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March 29, 2003

Padraig Harrington


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'd like to welcome co-leader Padraig Harrington. Good playing this week, 11 under par headed into the final round tied with Jay Haas for the lead. If we can just get some opening comments from you about your week thus far, specifically today.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, obviously I'm very happy to be still leading. The world was probably hoping I would shoot a low one and get away from the field and take a lot of players out of contention but that didn't happen. Second best thing, I'm still leading and I'm allowed to play tomorrow. A lot of work to go for tomorrow.

Q. I was a bit worried where you were with a minute and a half to go before your tee-off time?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I went to the lower practice area today because the green is particularly fast, just to get used to -- I expected the greens to speed it up a bit from yesterday, and I did my preparation ten minutes away from the first tee really. I was cutting it a little tight but no worries.

Q. Not to dwell on negative right away, but 7, I believe, double bogey, how did that affect your round and how did you keep it together after that and what happened out of that bunker?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I had about a 25-yard bunker shot, something like that, nice lie. I was feeling particularly confident actually about getting up and down, I just hit a bad shot. Unfortunately it was one of those bad shots that you can't recover from, and sometimes you hit those on the golf course. I hit it over the green and I could only try to put it 20 feet away from the hole. These things happen. You can never expect for everything to go smoothly, so it didn't phase me. That's golf. Exactly that's golf. You know, some days when everything is going for you, it doesn't happen, but when you're leading a tournament you've got to expect a few knocks. That was just one of them.

Q. You had some problems yesterday with your balance on the back nine. What did you do to rectify that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I worked at it a bit last night and got it sorted out. I didn't seem to have a problem at all today so I was very happy about that. I had the chiropractor check out the hip and it seemed to be working good today.

Q. How will you tackle tomorrow morning and what sort of routine do you tend to go through?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I have been in this position now for a number of years, whether it's the smallest event on the European Tour, three, four, five years ago, obviously I was feeling the pressure then and obviously the last 18 months I've built up to more impressive tournaments. Basically I won't change a thing tomorrow morning. I'll do the same thing I would as if I was leading any tournament. I'll do the same thing as if I was last. I'll get up at the same time and just work my way through my routine. Regardless of whether you're winning or you're in the middle of the field it's good discipline to keep it going.

Q. From the moment you get up you don't find yourself killing time?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I have an exact routine. Basically I look at what I need to do tomorrow and then I'll sleep to that time. I get extra sleep, the better I play. I don't get up at the same time every day. I'm not going to get up tomorrow morning at -- unfortunately if I could see the^ rugby match I would definitely be up to watch it. If somewhere was convenient to watch it I would definitely watch it if it was here in the clubhouse or something. Certainly that's what I did at the U.S. Open last year when the World Cup was on. I came to the clubhouse and they had it on and I actually came here and then went back to my hotel. The routine starts when it needs to start, maybe two hours before my tee time it starts, something like that. I'm not like -- watching the match wouldn't upset anything or affect anything. It would probably take my mind off it, which would be quite nice.

Q. You said you felt confident about the bunker shot on 7. Did you then feel confident about the bunker shot on 8, as well?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, no. I got lucky on 8. They were different shots. You know, 7 was a nice lie, fly it all the way to the pin. 8 was not great, but I could run it all the way to the pin so it was just a question of getting plenty of sand with the one on 8. It was just ^ /TK*UF it out there and run it up to the hole. Totally different shots thankfully. If I had to fly it all the way on 8, maybe I wouldn't be so comfortable about it. I made a good up and down there and I made an even better one from -- I had about a 40-yard bunker shot on 11 which I hit with a pitching wedge which is usually a sign of a guy who is reasonably comfortable of a guy comfortable in the bunker when you get in there without your lob wedge or stand wedge. I'm going to clear my mind to get all the negative doubts out. These things are going to happen. You cannot legislate for everything. It was unfortunate that I took a six at the hole, but I came back okay.

Q. You're talking about the last 18 months. I think it's Masters and Beth Page you were a factor on the weekend. Are you a better player now tomorrow because of it? Is it growing to a point where Sunday in America is a good thing?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the ultimate for me was the Open. That was the one I was really in contention. Beth Page, Day 3 I was in the last group in contention, and the Masters I probably went out of contention Day 2 to Day 3. I've gradually got a little bit further down the road. I'm learning. I'm learning and getting there. Does it give me confidence? Yes, it's always good to be there before. Plenty journalists who actually know me know that I tend to gradually grow into things and learn from things rather than I'm not one of these guys who just turns up and gets it right the first time. I tend to build and learn from experiences. I seem to be doing that.

Q. What do you like about being the hunted like you said on TV?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Why we play golf is when you're under pressure to play good golf. Anybody going out there trying to shoot a good score, it's very much -- well, if it happens it happens. They're not really putting their head on the line. When you're leading the tournament the focus is on you. If you have a bad day, everybody sees it. Obviously I've had plenty of bad days in the past so I'm not going to worry about whether it goes -- if things don't go for me. But saying that it's the ultimate test of your game when you're leading to go out there and have all these guys coming at you and for you to do the job. So it is -- it's not that I enjoy it, it's -- in that sense, it's more fun if you're playing in the middle of the field it's no pressure, but why we play golf is to go out there leading the tournament under pressure and to try and perform. Just because I like it or I think it's the ultimate sort of game doesn't necessarily mean I'm any better at it, but it's certainly -- certainly I've been brought up for that. I have always judged how good a player is on that sort of scenario.

Q. To follow that up, does that mean that you will look at the board a lot tomorrow or will you just try to play your game?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: To follow up exactly, I will just try and play my game, that's it. It's an overall thing. It doesn't make any difference to me whether standing on the first tee I'm leading the tournament. If I'm behind after six holes, I'm not going to change my game plan. It's a much bigger picture. I see this golf course the only time your game plan would change is maybe 16, 17, 18. Up until that you're going to probably play reasonably the same unless something happens in your form or something like that, but 16, 17, 18 obviously if you need to make a lot of birdies or something, that changes everything, and obviously if you need pars -- yes, I should be aware on 16 how I'm doing in the tournament, but up until that, I'll probably just mind my own business.

Q. What's your feeling about the weather that's supposed to be coming in?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously I've been asked this quite a bit now. I think anybody playing in this tournament, anybody doing well in this tournament is well able to deal with a little bit of bad weather. I don't see anybody packing up their bags and going home. They're going to be out there tomorrow trying their best, and I'm going to be there, too. Whether it suits me maybe a fraction more than some of the other guys, I'm not going to expect that these guys can't play in these conditions. We all can.

Q. I'm new to this place this year but I find it fascinating 16, 17 and 18 the stadium effect here. Does it appeal to you more having the opportunity to go out and win a tournament in such a place and perhaps in front of a crowd that you wouldn't normally have in golf?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Definitely on 16, 17, 18 you're very aware of the spectators. There is a real buzz about it, I think a buzz that adds to the tournament without a doubt. The noise puts a little more pressure on you, certainly gets the adrenaline going. You get shivers down your back and you're walking over to 17, especially as you're facing a hole over water, as well. The whole thing does add to the occasion. Whether it makes the tournament -- yeah, it does make the tournament better and it does make it a better win, yes, without a doubt.

Q. Is it the biggest you've experienced in golf? You've been at the Masters.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Ultimately if you go -- It's big. It's big, but the U.S. Open last year at Beth Page, that was loud, real loud, and the 18th hole -- like I holed a bunker shot on the 18th hole in the Open, and that fairway is lined with grandstands for 200 yards. I didn't know where I was after I holed it there was such a cheer. There's other experiences that are up there with it. It is up there, but maybe the U.S. Open, the Open, they certainly get some vocal crowds, as well.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you, Padraig.

End of FastScripts....

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