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July 3, 2019
County Clare, Republic of Ireland
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Maybe a little bit more wind, but it was a nice test of golf today.
Q. And obviously coming to Lahinch here, it's a pretty special place. It's a holiday town, there's a lot of big crowds here.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, it's very important for the Irish Open that we create this festival atmosphere, that we create more to the event than just golf. And that works both ways. You know, it works from the players' perspective. We want more. We play around the world all the time, so we appreciate when we come to an event and you can see as a collective we can see the effort that's gone in by everybody in the locality, that everybody is behind the event.
And secondly, to create a good event, you do need to have the buy in of the locals, of the spectators, of everybody who's coming in working or paying to come and watch the golf, if they buy into the event it just makes it all the more special if it gives a buzz.
This is okay, we can separate ourselves in Ireland by having different type of golf courses. There's not that many links golf courses around the world. But the way we really separate ourselves is by creating this atmosphere and festival that's unique.
As I always say, you can go to a lot of events around the world, and if you pulled out of the golf, went down the road a mile and pulled into a petrol station, they wouldn't know the event is on. If you do that in Ireland, you pull into the petrol station, you can guarantee you'll be asked for a couple of tickets.
Q. How many tickets have you been asked for this week?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Plenty, plenty. I've got good at it now. It's only taken 25 years to learn how to say no.
Q. Paul was saying that in terms of setup of the course, (indiscernible) R&A for advice. How much has he succeeded in getting the setup for this week but also
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I would think this is very similar to Portrush in the style of golf course. You've got pretty narrow fairways. You've got a lot of greens and pin positions, good approach shots which sweep towards the hole at times. Bad approach shots you leave you struggling sometimes you can struggle and get the next one on the green or are certain to get it close. Yeah, there's a lot of similarities with this and Portrush, no doubt about it. It's not in any particular case it's not thinking this hole is a brute of a hole and you can't play it, but if you play it well, there are birdies to be made. If you don't play it well, there's some more trouble.
I would think it's pretty narrow out there, but I don't think the rough is that heavy. Some places you can get a bad patch or two, but I think in Portrush the rough will be heavier. But I think in that sense, nobody wants the last thing you want going into a major in two weeks' time is to have two brutally tough weeks. You want two nice, enjoyable weeks going into it, good links golf.
I personally if you're serious about winning The Open, you've got to be playing tournament golf at least before it. You'd rather be playing links golf and being in a tournament than just on your own going into it, so if you're serious about trying to win The Open, you should be playing the two at least one if not two of the events running into it. I would say two if you can handle three events in a row. I'd say definitely you've got to come and play it's distinctly different.
I was discussing this morning with Martin Kaymer, and we were just discussing the difference between how the irons go a little shorter, is it the turf or the air that's causing your short irons to go shorter. Your long irons actually go further. You just have to get used to it.
I've been brought up in it all my life, and I'm out here today, and several times I under clubbed at times. I'm used to playing in the States, and in the States you guys have watched us on TV in the States. You can get that sort of strength of wind out there today in the States, and I've seen this, I hit my 9 iron 165 into that wind. Out here it's like 138. It doesn't seem well, it's not that cold, is it? It's amazing the difference in conditions, and you do have to get used to that.
I can guarantee if we played golf like in Irish conditions all the time, we wouldn't be playing on 7,600 yard golf courses, that's for sure. These are going to play short if you're downwind and you hit the fairway, going to play long if you're into the wind and certainly if you miss fairways.
Q. What do you make of making the 2nd into
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously
Q. And what score do you think you're going to need to win on Sunday?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It's an irrelevance whether you call it a 5 or a 4. It just doesn't make any difference to the character. At the end of the day, the person that shoots the lowest amount of strokes this week wins. Doesn't matter whether you call it 16 under par or 12 under par, or as you said, 8 under par 16 or 8 under par.
What do I think is going to win this week? I'm really not sure. If it was a day like yesterday with that 10 mile an hour wind and the greens were pretty quick yesterday, 8 under par would be a very good score. I think if it's like this and the pin positions, which the likelihood is they'll go easy with the pin positions on us, you might be looking at that 14 under. But I don't think you're looking at a big score here. I think 14 would be too much. Probably who knows. 10 under? I have no idea. It's a shot in the dark. I don't even think about things like that. I have no idea what's a good score out there. None whatsoever.
Q. You said if you're serious you should play two, three weeks in advance
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Some guys can't handle that.
Q. I was just going to say, what's that down to?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Some guys don't want to play three weeks in a row. Some guys feel like they peak in a week off, some guys feel like they peak after playing one tournament. Other guys feel like they peak after playing two tournaments. We're all different in that sense.
I was always mightily impressed when Tiger Woods would play in a major without playing the week before. I'd be a basket case if I didn't play the week before. Different personalities, completely different.
But I do think links golf is different. You're giving up some shots if you don't get out on a links golf course and play some links golf in the couple of weeks coming up to it, and there's no better way to understand your clubbing than when you've got one shot carried in your hand and if you under club or at least there's a little bit of pain and you remember it.
Certainly look, simple thing happened to me in 2007, so I played the week before we played, we played the Irish PGA, the European Club, and it was quite showery that week, so it was sunny, but these heavy showers would come in, and I remember how brutally short the ball went when the temperature dropped when the weather came in. Again, a little bit like I was saying, at that time it makes 30 yards' difference in an iron shot.
On the first playoff hole in 2007 at Carnoustie, as we walked off the tee, a big black thundercloud came across the sun, and it dropped the temperature comfortably probably dropped five degrees at least. Like it was a serious change in temperature. I had 170 yards to the flag. I took an extra club 168 I think I had. I took an extra club and I hit it a little bit harder than I wanted to, and I only got to pin high because of the change in temperature, and if you watch, Sergio was two clubs short with his approach. I'm not putting words in his I don't know, but it looked like he didn't recognise the change in air temperature could cause the ball to go a lot shorter.
I don't need to measure that. I know that. So we don't need to get a barometer for that sort of stuff. We know that if it's heavy, the ball doesn't go. You need that reminder every so often, but you've got to get out on the golf course and see those changes.
Q. Blind holes are common on links courses
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: This is a very traditional golf course.
Q. Indeed. There's not too many blind par 3s you've played in your long career. It's kind of unique in that respect. What do you think of that hole?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I just want to know what's setting up the stone. That's my biggest question. I got there today, and I said, I wonder who put that stone out there. I want to know that the person putting the stone there knows his job. That's my only I want to know going out can I trust the person that puts the stone to tell us where it is.
Yeah, look, that's Lahinch. That's what you're getting. If you don't like it, don't come. There you go. It's part of the it is part of the character, and it's very much part of the beauty of Lahinch. Yeah, it's fun, but it's only an 8 iron. It's not like anyone is asking you to hit a 2 iron out of bounds over the back or so it's not a crazy shot or anything like that. It will give up a lot of birdies during the week, it'll give up a lot of there will be more people walking off that hole with a smile on their face than not.
That's what we're I was brought up that way when it came to links golf. Traditional links golf is meant to have a little bit of a it's meant to be a bit of a mental test.
The world of golf has moved towards having perfectly flat fairways and lies. They've even talked about getting free drops out of divots. Golf was never designed to be a fair game. It was designed to test your physical and mental ability, and that mental ability is being able to handle good and bad breaks, and traditional links golf does throw in blind shots and things like that. You'll get some good breaks and you'll get some bad ones, and the mental fortitude is tested far more on a links golf course than it is on a perfectly ordered parkland course.
Q. Have you ever played a blind par 3 in your pro career?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: You get the odd half blind one yeah, at times. Regular golf courses where you wouldn't be able to see the pin. You'd have to walk over to one side or whatever. You get plenty of par 3s with a tree in the way.
This one is the most significantly one of its kind. There's nothing like this one in the world of competitive professional golf. But like I said, I grew up, and I don't think it's that crazy. It's just a bit of fun. Why can't golf be a bit of fun? It doesn't have to be that serious.
Q. When you look at the players that are here in relation to the quality of the field Paul McGinley has put together for this Irish Open at Lahinch, as an Irishman yourself are you quite proud of the category of golfers here in this small town?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Absolutely, I think it's a very tough, competitive arena, the world of golf, attracting golfers, because you're not just competing against the tournament that's on the same week that you're competing, you're also competing against guys' schedules whether they want to play two or three weeks into a major. Golfers are spoiled for choice. Certainly good golfers with spoiled for choice. I think this event has a really good field.
But Paul has obviously put the work in. The European Tour has put the work in. I think the venue and the date does attract players who are interested in getting a bit of links golf in before The Open.
From a player's perspective, we're very happy with the field. It's as strong a field as you can get this time of year, or any time, because as I said, there's just so many competing elements when it comes to choices for the good players.
Q. Given the date change, what would be the four or five ingredients you would need for an ideal Irish Open?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Venue. Venue, venue, venue, venue, venue, five times. There you go. It's all about the venue. It really is. The Irish Open has to have that offering for the players that's not like anywhere else. We have to look, we know in Ireland our tourism industry is based on we are unique. You're not just coming here to look at the scenery. You're coming here to get a sense of the people, the country, and that's the same when it comes to a golf tournament. It's all about the venue.
The players from both perspectives, as I spoke earlier, the players want to come to somewhere different, somewhere unique, somewhere they can enjoy. The players, they're always fascinated with coming to Ireland. Sometimes fascinated with how we live in the weather. Now they're looking at the sunshine, and it's just so different. Our country is so different. So it's all about the venue.
Q. If you were to be asked to host, would you
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I'm currently in the rota to be asked to host. There's five of us in it at the moment. If we get Shane into it in a major, maybe we'll have six in it pretty soon.
Look, we've got great people to host an Irish Open. As I said, McGinley he keeps overdoing the work and making it harder for everybody following him. Yeah, he's really gone all out with this Irish Open. The expectations have only got higher after just like the Ryder Cup.
I think there's four or five of us. I would love to host one in the future. I'm sure I'm on the list. But it will all come down to timings and venues and sponsor, and it all comes down to obviously sponsors and making decisions about getting the right venue and then the right person in that venue to do the job. There's a lot of things that go into it.
But you've got to expect I'm sure you'd hope that I would host one in the future.
Q. Just wondering, would you be too busy in a Ryder Cup year to do it?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, certainly it's been talked about, discussed. Nothing has been it's a possibility, but nothing is there's more things that have to be confirmed before it really does come down to where are we going, what's the venue, what's the sponsors want. But you can be sure that I will host the Irish Open in the next number of years. It just mightn't be next year.
Q. Just in general terms, you had a wrist injury in the early part of the year. Where is your game right now, and can you contend this week?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, the wrist injury was very mild. I've had a number of injuries in my career through overwork and over practice, and every time the minute I've been cleared to go back, I'd literally get back on the golf course and go, yeah, I'm ready to go. This one has been a lot harder. It's now July, and it feels like it's January to me. I just haven't got going. I haven't played enough competitive rounds. I haven't been on the golf course enough. I've never gotten into the run of it.
I'm still stuck in my winter, what am I working on, what am I doing. I just have not got going and playing.
Has the wrist caused me problems? Yeah, I haven't got quite the same range of motion, but I seem to have enough to swing the golf club. I've got a little bit of soreness if I overdo it. I'm told that will be there for nine months. Yeah, but now I suppose I've realised that I'm making more of an effort to get into a playing mode.
So yes, I will be in a playing mode for this week, and when I'm in that frame of mind, I can compete and win. We'll see how many weeks I can take that for before I've reset back to my bad stuff.
Shane Lowry said to me there, we were up at the pro am, I'll see you on the range this afternoon. I said to him, no, you won't. He fell over, that he's going to the range and I'm not.
Q. Just in general, how are you coping with the whole second job?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's busy. I've obviously tried to not do stuff this week, but like I have meetings Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday next week. Each afternoon I've got stuff going on. On my off weeks I have meetings. Yeah, there's quite a bit going on.
I don't know if it's just busy at the moment because we're literally picking and working through the clothing right now. I know there are details like that. Obviously I've been up there and seen the rooms and the team rooms and we've had other meetings going through I suppose the what's the word for it? Like my team mantra, that sort of stuff we have to get a year in advance you have to start getting into what's sort of what motivational stuff, videos and whatever that sort of staff, how you're going to play that. So there has been thought in it. So yeah, busy.
Look, the best thing that can happen to me in my life is I have plenty of distraction away from the golf, so that's not going to affect my golf. But certainly I knew a good distraction, but there's more to it than you would think.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports