home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


July 17, 2017

Padraig Harrington

Southport, England

STUART MOFFAT: Good afternoon, everyone. It's my pleasure to welcome the two-time Champion Golfer of the Year, Padraig Harrington to the interview room.

Padraig, thanks for joining us this afternoon. Welcome back to Royal Birkdale.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Thank you. It's nice to be back.

Q. Just looking back at 2008, you must have some great memories here. What are you looking forward to about playing at Royal Birkdale this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I really do have good memories from 2008. It was a real big win for me at the time. Obviously I had won at Carnoustie, and Carnoustie was very exciting, but kind of messed up the 72nd hole in Carnoustie. So it left a little something wanting. It was nice to come back here. I think I won from the wrong side of the draw; I was in the last group Sunday. I played great. Swung the club great. Hit a great shot on the 71st hole. Did everything you dream about doing as a kid to win a major. And it was a very satisfying feeling to get my second major here, second Open Championship. So great memories.

Obviously this week, it's interesting this week, I've come in in a better form. So I'm playing decent golf and contending, trying to contend. I enjoy the week because I am not quite defending, but coming back here again and making the most of it because these good feelings don't come around that often. So I have a few things to do this week and try and manage my way around so that I'm minimum stress, minimum amount of work, so that I'm fresh for the 72 holes of golf.

Q. You're the only European in over a hundred years to defend the Claret Jug. When you arrived back at Birkdale, does the enormity of what you achieved back in 2008 hit home or are you comfortable knowing that bit of history that you secured?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I got lucky in 2008; I came into the tournament and I was injured. And it just took a lot of the expectations off. I was able to do all the stuff that you have to do as defending champion and have time to do it. So because I wasn't playing practice rounds that week, I basically freed up a lot more time. So there was a lot less stress.

The week turned out to be a grueling, tough week. And I played the least amount of golf. So probably was the freshest guy on the golf course Thursday morning and happy to be there. And certainly the freshest probably come Sunday.

So I think it just worked out in my favour. I think if you come in as defending champion, there are expectations and pressures. Even I'll have this this week. And that just makes it harder for you to manage it. I'm sure anybody coming in here, any of the favourites, anybody with that sort of expectation, it's like they're leading the tournament teeing off on Thursday morning. And we all know how hard it is to lead a tournament on Sunday, try to do it for four days. There's always going to be tentative swings in you. You're always going to be protecting things. It's just harder to be a defending champion on a big occasion. And so I think some guys do it enough that they get used to it. But for most of us it just puts a bit more pressure and a bit more stress in the week.

As I said, I'm trying hard to manage it, myself, this week. And I know in 2008 just by circumstances that I managed it.

Q. You had a 13-shot swing between Saturday and yesterday. What significance, if any, do you read into that? It was really impressive.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played the same both days. So absolutely no significance whatsoever to the two. I have played so many rounds of golf now in my career, I fully understood what goes on, on both days. I know I got a little bit unlucky on Saturday, and I got a little bit lucky on Sunday, and that was the difference.

Completely no difference in the physical way I went about things. No change in my attitude. I hit good putts on Saturday that missed and I hit good putts on Sunday that went in. Between the two of them, it was very average, as in I holed the average amount of putts I'd say on Saturday and Sunday, but in contrast I didn't hole any on Saturday and I holed them all on Sunday.

I don't take anything from it in that sense that it's disappointing to shoot 79 when you're leading the tournament. It would be worse if it was on a Sunday. It would be worse if it was this week. But I know that some of it ultimately is outside my control. I don't have that ability to control it that well. I kept trying. I did everything I could. I played the golf I wanted to play. It got on top of me. The golf course was the winner that day. The weather was the winner. I don't read anything into -- even if I went out on Sunday, and if I went out there and played the same and shot 72, I could have been where I am in golf at the moment, my attitude, my -- my attitude to my game off the golf course is really good at the moment. It's always been good on the golf course, but I'm getting a really good balance. And I can handle shooting 79. And I can handle shooting 66, too.

Q. With your neck and your elbow situations this year, you've had setbacks, are you ahead of where you expected to be going into this week? And are you a genuine, credible contender to win a Claret Jug?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I turned a good corner in my golf a year ago, started playing really nice. And I got injured at the Olympics. And I've had struggles from then. But it's a year ago that my form, my attitude, my form, everything about me, my golf had changed. I could see that change. I think all the injuries, like I played 21 rounds of competitive golf in seven months, from November to Travelers, I think, in June. So, yeah, I wasn't sure where it would be, but I knew that if I could be healthy and face that, I'm certainly on top of things. I had nothing to worry about in terms of what I'm doing with my game. I needed to get on the golf course just to play. I knew my attitude was good.

So, yes, I am ahead of it. I have to think I'm slightly ahead of it, but I'm starting in a good place. I was confident coming in, getting a few rounds under my belt, I'll be back to where I need to be.

Q. (No microphone.)
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Look, I'm amazed you have to ask that question of me. I will always go back to the Shane Lowry quote, I think I'm going to win the week I'm not playing. So clearly I think I'm a credible contender on any golf course, but bring me to a links golf course, no doubt about it, it gets me more -- it gives me an advantage to be on a links course, for sure.

Q. You talked about good and bad luck played in your game. How much do you attribute your game to the luck?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Gary Player says, "The more I practice, the luckier I get." I'm not a believer -- I'm not a superstitious person, and I don't believe it's actually luck. I used the word "luck" I think to explain it, but I believe it's circumstances and the nature of the game. On Sunday I hit beautiful 4-iron into the 15th hole. Couldn't hit a better shot, pitched a yard short of the hole, and it stopped about two inches from going over the back of the green, where I'd have done well to get it back on the green. So I have a 12-foot putt for birdie or I could have made bogey. I don't think it was lucky. I don't think it was unlucky, I think that's just the nature of the game. I can't control that element of it.

So what I'm really saying is I'm very aware of it and it doesn't bother me. I see the difference. I see the difference of not getting a bad break as much as getting a bad break at the right time.

Trying to explain this, I was commentating at the Masters this year for Sky. And I wasn't in the booth when Rory hit the flag on Friday, on the 18th and it spun off the green and he made bogey. And someone was saying how unlucky that was. It would only be unlucky if it was the 72nd hole. It didn't really make any difference to his chances of winning the tournament on the 36th hole. So playing so long, I see it a little different now. I understand there are good and bad breaks when you're playing the game. Even breaks, you don't see yourself getting a bad break could be just as good as getting a lucky break. But I suppose you have to be aware of it so you don't get too hung up on getting a bad break or even a good break.

And watching all the other players, too, it is an amazing game, when things fall for you, you've got to make sure you have a winning week when they fall for you or close to it, but there are a lot of circumstances that happen in golf that are outside the player's control.

Q. For about 20 or so years this major has produced more winners of an older age than the other three majors. Do you have any theories on why this Open does that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Clearly because obviously an Open Championship can be played by a shorter hitter. And by suggestion, as you get older, you get shorter relative to the field. So you can -- a guy hitting the right ball flight will hit it further into the wind -- 160 miles an hour efficient ball flight is going to go further than 180 miles an hour inefficient. That's why an older guy can compete with the younger guys.

Plus experience, a lot of the younger guys are physically gifted, but they don't have the experience with links golf. Assuming decent, tough enough conditions, it's a tournament for experience. Everybody can compete short and long hitters. It's not one dimensional, The Open Championship.

But I will say in the 20 years I'm playing, the pin positions have got tougher and tougher over the years, that has become less and less about hitting long shots. It's very hard -- a lot of the pins the last couple of years are tight. You've got to hit the ball high, even if you're going into the wind, you've still got to hit it high into the pins, hitting a low shot up the middle of the green is not going to do you any good. You still need to hit the ball high to play well on links courses. I know it is counterintuitive to what we think, but it's no longer run the ball up on the greens. It is fly it in there.

Q. You have replicas of the Claret Jug and PGA in your kitchen, I wondered, did you do that deliberately to every day you go in there to subliminally affirm to yourself, you're a champion, are they just nice pieces of furniture or a talking point for a visitor?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't need to look a trophies to know I'm a champion. Two of them are sitting there, it's just a nice place to have them. If you ask me consciously to think about it, I kind of go, why wouldn't you put the two biggest trophies you've won somewhere where you see them regularly? Why would you hide them like that somewhere away? When I do get a kick out of the trophies, is when someone comes to the house and hasn't seen them, and it's their reaction. Obviously they're there all the time for me, but it's somebody else's reaction that really kind of sets it apart for me.

And as I said, from a logical point of view, if you've got something -- if I had something nice, I wouldn't be a person to put it away in a box and hide it. I'd be more likely to want to make use of it. I think putting the two trophies where I see them every day, and the PGA trophy, is just making nice use of it, and it also gives me a little bit of a buzz when people come into the house and see it and remark on it.

Q. Just a follow-up, the Irish players this week, what do you make of an Irish challenge in terms of yourself, Rory and Shane and Darren has to be considered, too?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think we're all well established in playing links golf. We've all played our formative years on links golf courses and understand it. So you can never write off any of the Irish guys when it comes to it.

Obviously Shane is the new man on the block. Physically, you know, he's got the game. He knows how to play links golf. He knows how to win on the big occasion. And I think that's probably the biggest thing for Shane, his wins, when he won the Irish Open as an amateur, that was probably bigger in terms of stress and pressure than it would be for him to win this week. It was more out of the blue for an amateur to win on Tour. And Bridgestone, again, he can handle the big occasions. Shane can definitely win. And obviously myself and Rory and Darren have done it before. And links golf certainly lends itself to helping us.

Q. As someone who are hasn't been afraid to try now things in your career, I'm curious about what you think of Bryson DeChambeau and his unconventional approach to golf.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The most startling thing is when anybody comes on Tour, they have to find their comfort zone. They have to believe that they belong. When DeChambeau comes out and he's doing something different all his life, he's all proving -- by doing something different, he's showing that he's not following. And you must have a lot of confidence, a lot of self-confidence to set yourself out and be somebody different, which is a tremendous thing when you're coming to be a pro. To be a professional golfer you've got to have a huge belief in what you're doing, in whatever you're doing, you've got to have belief in that. And clearly when you do something as different to everybody else, you are setting a mark right there that you believe in yourself.

So I can see how he's come as far as he has in the game. He's under a lot of pressure. There's no doubt when you do something different everybody's watching, and I won't say hoping you fail, but certainly watching and putting pressure and expectation on somebody who's out there changing things or changing the game. So clearly he's dealt with that for a long period of time. And must make you very self-confident. And that's the biggest key to being a good player.

I will say this, your technique makes very little difference to how you play golf. Your technique defines what your potential is. Your mental game defines what use you make of it. And I'm saying his technique, I don't see anything better about his technique or worse about his technique than anybody else. But I'm saying that because he's different technically he must be strong mentally. And that's the biggest bonus of being different.

Q. There's been a lot written in the run-up to Birkdale about your approach at the 17 back in 2008. Does it still surprise you that people want to focus on that? And can I also ask you, is it important when you win the Claret Jug to do it in a manner that you did ten years ago with that shot?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, as I explained earlier, the way I did in in 2008 is how you would you dream of winning a major as a 15-year-old kid. Everything went right. I did everything nice and beautiful, swung the club, last group, all the little things. The way I won in Carnoustie, I don't think as a 15-year-old you're going to dream of double-bogeying the last with a one-shot lead as your dream way of winning The Open.

They're all wins, and you've got to take them when you get them. They don't come that often. And in my career I've seen some good wins and some bad wins. And I'm happy -- sometimes the difficult ones, the ones that you possibly shouldn't have got are the most fun, are the most enjoyable. But to believe that there's a certain perfection to winning is very naive. It's very rare that it's beautiful and perfect. It's normally a little bit ragged, and you just have to make the most of it.

So, yeah, it's dreaming. Fairytale stuff to think it should go that way, but it did in 2008 for me. And that 5-wood on 17 is the shot I'll always be remembered for. I will say my old coach at the time Bob Torrance used to say, it's easy to hit a good shot when you're feeling great. It's difficult to hit an average shot when you're feeling bad. I was feeling great going down that 17th hole. It was my favourite club. It was a shot I love. I hit a shot in those circumstances, I was on top of the world when I was going to hit it. If I hit a few bad shots coming into that hole and had a two-shot lead, yeah, I'd lay up. Right now if I had a two-shot lead standing on the 17th, I'd tell you I'd hit 6-iron down there and chip it on, and take my chances that Greg doesn't eagle the hole. But at the time in 2008, favourite club, favourite shot, let's hit it. Let's win The Open here and now, and I got to enjoy it walking down 18.

Q. You spoke about contending this week. And also how important it was to enjoying this week. Is one thing predicated on the other?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I think they're the opposite, to be honest. I think contending and playing is -- I'm not saying I wouldn't enjoy it, and it's a different sort of enjoyment. The enjoyment I was talking about stepping back and saying I've won an Open Championship here at Royal Birkdale, you know, and embracing that sort of thing, and I suppose taking some of the glory from my past wins, whereas if you're thinking of winning, you're not really thinking in the past, you're thinking about what's going to get the job done this week and what sort of practice do I need to do, what sort of rest do I need to get, all those things. You'd have no distractions if you were purely focused on playing this tournament, whereas if you're setting out to enjoy your win in 2008, you have to stand back and reflect and take it all in. So they are slightly different.

MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone. Padraig, thanks for joining us and again, good luck this week.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297