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October 31, 2018

Padraig Harrington

Antalya, Turkey

NEIL AHERN: Thank you for joining us. You played in the final group with Shane here last year and you've just played with Shane this morning, so coming back with some nice feelings into the Turkish Airlines Open.

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: We were chatting about it today as we were going around, and when you come back to the course, you start to remember a couple of shots. I think one of the big keys for all professional golfers is you're always trying to figure out why you got into contention, why you did well, and it's when you come back, you start realising the difficult breaks you got here, there or everywhere. Certainly I got a few good breaks last year.

Shane was there to remind me of them today. You chipped and putted from there, did that. You chipped in there. It's always nice to remember a good round, as I said, and it was nice to be in contention. It was a nice place. It was a nice place to be.

THE MODERATOR: Tell us about your form at the moment. You have a few Top 10s in your last few appearances. Your target was to be here in the first place, but now that you're here, what are the goals now?

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Got to push on to try to get into The Race to Dubai. Yeah, I'm quietly very happy about my game and where it's going. You know, quite I don't well, I'm sure there's some weaknesses there all right, but I'm focusing on the right stuff at the moment that gets the job done. You know, putting can be a little bit erratic at times. I certainly have had some, you know, good weeks and then some very average weeks, which have taken me out of contention, but I'm working away on that and then the tee to green stuff seems to be good, and the short game seems to be as good as ever.

Q. Is that an unusual state of affairs for you to be quite happy with your game?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, I suppose it is. But I'm in a good place that, yeah, I'm quite happy. When I say quite happy, I'm anxious to go to the range and I've got stuff to work on.

But I'm certainly not I'm pretty confident and believe in the stuff I'm working on, so that gives you time to work on the right sort of stuff. You know, I'm very much focused on the mental side of the game at the moment and my routines and things like that, which is always where you that pays more dividends for sure.

Q. Is The Ryder Cup a distraction, because it seems to be a one horse race for the captaincy?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's interesting getting asked questions about it when I know no more than anybody else. I keep getting asked the question and the second, third and fourth question keeps coming back to it when there's not much I can say, bar, yes, I'd like to be Ryder Cup Captain, my name's in the hat and there are other names in the hat and nobody is fully sure when they are going to announce it.

I'm like everybody else when it comes to it like that but I certainly relish the opportunity and challenge and go into it lightly, that's for sure. Certainly not going to be easy for anybody going back to the States after we beat them in France. You know, the U.S. will be up for it.

Q. You said in the European Tour Podcast you did with Andrew Cotter, about how big a home advantage is at the moment.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: And I did that before The Ryder Cup.

Q. You proved, bang on, that a neutral setup
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I think down the road, yes. Hazeltine, they just knew, a stats guy came in and said, look, we make more birdies than the European. We make this into a birdie fest, we should win.

We knew going into France, Thomas certainly knew going into France, make par be very precious, and Europe will have an advantage, and it proved that way. Different styles of golf. That's always the interesting thing. People always want to compare Europe and the states and The European Tour to the U.S. Tour and it's amazing how different they are in many many ways. It really is distinct sometimes it's as drastic as going from a links golf course to a parkland golf course. It is actually different golf. It's just the nature of it. We travel around the world and play so many different styles of golf courses. I know there's different styles in the States but they tend to play in nicer weather, faster greens, firmer greens. I know for myself, there's less rough in the States, yet it's more important to hit the fairways. It seems weird, doesn't it. Because the greens are firmer and faster, so I would say the pin positions are tighter in Europe, yet the pin positions are relatively tighter in the States because if you miss the green, then the green is faster and it's harder to get the ball you know, if you've got five yards to work with in the States, that could be harder than three yards to work with in Europe.

It's amazing there's so many different distinctions between the two styles of play, different tours. You could have a very good player on one tour just wouldn't be suited to the other. But that's the nature of the game. We're always going to try and compare but it's not a perfect I suppose you're not comparing perfectly, are you.

Q. That being said, do you think there should be a neutral?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: A neutral setup, yes. I don't think it's going it happen very soon but I do think eventually if it keeps going, we win in Europe, they win in the States, and for whoever is captain next time, I think the players aren't that happy that it's at Whistling Straits. They know that they have had a better chance of winning The Ryder Cup if they went back to a Hazeltine style of golf course, rather than going to a links course in the States.

The players themselves are very aware that they would go to their traditional style golf courses, they would have an advantage over the Europeans. While they will try obviously to set Whistling Straits up to suit them, you know, from our side, we hope they don't have as much wiggle room as they would have with the likes of Hazeltine

Q. Europe won at Medinah, too.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: we won at Medinah it's called the Miracle at Medinah, okay. It's not impossible to win away from home. It just gives a distinct advantage to the home team, so clearly it's not impossible, and it has happened. It hasn't happened for 25 years in Europe, though.

So it's not impossible, no. For sure it isn't, but it just does give there is a distinct advantage to the home team. But I don't see that changing. I might have started the conversation off but it will take 20, 30, 40 years for that, maybe, to move to a new.

Q. The captain would have to give up the advantage?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Somebody would have to give it up ten years down the road when we wouldn't know who the captain is.

Q. Do you know the names of the other people in the hat?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I don't. I have a fair idea who else would be looking to be in the hat.

Q. Is it just one or are we talking of a couple?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I certainly heard two names in the hat. Three names, two with myself I've heard. You'll figure it out yourselves, guys. I'm not even going to suggest who they are just because maybe one of them doesn't want to be known. You know, like so you'll have to find that out yourselves.

Q. You have to be a detective. How does the process what is the process? Do you actually go to someone at the Tour and say, I would like to put my name forward? Does someone come to you and say I would like his name?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: They come to you. The Tour come and ask. I think the Tour would put the feelers out because they yeah, they come and ask you, are you interested, would you like to be considered.

Q. When was that, approximately.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Since The Ryder Cup, yeah. Very, very quickly since The Ryder Cup. Like almost immediately after The Ryder Cup. They want to get a picture who is interested, and you know, a perfect example would be obviously in Lee Westwood's case, you know, they needed to know whether he was interested or not and he's sort of thinking, well, you know, he got the feeling from watching it that maybe have one more go and go for 2022. That was my sort of thinking the last time around that maybe there's one more in me, so this time around, I'm thinking, no. I'm thinking, I'm happily to retire into a national player now at this stage. As much as I think I can play a good round of golf, Ryder Cup is a pretty tough, stressful week.

Q. You've been on a lot of teams. Can you identify one of the things that struck you most about Thomas's captaincy?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I've got to say, from a vice captain wise, I really liked the way he went about it. He knew from his own experiences, which it's very different being a vice captain. It really is. You see a lot that you would never see once you're a player, and I think from his experiences, Thomas knew what his vice captains could do for him and let us help him. I think one of the things I would have certainly one of the biggest notes I would have taken from this Ryder Cup; that he got the vice captains to prepare stuff so that he could make decisions.

Because there's a huge amount of distraction for the captain. He's been pulled here, there and everywhere. If you're not prepared there's certain periods in the week, that hour on Friday morning, the hour after you finish Friday evening, again, really the hour of 12 o'clock on Saturday morning, when you're putting in the teams and Thomas could be run ragged. What we saw there, having his vice captains, get them ready, get them together, get some ideas together so that when he's got the time, he's not starting from scratch. He's got a template in front of him and move around.

When you start moving things, a lot of things move but having that template I thought was really very positive of Thomas. He was very organised during the week, he really was. Didn't go in for much I've got to say, he didn't go for much I'm looking for the right word for this.

Q. Churchillian speeches?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: He didn't really do that, which brings a certain amount of confidence to his team. He was confident in his team, relied on his team, and I think probably the moment of the week for us was, you know, when we lost the first session 3 1, there was no panic. At least there was no panic when we put the team in (laughing).

But that was very important that we told the players more or less what was happening and that we continued with that. We knew we were strong in foursomes, but I think there was a lot of good things there and that sort of, being able to stick to your guns in that situation. But yeah, there wasn't a huge amount of but he was insightful. You know, again, when you go through it, there's a lot of things he did that were reasonably insightful.

Q. Having chose each of his vice captains to do a specific thing for him, what was the thing you think he chose you for?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know if he chose us specifically he said that, did he?

Q. No, you?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I think he chose us as a group and we were a very mixed group when you put us all in there. We were quite five sort of different personalities, not completely different, some of us are the same but we had Robert really did a lot of the work, had a lot of the stats and a lot of the detail coming into The Ryder Cup during The Ryder Cup week, and going from that end to an end of, you know, somebody who would be going with the heart and looking at the emotional side of things. You put those extremes and you mixed it up, and we came to the right conclusions, which it's never one or the other. It's never the stats say, these two players should stay together and those two guys are good friends, they should play together. It's neither of those. It's a mixture. I think Thomas had a good mix of vice captains, and whatever happens with the captaincy going forward, I would be surprised; I think the players want a lot of continuity, and I would be surprised to see any big changes in the backroom team or any of the team that were there outside. Players have to play their way in but anybody else, I would be surprised if the next people weren't there the next time around.

Q. That's been the pattern.
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm just saying in terms of like David, the nutritionalist, and the psychologist and the fitness team and the physios; the team that were there work seamlessly. As I said, I think the vice captains worked very well together. I personally wouldn't see big changes ahead. I think the players would love that continuity and I know a number of players have come out and said they feel I should be the next captain, but I think what they are really saying is that they liked what they saw and they would like a continuation of what they have seen and not to rock the boat too much.

Q. Thomas Björn was perhaps a little bit different than maybe I would have expected as a captain to the way he was as a player. He said it was because he wasn't trying to control his own game and those frustrations. It was about the players. If you were captain, do you think we'd see a side of you that perhaps we wouldn't be used to seeing?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I would be myself. Maybe sometimes I might be pigeon holed into being a certain self that I'm not, so if you do see something different, it's just you didn't know me in the first place.

I'm obviously going to be, you know, there's an edge of me that would be more towards the Bernhard Langer type obviously, and yeah, be interesting to see, would I be a little bit more controlling. From watching it, you certainly have to let the players do their thing. They are there for a reason. They are picked and they are good enough, and certainly when they qualified, they deserve to be there and given the best chance of doing their thing out on the week but obviously you can't do as Faldo did and let everybody do their thing individually. There has to be a team element to it.

So it really is getting a good mix together, and from experience, I hope I would understand how to go about that and make sure that the sum of the parts is better than the individuals. It's very clear when you're in as vice captain, you can see that happening. You can see how individual players, if you paired them with the right person, they become so much better. And if you get that pairing wrong and I've seen a few pairings over the time you know, it can work the opposite. It can drag a player down. Some players don't want responsibilities. Others do want responsibilities.

It's amazing how as an individual when you're playing against guys, you never see this. But when you're involved in the team, you start seeing bits of people's personalities that you had no idea about. You know, one on one, you're just trying to beat the guy coming down the stretch, but in a Ryder Cup format, you're looking at those different partnerships, it's incredible how some players like something and another player completely you know, that's not for him at all.

I know in Wales, myself and Luke Donald made an awful partnership. We were just terrible together. There was no captain. The two of us were too even and nobody was leading. Then I played with Ross Fisher it was great. He thought I knew everything. It was just point and go. It was phenomenal. Ross played unbelievable golf, because he obviously felt comfortable and assured that all he had to do was play golf.

It's amazing how you can get more out of a partnership, and that's what Europe has relied on over the years is building good partnerships. Sometimes those partnerships don't last from Ryder Cup to Ryder Cup. Partnerships can burn out and things like that, but especially different levels.

Myself and Paul McGinley played very well in the World Cup and it started out Paul was very much the captain and he would tell me when we were playing practise rounds and do things, and then obviously I started becoming a better player and at a stage we had to stop playing together because we were loggerheads with each other because we were different styles.

Strange, playing together now, we've come through that and we would be much more relaxed and much more capable of playing with each other as a partnership now.

Q. Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know, you'd have to look on the individual week, but I know where you're going with that. You know, Graeme would have been a little bit more the senior player, and let Rory play golf. But now Rory is the senior player. So he has to, if he's paired up with somebody, he's got to, you know, take charge of the group and let the other guy play golf, or does he, because in Rory's case, you might say, he's such a good player, let's do everything we can. Just let him concentrate on his golf. There's loads of dynamics going on in The Ryder Cup. You're looking at trying to make sure like let's face it, 20 years ago, I got paired up with Graeme McDowell in his first match because the two of us were Irish. We didn't even know each other. We literally did not know each other. Knew nothing about each other and we were paired up because we were Irish.

That just goes to say, you know, it's not just the U.S. who have got partnerships wrong. That's how it was done 20 years ago. Oh, you two are Irish; you must play together.

Q. Paul said he loved being in a team, he loved the ethos and atmosphere of a team. Do you love being on teams?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I grew up, it was all team golf for me. My proudest record is playing for Ireland as an amateur in team events. Never lost a singles in the home Internationals. Six years. And the European Championships, never lot of the singles in European Championships (laughter).

Q. Thomas said British Masters was when Lee pulled out and you were front running and when he was appointed, it was almost too early, it was like December, sort of 18 months in advance of the match, would that be something
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I know what he's saying, but I keep getting asked. We've had, what, 20 minutes on this and I'm trying to say I'm not the Ryder Cup captain for 2020, it has not been decided, but once you start talking about it, eventually it starts looking like, I think I am. It puts me in an awkward position. I'd prefer the clarity. I understand what Thomas is saying. It does distract and take away, but you know, The Ryder Cup, being the captain in the States is different to being the captain in Europe. The European captain is heavily involved in setup of the golf course and different things.

While there is responsibilities for the U.S., it's not the same. Look, we would like clarity, that's for sure. But I know where Thomas is coming from. I certainly can see where he's saying that it does take up you know, it's 18 months of your life. McGinley it was 3 1/2 years of his life. Probably still going (laughter).

Q. Who will be captain for the United States?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: Is Steve Stricker the captain?

Q. How well do you know him?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I know Steve from playing with him in the US. Solid bloke. Good guy. Tough. Yeah, I think wouldn't be a man to underestimate. This is a guy who has come back from the driver yips in golf. This is a guy who has become a world class player a couple of times later on in his career without the firepower and arsenal that other players have. You know when you're going up against a guy like that that he's mentally tough and strong.

Yeah, I think he's a nice Ryder Cup Captain, as in he he's like the guy you're playing against in the golf course; the guy you want to play on the golf course is always a tough guy but a guy who is very straight and that's Steve Stricker. He's as straight as they come. You know you've got a game when you're playing against him, but there's no messing from his side.

Q. Just getting back, post PGA, you've had a heavy schedule. Is there any mental or physical fatigue that comes with that?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I'm pretty energised. PGA yeah, I think I'm energised because I'm trying to get a win. I think that's the difference. At the PGA from then, I could see some I changed my takeaway that week. I could see some you know, I was quite comfortable with my game at that stage, and I know the PGA itself didn't go as well but I played quite well. You know, once you start playing well, you start going, okay, well, where do I get better and you go, okay, it's a bit of focus here, it's a little bit of this, there's a bit more short game wedge game sort of stuff but that's where I've been. I'm keen to go play.

Now, I will say, I'm a different golfer than like I played nine holes this morning and it's tough going. I'd much prefer the tournaments I played in Europe, I went out to a lot of them. I went out Tuesday night and just played Pro Am Wednesday.

I saw that years ago when I was a young lad playing at the Tour, the older guys would come out late and play, and you go, would you not get there on a Monday. I fully understand now; I love the competition. I still love practising. But I don't like I don't like the stuff in between where you're sort of getting ready and there's not enough on the line on a Tuesday and Wednesday. I enjoy hitting shots on the range today more so than I did playing the nine holes.

To be honest, Shane and I went out and had a casual nine holes. We should have had a game and it would have been more fun. I need that little bit. I still enjoy going out on the golf course, 18 holes, a card in my hand, is more the true practise of where I'm at the moment. When you're working on your routines and your mental game, you really only can do that when you've got something on the line and you're under a little bit of pressure and you're out there trying not to hit a bad shot.

Putting has been dodgy now the last couple weeks, which is disappointing because it had been okay. I need to putt a bit better, but I'm working on that, and putting can come and go. It's not like you can't have a good week and I'm waiting for that to happen.

Q. Talking to most former Ryder Cup Captains, you guys have a process in how to do things like you talked about earlier, but every one of them puts some kind of imprint on the team. Are you do you feel like the need to do that or do you feel like
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't. I really don't. I think starting with Monty, Monty gathered all the good stuff together and tried not to do the bad stuff. Don't know if there was you know, when I say this in the best possible way with Monty, I don't know if there was anything original in what he did, but he made sure that he didn't make the mistakes that people had made before him. He had the best of both worlds. He certainly thought things through, but also, instilled the confidence that he believed in his players.

You know, clearly, McGinley did a really well thought out captaincy. Again, you know, put everything together that he had seen that worked over the years. Didn't seem to make any mistakes. Harder to tell with McGinley's because everything went to plan.

I think, you know, then I have no idea what José's but Darren, Darren was probably the bigger learning experience because we were up against it. Many times that week, we were playing catch up.

So Paul was certainly prepared for every eventuality of my three vice captaincies, but we didn't see those eventualities. But Darren, we saw those eventualities, they came up, and certainly I would have learned more from that situation because we were scrambling.

And once you change one partnership, it has so many knock on events. People will come back and say, why did you play those two guys? Well, we picked that team an hour before play finished, and they were winning, not losing, sort of thing, or vice versa, and I think that was the big difference when it got to Thomas; that Thomas made sure, you know, that we were aware, certainly I was very aware that's with all the other vice captains were new to it, so that's what my side of the deal was.

I made a point: Now, right guys, these particular times, there's a lot of pressure, there's a lot of stress. We've got to have this is when it's a jolly for most of the week but at these times we've got to be on top of our game and we've got to be thinking there's going to be pressure here and there's going to be stress and things are going to be moving around and we have to back Thomas up.

The great thing about Thomas, too, is he was aware. He made sure we all had the room to get together and get a template, get something ready for Thomas, so that when he was presented with it, there was only small things to be moved around, and if things were moved around, we'd already had thoughts and decisions made.

But looking at the three captaincies, as I said, as vice captain you see definitely a lot less as a player because you think the world revolves around you, which it does when you're an individual. We're self managed at every tournament, in many ways revolves around us individually.

As a vice captain, you do see a lot more, and three different situations, and certainly with Thomas, he was saying, here are the period where you have to really work and present me with the details so I can make the final choice. The captain can't do it all on his own. There's no way he can.

As I said, just there's too many stresses and things pulling at him during that week for him to be able to see everything at all times. He does have to have good vice captains to pull that information together.

So I would definitely go for continuity; that if I was captain, I would be trying to do things I wouldn't be going out there to do anything new, no. What we're doing is quite good enough. Just got to make sure you try and inspire that team to get the most out of them and make sure you get the right partnerships going, and then, you know, individually, make sure each player is comfortable and happy.

You know, that should get the best out of them as a team. Hopefully, I'm not certainly trying to rewrite the rule book for the U.S., anyway.

Q. One last thing. Somewhat at an advantage
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: No doubt about it. Home advantage is a distinct factor in The Ryder Cup. Thankfully whoever is the captain next time around, is playing at Whistling Straits, which is a European style golf course. It's as good a golf course to go to for like let's face it. If we were going to Riviera, that would be so hard for the Europeans to win on that style of golf course, just U.S. to the bone there.

There's so many golf courses that they could go to in the States. They should just turn up in Hazeltine every year, their cup of tea and gives such an advantage.

Whistling Straits, at that time of year, hopefully it will be cold and windy for whoever is captain.

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