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March 30, 2004

Padraig Harrington


MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us in the media center at the BellSouth Classic. Back here after finishing second again at THE PLAYERS Championship. You had an exciting week with an exciting finish. Why don't you just talk about maybe the last day or two and maybe even the golf course here at the BellSouth Classic.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously same as last year, finished second at TPC. I managed to miss the cut here afterwards, so hopefully I won't be doing that this year.

It's an interesting golf course. I believe it's great preparation for next week. It's exactly like Augusta, that you're being asked to pick clubs in swirling winds, there's a lot of elevation changes. There's a lot of doubt in your club selection, which is one of the toughest things for a golfer to be clear on your shot selection. This course is a bit like that.

There's a lot of trouble around the greens, so you're always a little bit anxious with your approach shots, again like Augusta. So it's really good preparation for next week.

The greens get very quick, very tricky. You know, I think the strength of the golf course is in the speed of the greens. Obviously, today after the rain, they weren't so bad. From past years, I can remember these greens get ever so quick.

As I said, shot selection and speed of the greens are the things really to be aware of this week.

MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Were you tempted to say "Forget this, I'm going to go straight to Augusta"?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I didn't -- I'm strange that way. I never feel like I played well. I didn't walk away from last week with bundles of confidence, no. I played awful for probably half the week last week. Luckily a couple of those days were Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a good time to play bad.

No, I felt there were things to work on. Monday I practiced about four hours. I saw Monday as a great opportunity to get some practice in. I played the course today. Funny enough, I am quite tired now. I could see it on the golf course. I was hitting the ball flat out at times and it wasn't going very far. I'm probably needing to rest up now.

Q. Do you have a hard and fast rule about playing before majors?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've got to say, I always need to play before a major event, before any important event. I like to play the week before just to sharpen my game up, to hopefully -- you know, doesn't matter how much practice you do, you need to be on the golf course to see where your swing is at.

So, yeah, I definitely need to play tournament golf to get ready for The Masters. I've only played four tournaments this year. It wouldn't even cross my mind pulling out this week, no. I need it very much.

Q. Can you come up with an amusing recollection from last year as you missed the cut?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: What do I remember about missing the cut last year here? No. There's not too much amusing when you miss the cut, I'm sorry to say. No, nothing amusing about missing the cut. I missed the cut both in this and The Masters, so it wasn't a particularly good run.

Q. What was going wrong for you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would say I missed it here because one of my fateful errors is after finishing second in the TPC, I didn't play great, but I probably came here thinking, "I finished second last week, I can only get better from there." I think my expectations were high. This is a golf course that will knock (inaudible) off you if you take it for granted. There's a lot of danger out there. You have to be really cautious on the golf course. You can't get overconfident with the pin positions out here.

I can only assume that's why I didn't play so well here last year. I was maybe a little bit overconfident.

Q. How does a guy like you fly up here and sit in the backseat in coach? Can't you get first class or your own plane?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: When you bought a first class ticket and they upgrade somebody else into first class, it's a bit tough. But you sit there and take it.

Q. How was the flight up here?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was very comfortable. I slept the whole way. The whole 1 hour, 20 minutes, I was fast asleep. Excellent. Woke up with a stiff neck. 1 hour, 20 minutes sleep was enough for me.

Q. The elevation changes here similar to Augusta, as well. Is that what leads you to question your club selection?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's tough. The tightness of the pins. They put the pins in positions that you can't miss the green in a certain place. We were lucky. You look at any pin position out there, there's always one side of the green that if you miss it, you can't chip the ball close, can't get up and down. That's the same at Augusta. There's always a position at Augusta, you want to go at the pin, but if you miss on a certain side, you're in trouble.

That doubt is what you're trying to work out of the your game, be clear. Pick the shot, go with it. If not, play safe. It's very similar to Augusta in that sense in that one guy will fire at the pin, another guy will play safe. Same pin position, same club, whatever. Everybody has to make that choice and commit to it.

I think Augusta for me, the hardest thing is getting committed to the shots you want to play on each hole. There's always some doubt. You know, when you're playing into 12, whether the wind is swirling, downwind, into the wind, there's always doubt in your mind. That's a little bit like here. There's a lot of doubt out here. When you're playing into 18 here, you know, there's a 19-yard drop I think from the fairway down to the green. You know, that makes a huge difference here, club selection going in there. With the gusting winds, you don't want to go long. There's a lot of doubt there.

Just being committed is the point of this week. That follows into next week. Also there's no rough, so you're hitting off tight lies. It's similar enough. The greens are very quick, very slopey. It's similar without being the same golf course, yeah.

Q. Last week a great field. Next week a great field. This week a little down.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I play against myself every week. I would never be conscious -- to be honest, this is a big event for me. Any US tour event I play, I consider a big event.

I'm competing. It's my own little game every week. I'm not too conscious about who else is there.

Q. You played with Tiger at the final round at THE PLAYERS. He hasn't played up to his high standards. Do you see anything in his game?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I've got to say, somebody asked me that, I wasn't watching too much about his swing. I'm not going to break down his swing, give you a swing analysis, anything like that. I wasn't watching.

I thought his imagination was good, which argues well for Augusta. I thought he saw his shots well. His short game was strong. I felt that, you know, if he's not swinging too well, you know, that can turn around very quickly. I think the rest of his game, you know, his thinking is good, he's imagination is good, and his short game is good, which is what you need around Augusta.

If there is something up with his long game, you know, that can be fixed pretty quickly. I think he'd be right there. I think he'd be right there anyway. But I think he's got three-quarters of what he needs to do well at Augusta going for him at the moment.

Q. Was there enjoyment in playing the last 12 holes at 8-under because you were playing with Tiger?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I've passed that point at this stage. I've got to say, you know, I played with him a few times. Definitely that was probably the most relaxed I had been, maybe because we weren't exactly -- wasn't like we were in contention necessarily going out, like we were a little bit off the lead. There wasn't too much pressure involved in the round itself.

No, it was quite comfortable in his company. I get on well with Tiger. He's an excellent person to play with. He's actually very easy to play with in tournament golf. The bigger the crowds, you get such a level of crowd that there's no distractions. He's a perfect gentleman to play with. He always says good shot when you hit a good shot. He goes about his business. He's very focused in what he's doing. He'll have a chat when there's delays. He's one of those guys, he's easy to play golf with.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the US Open would have been the first time in stroke play. The US Open in Southern Hills was probably the first competitive round. I played him obviously before.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was looking forward to it. Again, I saw it as a good practice round as in we weren't going to win the tournament. I saw it was a good opportunity to play with Tiger. You know, a learning situation. The first time you play with him, you know, there will be 30, 40 photographers down the side all trying to get in position. You have to wait for everybody, especially the photographers, to settle before you can start off doing what you're doing. It's interesting.

But I don't think I even noticed that at the TPC, so I must be getting used to it. It's a shock the first time to see so many people.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I do. I would consider him the favorite, definitely. He's got 75% of his game going for him. I think, you know, he makes things happen. So if he's there or thereabouts coming into the Back 9, he can make things happen.

A lot's expected of him to make things happen, but he certainly can do it. I would consider him the favorite.

Q. David Duval is not playing next week. The same age as you. Does that make you appreciate where you are in your career, how it's going?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It should do. Yeah, similar stories to David, you know, how injuries can set you back, swing changes and things like that. I've got to say you've got to be very aware of it yet you can't dwell on it. There is no guarantees in golf. You think you -- you always feel like you can go on forever. It's when you get injured that you realize you can't.

Yeah, it does open your eyes. As I said, you can't sort of sit back and necessarily worry about it or dwell on it yourself.

Q. Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether Tiger should go to Butch or not. Which camp are you in?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's not really for me to comment on (laughter). I'm trying hard to figure out what to say to that.

You know, I don't know. We haven't got the information, we really don't. We'd all be surmising, suggesting he should or he shouldn't. I have no idea. I don't know what Tiger is doing, who he's working with. You want to see the quality of some of the golf shots he hits. How can his swing be out? You want to see some of the shots he's hitting out there.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Special shot? Let me see. I'm just trying to think. I'm sure he's the only guy that spun it off the green on 17, pitched it past the flag, spun it off the green. He's not having a run at things. He hit a perfect shot at 18. I said good shot to him. He just had to chip it out.

You know, it's not exactly -- like that was a missed fairway, but to be honest he hit a lovely tee shot. He's not getting all the breaks. But he hit a lot of good shots, I've got to say, last week that he didn't get the just rewards off. I can think of 14, 13, he hit two perfect iron shots in, both of them a 2-putt. Some things aren't going for him at the moment. He's not too far away. If you can hit golf shots like he's hitting, you know, I wouldn't be too worried about it.

He's doing pretty well. I don't think it's a big case to worry. He's still the No. 1 guy probably by quite a bit.

MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us.


End of FastScripts.

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