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OLYMPIC GAMES RIO 2016: GOLF


August 11, 2016


Padraig Harrington


Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I would say I was more nervous on the first tee than at any‑‑ as much as I would have been when I played my first major. It was very exciting. I said it to the guys walking off, now we are Olympians and nobody can take that away from us. When you think about it, most weeks, you have 156 guys playing, 155 losers.
This week, you have 60 guys playing, and we are all winners.

Q. What were you happy with most today outside your golf, just thinking about the atmosphere, did it surprise you at all?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, it was a different atmosphere. Basically it was all little groups of people who were supporting their own country. It was very odd.
So like literally, you know, you could see it around the golf course. You would have a crowd of‑‑ at my stage, obviously the crowds weren't big. They got bigger obviously, there would be 30 or 40 people, and they cheer for their own guy from their own country. Whereas normally most crowds follow a group are reasonably neutral and cheer for everybody in the group. It was interesting, the cheers were going up and you could look around and you could tell which country they were. Very much country‑based cheers.

Q. Did it feel like a good start for you?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I feel like it was a great start for you, a great day, exciting day out on the golf course. This is a very exciting golf course.
They have done a fantastic job with the course. It's exactly the sort of golf course I'd like to play tournament golf on, any golf on, for the rest of my life. It's not challenging in difficulty, but challenging in lots of birdie opportunities, lots of excitement, but you've got to take the shots on. They have done a great job with the golf course, and everything about the event, it is surprising in the players' lounge and around it how much more of a buzz there is with the players, how much‑‑ players are enjoying this a lot more than I think any event they have played because of what's going on around it, not just the golf, and probably a lot of guys will play better because of it.
It really is; there's a feel‑good factor about the locker room and the players and as I say, we're all winners here, so everybody is already feeling good.

Q. As much as you've invested in wanting this to succeed, is there any part of you concerned about how today would come off?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Not at this stage, no, not at all. I think at this stage, we were very comfortable that when you see the players here and everybody is here really wants to be. And even if people who are on the fringe come in here, they are all thinking, wow, I'm glad we made‑‑ I'm glad we've come, because everybody realised how good an event it is and how much they are getting out of it.
You definitely feel for the guys who haven't come. I think they are definitely losing out.

Q. Were you nervous?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I was very nervous, just like the first time you tee off St. Andrews, the first time you see off Augusta. Thankfully they give you a big, wide target off the first. This golf course is really nice that way. If you want to play safe to some big targets and if you want to go for it, it challenges you to take it on.
It was very exciting. There was certainly some trepidation over the last couple of days. I picked up a little bit of a neck injury and I just was a little bit concerned that, well, I think I would have teed it up anyway. But you're worried, you want to be healthy and strong, because there is a feeling‑‑ and I never get this feeling, ever, in any event; there's a feeling that this might be my one and only opportunity.
I tee it up in majors, four majors every year, and if I was injured or didn't play well, I'd just go, well, there's always another major coming up. There's always a major in a few weeks or a major next year, 16, every four years. But this event, there's a genuine feeling of, this may be my only chance. Who knows in four years' time where I'll stand in the world of golf and I realise how quick it changes.
So yeah, there was a feeling of trepidation, a feeling of joy after hitting the first shot. I'm an Olympic athlete now forever. I said it to the guys‑‑ and you know, what's different about this event, every week we play, 156 guys tee it up. There's 155 losers. This week, 60 guys tee it up, 60 winners. We're all winners. Every guy is feeling good teeing it up here, thinking, life is good, I'm an Olympic athlete.
It's just so unusual for us. No matter what happens this week, it would be nice to win the Gold Medal, Silver Medal, Bronze Medal, but everybody is walking away with something, which is a lot different to our regular weeks in golf.

Q. What did it mean to have your family here?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: It was fantastic to have my two young fellas and my wife following me around, and I did see another couple of Irish athletes out there, which was nice. Nice to get that support. Yeah, it was good. My wife dressedwhich ‑‑ my son is 12, but he was managing to wear my Olympic clothes out there. So it was nice to see him out there supporting.
They are really into it. As I said, next week, I think I bought tickets for ten different events next week and we're really excited to go and enjoy the Olympic experience.

Q. Different feel compared to a Tour event?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: It's incredibly different. There's a real buzz around the players locker room. There's a lot more interaction between the players. I think every player and the caddies and the coaches, everybody has a story to tell about who they met and what they saw and what was going on.
There's certainly a lot more interaction of fun amongst the players. There's not, you know, like in a general event where everybody sort of goes their own way. Even though we are on different teams, we're discussing what their team is like, what our team is like. You know, it's been a great buzz.

Q. And Ronnie Delaney texting?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I tell you what, I haven't got my phone on. I'd say the second text in here is Ronnie Delaney, I got one last night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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