September 25, 2002
SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND
GORDON SIMPSON: Padraig, welcome to The De Vere Belfry. This time, and three years ago in Brookline, you were the rookie, and I came out strongly. Have you reached the status where a lot more is expected of you this time around.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously there is more expected of me, that's for sure. I can't do any more than what I can do. I'm not trying to play above myself or anything like that. But, yes, there is certain expectations, and to some extent I have to play those expectations down, and just do my own thing.
GORDON SIMPSON: How much did you enjoy that experience?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was an experience. "Enjoy" doesn't necessarily go with it. You know, I've described it before, I suppose, it's like going on a roller coaster. When you're actually on the roller coaster it's not much fun, but when you get off you think it's fun. That's the same with the Ryder Cup. The longer the period from when you play -- the following week I would never want to play a Ryder Cup. But three months later I thought I liked the Ryder Cup and wanted to play another one. You know when you play the Ryder Cup that there's probably nothing as intense or really as exciting for somebody like me to do. I'd have to take up some weird sport in order to get that sort of adrenalin rush as you get here. It's great to that extent, but it's not enjoyable. Enjoyable is going to the movies.
Q. Can you talk about the kind of nerves you felt at Brookline, playing there for the first time?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was similar to the nerves that I felt maybe playing my first Walker Cup in '91. When you go to hit your first shot, you can't see the ball, basically as you're standing over it. You have to say "I've got to hit it." And you're standing over it and it's all gone blurred, really. The funny thing with the Ryder Cup is a certain amount of pressure stays the whole week, even the practice rounds. Whereas normally that comes and goes in tournaments, you only feel pressure on the last nine holes. But at the Ryder Cup it's there all week. That's why it's so intense. It really is. There's a certain pause about the whole week.
Q. The way you played on the Sunday, and you beat Mark O'Meara in the singles, is that the best you've played?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You couldn't describe it as the best I've played. It was probably the whole week was as good as I've ever been mentally before and since. I was so focused on the Sunday. I described to people afterwards, I never saw a leaderboard, I -- I saw one person the whole day. I never saw one of my own teammates. I saw Mark James on the 16th, but besides that, I'm told afterwards that guys came up to me and were egging me on, trying to help me -- not trying to help me, but trying to encourage me. I didn't hear anything. I didn't see anything; I was just so focused on my game. And when I won the match it was very emotional when I won it, because I'd never allowed myself to get ahead of myself and think I was going to win this match. I was just playing in the present. When I won, all the emotions of winning came at that one moment. So it was as good mentally as I could ever be. And I wish I could be every time I teed it up. As regards to how I played, I played better some days when I've been out with a friendly fourball, you can be sure of it.
Q. Fast forward to this week; how has the preparation gone?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Preparation -- Ryder Cup is the worst event in the world for preparation. It's not your own time, because you're in a team. There's lots to do. You hope to come into the Ryder Cup with everything ready to go and you have to do no practice, no nothing; you're just relaxing. Unfortunately I feel like I do need to do some practice. So my preparation is poor I would say.
Q. How are the injuries and your mental frame facing into the matches?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The injuries are fine. Mental frame, as I say, I possibly would like my preparation to be a little bit better. But so be it. I should be ready when it starts on Thursday, that's for sure. As I said, I would like to have been ready on Monday.
Q. Without telling us what the situation actually is going to be, can you give us an idea of how the foursomes, fourball partnerships are going to line up?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Give Sam an idea. No, if you want an idea, I suppose you just go and watch the matches and make something from that. I'm not going to -- there's some pairings that you can see when you're out there that are quite obvious and maybe a few that are a little bit odd and if you look at the pairings over the three days you'll probably figure out who's going to play with who or you'd have a good stab at it.
Q. You described the afternoon with O'Meara and how focused you were. Have you ever tried to get back to that state of focusing since?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I've described it before, and I have a good idea how I would go about that, but you get distracted when you're working on other things. So, no, I've tried, but not committed, probably.
Q. As far as preparation goes, was it a disappointment last week not to do on your own course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I shot 13 under par, normally that's okay. No, it wasn't a disappointment. As I say, if you shoot 13 under par, it can come down to simple things. There's so many little things. It's not like I was overpowered or struggling with my game. My game wasn't perfect, that's for sure. I had been working on something here with Bob and obviously I'm trying to find time to do that. So I'm not disappointed with last week, it was an average week.
Q. What were the emotions like immediately after the matches were over at Brookline?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I've got to say I was on the greatest high probably -- certainly of my golfing life when I won that match against Mark. All the emotions came right at that moment, because obviously I hadn't allowed myself to think about winning. And I did an interview that never made any sense, and I didn't say -- I probably didn't say anything, actually, in the interview. And within five minutes I ran down the 18th fairway, I probably didn't run. I probably glided down the fairway to the 17th and sat down. And as I sat right down, not within 30 seconds of that did Justin Leonard hole that putt and it was taken away, I went from the biggest high to the biggest low of my golfing career, either side of it.
Q. What was your result when you saw the American reaction to Justin holing that putt?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I assumed that we'd lost the match. I totally had forgotten that there was still hope. It was when he holed that putt, it was over. So -- well, I wasn't even involved, but everybody else assumed the same as I did, that that was it. So that's the way I thought about it. Certainly for a good five minutes -- three or four minutes when somebody reminded me that Jose still had a putt to win.
Q. Were there ill feelings towards the players?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Not really. Obviously there was some stuff afterwards, but you've got to remember that coming into that Ryder Cup the U.S. team were being berated for maybe not being interested in the Ryder Cup, maybe not wanting as much as they should have, in the spirit of it. There was money issues and things like that. They showed they wanted to win that match there and then. They got a bit excited, they got over the top, but sometimes it's nice to see they get excited about beating us.
Q. I get the impression of this Ryder Cup on and the previous one, you came in as a rookie and now you're coming in as one of Sam's rocks and a lot of expectations. Looks as if it's two different Ryder Cups to you. Which do you perhaps prefer?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's easier as a rookie. Obviously as a rookie I suppose you're keeping your head down and just trying to do -- go about your business. When there's expectations, you actually have to try, in your own head, get away from those and actually -- you have to make an effort to concentrate on your own game and not to -- not let it go to your head, really, just play your own game. As a rookie, that's what you're doing, because I suppose you're not really -- you're under a different sort of pressure. This pressure you're trying to play it down, just so you can perform to your best of your abilities and not try and, as I say, go out there to overperform.
Q. And this time around does it mean you offer advice?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would talk to them, especially if they asked me. I have talked to one or two of them about things. But I'm not going to jump in there. I'm probably not that sort. There's other guys more experienced on the team, who you can get more advice off of. Some of the guys I am friendly with I have talked to about being a rookie and what they need to do, really, during the week.
Q. There are situations in match play when you know in your heart of hearts that your opponent is a better player than you are.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You make them prove it, that's all you do, nothing else. He may be better, but he has to prove it on the day.
Q. Two or three Americans have expressed regret about having to play the 10th off the back tee. What has Sam said to your team about that and what's your reaction to it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I haven't really got into that. Just talk about the roof being heavy and things like that. But at the end of the day, especially in a match it's the same for both sides. So whether they push it forward, it doesn't make too much odds to me at all. If it was forward it would be an easier shot, but then you'd have guys hitting irons on to the green. You want guys hitting irons on a par-4? I don't know. If that happens, maybe it will happen one day, I really don't -- it's the same for both sides, so I'm not too stressed about where they put the tee box, to be honest.
Q. Was there any money that changed hands today in your practice round?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It did. Yeah, we had a great match actually today. Very exciting match, I think. If you play with Jesper Parnevik, there's so many bets going on. We won. We won enough to win one match, one unit, that's it.
Q. How much money?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You couldn't speak of money, that wouldn't be proper.
Q. Just watching you there with Bob and the little drill you're doing, the left foot being placed --?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah.
Q. What are you looking to get -- what's that designed to cure or to aid?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's just something that in my swing, when I came into this week, I would have said everything was starting to downswing together. I want my downswing to start with my legs first. So it's just a bad habit that probably I've gotten into the last eight weeks, because of the twist of the ankle. I have to re -- I have to relearn it, let's say, just to get it working again.
Q. Will that be done -- are you happy with the progress you've made?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Who knows how quick -- I'm making progress. Obviously I'd be happier if I was doing it now, hitting a few more shots and confirming it, but we're getting there.
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