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DUBAI DUTY FREE IRISH OPEN


July 4, 2019


Padraig Harrington


County Clare, Republic of Ireland

Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: It was a pleasant day. Really enjoyed it. Myself and Ian Poulter were doing a lot of talking. We were relaxed, having a trowel. A couple of breaks, a couple good things happened. Momentum was on my side but it was a nice casual 63 end of the day. Doesn't always work like that. I've worked a lot harder to shoot 73 at times?

Q. And you've often come into a tournament with expectations which are low. You've always said, low expunctions are a good thing. You had very low expectations. You said it to me yesterday. Does that help?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, it would help; I had neutral expectations. At least that's what I was going for. I've been playing all year trying to find my game. I've been struggling coming back after my wrist injury. You know, this week, I just decided I'd go and play and try and get stock on my game. You know, that's kind of been the feedback I've been getting from my team around me: Let's go out and play and see where we're at.

I didn't expect 63 out of it. I was expecting a few weeks to get my head in the game and we could then get our bearings, but you know, it just goes to show, when your head is in the right place, especially on a links golf course because you can work your way around the links. I did a really good job of it today.

As I said, there was momentum in the round. Nothing gets your round off better than like on the second hole I hit 7-iron from 220 yards to 12 feet out of the rough and holed it for birdie. You know, to judge, to get a ball to go 12 feet from that distance with a big flyer as it was, there's a lot of luck involved. It gave myself a lot of momentum for the rest of the round and it kept it nice and steady after that.

Q. Golf can obviously make a fool of you one day and after having a really good round, so you have to now back this up. It would be nice if you backed it up, I'm sure, and be in contention on Sunday and all of those things. You're a three-time major winner, former Irish Open Champion. You know Thursday's round is only part of the job done.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, look, I'd preferred to have shot 63 on Sunday, but the way I've been going this year, I haven't played that many Sundays, so I needed a good score in the first round.

The way I look at it, and this is always the case; I think I'm leading by two shots, and I've obviously played in pretty tough conditions this afternoon. But all it does is create a number of extra scenarios where I can go on and win this tournament. Doesn't mean I have to go out tomorrow and shoot -- obviously, I don't need to shoot four 63s to win. Who knows what I need to shoot in any given day, but there's a lot more scenarios when you open up with 63 than if you open up with 73 to get that finish on Sunday I.

Q. The wrist injury which delayed the start of your season means you've only had seven starts and three missed cuts in a row, so not a lot of confidence to draw on. So what do you draw on when you get a run going like that? Just basic experience?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, just experience. You know, golf has always been like that. A player playing well doesn't see any bad things, and a player playing badly sees them all. Doesn't matter what they are for in that particular time.

Out there today, I was in a good place. Head was in a good place. Good things were happening. Hit lots of nice shots. I know I don't have to play as well as that for the next three days. It would be nice if I did, but we'll just go out there and try and do more of the same.

This is not -- obviously it comes a little more urgent this week how I played, because of my first round 63. But this is more of a process to get my head in the game for these three weeks, and then see where I'm at to get my head in the game for the rest of the year.

If nothing good happens for the next three days, so be it. I know I'm on the right track, and I'll keep going down that road and we'll see better and better scores going forward.

Q. With the support you've had out there today, would that rank up there as one of the most enjoyable rounds of your career?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's right up there, definitely. Beautiful sunny day. Great links golf course, great conditions for links. A suitable breeze just to keep it testing. Great conditions. Crowd buzzing. Good things happening. Quite a relaxed group. It would definitely be up there with one of the simplest, easiest, most pleasant days ever on the links.

Q. You said yesterday you advised punters this week not to back you but you would be ready for The Open. What would you advice punters after this round?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I was 1 to 100, somebody told me coming into it, so that was pretty good odds. I think my own opinion was, I would take a couple of weeks to get my head in the game and warm up. I got there a lot quicker, which is nice.

How I respond for the next three days would be interesting. I'm not going to hold myself to too much, but we'll see. Yeah, I'm still a good value. Whenever I step on a links golf course, I am going to be good value, and going forward, only a fool would discount me on a links course.

Q. Your best ever start to an Irish Open. How enjoyable is that?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, look, I know I'm using the word pleasant and nice, and that's kind of what it was like out there. Myself and Poulter were having a stroll. Having a chat. Good things were happen. Obviously makes it easier. Didn't have to work that hard. I wasn't out of position very much all day. You know, I think the first real chip shot I had was on 11 where I didn't get up-and-down. It was that kind of day. It was pretty straightforward. And I won't say the momentum was with me; good things were happening, but it was quite a stress-free round.

Q. The run of five birdies in six holes, seemed to gain momentum, come alive and everybody got behind you. How much were buzzing off that?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I like that, no doubt about it. I turned a solid round all of a sudden into a great round. I knew there was other chances, and in some ways, I might have maybe got one or two more coming home.

Look, it was a nice, steady sort of day. Doesn't always happen, you get to five out of six holes, birdies, but they certainly make a good card.

Q. We mentioned 1 to 100 yesterday and you said maybe hold off. Maybe they shouldn't have waited a couple of weeks. Are you surprised by that score in any way?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I am the worst tipster, ever. When it comes to golf, whoever I pick, yeah, I'm terrible. I'm a Joanna when it comes to things like that. 100 to 1 was too high, anyway, just because it's a links golf course. A wise man might have had an each-way bet on me at that. It would have been a big call for anybody to predict that I was going to win it, or come out here and win this week.

But you know, I'm in good form now, 7-under. This gives me a lot of different scenarios where I can be in with a chance of winning on Sunday.

Q. Do you go out and be aggressive tomorrow morning to give those that are going out in the afternoon something to look at?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: It does. Depends how you hit the shots in the first couple of holes. It's a very fluid situation. Only a fool would say, be aggressive; if you get the wrong number, the wrong pin, you shouldn't be aggressive. You get it right, you've got to go with it.

My attitude would be, as I said earlier, having got a good score under the belt, there's lots of ways for me to get to the winning score this week. I could still -- if I go out tomorrow and shoot 73, I can still go and win the tournament. But if I started with 73, there's only one scenario and that's shoot a low one, where I have three days to put together, I don't know what I might need, another 7-under par, 14-under par might look good this week. I'd definitely take it now. I need to figure out a way of playing the next 54 holes in that sort of number, but who knows. I might need more. Who knows, I might need less. We'll just figure it out as we go along.

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