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July 18, 2006

Padraig Harrington


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Paddy, thank you for coming across on this beautiful morning. You've had a pretty good streak of form recently. Is that going to carry on for The Open Championship?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: If I knew that I'd be in with the bookies. I hope so. I felt I've been playing all year, but not quite getting the results. And I've kind of turned that around maybe since May and certainly been scoring a little bit better, holing a few more putts, and that's resulted in a few more tournaments, a few more good finishes.

Q. What do you make of the course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I came and played last week on Thursday. I suppose I kept I played this course in '93, and in the British Amateur, I had some ideas. But I kept an open mind. And when I turned up on Thursday, it really is it just turned fast at that stage, and it's only getting faster. And it's kind of what you want and expect for an Open Championship, very fast, bouncing golf course.

It's difficult selecting clubs off the tee, probably the most complicated golf course you'd ever playoff the tee. Any tee you can hit three or four different clubs off the tee, and if the wind changes even the slightest bit, it all changes again. So it certainly requires a lot of thinking, and that would be good for the tournament.

You'll see people in the same group playing the hole vastly different, one guy trying to drive to the hole and another laying up with a wedge or 9 iron. It will lead to a lot of variety, a lot of decision making, which obviously adds to the interest in the golf.

Q. What's the mood in the locker room? Are you all excited at playing this kind of golf, or are some of them kind of wary?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't been in the locker room, so I can't tell you what's in there.

I think most of the players are I think they're interested, they're intrigued by it, rather than anything else. It is vastly different than what we're used to. This is not, you know when I played as an amateur, you'd get this all the time. But once you're a pro, you get conditions softened up to parkland golf, and everything being fair and orderly and nice and all those sort of things, and that's not links golf. Links golf was never meant to be like that; it's meant to throw a few curve balls at you, to knock you off balance when you're out there. It's really more of a mental test than anything else, when you're at a links golf course in these type of conditions.

And looks like it's going to be that this week. You're going to play hit good golf shots, they're going to take bad bounces into bunkers, you're going to hit as good a shot as you can in some greens and it won't stay on the greens, but also you'll get some good bounces and there's a big mixture of things happening on the golf course. And I think the original game was never designed to be a fair game, it was designed to be a test of everything. And links golf definitely tests your mental strength.

Q. Can you see the course record being broken or even equaled? If it's equaled, can it be broken?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: What would that course be?

Q. The Open record.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: What is The Open record?

Q. 63.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 63. It's par 72. It would be easier if it was a par 70. Guys shooting 10 under par, St. Andrews would be a better chance if anybody is going to shoot better than 63. This is not it may be in terms of making a few extra birdies, because there's four par 5s, it may be an easier challenge to that extent, but actually if they call it a par 70, it would be tough to shoot 62.

To be honest, it's totally up to The R&A. If they decide they want us to shoot low scores and put the pins in accessible positions, maybe we will shoot low scores. But if they see the scoring going low, and they hide the pins, they start putting them in the front left, front right, a lot of these greens where there's traps, you realistically can't fire at those pins, then no, it wouldn't happen. It's not really in the players' hands, it's more in The R&A and what they decide to do, how much water they decide to put on the greens or how much they let them dry up. Probably better ask one of the officials rather than me.

Q. There's been a while since there's been a British or Irish winner at the Open Championship.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The only Irish winner was at Hoylake. That's okay for me, Fred Daly in '57.

Q. The pressure is in the expectations. How much a factor do you think that is behind there not having been a home winner?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. By home you mean a European major, is it?

Q. A British or Irish winner.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: They don't hold The Open in Ireland, or at least the part I come from. There is a lot of pressure, yes, without a doubt. I think more pressure because of the fact that this is the one I grew up watching on TV. It's the one I'm familiar with. It's the one as a kid I would have dreamed of winning. The three majors in the States are far away; when you're a kid they're not as tangible as The Open. You sit and watch it for four days, the BBC covers it all day, every day; it's great viewing.

I think that's the great thing about The Open is you can nearly watch it for 12 hours a day or something like that. And as you're growing up, yes, it does add it adds to the mystique about the event, that it's every year you tune in. It always seems it seems always like this sort of weather. Everything about the event just builds it up. So when you do come and play as a player, it does add something special to it, without a doubt. It does make it very as I said, it is the only major in Europe, so it does mean a lot to anybody on the European Tour, as well.

Q. There's been some critical sentiment that maybe the game has outgrown this golf course a little bit. Do you think that's the case?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I think this golf course is going to sort us out this week, rather than the other way around.

I played here in '93 in the Men's Amateur Internationals, and I can remember guys driving the second hole. I don't see anybody taking a 3 wood out or driving it over the green at the moment. Back then they were able to drive the green in '93.

Links golf, there hasn't been a huge change, because the ball, it's not about launching up in the air, it's more about hitting the right trajectory and right spin to get it out there with firm and fast fairways. This golf course will play the exact same as it would play in 1990 or so, because I'm hitting it at times out there I'm hitting my 1 iron further than I'd hit a driver out there, if I get the right flight.

I think this golf course actually curtails any sort of technology advantages. There's one or two times you can hit one up over a bunker, but in general this course would be well able to handle it, and probably, I'm sure there would be a few people who would be beaten up by it, with the firmness around the greens, trying to play those shots. And the bunkers are all penalties.

So I definitely think this is going to be a good test. It will definitely be a good test for technology. I think it would be a winner on that. I'd rather be short and straight this week than a boomer, I'd say.

Q. To what extent are you able to handle that in your previous attempts at the Championship, and in that case how much a part does luck play in this championship?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As regards the look, is it luck or is it just mental testing? Yes, you will get good, bad bounces. And how you deal with those bounces is going to deal with how you deal with the tournament, more so than the actual bounces, themselves, it's your reaction to them. Links golf draws up those things, when you hit a perfect tee shot and you get a sandy divot or a bad bounce to a bunker or you get a good bounce. That's the test here; it's definitely more of a mental test. You can't prepare for everything that's going to happen here on this golf course.

So, yes, luck comes into it, but both good and bad luck and really how you adjust to it, rather than anything else. It's not that the winner it's not that the winner is going to get lucky, the winner is going to react to his bad breaks probably better than other people.

Q. How much of a hindrance have you found it yourself in your nine previous attempts. You've tied 5th twice.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: What a hindrance?

Q. The unpredictability of it.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think that suits me, obviously. I think that's where I would hope to gain on the other players would be on the ability to handle some bad breaks and to adjust. I normally keep it very level temperament on the golf course; I don't get too many highs and lows. So I would look to that as being one of my advantages this week, to try go out and try to play to that rather than I've been brought up with links golf and I have seen it happen before, so I can certainly have the experiences of dealing with some bad breaks and some good breaks out there.

Q. Taking into consideration what you just said about the course and the conditions this week, do you think the American players especially will have less of a chance this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think I think when you're dealing with the experienced U.S. players, I don't think that's the case. I think there will be a few guys here who haven't played links over the years, and they will find that troublesome. But you go to St. Georges, and I think any U.S. player coming across here is well capable of playing the game. And if they I don't think necessarily you can say it won't be a non player won't adjust to it, because they aren't in the mental frame of mind, but I don't think you can brand a whole group of players. It's not the ability to play the shots, it's more the ability to react to good and bad bounces and things like that, and that's more to do with the personality than anything else. Yeah, I believe that any of the experienced U.S. players will have no problem with it.

Q. It's only about a month out from the determination of who the U.S. Ryder Cup team members will be and the composition ought to be very different than it's been in the past. From a European standpoint, how does that look, if you're facing a lot of guys who don't have that experience?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I obviously know all the guys on their team. It doesn't apply to me. I'm playing over there and I know these guys. One of the things with the U.S. media and things, they have been crying out for a while for where are the new, young, up and coming players, but they're here now. And all of a sudden they're saying, well, what about the experienced players? You can't have both. These are the new, young players. These are the guys showing the form and that's why they're in the team.

As I said, you're going to have a changing of the guard and that's what the media have been looking for that for a while, and now they've got it. I've played with a few of those players. They can all play this game, they're all good. Just because they might not be household names over here at times, they're the big stars coming up. In a few years' time, if not this Ryder Cup, they'll be heralded as that.

Q. What are your earliest memories of watching this on television? Did you sit down for 12 hours without hardly moving?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. Yeah, definitely for four days. You know, it's nearly it's nearly a bit like an Irish Open, where you kind of always remember it being sunny and sort of the cameras panning out to people eating ice cream cones and things like that. It's kind of like a and it does have that sort of a feel, like a holiday event. It always seems to have that sunny weather. Since I've played it, it seems like a few rainy ones.

But golfing wise, it's a great feat of golf, because they show a great variety of players, not just household names. You always have some qualifier in the first round in the tournament. Every Open Championship some guy qualifies and he goes out there and he's leading. And it adds to the excitement of all this.

And at the end of the week, certainly the ones you look back on, it's the Seves winning and things like that, yeah, it's it's the one you kind of, every golfer could sit down and watch it. It's a big deal. Like The Masters is a big deal; you watch it in the evening times. The Open is high season in the summer.

Q. Do you know what was the first one you watched?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it was probably first one was probably certainly Seve's Opens are the ones that stick out the most, Lytham, when he chipped through the bunker at Lytham. I got a chip here last week, just like Seve, I'll chip and run around the bunker. So, yeah, I think that would be the earliest one for me.

Q. You said about a variety of ways to play holes. Are we going to see players attack everything?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I nearly should tune in and watch golf myself, because I want to see how other guys are going to adapt to this. I think all sorts of players can play this golf course. I played it last week in a slightly different wind, and it was definitely a more defensive course in that wind, because a lot of the sort of 290 carries were slightly into the wind, so you kind of had to lay up. Yesterday you could carry a lot of those. That meant you had guys yesterday who would carry over.

Bear in mind, if you hit in the rough, you're struggling to get on the green. You'll have guys who are traditionally shortish hitters but will hit it dead straight and get a lot of run, so it will end up running past all the troubles with the drivers. Then other guys laying up, being very defensive. You can try and hit it short and lay up short. Most guys you have those options.

I wonder can a guy get away with booming over the bunkers all week and hitting it in the rough. I wonder with a guy who hits it dead straight, he might do that for three rounds, and then all of a sudden hit three or four bunkers on Sunday, and like I said, they're the penalty. And it's questionable if the guy lays up short of the bunkers, whether he's going to start missing greens because they are so firm and fast and drop shots that way.

So those are three ways of playing the golf course, and who knows which one is going to come out on top at the end of the week.

Q. Which count were you in?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I'd certainly think I'd either lay up or hit over, rather than poke it down between them. I will endeavor either to go past them or go short of them. That would definitely be me. Either try and carry the trouble or lay up.

Q. Did you ever meet Fred Daly?


Q. Did his win in '47 sort of lay in your consciousness?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I'm reminded he's the only major winner. But Harry Bradshaw would have been more of a familiar name, because obviously Harry is obviously playing out of Portmarnock, which is a different part of the country. Just wasn't the folklore where I was at.

Q. Why, given the number of links courses, and given playing conditions like this, and Christy O'Connor down the years, why hasn't an Irishman won this Open Championship? It's open ground.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's not easy (laughter). It's a difficult event. I don't honestly think that it comes down to there's only one of them every year, and where we've had good players and well capable players who have had a chance to win it, it's just not that predictable. And, yeah, I think over those years, since 1947, we should have thrown up a couple of winners, but we can't win the Irish Open, either, for 20 some years. It's just not easy. But there is a good point about that. The longer it goes on, the more likely it's going to break (laughter).

Q. This week perhaps?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The longer goes on, the odds are moving in our favor.

Q. Is this the ideal place?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think this is an ideal place compared to any other links golf course. If I was playing St. Andrews, Muirfield, Royal St. Georges, I'd feel the same way as I do about this golf course.

When I teed up here last Thursday and played the first couple of holes it just scared the life out of me. But the more I play it the more I kind of my heart warms to it, I'd say. But it is difficult to get used to that.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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