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March 8, 2006

Padraig Harrington


DAVE SENKO: Padraig, thank you for joining us. Maybe just get us started, you come in as defending champion, and this will be your third straight week over here. Maybe just give us a rundown of where your game is right now coming in here.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, obviously I took nine weeks off, I played three events already, one on The European Tour, two over here. You know, it's still in the early stages of clearly out a bit of rust and I think, you know, just getting myself competitive.

You know, the work I had done on my swing during the winter where I'm very happy with it, I'm probably still thinking about it. It's not quite I probably don't have the confidence just to leave it at the moment. So still a little bit of tinkering with that.

But as I said I'm happy with what I've done with it and I'm happy with where I'm at with it. It's just a question of now trusting it on the golf course a bit more. It's been improving over the three weeks, but I didn't think I was very good at the Match Play, but I was a lot better last week. So hopefully I'd be very pleased if it showed the same amount of improvement as it did from the Match Play to Doral, from Doral to here; even a little improvement, it's all going to the right direction.

Q. Can you talk about your two victories over here last year, were they any more satisfying because in one, you beat Vijay in a playoff and the other one, you held off Furyk?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Are you asking me was one more satisfying than the other?

Q. Were the two of them collectively that much more satisfying because of the players you beat kind of head to head at the end?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The first one, this one was very satisfying. Obviously, first of all, winning your PGA TOUR event is obviously very pleasing and it was a goal of mine at the start of the year. So I was very, pleased isn't the word, but satisfied, that I had come and done it.

But it was pleasing in the way that it happened because I've had many a second place over the years, and I think I have 26 of them running up at this stage. And when you finish second, sometimes you don't finish it out. Sometimes other persons do something spectacular. All sorts of things can happen when you are finishing second.

So it was nice to actually win a tournament, and it was the first time that I won a tournament where I felt I actually got the breaks at the end. I shot the low round the last round and somebody else messed up a little bit to give it to me. So that was very pleasing to see it turn around, because I had to stay very patient, when you're finishing runner up a lot, you have to stay very patient and just keep doing the right things. It's tough to do that when other people seem to hole a putt on the last green or somebody does something at the end of the round spectacular or you mess up at the end of the round. It's nice for something to go in your favor, so that was very pleasing in the first one.

The second one it was a different sort of event. Obviously your second one is important just to prove that the first one is not a fluke. But I think it was an exciting finish. You don't often hole a putt on the last green to win a tournament. You don't often hole a long putt on the last green to win a tournament and you certainly don't get to look at it for about 15 feet as it rolls into the middle of the hole.

So it was probably as exciting a win as it could be, but it was also very satisfying in the fact that, you know, I did my thing and hung in there. Again, probably by doing my own thing, I probably got a break or two at the end that, you know, I had not gotten in 26 second places. So it's nice when it turns around. It's nice when you've stayed patient and you've tried to do everything right. All of the books will tell you this is what will happen, but it's nice to see it actually happen.

Q. Westchester, was that 65 feet the last one?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 66 feet, seven inches. (Laughter).

Q. The 26 runner up finishes, do many PGA TOUR players, do they keep track of their runner up finishes like you do?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, no. You guys keep track of them for us. (Laughter).

You know, some of those are really good second places. You know, like I finished I had two second places in the TPC here. One of them, Davis shot that 64 on the last round. That's a case in point of what I'm talking about. I shot 63 last year to win. I had gone out leading in the last round, I shoot an okay score, and Davis Love shoots one of the best rounds ever to win the event. That happens at times, and it's hard to take when you have a lot of second places.

You know, it's more other people racking them up. Sometimes second place is as good as you can do in a week and you've got to be satisfied with that. A lot of those performances were good performances, so obviously if I some of them are disappointing. It's not me keeping track; it's more somebody else reminding me.

Q. Did that PLAYERS Championship that year, given the conditions, 72 might have won that in most years, had Davis not gone crazy.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was a blustery day, a blustery, windy day and definitely could. It's one thing for one guy to go out there and shoot a low score, which always on Sunday somebody is going to shoot a low score.

The thing you can't avoid is the guy who is close enough in second or third place; if he does it, all of a sudden he's going to run away with the event. You know, fair play to Davis that year. It was an incredible score. Both myself and Jay Haas could do nothing about it. Only one player in the field is going to shoot a score like that on a given day, so Davis was the man that day.

Last year it was my turn when I shot 63 here, and that's what I'm saying, you just have to there's a lot of up and downs in the game, and just have to be patient and keep playing through and doing your own thing.

Q. Don't you have a lot of family over here right now?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I have five people with me here.

Q. Would you mind saying who is here?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: My wife, my son, in any, my mom and my mother in law.

Q. Was this a special trip then for them?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, they come to about my son and my wife come to about half the events. So we tend to choose the best events, not necessarily the best golf events, we're looking at the best events for them to come out.

So like Miami last week is a lovely place, this is a beautiful place, lovely weather, great for my son to come out, my wife, to have a good time so, that's why they come here, not necessarily because I'm here defending or the stature of the event. It's more to do with, you know, what's there to do outside the event, really.

You know, sometimes we go to golf events and they can be truly just, you know, a golf course and 72 holes of golf and it's a working week where you really are just doing practice, going to the gym or something like that and there's not much outside of it. A place like this is a really nice place to travel to, so they are having a good time.

Q. Do you have a particular reason why you played so well in Florida?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Didn't realize I had.

Q. Well, PLAYERS Championship, you had some good years there, you won here last year.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Early on in the season, I'm very motivated to get going, and this is my early season. Other guys early season is the West Coast. This is really where I get going. So I'm keen, trying to push it out at this time of the year. I can only assume that's the reason that I'm fresh at the start of the year and really, really strong mentally.

Q. Are you a good wind player historically?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, yeah, growing up in Ireland, you learn how to play the wind; or if you don't, you don't play golf, one or the other.

Yeah, I like the conditions here. I'm very comfortable here. I'd be happy to see a bit of wind this week.

Q. This has been a tournament that traditionally has not attracted the top two or three players in the World Ranking, but the crowds here have always been very loyal to the players that they see as being interesting and names that they recognize. So two questions regarding that. How have the crowds here treated you, and how much of the attention you've gotten from people has been tied to your being Irish, because it's such a novelty for an Irishman to be in a Tour event here.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, at any event, I get a reasonable amount of attention for being Irish. You know, I think half the U.S. population would claim to some Irish heritage. (Laughter).

So definitely there's a lot of people here who have an affinity to the Irish, and because of that, they like golf and they see an Irishman in golf and they definitely get a lot of encouragement do to that. And I've gotten fairly good exposure through the win here and the win at Barclays; that I'm also getting a bit of attention outside of the Irish community. It really does encourage you. It's very nice for the ego. It's always good to have your ego massaged, that's for sure.

Q. How many takes after watching the Inside the Tour show that you hosted this week, last night, you had a couple of trick shots on a pool table, you hit a chip shot with a wedge up on the pool table, how many takes were some of those things?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The first break off, I cleared the table, straight off, which they didn't get on camera, so I was a little bit disappointed about that.

We had another couple of clearances in the session, so that was okay. But the actual trick shots, I struggled to do the chip shot, I did it the first time, again, they missed it and it took me a few more to get it. They had to move the tree in the lounge out of the way to give me a better swing. And the few other trick shots did take a while because we use softer tips on the cues so you can get a bit more action on the ball. So it was a little different.

Q. Didn't you putt a ball and made a shot putting a ball?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: At home, to come back to playing golf in the wind at home, you'll also play snooker because every round of golf finish, you head in and every golf club more or less has a couple of snooker tables. So nearly every golfer I know has some ability to play snooker, and then pool on top of it. So it's certainly not an unfamiliar game at home.

Q. What's the best thing to drink when you're playing snooker?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Best thing to drink if you're playing serious snooker is water. (Laughter).

Q. But is that what you drink?


Q. The course you won on after this year, you won't be playing on anymore, any thoughts about that?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously if you've won at a golf course, you want to keep playing it. It's a little bit disappointing not to keep playing the same course. But saying that, it's always nice to see a new golf course, especially if they are going to revamp this course, the PGA National, so it won't be an advantage to anybody. We're all going to be going onto it fresh and new.

I would see it I'm always happy to move to a new golf course and see a new place and that, but it is a little bit disappointing to move away from a golf course that I've had success on. That's one of my requirements when I go to pick an event that I always look to see if I've had success on a golf course in the past, I try and go back to it.

Q. And now it also seems like the members at Westchester are talking about not inviting the PGA TOUR back; is this becoming an alarming trend for you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't realize that. Obviously Westchester is one of the old, great golf courses and traditional golf courses. I think everybody would say we don't see enough of those type of golf courses all the time. Then again, we should see a mixture of golf courses. It would be wrong to play all tournament golf on a golf course like Westchester or on a big, long golf course, as well. You've got to have it mixed up. I'm sure it would be disappointing to lose Westchester, so many great golf courses up in that neck of the woods, they might find another hidden gem up there.

Q. This golf course had they first came here, there was fear it would be out of control and it would be too firm and fast and get goofy; how is it holding up this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Even from last year, they have made some changes into last year. I didn't play in 2004. They made some changes into last year, and again this year, they have basically made the greens smaller by making the fringe bigger to stop the ball from running away.

So like on some of the holes now, the tightest you can get a pin is six yards away from a bunker because there's three yards of green and then three yards of fringe if you want to get the pin tight. So they have made it to that extent a lot tougher for the referees to hide the pins, and that would obviously mean that the golf course is going to play a bit easier, which maybe in some guys' eyes is going to be fairer, because there are some tough pins out here.

But, you know, I think I was 15 greens in regulation last year. The guy that wins this year is going to hit a lot of greens but still be asked to hit a lot of good short shots, chip shots and that.

I think it's a strong test. Again, it's a good one to have. It's good to have a golf course where chipping is required and balls run away and there's wind control required rather than just, you know, heavy rough everywhere. It wouldn't be fair to have this type of golf course every week or the one with the heavy rough every week. It's good for a change.

Q. It's a little bit off and everything, but do you find yourself with any anticipation over the Ryder Cup in Ireland and what kind of atmosphere do you think that's going to be, and how do you like that course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's in Ireland, isn't it? Yeah, that's the most asked question. Yes, there's a lot of anticipation. In Ireland, it's a very big deal in Ireland. As I try to explain to people, it's not a golfing public that are interested in the Ryder Cup in Ireland; it's a nation that's interested in the Ryder Cup.

So it is going to be a big deal. The hype around it is massive already at home. You know, I predict it's going to be, as all Ryder Cups in the last number of years, it's going to be the biggest one to date. It's going to be a big, spectacular certainly everybody in Ireland is behind it, and that's obviously very important for having a great event and I think both teams are going to be very strong. It looks like it could be a very tight match. So I would think it's going to be a Ryder Cup to be remembered.

Q. How often have you played that course and what's your opinion?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I grew up half an hour away from it, so since it's been opened, they have given me the courtesy of the course to go down there and practice and play when I like. So I've played it a lot as an amateur, a little bit as a pro. I've obviously played tournaments there, as well.

Q. Is it going to be a good match play course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's the perfect Ryder Cup golf course. It's like they built it for the Ryder Cup. It's got so much treachery on it, it's unbelievable. It's a disaster waiting on so many holes. There's going to be a lot of mayhem. (Laughter). Perfect for a Ryder Cup.

Q. Inside or outside the ropes?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I'm only considering well, as I say, I think the crowds are going to be very good and very fair in terms of, you know, a lot of people, a lot of Irish people, as much as half the U.S. claim to have half the Irish heritage that, means nearly everybody in Ireland has a relative who is living or working or born in the U.S. So you know, there's a lot of affinity with the U.S. So I think the crowds will be I think they will be loud and vocal, but I hope very fair in terms of their support.

Q. Since you've been in town here, have you visited any of the Irish type establishments?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't, actually. No, I haven't got to them as of yet.

Q. Is that something that's lost its novelty a long time ago?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, going down to an Irish pub generally if I go to an Irish pub, if I'm out on Tour with my caddie, I will always go down to the local Irish pub usually to watch a soccer game or something like that, some sport. But when I'm traveling with my wife and son and things like that, probably not the places to be heading into.

Q. Teach them snooker.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. He plays snooker on my table at home.

Q. Can you talk about how you figure out your schedule playing on both sides of the Atlantic and just kind of in general, the pros and cons of some of The European Tour guys who try to keep memberships on both tours.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, the difficulty is there's so many good events throughout the world all year long, trying not to overplay is the difficulty, it really is. It's a tough task not to play too many events.

You know, a player, when it comes down to it, he's got to pick what schedule suits him, what tournaments he plays best and where he plays best. I tend to think of my schedule maybe as end up with maybe 16, 17 events here, maybe 18 events which is pretty similar in Europe when you take off the seven double counting events. So it may be 12 here with the seven, and then another 12 in Europe with the seven, and that would be 24 events in total. And you throw in maybe six events elsewhere around the world type thing, maybe the likes of coming back here to California for Tiger's event and things like that. Try to keep it to 30 events. I suppose in an ideal world, you'd probably play less. It's hard not to play every week. It's hard not to go to Hawaii in December and things like that. So many good events, it's hard to turn them all down.

Q. Coming back here and defending, do you find there's a different emotional feel?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's a lot of expectations with defending. Definitely the easiest way to win an event is without a doubt to be playing well and to be under the radar. You go defend a tournament, you're never under the radar and it does put a lot more expectations and a lot more pressure on you. It doesn't happen too often, so you're not as familiar with it.

It's definitely makes it a little the only thing I can as good as last year is win again this year. That's only just equal to last year. It's a tough week to go with, but it's still a nice problem to have, a very nice problem to have.

Q. So do you have an opinion on the move of THE PLAYERS Championship to May? How do you think that tournament will be in that month?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think it's a logical move to move it to May, without a doubt. I think it's better for the schedule to have it in there. Unfortunately for me, I've played well with it when it was in end of March. I've played well there. From a personal point of view, my form seems to be good there when it was held before and I would like to keep it there. Saying that, a World Golf Championships event is going to take over that date, Doral is going to take over. So if I play well at that time of the year, it's still a good place to play well.

So it's a good, positive move to move it into May.

DAVE SENKO: Thank you, Padraig.

End of FastScripts.

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