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August 30, 2006

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks as always for coming in to join us. It's a busy week for everybody, including yourself. Just give us your thoughts on the week and the Ryder Cup and your position in that and your thoughts on the tournament.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That's a lot. Which one first? (Laughing).

SCOTT CROCKETT: Give us your thoughts on the Ryder Cup. You're in a bizarre set of circumstances.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As I said to somebody, there's four things that have to happen for me, for me not to make the team. Obviously, first and foremost, if I play my golf this week, I should look after everything, so that's one thing is for me not to perform. Two is for Monty not to perform. Three is for a particular set of guys to finish first and second, and four is for Paul to finish in the top six. So a lot of things has to happen there. And if they do, if they do, it wasn't meant to be. Obviously, I wouldn't be a happy camper on Sunday evening if that's the way it went. I don't think it's going to go like that, but I'm going to concentrate and play my golf and hopefully the best way to look after this is to look after myself.

SCOTT CROCKETT: The first thing you mentioned was your own form. You have played today, just how are you feeling going into tomorrow?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I would say, I'm putting today down to jet lag. I have never seen this course play as tough with the cold and the wind. Normally this is quite a long golf course, but it plays short because we're a little bit at altitude and it's normally warm and the ball really flies here. Today with the altitude and it was cold and windy; it played very long. The rough is very heavy. They have a few new bunkers, but most of the new bunkers actually make the course slightly easier. I think there's only one of them that actually toughens it up, maybe 9 is a little bit and than the one on 15 toughens up a little bit. There's a couple on 18 that actually make it easier off the tee; if you hit it through the fairway you're in sand. And as you all know, we prefer to be in bunkers rather than heavy rough in general. The golf course, we were playing easy pins today and it was a tough golf course.

I'm actually quite happy to have an afternoon draw tomorrow afternoon because I did feel a little bit sluggish today. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon I'll get a lie in, I won't feel as sluggish and hopefully I'll be ready to go. And so it was a definite bonus to get an afternoon draw and a definite bonus as well with the weather going the way it is. I would rather play the first day in the warmest possible conditions rather than half 7.00 in the morning playing in the coldest weather.

Q. Because the course is playing more difficult than you remember it in the past, does that help you or hinder your prospects?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I've done quite well in it when it's played easy. My own game has probably changed since those days, so I probably prefer a tougher golf course now. Back maybe four or five years ago, I was a little bit more how would I put this nicely now, a bit more erratic. So this was an ideal golf course, you could hit it in the rough and still make birdies. It actually looked like a golf course where you wanted to play steady golf today but it seemed a much tougher test.

Probably at the end of the week it's still going to be 20 under par. I know the year I think I shot 26 the year that JD won, but certainly it's still going to be high teens.

Q. Talk about playing with Paul McGinley tomorrow.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We were trying to rack our brains if we ever played together. Myself and Paul believe we haven't, but we probably should ask David Garland to get the definitive answer.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Paul reckons you've never played together.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I can't remember, he's on the Tour 14 years, and I think not.

Q. Is that a help or a hindrance?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it's good. We've played a lot in the past in team events. You know, I want to play well this week rather than necessarily watching anybody else and hoping that anybody else plays badly. I would hopefully both of us play well tomorrow and bring our games along for the first two days, and that way we'll be not worrying about anybody else on the weekend.

So I think it's a nice draw, yes. I'm very happy with that.

Q. Inaudible?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've got to believe that I would never go on the first tee on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and even on a Sunday, trying to compete against my playing partner. The only time you're competing against your playing partner is the last nine holes of the tournament.

I would definitely be looking for hoping that Paul plays well, does all things well and brings me along with him, if that's the case; or if I play well and bring him along. I'm not going to go out there I'm certainly not going to go out there and be afraid of him passing me, because if he does that's fine, fair play to him. I couldn't go out there like that.

You know, if I am going to look at somebody else this week, I'm going to hope Monty plays well. That simply is, if he finishes, I don't know, Top 30 or so, is it, 47th; if he finishes 47th, basically if he finishes 47th, it's a certainty I can't be passed. Is that correct? There you go.

SCOTT CROCKETT: If Casey doesn't win, or second. Those two scenarios will knock Olazabal out. Or Casey winning, first or second.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm glad I don't go into depth on these things. (Laughter) Monty could finish second, all right.

Q. Does the course playing tougher help Paul McGinley?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, yes, definitely. Even though he finished third here last year, I wouldn't think Paul would relish the opportunity of going out on a if somebody said it's going to be a birdie fest and you've got to hole putts all week, he wouldn't be looking forward to that. He would prefer, I think he couldn't have found a better golf course with some heavy rough out there.

You know, it's going to be a golf course that will actually reward patience, steady play this week. You will need to make some birdies, but it's definitely not a golf course I didn't feel like that today; that as you often do here, that you've just got to go for everything and make as many birdies as you can.

I think it's a tougher test. Certainly in the cold this morning, the ball wasn't really flying. Maybe that was jet lag, I'm putting this down to that.

Q. What does Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson turning up at The K Club this weekend and all 12 players coming for a warmup say to you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think it was very warm, was it? It says a lot. It says that they are as I've been saying for two years now, they are keen to prove something, and the top two players turning up a month in advance proves that the whole team is keen.

Q. Did it surprise you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, it doesn't surprise me. As I said, I believe the team and both Tiger and Phil want to perform well in a Ryder Cup. You know, really, we have put it over them the last two Ryder Cups. If you think about would the whole team have traveled in '95 and played two practise rounds for the Ryder Cup, no.

So Europe actually has to think of themselves and look at this and this is how far we have pushed the Ryder Cup; that the U.S. Team feel they have to come a month in advance, play two practise rounds and have the bonding that they need. Actually, it's great. They feel they have to play to the best of their ability to win this Ryder Cup, which that's, you know, that's a compliment to Europe; that they feel like they have got to be on top form to beat us. To come over here and have practise rounds, they know that they have got to have a team; that they cannot turn up with 12 individual players and throw all the names up in the air and pull out six pairings or four pairings; that that doesn't work.

It's all complimentary to Europe that we have come a long way to push them into this. They now see this very much now as an equal match.

Q. How does it affect you living bang in the middle of all the Ryder Cup hype?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think with the Ryder Cup, the great thing about the Ryder Cup, and I've been in Ireland, is you can't get any more pressure. When I played in Boston or at Brookline, you're at saturation point. You can't feel any more tension, any more nerve or anything like that. So the fact that it's in Ireland, it can only be the same. It cannot be any more surely. When I played in the World Cup in '91 in Ireland, I couldn't see my ball on the first tee. I learned never to tee off first again. McGinley says, "Oh, you tee off." So I expect there to be a lot of pressure, but there can only be the pressure, it can old build to a certain point, and you get there every Ryder Cup, anyway, so that's a good thing.

I'm quite happy with it being in Ireland. I feel that where it's different is there's probably more focus and attention before the event, like all three the years, there's been a lot of media attention and extra media attention to what you would normally have. And even in the next two weeks, you know, there's going to be even more people, not just golfing journalists looking for interviews, but you have just general media writing stories and the social columns talking about the Ryder Cup. So it's a big deal, a big hype, and that probably will make it harder that there's a bit more stress around it and before it.

So I think during the week itself, we're quite closeted and we have to do more or less the same things every Ryder Cup. So there wasn't be any extra in that case.

Q. But do people accost you in supermarkets and talk about it?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, they do, actually, they do mention the Ryder Cup, yes. Last week I played with Tom Lehman, and people kept shouting "Bring it home, Tom" and one guy shouted to him, it had been going on all day, one guy shouted, "Go win the Cup," and I was walking the far side of Tom, so that just happens all the time. There is Ryder Cup, and yes, when I'm at home, people will ask me what do I think, who is going to be picked. That's probably the question at the moment, you know, are you going to win. It's the normal stuff. If it were not that, they would be asking, you know, if Tiger has won the last four, is he back; it's always a golf question, so it just happens to be Ryder Cup at the moment.

Q. The pressure that's on Ian Woosnam now come Sunday, how do you think he's feeling; would you like to be in his shoes?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, you know, as Tom Lehman probably proved, I think when you make a pick, your use your best judgment, but that judgment doesn't suit the opinion ever everybody else. Everybody has different opinions and Woosie at the end of the day will have to pick a team Sunday night, the best team he believes and actually not worry with what anybody else thinks. Because there's at least as the team stands at the moment, there's at least probably four people, probably more than four people, but certainly four in my head that would be in the running. Two of those are going to be disappointed.

I don't think, you know, I don't think at this stage that anybody picked or left out certainly from what I'm thinking at the moment, but we'll have to wait and see Sunday night, but it doesn't look like somebody left out can't feel that aggrieved in it's quite possible for any some guys to be left out because there is quality players that are not on the team.

I said all along, it's not a nice thing, it's probably the hardest part of being captain is having to pick two guys. Ultimately when he picks two guys, he's not really saying that he's not saying, I believe this guy's game is better than another guy. He's not actually making any judgment on the other person what. What he's doing is he feels this guy is going to fit in better during that week. It doesn't mean he's a better golfer. It just means that he suits whatever the golf course and the conditions and the format for the week rather than necessarily be a better player, which, you know, I think it's hard when you're left out, but that's the case.

Q. When you're asked to check out who do you think the two picks would be, what do you answer?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I actually don't want to get into that. Woosie is going to be getting enough grief for his two picks. I'm not going to putt out there and get grief saying somebody should be ahead of somebody else. If you do that, they think you think he's a better player, and that's not the case. As I say I have four guys in my head well, I've got three for one spot, basically, and obviously, you know, they are all equally good players and it's just a question of picking a guy who is a fit for the team. I think everybody believes one person is being picked, but again I'm not getting into the politics of that.

Q. One more question concerning the Ryder Cup hype. How important is this event for Ireland?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The event, it's a big deal in Ireland. It's so big, it's well crossed over the boundary from being a golf event. It's a sporting occasion being held in Ireland and non golfers, the general public are interested, which you know, it shows the significance in the country that people who have never picked up a golf club, never played golf are talking about it, know about it, are looking forward to it, which is great for the country. It would be a great atmosphere for anybody who does go to the Ryder Cup. You can pull into the petrol station and the guy behind the counter will be talking about the Ryder Cup. He mightn't never played golf but he'll be interested.

It's country wide and it certainly has crossed the boundary of just a golf event, which is great. That's what the Ryder Cup is meant to do. It's meant to bring the game to a greater public, a greater awareness. It's certainly doing that in Ireland and I'm sure it's doing it around the world.

Q. Without giving your two picks, who are the three who you think could be in the frame, because you're not lining yourself

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Even if I pick three or four guys, you know, there's going to be one or two guys saying, well why didn't pick me, why didn't you include me in that. I don't want to in any shape or form harm anybody's confidence, and I don't want to think that I think less of them or anything like that. Because, you know, there's eight, ten good guys out there, but there's a couple of guys with experience and I think that's who they are going to have to pull the two picks from. Really, I would believe that you would pick the guys would experience who have been there before, because it's a week that you want players to play, turn up with their games. You don't want guys maybe hot and cold. You want somebody who knows what is expected of them that way. I would definitely be pulling for an experienced player. So the two I would pick would come from players who have played before.

Q. Just changing the subject from the Ryder Cup, you have another birthday tomorrow?


Q. What would be your wish this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: What would be my wish for tomorrow? It would be nothing to do with golf. My golf, you know, that's fine, so my wishes would be outside it. So probably not in this environment. I wouldn't be wasting a wish on trying to shoot 66 tomorrow. If that happens, that's good. If I win the tournament, even better. But those things are too important.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much. Many happy returns for tomorrow.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You'll have a big present for me, will you?


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