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August 15, 2006

Padraig Harrington


KELLY ELBIN: Padraig Harrington, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the PGA Championship. Padraig making his eighth PGA Championship appearance this week.

Padraig, your thoughts on the golf course and what you've seen so far this week.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think it's very straightforward. It's a bit like Winged Foot. Hit it in the fairway, middle of the greens. The greens are quite small, also back to front. It's very traditional and just a very fair and tough golf course.

Q. First time playing yesterday, was it?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, that was the first time. It's not a golf course you need to play over and over. As I said, it's a very traditional, mature golf course that plays itself. A couple of practice rounds and you'll know your way around this golf course.

Most greens slope from back to front. Probably that's the most important thing in the practice rounds is paying attention to some of the potential pin positions for the tournament. Tee to green, the golf course is straightforward enough. A few doglegs off the tees, but besides that ...

Q. Has your frame of mind coming into the championship been interfered with by what happened?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I would suppose it has. Probably up until now, there certainly hasn't been too much talk at the championship. But when I was in the airport traveling, I heard the news. Normally you'd be focused on what you're doing, I suppose. The last 48 hours has been strongly thinking about Darren and the kids and the whole situation.

I don't necessarily even though we've got a big tournament this week, it's not a situation that I'm trying to let it be; I'm not going to necessarily try and block it out or I'm not going to try to dwell on it, either. I'm just going to see how it goes. Obviously the situation as it's happened, it's bigger than golf. So it's not a question this week I'll be trying to block it out. It's just a question of carrying on and see how it goes.

Q. Was there a decision for you whether you should come or not?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There was a decision. Obviously Darren made it quite clear that the players should go and play. It's what Heather would have wanted. That's made our decision a lot easier to be here.

Q. You said you'd donate your to cancer research. I would presume first prize is $1.2. Would you be delighted to hand it over?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'd be delighted to hand whatever over this week. Obviously not being able to attend the funeral, when you go to funerals you can't be much help anyway, but this is at least a practical way of helping. Darren has his choice of charity, and I'll donate whatever I win this week. For me, it feels like I'm doing something practical this week.

Q. You were asked about the size of the winnings. You won twice last year. Are you back to that sort of confidence and that sort of winning track where you feel you could contend?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've had a good year. I've felt good about my game all year. I've played far more golf than I played last year. I had two wins last year, and I haven't come close this year, barring the U.S. Open. I feel good going into every tournament.

I think going into this tournament this week, I'm a much better player than I was, as I said, last year. I had two wins last year. It's just a strange game. I'm kind of putting it down to I've changed a few things my game has changed a little bit coming into this year, and I feel that as things haven't gone as well as I would have wanted them to, I'm putting it down to transition more than anything else. But I feel really good about it.

I feel really good about my game, and I think I'm very confident. I've probably never been as confident or as relaxed going into a lot of tournaments this year. Maybe I need to go back to a fearful panic before a tournament; it seems to perform okay then.

Q. One more question about Darren. How much do you admire how he's played golf and handled the last, I assume, tough couple years?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think both Darren and Heather were exceptionally brave and so dignified about what they've gone through. It's been terribly hard. Heather never once complained or they haven't got down; they just struggled on. Both Darren on the golf course, and Darren and Heather off the golf course, were an example to everybody that they were getting on with it. She put up a brave struggle.

I think Darren's play on the golf course is only a reflection of Heather's attitude off the golf course; that she wanted Darren to play golf. This is a tough game, and it's exceptionally tough when there are distractions, mental distractions and stress. Obviously Darren was carrying all of that out onto the golf course, all that baggage. He handled himself extremely well, and as I said, I think the way he was was because Heather was so strong behind him.

Q. Paul McGinley at the end is only one of the European players to have withdrawn from the championship. I presume you feel sorry for him given the circumstances and with the Ryder Cup, but do you think he was right in doing what he's doing?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Paul was actually I talked to Paul on Sunday morning, and he was the first person I talked to. There was no decision on Paul's part. He was always pulling out. It wasn't even a question for him.

Paul and Ali are very close to the Clarkes and have been for many years, and they're very much intertwined as families, their children. They spend a lot of time at each other's houses. There was no question Paul wasn't going to play.

There is more important things than golf. This is a big event, the PGA and everything. Regardless of what happens this week, next week is another week. No, I think he did the right thing. You know, it's not a question of whether he did the right thing. There wasn't even a decision to be made for him. That was what he was doing, and that was it. There was no decision. That's the way it goes.

I don't think it's going to affect his chances. I think he's going to make the team, so I don't think there's going to be an issue there.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the excitement of the ruder cup in Ireland?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was down there, played the golf course on Friday. It's looking very well. I like the way they seem to be getting the golf course up for the tournament. It looks like it's going to looks like it's in great condition, too. It looks like it will be in tip top condition for the actual event.

As regards to golf, the golf course looked well. The infrastructure seems to be coming together. People seem to be getting excited about this stage. I think those who are going know they're going at this stage, ticket wise and things like that.

KELLY ELBIN: Padraig, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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