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July 14, 2017

Padraig Harrington

Ayrshire, Scotland

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thanks, Pádraig, for coming in for a cup of tea and a chat. Give us your assessment of a fine couple of days.

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: They have been interesting. You know, the whole week's been interesting. I played a Pro-Am on Monday in Ireland for team Ireland for sort of the up-and-coming pros, and I was meant to fly out, coming in here, I was due on Monday night and as it turned out the traffic was really bad and I ended up missing my flight. So I got an extra day at home, which meant I didn't get a practise round but I came in probably quite refreshed.

Played the Pro-Am obviously on Wednesday, but I felt even though I didn't know the golf course, I kind of felt in a good place. That showed up the first day. I had plenty of drama in the first round. It wasn't all plane sailing in that 5-under par for sure. I hit some good shots but I got some good breaks, as well. I think the first three holes, I was 2-under after three yesterday, and I hit it in the bush in the second and I hit it in the hazard on the third.

So I was 1-under after three, and clearly that's the sort of momentum you want in a tournament. To play very nicely after that, and obviously when the rain came in, kind of fell a part a bit the last couple of holes, but got some good breaks, and then today was the opposite. Today was just boring. There was no stress. All day, I made two birdies on par 5s and I hit two 7-irons on my 10th and 11th hole, the first and second hole, in pretty close. That was my day. Nothing really too -- couldn't have been more opposite than yesterday.

Q. How close did you get to the airport when you were chasing your flight?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I gave up at my house. It was very easy. So basically I came home from the Pro-Am and a number of people who were at the Pro-Am rang me to tell me that there have been a crash on the motorway, and it was an easy decision just to go, you know what -- and it really was a good decision, I've got to say.

I miss that. Playing in the States, I go on the road for three, four weeks, and the biggest problem -- and this is why a lot of Europeans have struggled in the States at times. If you miss the cut in the States, you're finished on a Friday, and you've got Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to kill before you get to play another tournament; whereas when you're playing in Europe, miss the cut on Friday morning and it's a bonus because you're home for tea on Friday afternoon.

And to be honest, that's the truth of it. If you ever want to know why a lot of Europeans struggle, it's because of that. Killing that time in the States is very difficult and I could see that this week, having the extra day at home was very refreshing. And I suppose at this stage of my career and the way the game has gone, you can handle playing not as much practise rounds. I'm getting too old to play practise rounds.

It certainly brought me in in a good frame of mind I think.

Q. Outside you said you are a bit more relaxed because you're not trying to chase your legacy.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I've kind of come to the conclusion at this stage, and I've seen it myself, when I came on Tour, I played with some of the elder statesmen, and I used to think -- I used to watch them fighting it, and at times I asked them, "Why are you fighting it?"

And they say, "Well, if I can win one more tournament." And I was thinking, you've already done everything you're going to do, one more tournament is not going to change it. I'd hate to be that guy. I'd hate to be that guy that the young guys are out there playing with and not -- it's interesting for me because the young guys, I see it time and time again.

Sometimes I'll be frustrated with my golf and I'll finish the round and I might be playing with two young fellas and they haven't said anything all day and we sit down for lunch afterwards and they can't stop quizzing me with questions. In other words, I get a lot of respect from the younger players.

If you're fighting it too much out there, that's not what they want to see. So yeah, I've kind of come to the conclusion, I've pretty much done what I've done in the game of golf. I will win tournaments. I enjoy being out here. You know, why bother beating myself up over it. I can do nicely. If I win another major, three majors, four majors, not a huge deal. If you told me I was going to win another six majors, well, okay, that might be a difference.

But it's not going to change me, and there's no point in me fighting it at this stage. I'm enjoying what I'm doing and kind of letting it happen.

Q. Along those lines, you've talked about your stop/start year with all the injuries, are you surprised to be in this position?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Not at all. Not even close to being surprised. It will happen pretty regularly. I can't do it on-demand though. I can't tell you it's going to happen next week. But it will happen, just like winning in Portugal there six months ago; winning at Honda the year before. I will throw these, sometimes maybe out of the blue.

But I don't think they will be as much out of the blue going forward, but I will have tournaments where I shoot good rounds like this and get into the lead. Who knows what's going to happen over the next two days, but it's not a surprise to me. It's just part of the -- I suppose it just part of the sequence, of the up-and-downs, and I'll just patiently wait for the ups.

Q. It was a little slow out there and you had some conversations with the young guys in your group. Seemed like a good pairing. How important is a good pairing to you?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, it is the most important thing to have guys out there that you enjoy playing with that you can talk to and get away from the golf between shots. You know, we had a long wait on that fifth tee, and yeah, we had a good conversation.

To be honest, it's more the caddies nearly get going, and I would know that -- I know more the caddies than the players. The caddies tend to be older at this stage. Yeah, there was a nice bit of buzz.

The only story always relate to this is that I shot 63 at The Vines in 1997 and it was the course record for a long number of years. And I played with Andrew Coltart and Brett Ogle that day, and Brett Ogle told a joke on every single hole (laughter), Andrew and myself pitched in a few more jokes. And literally we would hit our shots huddled as this joke -- we'd hit out shots huddled to the green. And on the last hole, my caddie had to tell me how I was doing. I had no idea. I shot a course record, broke it by a few shots that stood for ten years, at least. It might even -- I don't even know now.

It just goes to show, when you can get your mind -- grinding around the golf course and always trying and focusing, it's stressful. It's going to catch up with you. Again, going back to my earlier career, Monty, he played so well at the weekends and on Sundays because he had a completely stress-free week and he was very relaxed and there was nothing going on, and that's always the best mode. The guy who works hard Thursday, Friday, Saturday, you know, sometimes runs out of energy on Sunday.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: What was the best joke that week?

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: The best joke, I don't know -- it's a long time ago now to remember the actual jokes. But Brett was pretty funny, I can tell you. He told a lot.

Q. Are you getting any good vibes about next week, any feelings?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Not any more so than I would be getting any other week. I committed to my preparation four weeks ago now and you know, I'm just in the middle of it now. Who knows whether if I keep playing this week well, if I play well at the weekend, and you have -- you know, you're coming down the stretch on Sunday and you're under pressure; maybe I'll have blown it all before next week.

Just that's the nature of the game. I know my preparation is right, but it's just not a science that you can just say, I'm going to peak that exact week. Generally players tend to peak the week after a major. In my case, maybe I'm hitting form a week too early, who knows. Let's see how the rest of this week goes.

Q. You were saying earlier you didn't think it would change your reputation if you won one more major, but how much do you look forward to having that adrenaline coming down the stretch there?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: You know what, I'd love it, but I will have it tomorrow morning on the first tee, and I'll be nervous hopefully late on Sunday here.

Yeah, it would be a nice buzz and again, I'd love to win another major, and you know, if I did win next week, I'd sit here on Sunday and tell you all the reasons why it does make a difference to my career (laughing). But at the moment, I'm going to tell you I found myself in a better place by deflecting a little bit in that sense.

Q. Talking about seeing some of the young guys after a round of golf, when you won in Carnoustie and Birkdale, your children were quite young, but what's the reception like now? What are they, 13 or 14?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: 13. From my own fella --

Q. Do they give advice or are they critical or what?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, might be critical of my basketball or something like that. We played basketball on Tuesday. God I was sore after that.

But no, golf, yeah, they would be -- Paddy would be a little bit involved. He sat down a bit when I've been with Bob Rotella and stuff, and so he would be interested in that side of the stuff, the psychology side of it and that. But they don't judge in any shape or form. At least they don't tell me if they are judging behind my back (laughter) no, I don't get any of that at home at all.

I did get last week, and I do have to say this, I started badly at The Irish Open in the third round. And my wife came up to me after a few holes and says, "Are you okay?" As in, she was wondering, was I injured sort of thing, it was so bad. And it was very evident from her comment, are you okay. It was like, you're playing like you're injured (laughter).

Q. Was there a particular time over the past few years when you knew it was time to stop beating yourself up?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I've had some trouble with my putting at times, and you know, I probably turned the corner this time last year, things started coming together pretty nicely. Unfortunately I got injured at the Olympics.

But I've seen how a gradual change in attitude has just made the off-course golf so much easier, and then that comes on to the golf course and it makes it easier on the course, as well. But mainly, I'm not as pedantic about things off the golf course. I realise it doesn't all have to be right, and I'm in a nice place because of that.

Q. You said you didn't like to see old guys fighting it. Did you ever see a contrary example, an old guy with a reputation who managed to climb quite gracefully?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: No, to be honest, because what tend to happen -- I'm trying to think about that. I've seen them leave and not fight it. I've seen them stay and fight it, and it's never good when they stay and fight it.

But then you do see guys who buck the trend, you know. And you could say Bernhard Langer has bucked the trend. You could say Tom Watson bucked the trend. They are obviously a little bit older. I'm really thinking of guys sort of in their 40s, have had a good career and are hanging on on the main tour.

I'm not really sure who I would have as a role model. I believe I can be different and unique and be my own guy and out here. I've changed. You know, 20 years ago, if I thought I knew something, I would have kept it to my chest. Nowadays if somebody asks me something, I'll tell them. It's up to them to figure it out and work what it is, but I definitely would have kept something to my chest, if I thought it was my secret. I figured out after 20 years, there ain't no secrets. And there's plenty for everybody out here; that's another way of looking at it. I would be more willing to share and give now than I would have been as a rookie.

Q. You said the biggest struggle for European play on PGA TOUR is issue the issue like --

Q. Geographically --
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Just loneliness. That's the biggest issue.

Q. How do you balance?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I have my best friend with me when I'm out on Tour. That makes a huge difference to me. Outside of that, the life is very convenient in the States. It's very easy, which it ends up that it just becomes -- I see it time and time again; it becomes lonely for players.

I know one player playing in the States this year, European, I think it was close to three months into the season before he went out for dinner with anybody. You know, literally he had room service every night of the week, and when he picked up the tab that night, he lost his credit card (laughter) he won't come out again.

But you know, it's very evident when you watch the Europeans playing in the States. Some of them moved and it's a good decision to move. But others who are traveling over, just it's a big change socially. They don't have the same family infrastructure, friends, to keep their mind off the golf, and you know, some of these guys, as you say, if you miss the cut on Friday morning, spending 2 1/2, three, four days practising is not their usual style. They normally go home, get away from it, do a little bit of practise, play a little bit of golf.

It's tough. As I said, in the States, there isn't that -- we don't know the U.S. sports. And if you don't know college sport in the States, it's hard to have a conversation. I'm into the professional sports now after playing 13 years there, and now I have an interest in the ice hockey and I'd have an interest in the football, and I'd have a little interest in the basketball. So at least with the professional games, I'm aware of what's going on.

But when you're a European going across there, it's difficult to fit in and everybody does their own thing more so in the state. In Europe, everybody stays in the same hotel so you're bumping into players all the time.

If you went in Europe, literally -- getting off the subject here. Literally, everybody has a group that they go out together with. You just fit in, like so good when I'm home, there's a group of Irish guys going out for dinner and we can talk about stuff that's at home.

In the States after 13 years, yeah, I've made friends that I can go out with and that, but I see it with the young guys going across there, it's harder for them to have that bonding. All the French guys go out together, all the Spanish guys, English, Scots; you see the groups going out all the time in Europe, and it really lends itself to helping players get away from the golf and not think about it.

That really is off the subject now at this stage.

Q. Just one follow. Did your mental coach told you that the best company is within self?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I don't know if I did it on purpose or by accident, but I've come to realise that you've got to have that outlet when you're in the States. You've got to have the situation that when you come back from the golf course at 6 o'clock, that there's no temptation for you to sit in there and have room service; that there's somebody there with you that you're always going to go out and get away from the golf for a few hours.

If you sit in a hotel room and literally you can sit in the same style of hotel room every week in the States and look at the four walls; your golf is going to go sideways.

Q. You said earlier that you can't do it on-demand anymore.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think I ever could do it on-demand. I just realised I can't do it on demand.

Q. When was that realisation, and the follow-up to that, what is it that you felt like you've done in these two days that you need to do the next two days to be successful.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I don't need to do -- I won't be doing anything different. Don't need to do anything different. But I don't expect it to be -- I don't know what's going to happen the next few days.

I suppose the difference is, I always knew you can't have it on demand. I now accept that you can't have it on-demand and that might be the difference. I'll go out there and play tomorrow, I'm working purely a numbers game. If I get myself into contention often enough, I will win enough tournaments, and that's the way it is. And if I play enough tournaments, I will be in contention. It's just numbers; numbers, numbers, numbers, but I can't do it on-demand, no.

Q. You mentioned young players talking to you, asking you questions. Has any young player come to you and asked you why you take your left foot off the ground on your backswing or why you're following through a certain way? Have you been quizzed on that?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Most of them jokingly. They like to joke with me about my age at times. I got thrown out today that I said I can play in the PGA until I'm 60. I won't say who; says, "Oh, you've got another five years." (Laughter).

Look, every player knows those moves, their training drills pretty much. I don't think they would ask -- who is going to ask somebody about their golf swing? It's certainly not something that would be done during play or whatever. But a couple of people have asked me in and around, what's going on. But I think they tend to, most people would tend to ask my coach what I'm doing, and that's what we tend to do. You don't want to get into other player's swings. You don't want to get into their heads in that sense. So yeah, not directly coming up and saying, wow, you look like a -- but it is what it is.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: It is what it is. Thank you, Pádraig.

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