm trying to think, 9, I holed about a 6‑footer 9, and that's probably the first putt I hit in two days that I hit solid and pure and with no interference, and that‑‑ it's amazing sometimes, actually holing, not knocked the first one by five or six feet and that one gave me more confidence holing the 6‑footer than if I had knocked it up to a foot and tapped it in.
So it was sometimes actually getting to knock a putt in is a big boost year round, and as I said, one on 11 was a pure strike, and a bonus, the one on 12.ツ 13, rolled it in, short putt.ツ The one on 14 was a real back to my match play days, he holed first and I followed him in.ツ I was pumping then, really going for it.
I don't know if I lost a little bit of focus on the putting, a little bit of intensity on 15.ツ Big chip‑and‑putt.ツ Disappointed to go over the back of 16.ツ And obviously made a mess of 17.
But, you know, as Ronan said to me walking off 17, he says, you know, it's not over.ツ We could birdie down the last and we're in a playoff.ツ And he said it again, "You'd have taken this at the start of the week.ツ Let's go and do it."

Q.ツ Just curious, when you get together‑‑
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Sorry, hang on do people always interrupt you when you ask people questions‑‑ (laughter).

Q.ツ I was just curious, who gets more out of the sessions, you or Dr.Bob?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Clearly (laughter) I would like to think that we're both learning together.ツ I would definitely like.

Q.ツ Do you ever charge him?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ No.ツ Or see, I haven't seen a bill from Bob, either, which maybe I shouldn't say that (laughter).
I would believe that we're both getting some work.ツ I will say, I've done some work with Steve Peters in the U.K., as well, who works with‑‑ through Pete Cowen, as well.ツ He's been very helpful, as well.
Yeah, no doubt about it, Bob's just a great person to be around, and personally for my personality because he puts the responsibility on me.ツ He's not doing any hokey‑pokey stuff and off you go and you feel great.ツ He's very much like a schoolteacher and he gives you your homework and if you do it right, it works.
DOUG MILNE:ツ Pテ。draig, congratulations.

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