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June 2, 2004

Padraig Harrington


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Memorial tournament. You haven't played here in the U.S. since The Masters, and you're back here at the Memorial. Why don't you talk about your time off. Obviously you played over in Europe. Talk about the tournament and the course here at the Memorial.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I had three weeks off, then I played three tournaments, had a week off coming into this, and I played in Macao and Shanghai, and I played the European TPC, the Deutsche Bank SAP TPC, and I was in reasonable form there. Then I had a week off and I'm here, trying to find my game. As usual, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, isn't where it should be. Hopefully it'll be there tomorrow. Same old stuff.

Q. You said last year that it kind of takes a boring golfer to win and play well at a U.S. Open. Do you think Shinnecock is the kind of venue that will add a little more creativity?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't say a boring golfer, I said boring golf. You have to play very conservative golf. Shinnecock, I haven't played it. I've seen it on TV. Obviously it's going to be wind. It depends on the wind positions and the rough. The pins are going to depend whether you can be aggressive or not aggressive. It, in general, asks you to hit more fairways and greens than any other major.

Q. Do you think you'll get a chance to see Shinnecock before --

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm going to go the Monday before the tournament, three days before. If it's convenient to go a couple of weeks beforehand, it's a good idea, but two or three rounds of practice is plenty. You get tired. Obviously the ideal situation would be good and play three or four rounds of golf a month in advance and then only play once or twice the week of the tournament, but you can't always have the ideal situation.

Q. What draws you to this tournament? What do you like about this?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I played for the first time last year and I kept asking myself why I haven't played it before. It's one of those events you'd never miss again if you can help it. There's nothing about this event that isn't perfect. Everything is just right, everything is laid out for the players. It's a real tournament. It's very much geared for the players on a superb golf course. It's got tradition, Jack Nicklaus behind it. What more could you ask for in an event? Obviously it's not a major, but it's right at the top of those events that aren't majors.

Q. Do you notice any changes this year from last that stand out for you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know if they changed anything. I've played two rounds of golf and I haven't noticed.

Q. They took out about 500 trees, I think, around the greens.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't noticed. Why would I see trees?

Q. You're always in the fairway (laughter).

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've been keeping my head down too much, working hard.

Q. Could you talk about competing in the Ryder Cup and why players enjoy that so much?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Enjoy it (laughter)? That's not the word. It's an experience. That's what the Ryder Cup is, an experience you can get nowhere else, and that's why players who have played in it want to play again. I think when you play in it for the first time you don't know what you're getting into, but you try your hardest to get into this, and when you get there it is really, really a tough experience. It's exhilarating, but enjoyable probably isn't -- you know you've lived, but it's not like -- I suppose it's a bit like going on the worst type of roller coaster or something like that. It's kind of fun but really isn't (laughter). The Ryder Cup is a bit like that. It's maybe a parachute jumper or something. It's an exhilarating experience, but it's a different sort of fun.

It's one of those things you try your heart to get there, and you get there, and you say, wow, this is such a tough week, just so much pressure. It's such a hard week in that sense. If you play it, there's no way you'd want to play a Ryder Cup the following week. You don't want to see a Ryder Cup for two years. Once the week is finished you're glad it's over for two years. As you get farther away from the Ryder Cup and close to the next one, you can't wait to play it. Immediately after the Ryder Cup it's like, I've had enough of that, I couldn't do that again this week. But as time passes, you think, I'm looking forward to the next Ryder Cup.

It is a great week, yes, but once every two years is plenty.

Q. Do you have a favorite memory or maybe a worst memory?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I have lots of memories, lots of experiences. I was relating just last night, I played Payne Stewart in my first Ryder Cup. He came up to me at the opening ceremony. I didn't know Payne Stewart. I knew who he was but I didn't know him personally. He came up to me and he relaxed me basically. He talked to me for five minutes and he kind of gave me an impression he wanted to win but he wanted to play better. He didn't want me necessarily to play badly and him to win, he wanted to win by playing the best golf, which is -- we're so competitive, it's a very lofty idea to have to always be -- not trying to beat the next guy but actually beat him by playing better than him rather than him playing badly.

It certainly made my Ryder Cup that year, that experience. I was very nervous, and it was much appreciated at the time, and it's something that obviously would be nice to live by.

Q. Joey played Oakland Hills on Sunday, and I have it on good authority that he brought it to his knees. He played for the first time there Sunday. He set it up and wanted to see the golf course. What do you know about Oakland Hills, and would you love a chance to get over there between now and September any time?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I know absolutely very little about Oakland Hills, very little. Really I couldn't tell you too much. I kind of know what to expect but I really don't honestly know much about the golf course. I will not get there before the Monday of the tournament.

One problem with the Ryder Cup is you play a lot of practice rounds at the Ryder Cup and by the time you get to the tournament you've seen nearly too much of it at that stage, so it's something to watch out for. So it's nice to go to a tournament that you're going to appreciate.

Again, ideally you would go and see it a month in advance or something like that, but we're so busy that it's hard to do all that.

Q. What's that Thursday like when you normally would start a tournament but still have one more day to wait?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's a tough day because of the fact you're there, I want to play. You're ready to play on Thursday and yet you have to wait another day. You got there Monday, and most players arrive to tournaments two days before an event, not four days. By the time Friday comes around, you're not just ready to play or itching to play, you're actually -- it's the reverse. It's nearly past that point -- Thursday morning you're on a high and ready to go and it nearly comes back down a bit by the time you get to Friday because you're ready to compete at that stage because you're so used to getting ready for a tournament in two and a half days or two days.

Q. You were asked about changes to the golf course. The biggest change probably you would notice are the bugs. Do the bugs bother you out there on the golf course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: They don't bother me. To be honest, there's two effects that will happen with the bugs. Obviously at some stage players are going to be swinging the club and the bugs are going to be flying into their face. That's going to be a distraction. There are going to be players that are going to be affected.

The plus side is you can't hear anything else so you're never going to be distracted by anything else (laughter). They should have a sign up this week, "please take your mobile phones with you," because you won't hear them (laughter). There is a plus and a minus. Definitely it'll be interesting to see -- in the practice they certainly land on you, and so far whenever they've landed it's made me stand off a shot but it hasn't actually happened as I'm swinging. I'm prepared that it's going to happen during the tournament.

Q. Have you seen bugs like this in any other parts of the world?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We don't have bugs in Ireland.

Q. In China? You just came from China.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: In China, no. I suppose I haven't, not in that amount of them or anything like that, but they're harmless. It was interesting the very first day to hear the noise of them. We weren't quite sure what they were. I read about it in the paper so I kind of was expecting it. I actually wanted to see my first one, and once I've seen a few, I've seen them all. That's enough.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about Tiger and Butch in the last few months. I'm just curious, how do you see the role of a teacher in your game at the highest level? How important is a teacher?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would think a teacher is the highest priority, but it's a relationship. It's a balancing act. Too much coaching never does anybody any good and makes it too difficult. It's a balancing act. You always need somebody to take a look at you and you've got to work things out yourself. It's never one or the other. You've got to have a little bit of each. You can't have too much coaching, can't have too little. It's an interesting situation that seems to be talked about quite a lot. It's for those guys to sort out.

Q. How many coaches have you had in your career?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Two. I had one for a national coach in Ireland from the age of 16 maybe to 26, and then I've had Bob Torrence since then.

Q. What made you switch?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I wanted something different. My first coach was very much focused on the psychology of the game, the short game, and certainly at that time the focus would be my strongest part for playing a few events. But especially U.S. Open, Congressional, Winged Foot in 97, I realized that my long game wasn't going to cut it if I was ever going to make it in those events, so I went to Bob Torrence, who as far as I'm concerned is the best swing coach in the world, so that's why I changed. It was to change emphasis. Every coach has emphasis in different places, so you've got to look for what you want at that time and move down that road.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us. Play well this week.

End of FastScripts.

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