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June 10, 2003

Padraig Harrington


RAND JERRIS: It's our pleasure to welcome Padraig Harrington. He's playing in his 6th United States Open championship. The last two years have been quite successful for you, both on the European Tour and here in the States. Can you talk a little bit about the difference in your game the last two years.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Certainly I would consider seven years as a pro being seven years of being successful. I've come more to the attention in the States. But to be honest, it's been a gradual progression. I've improved steadily throughout those seven years. One year my performance stepped back a little bit, but I changed coaches and I was taking a big step backwards to go forward one forward. I was happy in that year. I don't necessarily believe I've improved -- just come from nowhere in the last two years, it's been gradual, getting better a little bit each year, and I'm continuing to do that, and I have plenty of ideas to work on to make myself better, as well.

RAND JERRIS: Your record includes four top-5 finishes in majors. What is it going to take to take the next step up and claim one of these championships?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's two ways about it, I can become a better player over time, which hopefully I will, or else I can have a very good week, one or the other. Obviously coming into this, I'm just hoping to have a very good week, and things go well for me, I putt well, chip well, I do everything well. But in the long-term I'm hoping to improve as a player, so that I can come here and have a little bit more confidence in how and what I do.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about why you think European golfers in general have done so poorly in this event over the last 30 or 40 years, and then what kind of golf you need to play to make a difference and to change that record?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: U.S. Open golf is really not what European golfers are familiar with. Certainly the golf courses we play in Europe, the type of pin positions we play, the weather we play, we tend to have a little bit more wind, asks for a little bit more imagination, a little bit more flare in your game. A U.S. Open is the one that really tests your ability to hit it straight, hit it on the green and 2-putt. Is tests your pure focus, never to go at a pin position, just hit it in the middle of the green.

It tests all the sort of strengths of golf that you would possibly put down in a perfect golf game, let's say. It doesn't necessarily test your ability to hit pitch and runs, low shots, high shots, it's not that sort of test. And European golf certainly has a little bit more -- more often has more flare involved in it to play on some of the European courses. That's been taken out of it the last couple of years, without a doubt. The courses are becoming similar to the U.S. Open courses. The courses we play in Europe definitely required more flare, and that's the last thing you want in a U.S. Open. You want to be sort of like a machine, just hit it down the fairway, hit it on the green. And that's not what -- the Europeans traditionally are great players at being -- if you look at Seve, slightly wayward, but a genius in the way he plays. And that's not what you want in a U.S. Open. You want very much -- you want to be the most boring golfer around this week (laughter).

Q. How would you compare this golf course to others that you've played on that have held major championships?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I can't do that because I've never been on the golf course.

Q. Haven't been out there?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Haven't been out on the course yet. So from what I hear, though, it's not quite as long. It's more of a shot makers course, but I haven't seen that myself, I'll wait and see. But I'm sure -- like with U.S. Opens, I'm sure you've got to hit it straight and on the green, as usual. So we'll wait and see.

Q. You came over for the past few weeks to the United States, but have you been preparing yourself as well as possible for the U.S. Open? How has it worked out in that respect?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's been good that I played the last couple of weeks, a certain amount of climatization. Obviously it's been a fairly long two weeks, it's hard because of it. But overall I would say I'm quite positive about coming over at this stage, those two weeks, that a highlight in a few areas of my game that I would certainly like to work on for this week, which if I was at home, practicing at home, I probably wouldn't have seen. It's been positive. Whether I can get that done between now and the start of play, I don't know. But it's been a good experiment so far.

Q. On the same lines, was it a major disadvantage for you, then, to have to play that final round Monday, to come down here to nullify the practice round by now, has it affected you majorly?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I needed a day off, so whether I had the day off Saturday or Monday, it didn't really bother me. No, I don't feel a disadvantage at all. I'm actually trying to possibly do the opposite of play too much, I'm trying to just take it easy these two days, and not -- I'd rather go in fresh mentally than anything this week. That would be the -- hopefully the goal for the next couple of days is do a little bit of practice, but not go overboard.

Q. Do you think your experience at the PLAYERS Championship and how well you played in that tournament, which is practically a major, will help you for this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It wouldn't have stood out as one of the ones I would draw on to help me this week. I would say I've had better experiences in major tournaments that I can draw on than the TPC. The TPC, I wasn't playing great that week, I just did as well as I could sort of thing. But last year I was well in contention in the Hope, and somewhat in contention in the U.S. Open and come somewhat in contention in The Masters early on. All those experiences are more to draw on than maybe the TPC. It was good, but, no, there's other experiences out there.

Q. Are you ready to win a major, physically, mentally?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would suggest ready is a very strong word, sets out some expectations. I think any golfer that tees it up here, most guys would grab the chance nowadays -- I don't necessarily think that players have to lose a few times before they win anymore. You see that young guys coming out on Tour, everybody has won a certain amount. And if they get a chance, they'll try and take it. As I said, I do need a lot of things probably to go right for me in order to be a winner here this week. I'm prepared if that happens to go with it and -- am I ready? If I get the chance, yeah, I'm ready.

Q. Can you follow up on that that? You say it's not the way it used to be, that you have to lose a couple of times in these situations. How did that change and why did it change?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I just think overall -- most players that are here have won other tournaments over the past, we've competed with players that are the so-called top players. We've beaten those players. We're all taught how to win nowadays rather than necessarily having to learn it too much. So I think guys can do it now. I think you'll see a lot more guys win big tournaments, maybe to you guys so-called not the favorites sort of thing, but obviously Tiger takes up a lot of the majors these days. But outside that, you'll see guys that can win majors in the last number of years, that so-called might not be the favorites going in or the star players, to the rest of the players that have come out of nowhere, but maybe to the golfing public they've come out of nowhere. Anyone has a chance and can try to take it.

Q. Is there only one way to win a U.S. Open? Is there only one way to play successfully on a course like this?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm sure there's plenty of guys who have won a U.S. Open that have not hit the fairways and greens, but I would suggest there's very few players going out there whose ultimate goal this week -- they're really focused on fairways and greens as a must. It definitely requires more discipline, the U.S. Open than any other course, any other tournament. The other tournaments, you can get away with missing -- you can -- you know, your strategy can be made up as it goes along sort of thing. A U.S. Open you have to set out a game plan at the start of the week, start of every round and you just have to stick to it religiously.

Q. You talked about how a little unimaginative it can be in a U.S. Open. Do you enjoy playing a U.S. Open as much as you do a Masters or a British Open?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I enjoy it because it's different. I say unimaginative, yes, that's what I mean, but it's an exceptionally hard test. So in that sense it's great to see whether you can do that for four days. It's great to see if you can stay focused and disciplined and not make mental errors over four days here. I do look forward to it. I think it's something that does suit me. It does rely heavily on a good mental strategy this week, a good mental game really this week, and I do like that about a U.S. Open.

RAND JERRIS: Thanks very much for your time, and we wish you luck this week.

End of FastScripts....

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