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August 13, 2002

Padraig Harrington


JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Padraig Harrington joining us at the 84th PGA Championship. If you could give us some thoughts on what you see on the golf course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's obviously a very good golf course. There's no tricks about it. Probably the toughest part of the course has got to be the greens. They look like they could get very firm and fast, and there's some subtle undulations. There's enough undulations that you cannot really see the ball in practice rounds, so I'm sure at some stage during the week, guys are going to hit good shots and find that they are on the wrong side of the hole. Obviously, if you know the course well, maybe you can avoid that, but the greens look really tough.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you, sir. Questions, folks.

Q. Having had three Top-10s in majors this year already, there are some expectations on you. Is that more pressure than normal for you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I'm putting myself under more pressure and there's some expectations outside. I'm actually trying to play that down a bit. I'm trying to just treat it like a normal tournament. Obviously, I'm probably trying to play it a bit like I would have played it the last three majors. So, it's there. It's nice to have to deal with it. It's always a good situation to be in. So wait and see how it goes. You know, that's all part of playing it every time, that you come to these events and there is a little bit more pressure involved and a little bit expectation. It's like going into this event, many people might consider me as an outside chance, so that puts a certain amount of pressure on from day one. Going into the first hole -- I'm not going into the first round hoping to shoot good scores to get myself into contention. I'm going out there to trying to stay in contention from the word "go," because I feel like I am that sort of way.

Q. To follow up on that, you've played so beautifully this year in the major championships and giving yourself three looks at it. In your mind, what hurdles remain, maybe physically or mentally, for you to win a major championship and how difficult an endeavor is it to win any major?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's actually -- a mental hurdle is the biggest one to get over, to win a major. Physically, certainly, in all three of the majors, I chipped poorly in all of the majors, possibly could chip and pitch a little bit better, so those are things I could improve. Just mentally, you've got to do the right things. I think the Open Championship, I probably had my head in the right place all week. That was probably the best -- one of the best mental performances. I was right up there at the end of the week. So, it's a combination of getting everything together. I don't think you can win a major without having it all together in the week. I think that's why they are so difficult to win. You need to play well, putt and chip well and have a good mental game on top of it.

Q. Have you surprised yourself maybe a little bit with the three Top-10s, or did you feel it coming?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've been gradually improving over the last couple of years, so I would not say I'm surprised, not at all. Certainly not last couple, anyway. Maybe going out, had a good start at the Masters, 18 through 27 holes, things like that, but realistically, no it's not a great surprise. As I say, my game has improved and has been improving. It's still developing. So, you've got to just keep going, and it's not something that when you get there, that you have to say, you know, you kind of have to just go with it. If you are playing well enough to be in the Top-10 or Top-5, winning majors, you just have to go with it. You can't really worry about what anybody else thinks, really, you've just got to go with it.

Q. So, we ain't seen nothing yet?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, you haven't not seen anything yet. I don't know how I've got to go, but I do believe I can improve where I am at the moment. I believe I can improve every part of my game. So, I'm in a nice position that I'm still developing as a player. Thankfully, it's a sport that you can still develop at 30 years of age. (Laughs).

Q. How do you think the golf course is suited to your game? You seem to be comfortable in these situations?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played 18 yesterday and 18 today. I liked the golf course. It sets up nicely for me. I think it was set up nicely for -- I think like the Open Championship at Muirfield, most people think this golf course, they feel they can play it. They won't feel that there's anywhere, necessarily, that there's any shots they can't hit on the course. It does set up maybe for some of the longer hitters. The par 5s are very long, so you've got to be really hitting it to reach those in two; so some of the fairways do get wider the further you go out. So, on that extent, you do want to be a bigger hitter out there. But I think it's a fairer golf course. As I said at the start, it's a golf course that it's all in front of you. It's quite a fair course that you can see right off the tee, depending on the player, what suits their eye. But I think every player can play this golf course.

Q. There seems to be a perception that the course is easier than Bethpage. Do you agree with that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I suppose if you turned around and called it a par 70 -- it's tougher than Bethpage because you're getting those two extra shots. It is a par 72. If the U.S. Open was here, they would figure out how to make it a par 70 and that's eight shots. You'd probably find 12 shots here, so that would make it pretty similar. I would say that it seems to be a little bit easier. At the moment it seems to be a little bit easier. The fairways are a little wider. The rough is not quite as heavy. The greens, I think the greens have more undulations in them, and I do believe that in the afternoons, those greens are going to be firm and fast. I think that's going to be the tough part of the golf course is going to be the greens. Obviously, if there's thunderstorms during the week, that's not going to happen, but at the moment, I believe the greens could get very firm and fast .

Q. Can you talk about your strategy for the par-5 No. 3?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Today it was a little bit downwind. I hit driver 3-wood just up close, 20 yards short of the green. I think in the tournament, it will be more trying to hit a big drive, and if it doesn't come off, just lay up and if it does come off, maybe hit a 3-wood up close to the wind. It's not a dangerous tee shot because if you hit it in the bunkers left or even in the rough, you can still hit your second shot to the ideal lay-up position. So be aggressive off the tee, try to get it down there as far as you can, and if it's in range, it's possible to have it -- with a slight breeze behind, it's possible to reach it in two, believe it or not.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Mr. Harrington, ladies and gentlemen. Good luck this week, sir.

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