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May 19, 2004

Padraig Harrington


GORDON SIMPSON: We have the defending champion, Padraig Harrington, different golf course, but you're still here as the winner of last year. It was quite an exciting finish. Tell us what it's like to be back playing in Europe again.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously, wish we got the weather like this all the time.

Obviously I played this course two years ago, it's quite a bit different from the course I won on last year. You've definitely got to hit it's a long course, but you've got to hit it straight off the tee. I think the premium is on straight hitting, probably good putting on top of that. I think last year's course had a lot more wedge shots and things like that, probably had more birdie opportunities last year.

So it is a substantially different golf course, I have to say. Last year's course would not be anywhere near as tight or as long as this course.

GORDON SIMPSON: But it was an impressive win nonetheless, wasn't it?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I was happy, the Deutsche Bank SAP TPC is a big event, it was a big event for me to win at the time. I needed to win bigger events and it came at a good time. It's always nice to win in a playoff, as well, and I hoped to get into the playoff. Everything about it was a perfect tournament, how you would dream it to be sort of thing, to win in a playoff, that type of thing, holing a putt on the last green. Obviously that was last year and we have to focus an what we're doing this week.

GORDON SIMPSON: Are you staying put for a while or what are you planning to do?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I obviously was defending last week at the BMW. I don't feel like I've done that much travel. I usually do a bit to start and at the end of the year, but I'm obviously not playing next week and then I play a couple of warm up for the U.S. Open. I play Memorial and Buick and then I come back for the British Open, Irish Open. So just try to play as many good tournaments as I can without playing too many events.

Q. How do you feel for this week, how is your swing, what do you expect from this week and the weather?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously you don't want to have any expectations going out there. I'm happy with how my game is going. I putted very poorly last week, so that's something that would be of concern. I certainly will be concentrating on my probably concentrating on my putting and bunker play in the practice rounds the last two days and today.

As I said, it is tough off the tee and you've got to drive it well around this golf course. But it's not something like I've been happy enough with that aspects of my game but certainly it's not something that you can practicing before a tournament. Putting is definitely something I need to do some work on, but no expectations.

Q. I know you're very fit, but what does it do to you, the sandwiching a week in China between everything else?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I had two weeks, I haven't had a problem at all. I actually like jet lag I get when I fly from east to west. It means that I'm tired at night, I sleep earlier and that means I wake up in the morning quite refreshed and ready to go earlier in the day. Because when I'm generally at home I'm the opposite; I'm awake at night and tired in the morning, so it usually that's why I play well in the States. I like that jet lag when I fly to the States. It's not that I play well, but I like it. I'm quite comfortable, coming from China to here, I don't have a problem with that.

I have been struggling with a cold and a bit of a chest infection, so that has me a little bit run down, but jet lag certainly has not would not give me a problem at all.

Q. Are you just putting a positive spin on jet lag or is this

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I've always had no issue at all, none at all. Especially going east to west, it's very easy to do. And to be honest, I've had less of it than like I got up this morning, 8:00, and I could have constantly stayed on a little longer in bed; that's the wrong way. Most people who are coming up at China are getting up at 4:00 in the morning. I was fine at 8:00. I slept all the way through.

Q. Setting aside jet lag, you are pursuing a somewhat eccentric schedule, at least in some people's eyes, can you explain the rationale for it?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: With the schedule, I've always done everything to my own liking. I would never follow the pack in anything. Obviously, I was defending the BMW and I wouldn't expect that I would have traveled, it would have been a difficult decision to travel in mid season to Asia. It's a long way to go, but when you're defending, that makes it a big difference, too. I needed to be out there and that's why I went.

Besides that, I always take a long winter break. I start up late. I've done that every year. So the only thing out of the ordinary is this extra trip to Asia in mid season well, at the start of the season well, just after the season has started, really.

Q. And just as a supplement to that, next week, approximately how many people have tried to persuade you over the years to play?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, this is only the second year not playing, so it's not I certainly intend to play in the PGA at a date in the future. I'm keen to and I'd like to win. I think I need to bring a different game there, and, you know, at the moment, my past performances there have been very average, to say the least. Relative to my performances on average there in other tournaments, they are disastrous. I've certainly missed more putts there than I've missed in any events I would suggest and I've struggled every other year.

One year I shot a good last round to finish 11th I think is my best performance, and that's just because I shot a very good last round. You know, it's pointless at the moment. Until I feel like I have I want to have a lot of confidence in my game to be going there, because for some reason, I don't the course doesn't suit me at this time of the year. You know, I can't afford to give up those shots against everybody else. If you look at the guys who play well at Wentworth, it's the same names there every year, always the same names. You just have to go for betting, it's the easiest tournament of the year to bet on. Besides the odd winner, the guys that finish in the top 5 year after year are certain players. I hit the ball very high now which is disastrous around Wentworth. It's like an incredibly swirling wind once you get the ball above the trees, and I struggle on the greens because I don't hit my putts firm enough. The guys that play well, hit the hit everything from four or five feet straight, and I roll my putts, so I'm trying to find breaks that are very difficult to judge. And two reasons, I get a lot of the swirling winds and I guess the struggle on the greens, I can't afford to give that up in any tournament. That's not good enough to do it.

GORDON SIMPSON: And you don't view that as a real challenge?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I do view it as a real challenge and that's why I intend to go back. But at the moment, there's so many you just can't play everywhere all the time. At the moment, I go there every year, or I have gone there in past years, and beaten myself up for four days trying to find out why I'm not playing well, really losing some confidence in my putting and my game. And it's just one of those things, every year it's the same thing, I come off if you look at my past record every year, I turn up the at The Belfry the first week of May and I'm right there in contention playing the best golf of my life. Two weeks, later I turn up at the PGA and I struggle to make the cut. It doesn't make sense well, it does make sense. It's the nature of the golf course.

It's one of those things I do intend to play again, and hopefully when I do go back I have a fresh outlook or whatever, but at the moment, it's one of those things. Why have a knock back at this time of year.

Q. It sounds as if you're suggesting that not only would you not have the greatest chance of winning, but you might be worried that it would hurt your confidence so much that it would affect the following weeks leading up to the U.S. Open?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It definitely has had that effect in past years. As I explained to somebody, you know when Anders Hansen won there, two years ago, three years ago, the last time I played, 2002, I shot 4 over par to make the cut. Now, I stayed around for the weekend and practiced and Anders shot 19 under par. If I was starting, if that was the first tournament I played as a professional golfer, I would have packed my clubs in the car and gone home and said I wasn't good enough.

I plainly simple could not see how 4 over par, and I felt like hey, I'm not playing badly, to 19 under par. I just was not at the right I was not good enough.

You get to courses like that that you think you played well, and you are looking and saying, how is that guy shooting 15 under, 19 under par, whatever. And I've played golf courses many a times, The Belfry is a good example of times people have come to me and said, I can't believe you're shooting those scores, and I'm like, well, seems okay to me.

Horses for courses, golf courses suits, and it would have, only for experience that would have been a serious blow to my confidence. But without a doubt, I was practicing that weekend looking at the scoring going forward, and I thought the conditions were extremely I still put that down as the best score I've ever seen on the Tour, 19 under par. I just can't believe anybody could do it in those conditions.

And that's the problem with me going back there. I'm way out of the race. Other players are very comfortable with it. I think you've got to be a reasonably low ball hitter off the tee to keep it under the trees and hit it straight. I'm trying to figure out why it suits people and doesn't suit me.

Q. Could you elaborate on that line, you "don't follow the pack"?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I never have. I would never it never interests me to I always try and find, if there's a better way, I'm happy to find it, not necessarily do it the same as everybody else. I'm always looking to find new ways of doing things that might be better.

I watch what everybody else does and see what I can learn from them, but I'd also be very quick to change things and try new ideas, to look for better ways of doing things. I definitely would never follow the pack in doing things. I would do it my own way, and make my own mistakes with that.

Q. Tiger has won this thing three out of the last five years, I think. What does it mean not having him here this year? He usually draws an incredible amount of attention.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, Tiger draws an incredible amount of attention to any event he plays in. Especially when he comes to Europe, he's obviously a very big draw. It's obviously nice when he plays in an event that you win as well, it adds a little bit of kudos do it.

As I said to somebody else, somebody was asking me this week, who are the main dangers, who are you worried about. I'm always worried about myself, and even if Tiger was here, I'd be worried about myself, what I'm doing. In the end of the day, the guy who wins this week, I don't know, this golf course is going to be tough, maybe 12 under par. What won here two years ago? 19 under par? There you go.

So the guy is going to shoot 19 under par to win this week. So I think I have to worry about myself rather than anybody else, to get to 19 under par, you have to be well focused on what you're doing and not being looking around you.

It's nice in terms of the tournaments, but when you're actually playing you're just thinking of yourself and what you're doing. It's got to be that selfish, you can't be looking around you.

Q. The idea of just going to China and playing such a novel venue, how much did that appeal to you? What was it like to you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was a big reason, a big part of the reason to go, was to go to Mainland China. I had won a couple of times in Taiwan and Hong Kong, which are obviously parts of China, but Mainland China was a big draw. It was interesting, I think I have to go back, because Shanghai is obviously different to a lot of the other places.

It was a great place to visit, it really was. They are really quite a progressive place. You can see the atmosphere in the city was so progressive moving forward. People were very happy with what they were doing. It was a good place to be, and that was certainly part of the attraction.

Nothing strange happened. I think people find it strange, like there's a Starbucks at every corner and things like that. It's a little different, Shanghai is a lot different to what you would expect.

Q. Nothing strange happened on the golf course, everything was as you'd expect in a tournament?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, no. The week before in Macaw, I did manage to get five balls and play under one hole and made a 5, so that was one of the ones I put down.

GORDON SIMPSON: You'd better explain that because I can't work it out.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's an interesting course. I managed to hit my first ball, it's only a 300 yard par 4. It's probably less to the front of the green is less than 300 yards. I hit driver and it's reasonably windy, and I tried to hit it on the fairway and pulled it into the rubbish on the left. So I hit a provisional and I hit it in the same rubbish.

Now I did as some of the more experienced players playing the course, they play towards another fairway away from this. I tried that and hit a cart path and came back down 150 yards back down to the bottom of the hill. So as I was going up to look for my first ball. I obviously played the provisional balls because they were short of played the provisional ball because it was short of the original ball. A lot times, obviously since I've done that in golf from there I hit that in a bush. So I hit provisional for the provisional of the provisional and I hit that over the green.

So we went, luckily, found the first provisional ball, second ball which gave us a very good line on where the first ball would be. So we went down the side of a cliff and actually managed to find that ball and I tracked back to the tee with a different ball, obviously, and made 3 with that ball; 5.

GORDON SIMPSON: That was clear as mud but never mind. (Laughter.)

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was nice. It just reminded me of probably that 13 I took at the Oxfordshire.

Q. When you lose your putting, do you then turn to yourself or

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously, Harold was not here. If Harold was not here and Paul Harrigan (ph) who works with Harold, I would work with those guys. They would confirm if there was anything going technically wrong. Basically how I started putting on my own was I would just spend time practicing and practicing and practicing. You know, I'd go back and try, you know, I maybe had 10 different levels of key points. Maybe I start off on the first key points, I'm going to move my head and then the second key point; is the back stroke too long. I have all of these little keys that I just go through to keep checking and checking and checking, going all the way through. You just look for something that could be breaking down.

And usually, it's always the same things repeat themselves, so eventually you will find it. It's just a question of putting the hours in, spending the time there, and eventually it comes along that this is what you do wrong.

But obviously if Harold was here, he is my putting coach, it would be good. He's looking at that every day, he'd be able to pick up quicker on what would be what's laxing, let's say, in the stroke.

Q. There's a debate going on about the Ryder Cup and whether playing enough events, makes you eligible for the Ryder Cup team, what's your view?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, as I say, I have been away, I haven't been I didn't know it was going on, to be honest, so I haven't thought too much about it.

Obviously, if somebody qualifies in five, six events, they deserve to be in the team. They have actually worked harder to get on the team by doing that.

If somebody wants a pick, you know, surely they should be a little bit more committed to the tour. So I'm a little bit I could see the positives, the pros and cons of both sides. I do think if you play your way into the team, regardless of how many events that took you to do it, you deserve to be on the team. But maybe it takes a little bit more commitment to expect to be picked.

So maybe, you know, if you really, really want to play in the Ryder Cup, if that was your sole goal, you would play 11 events. Obviously if you would like to play in the Ryder Cup, you know, here or there, whether you play 11 events but if you want to play in it, you certainly play 11 events.

I do believe if you qualify on Merit, World Ranking points or through money, whatever, I think you deserve to be on the team regardless of how many events you play, but maybe the pick. There's rights and wrongs to both sides, isn't it. It's a very tough call, I have to say, and I'll sit right on the fence and give no opinions.

Q. You're going to be a member of the team most certainly?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I want the best team around me, yes. But the pick is that the pick is a little bit more of a judgment call. If you qualify on merit, you deserve to be in the team full stop. The pick really is a little bit more to it, isn't it. So maybe that could be a point that you need to be a member of the Tour to receive the pick. Who knows? It's a tough, a very tough decision, isn't it? I'm glad I'm not making that decision.

GORDON SIMPSON: On that note, thank you very much, Padraig, for your attendance today and have a good weekend. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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