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February 25, 2003

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, Padraig. Thank you very much. This is more like southern Ireland, than southern California. How are you from the trip from Malaysia?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I feel good. I got 9 hours of sleep in. I seem to be not jet lagged. The second night is the hardest night. I seem healthy, fit, ready to go.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You practiced yesterday, obviously haven't played the course, but how is the game after the trip?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was loosening out yesterday. You couldn't really tell. It shouldn't be any different than it was last week. It was okay last week. Obviously after you play your first tournament, there's always something to work on. And I don't seem to have any time to do that.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Are you looking forward to the first round match, hopefully, if the weather eases off?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I am, actually. I've never gotten past the first round at these tournaments. It's actually not a bad way to come into it. You can't do any worse than you've done before, you can only get better. That's the nice way to look at it.

SCOTT CROCKETT: The only way is up.

Q. That is strange logic.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You always have to turn the logic into your favor. Whatever way you're thinking, you have to think the positive.

Q. Why haven't you done very well so far?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The time of the event. I take a long winter break. I come out, and I'm just not ready. I think sometimes it's the first event I play of the year, or the times it's very early in the year and I'm just not up to it at that time of the year. It's tough when you come out and play a match and you could be playing against somebody that's been playing six weeks, so they're reasonably competitive, and you're not so competitive.

In match play it's a tough game. And you could -- you hope you could get away with not playing your best, but usually because of the nature of the game, everybody plays a little bit above themselves.

Q. You were talking about not coming at one stage, weren't you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I was. It was because of the poor form I've had in the past. At the start of the year, it's the sort of -- the sort of thing you want to do at the start of the year is play four rounds of golf, just keep getting competitive. And I've only had one round of golf, and the main thing at the start of the year is to get competitive, and to get into those four rounds of golf, it's the sort of competition you need.

I come because it's a big event and I've got to be here, try and get through, as I say, play a couple of rounds. If you get through a couple of rounds, then your form can come along after a few rounds. You've got to be here sort of thing. It's a difficult one for me, because it's at the start of the year. It's hard to say that you've got to be in top form, and it's difficult to come and play anybody in the top 64 in the world if you're not on your top form.

Q. You do things differently this year with the increased expectation on you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Schedule-wise, no. Do things differently, only to the extent I have to be aware of it. I have to do -- I have to make more of an effort as I would have done things last year. So consciously, I have to try to keep it the same, and not try and change, and do anything, and let any expectations get to me, just keep working away with what I'm doing, keep my head down and keep focusing on what I do. So it just takes a little more effort, because there's a little bit more of a distraction there, with expectations. But for myself and from other people, a lot of times expectations are self-driven.

Q. You mentioned some guys aren't quite ready yet for the match play. What are the reasons the lower seeds sometimes prevail in this thing?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's a very short form, 18 holes. Everybody in the top 64 here can play golf, or play to a high standard. When you go into a 18-hole match, especially if you're the lower seed, you feel you have nothing to lose. You're going for your shots, you're not worried about the consequences, and that's why it turns up upsets.

Obviously if they were 72-hole matches, the stronger player should prevail. But over an 18-hole match, the underdog just goes out and plays. And if anything, maybe the top seed is a little bit -- is probably playing a little more cautious than he would. And the underdog is playing a little more aggressive. So it's classic match play. That's always what happens. Just the fact to see the people makes it happen even more. If it was an Open draw, whoever you're drawing against, you could see him or build him up in your own mind to be a better player. If you're drawing against a lower seed, it's automatically on the paper that he's the underdog and you're the favored. Everybody likes being the underdog. That's always -- it's easy to -- it's much harder being the favorite every week.

Q. Going all the way back maybe to your amateur days, is there one match play contest that you've had that was just unbelievable and that stands out above all the others, craziest match play contest you've ever had?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: An actual round?

Q. One match you were down six with seven to play, something like that.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The only one that stands out -- I've obviously played a lot of matches. The funniest one was just a club match, representing my home club at the time, and the top 11 grades at the club. I was an International Player, so technically I should win my match comfortably. I might have been a scratch golfer, I might have been playing a five handicap. And I think I was 3-down with four to play, classic, not focused, you know, the typical thing of I should win this match and making all the mistakes, because you're being too conscious, too cautious, and not playing your own game. And the guy is playing aggressive and holing his putts and playing great. And you're getting upset by him holing putts, and your feeling -- all that sort of stuff. Basically it was -- I couldn't raise my game.

And on the 15th tee, I was 3-down with four to play, the manager of their team is there, and he says to the manager of my team, within ear shot of me, I was only a young guy, this guy ain't much, is he? Why is he an International golfer, when my 5-handicapper is beating him. I birdied the next hole and birdied the 19th hole to win the match.

My manager thanked his manager for the inspiration and the speech afterwards. That's the way match play is. A little thing can set you off both positively and negatively. The opposition can hole a putt in the first, and it sets the tone for the day or at least you feel it does. It's a great game because of that. It's much more of a psychological game, because of the fact that very rarely in golf do you actually control your opponent, but in match play you have a direct influence on how he plays. You can either let him play well or you can make him play badly, by you putting the pressure on.

So it really is -- it's very rare in golf that that situation, you have as much control over the opposition.

Q. What do you know about your opponent, John Cook? Have you been paired with him in a foursome or threesome?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've seen -- I know John Cook well. I've seen a lot of his golf over the years. Besides just being one of the regular guys, I wouldn't be that familiar with his game, no. I could say possibly the best thing to do is focus on your own game, anyway. That's what I'll try to be doing, and try and do my things, anyway.

I think nearly it's better in this format if you don't know -- or if you don't think too much about your partner. Even if you do know what his form is like, the last thing you want -- it's hard enough having expectations for yourself, but don't have expectations for somebody else, you can't -- you're not going to worry about them. It's tough enough worrying about your own game.

Q. You don't remember who the 5-handicapper was?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, it was a club match. It's the only funny instance I have of all the things, how sometimes, you know, it's hard -- sometimes -- motivation is everything in a match.

Q. You talk about your own game and not paying attention to the opponent, but if you're on the course, and you, for example, see your opponent shortside himself in a bunker, will you alter where you aim your approach shot and play it safer in that circumstance?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not one of these guys who -- I try and pay attention to what I'm doing, not necessarily -- I am very aware of what my opponent is doing. I'm not playing against the opponent. I'm playing against the golf course. But I've got to say -- I know people have said for years and years and years that they never look at the opposition. You've got to look at your opposition.

Now, the thing is, experience tells you what to do when you see your opposition. There's no point in believing that if your opposition has missed a green that you can win the hole with a par, because the chance is he's going to chip and putt the hole. If he hits it out of bounds, that's a different situation, or if he does shortside himself and he can't get up-and-down, that's another situation. But because of the nature of match play, even from shortsided, you can be aggressive. It doesn't make a difference if he takes four to get down or three to get down, all you're thinking about is getting down in two.

It's experience to know what to do when you're watching your partner. You try to focus on your own game as much as you can, especially early on in the round. It's only if he does something extreme that you take account of it and maybe hit a 3-wood off the tee instead of driver or play the hole for par.

But in general, you have to assume the best from him, that he's going to get up-and-down from everywhere, you'll have to play the shot as if it was a 72 stroke-play event. The classic situation is just because -- if he's going for a tight pin, and hit it in to ten feet, does that mean you go for the tight pin, as well? If you don't normally go for it and you don't like the shot, don't go for it. You have to expect he's going to have a 10-footer, maybe he won't get it. But if that's the situation, you don't like the shot and you stick it in the bunker, he doesn't end up hitting the 10-footer. It's experience.

It's at the moment, how you feel, what you do. But it would be wrong to think that you could play all 18 holes without ever seeing what he does, at some stage he will hit a shot that will have a bearing on how you play your shot. That's why I said earlier about often a player dictates how the opposition plays. If he's playing really well, sometimes he puts it up to the opposition, and then the opposition makes mistakes, and gets down on himself and plays worse because of it.

It's a great game, match play. There's so many different computations of what can happen between two people. 72-hole strokes only becomes match play sometimes in the last nine holes of the tournament, and that's only if there's two or three players in contention.

Q. You mentioned expectations a lot today. For yourself, what are they this year, particularly in the Majors after the performances you had last year?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As some of your press will tell you, I never tell anybody what my goals are or expectations are. I judge myself on the standards I set for myself. And I'm not going to give anybody information. If I say I want to go and do something out of this world, it's only something I can live up to or not, but I don't want to be injured on that. At the end of the year I look back and see if I've made them or not.

Some of my goals will be way out there and some will be mundane and easy. There's a good range of them. I judge at the end of the year how I've done.

Q. How did you do last year on your goals?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was quite successful. I got over half of them, which was quite nice. I think 8 out of 15. So that was quite good, I'm quite pleased at that. As I say, I suppose someone -- it depends -- as I say, there are all sorts of goals. I've succeeded in some of the bigger ones last year, and maybe failed at one or two of the more moderate ones. There's a range of them. So I was quite happy with that.

Q. Have you got 15 again this year?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not quite sure, but at least that. You can always make up new ones.

Q. As the year goes on.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It depends on how you do. Yeah, just different goals. Some keep you going when you're doing badly. Some of them are there in case I happen to start off with a flier, and you've got to account for all situations, when things are going really well, and when you're struggling, you have to have some sort of focus, something to hang on to, something to keep you going.

Q. If you don't reach the final, would you be interested in Ernie and Tiger playing?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'd be just as interested in whoever got to the final, if I'm not there. If I'm going to watch it -- a match between the 64th seed and the 63rd seed could be just as interesting. If they get to the final, they're playing great golf -- yeah. It's good that -- it's interesting that people are considering that Tiger has a challenger. A year ago people weren't saying anything like that. I think even players weren't even saying that. So it's a nice way -- it's nice to see. Maybe Ernie is representing the rest of the professional golfers.

But to be honest, we don't feel like that, to the extent that if Ernie came up against Tiger, we'd probably want the guy who played best to win on the day. It would be interesting, actually. I really haven't thought about it. I'm actually probably more interested in the Jones fight on Saturday night.

Q. Are you going?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, hopefully I won't be able to go. Hopefully I'll be still here getting an early night.

End of FastScripts....

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