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July 4, 2006

Padraig Harrington


STEVEN FRANKLIN: Padraig, you have had a busy but productive few months, so you must come in here in good mood.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I am in a good mood I suppose. My golf, I suppose I've achieved what I've needed to achieve in the last couple of weeks, certainly. Since I came from the slow start at the British Masters through to now more consistently, and I am near to the point I needed to get into the Ryder Cup which was obviously very strong on my mind at that stage.

I said all along, at the start of the year I was playing very well, or swinging very well, but not been getting just reward for that. Certainly over the last couple of weeks, I've scored a lot better and been right in there with a good chance. So I suppose now it's back to focusing on the sole job of winning tournaments.

STEVEN FRANKLIN: Ian Woosnam has just been in here and he said how happy he is with the way the team is shaping up, and obviously you can concur with that from a personal point of view. Do you feel you can relax a bit now?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, I think I've done -- I'm not saying that the figure I'm on will be the mark. But I think certainly the point I'm at, I've stumbled across the line whatever that is going to be. I'm quite confident I'm going to make the team from where I'm at, yes.

As regards the team, I never wanted to be left in the position of having to be picked. I think unfortunately there's going to be maybe four or five good players looking for those two spots. That means some good players are going to be disappointed, and I didn't want to be in that group because you don't know how it's going to go at the end of the day.

Q. Your last win was 12 months ago, but you are obviously doing a lot of things right. What does it take to cross that line?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: A number of things. Like last year, I had two wins in the States and both of them were fortunate where you know, I got a little bit of help from the opposition. You know, I think it was more likely, you know, in France, one shot behind with three holes to play, with more disaster likely to happen there than maybe Jim Furyk bogeying two of the last three holes against me in Westchester or Vijay misses that 2-footer. So you do need things to go your way sometimes to win tournaments. This time, you know, or otherwise, I could maybe prior to last year or the U.S. Open, taken charge of things. At this stage, you get a few breaks down the stretch or you do something well yourself.

But the main thing is to keep getting into those positions because if you're continually in those positions, you'll either do something right, or somebody else will let you in at times. And that's all you can do is get there. So quite happy with my form the last couple of weeks. If I can keep doing that, I'm sure I'll win an event or two.

Q. Were you feeling pressure after --

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I certainly felt that I was under pressure because I just kept coming close to making things easy for myself by not doing it. The Ryder Cup, it's very difficult to make that team in small increments. The last thing you want to do is have to go into the BMW (International) having to win 70,000 points, and that's all I was doing every week was getting in around those positions and finishing 11th at the British Masters and 11th at the Irish Open. While they were all nice finishes and all added up in terms of points, they just weren't big steps.

While last week, in terms of -- it's not much different in terms of performance than say finishing 7th at Wentworth or 11th at the Irish Open, but in terms of points, it was miles apart, and you do need to win checks like last week in order to get into the Ryder Cup. It's possible to do it in small amounts, but it's very painful if you want to do it in a big step.

Okay, it was very close, John played great on the last three holes on a tough golf course, but Michael handed me an extra, I suppose if he birdied the last, an extra 250,000 Ryder Cup points. So often other guys help you out in these things. Last week was a little bit of a break for me and jumped me up there right to the top of the points list.

Q. And you feel now that that is shelved and you can get on with your season?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It wasn't about -- I like having motivation like that, I've got to say. It's always good to have clear goals in front of you, clear targets. It's nice when you have something like that to focus on or you know, you're chasing. It's always good when you're chasing something and it's something that's quite immediate in front of you.

So, yeah, it's good that I'm finished. I'm happy about that. But I certainly need to find something to reapply myself. That's obviously there, but I mean in terms of obviously trying it win or I think I'm third on the Order of Merit now, a little bit behind David. It's good to have things still staring in front of you that can keep you motivated, and the wins will help you get there, but it's nice to be chasing something else if you know what I mean.

Q. How can you simplify what happened the last two weeks? Was it simply putting?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I struggled very much so at the start of the year with my putting. Now the last couple of weeks a couple of putts have gone in each day, which it adds up at the end of the week. It helps you play better. You know, you make a couple of more birdies, you hole a couple more putts and you think you're swinging the golf club better. All of those things do add up.

And you do go through periods in the year where you can't hole putts and periods where you can hole putts. I would say that's a lot to do with it. It's a huge amount to do with a good mental approach, full-stop on the golf course. As I said, I swung the golf club the best for the first, certainly the first couple of months of the year; I really hit the ball as well as I've ever hit the ball. I wouldn't say last week I hit it anywhere near as well as that as I had been at start of the year, but scoring better and I'm approaching the game a little bit better.

Mentally I'm better on the golf course than I was at start of the year. It all adds up. Like last week is a good week for me in terms of proving that if you do a lot of things right, by the end of the week, all of a sudden I was in with a chance to win the tournament. The first day last week, I was having a great time at the golf course, nice, relaxed, smiling away, because you know, I couldn't see any chance in the world I could win this tournament. And it was only maybe going through the back nine in the last day that I did have a chance of winning the tournament. It's amazing, doing the right things, how I kind of wore that tournament down last week, to be honest, and eventually I got in contention.

Q. After your comments last week I know two men that backed you?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's true, I always have a great reputation for doing well when I don't confident, when I'm kind of in that sort of -- when I'm not very confident about things. But usually it's when I'm on the golf course, I'm confident on the golf course that I struggle a lot.

Q. What about this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Last week, last year, definitely struggled on the golf course definitely a little too overconfident. I took on far too many shots on a golf course that does have some treacherous shots. So I'd be interested, getting a practice round today and playing the Pro-Am tomorrow and see how I feel about the golf course. Hopefully I'll take -- have a little bit more patience on it maybe or treat it a little bit different than last year, maybe a little bit more conservative than my strategy this week. Hopefully I'll liken it -- I'm not really sure -- last year, I missed the cut last year. I'm not quite sure how the golf course is going to play. So I'm kind of in between whether I -- who knows, really, just not sure.

Q. Ian said he would like to play the Americans tomorrow. What do you think?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You would have to say that as a captain --

Q. So is his confidence misplaced?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: But that's his job as captain, to say things like that, to be confident. It would be a foolish captain who stands here who says he is not happy with his players or something like that. He's doing the right thing.

Q. He was saying it because of the players on the US Team with no experience playing in Europe?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: And all very good players. I think we've used inexperience in our past to get the best out of players. So working on the way we've done it, they are going to come into this event having lost two Ryder Cups, they have got a lot of young, fresh faces in the team that will be very keen to perform. They will come out here wanting it.

So, yes, they might have a few different faces. These guys are looking at -- yes, I can see where you're coming from. They mightn't be household names to you here. You might see them as -- I've played in the States. These are their new up-and-coming players. These are the better players. They mightn't have broken through in terms of majors and they mightn't have broken through on a world stage, but they have been -- there's been a lot said in the States that they have not been producing a new, young crop of players. But have a look at their team, and they are. These are the young guys coming up.

I know I played with Zach Johnson when he won the BellSouth last year and is one of their more consistent, better performers. Lucas Glover, you know, fine, fine player. J.J. Henry has been turning out. I don't know a couple of the other guys, but those three guys I do know and indeed they are young and up-and-coming players. Maybe this might be their first Ryder Cup at the moment, but they will have many more to come.

Q. Do you talk to them about The Ryder Cup?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I wouldn't have any reason to -- I know them as players and they are better young players. That's why they are making the team. Maybe this is the time for the changing of the old guard.

I think if we were more familiar with them, you know, it wouldn't be such a surprise. But these are the guys that are coming through and as I said, certainly in the States there's been a lot reported and when I've been every there, they have tried to figure out where the next players are coming from. Well, you have to look there and that's where they are.

Q. The reason we are not familiar with them is because they do not have passports?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, if you live in the States, you don't need a passport to go to the Caribbean. You don't need a passport to go to Canada. You don't need a passport to go to Mexico. You can get a lot of places and go on a lot of holidays and visit a lot of nice places without a passport. In general, they don't need a passport.

As regards these players, I have no ideas whether they do or they don't have one.

Q. But they have never been in Europe?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: They are going to look forward to an incredible experience coming to Ireland (laughter) and choosing a great country to come to Europe first.

Q. Ian Woosnam said he would be talking to Paul McGinley. Will you be talking to him?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Not in the last -- well, I spoke with him today actually. I doubt anything in particular, not about the Ryder Cup, I haven't discussed it with him.

You know, Paul is long enough in the tooth to know exactly what he needs to do. I think it's only a matter of time. I believe Paul is going to make the team without a shadow of a doubt. I think he's making it hard on himself, as I did, but I think he will turn the corner a bit like what Ian was saying and he'll go out there and have a good week and everybody will say, well, what was all the fuss about.

Yeah, I definitely see Paul doing it, no problem, and it will turn out like that; oh, why was all the worry, why were we all talking sort of thing. But Ian he has obviously gone through a period where he's making it difficult.

Q. Which course would you prefer to be playing this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's no shadow of a doubt playing a more mature, old course. We always, always look to older golf courses. The more maturity you have in a golf course, everything about it is better.

As regards this golf course, it's a fine layout and will be enjoyed by all -- the weather, it does need the weather. It's exposed to the weather here on this side of the river. So if we get a good week, everybody will have a great time. If we get a windy, wet week, it's going to be a bit like the Irish Open. It does get the weather here.

So you're leaving yourself a little bit open on this golf course. If I were to come down for a game of golf which I occasionally do, it's the more lush, the more manicured. Everything about the old golf course is kind of beautiful, where this one is a much harsher test of golf. I played it a couple of times and I did choose to play in bad weather, and it's a tough golf course when it's windy out there and the ball isn't going 240 off the tee, you know about it out there.

Q. In terms of winning, do you prefer this course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I've got close on the other golf course, so I would think that the other golf course suits my game. This course, I don't know it well enough to tell you that. If I win this week, maybe this is the one I should be playing on, but certainly, the other golf course, there's very few golf courses that are as sort of beautiful to the eye as the old course at The K Club.

But then again, we're not playing that one this week; we're playing this one. If it gets the weather, I think this is a fine layout, but it does need that; it does need good weather, as I say, because the wind does whip across on a windy day.

Q. Is fatigue a factor this week?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, definitely, fatigue is a factor. There is a certain element of I was trying to qualify for the Ryder Cup and a certain element of I've done that, now I've got to regroup. That's a difficult thing to do at the start is to refocus. It would be very easy for me to say, well, I qualified there last week. It was the genuine goal to sort of start but this is a very big tournament in its own right and I wants to keep going, keep motivating for this week, and I will, but I do need a week off, that's for sure.

Q. Have you played at Hoylake?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played in '94 and British Amateur in '95.

Q. People have slammed Hoylake and say that it has no right to host The Open. What is your view of it?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I can't see why you would -- the golf course. Like all things, golf courses, has its intricacies. Surprised that they would -- everybody, you can take a links golf course and what some people love, what some people despise when it comes to links and you only have to look at the original and best golf course in the world being St. Andrews. You know, the designer that designed it, he probably wouldn't get work again. It's always interesting, a links golf course only really shows it's true character when it's played in tournaments. There's no point in turning out walking around or having a look at it. You'll only be able to tell after we've played the Open there what sort of course it is and how much of a test.

But from what I know of it, it's a fine test, the wind whips across it. One thing you'll note about this Open Championship, and very few Open Championships ever get like this, they will have fast greens, because they are flat. Normally you go to an Open Championship, they have to keep the greens pretty slow for the wind.

But the greens here are so flat and the wind whips across them quite a bit, and actually my memory of when I played there is very get them very quick because the ball won't roll away because of the fact that they are ever so flat. I think that would give -- you would have a bit of an advantage for some of the U.S. players who tend not to putt well on the slower greens. This time around, they should be very quick.

Q. Back to the courses here. What do you think the Palmer Course will be like as a Matchplay course?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it's a better match-play course than a stroke-play course. Holes like the 17th hole are far more suited to match-play, where it's quite punishing. If you hit a ball a yard left of the fairway, expect you've hit it out-of-bounds. It's okay in match play, it's only one hole. In stroke-play, it is a little bit severe.

I a all of the water on the golf course adds to that sort of intimidation factor, which is great in match play, it makes it exciting. It means that a player will be out of a hole, but the other guy still under pressure because he's got to get through the water there and the trouble there. I think it's actually the ultimate Ryder Cup venue in terms of creating some excitement and atmosphere.

You know, obviously I don't think we've taken any advantage by playing on it against the U.S. Team. I think it will suit everybody just as much because it is a stadium golf course. It is very familiar to the sort of golf we play week-in, week-out. But you couldn't -- it is a great Ryder Cup venue. I think over the 10, 15 years that its been open, it's got better and better in terms of what you would see, a Ryder Cup venue or match-play golf course.

So the way the water comes into play, some holes that needed to be lengthened have been lengthened and it really is, the venue couldn't be better, with everything that's there.

STEVEN FRANKLIN: Thank you very much, Padraig. Good luck.

End of FastScripts.

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