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May 3, 2007

Padraig Harrington


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Padraig Harrington, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Wachovia Championship. Nice solid round, six birdies, no bogeys, great start to your week, and why don't you just talk about what you did well today.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I putted well, really. I holed a lot of putts, a couple putts for par especially, on my second and third hole, which obviously kept the round going. Really that's what I did. I didn't really hit the ball that well or really have that much control, so it was definitely a round of good putting.

Q. Have you been happy with the way you've played this year overall?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, very happy with my form, yeah. With my form I've been sort of well in control, you know, kind of knowing what's happening. Today wouldn't have been one of those rounds, I've got to say. But a lot of the time I've been very happy and had a good feeling from my game all the way through. So yeah, very pleased with how things have started this year and how it's building up.
It would be nice getting everything going together, holing the putts and playing well together, but no, very happy with the way the start of the year went. We have plenty of the year to go yet.

Q. Which part of your game today specifically were you unhappy with?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I took three weeks off, and I just wasn't -- my focus wasn't as sharp as it could have been. I had a pretty simple 6-iron into the last there, the 9th hole and I missed the right edge of the green because I was a bit worried of maybe hitting it left. Just wasn't as good and as sharp as I was maybe three weeks ago, before I took the break. You obviously need to take breaks, but definitely I was not as good mentally as I would have left off three weeks ago.

Q. Did you take the break then because you've got a heavy buildup now to the majors?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I took a break because I physically need it. I physically need it to make sure I'm mentally fresh. But I'm definitely a better player when I'm playing golf than I am when I take a -- when I'm coming in cold.

Q. With the course conditions, did you even come close to a bogey?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I came plenty of times close to a bogey. As I said, I holed a good putt on the 11th hole of the course, my second hole, from about ten feet for par; holed from about 20 feet, my third hole, the 12th, for par, as well; and I holed the last from eight feet for par.
So there was plenty of situations where -- anytime you get out of position out there, it's very difficult. If you miss the fairways, because you're taking shorter clubs off the tee expecting to get 30, 40 yards of roll, if you miss the fairways you're a long way back and have difficult shots into tough pin positions, tough, firm, fast greens.
It's all very well -- if you're driving it well and hitting it down the fairway and hitting around the doglegs, you're hitting short irons into the par 4s and you've got some good birdie shots, I suppose. Hit it a little bit astray and you're going to find some trouble out there, no doubt about it.

Q. Jason said he was kind of feeding off of you out there.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, obviously not. He was 3-under before I got started, I think. It's always good when you have players playing well in your group. There's no question about it, a rising tide lifts all ships. To see somebody holing putts means you feel you can do it. It's good psychologically.
I was trying to explain it to somebody, if you see somebody -- if you see a couple putts from five, six feet and you see a guy in front of you miss it right lip, it's always in your head, this putt doesn't break as much as you think it does, whereas if he knocks it in you believe what you see. It's always a help that your playing partners play well.

Q. What happens when a guy's ship is sinking?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: At that time you have to change tact and believe that it's about yourself and your own game (laughter).

Q. Don't watch?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You continually lie to yourself out there (laughter), no question about it. I always try -- I always want my playing partners to play well. I always find that you'll shoot a better score if -- it often happens you get three guys in a group that shoot low scores together and don't make bogeys. But if somebody is making some bogeys, you've got to try to find a different way of getting the job done.

Q. Does this have the same feeling as THE PLAYERS now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: This is a pretty impressive tournament. The field is obviously top class and the actual event leaves nothing to chance. It's a U.S. Open standard golf course. There's nothing about this, all the facilities, that isn't A-1. I can see how it attracts the field it attracts. Long may it last.

Q. Is this the sort of place that fits you? Do you like this golf course or are you still learning it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, it's a tough golf course. I have tended to do well on tough golf courses in the past, but I kind of like playing courses I can shoot 20-under on (laughter).
It is tough going out there. Like I was going out there this morning, and as I said, I'm not happy with my game, or I knew I wasn't as strong as I would have been when I left off, and I'm thinking if I can shoot 1-under par or something like that, I'd be very happy.
You know you're going out there to be challenged, no question about it.

Q. What's the most challenging hole for you here and how do you address it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 17, no question about it. You don't want to go left and you don't want to go right. You want the ball to stop when it hits the green, so you've got three -- for me, that's the hardest hole out there.
I suppose 18 you have to hit two good shots, but I think at 18 you kind of -- it's all there in front of you. On 17 it's a little bit tricky to hold in terms of you could possibly hit a decent shot on the green and maybe run through. I think 17 is more intimidating for me.

Q. What's it like to go to the tee box at 17, particularly when you have to wait ten minutes for the group in front of you and stare at what's in front of you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, if you have to wait, you just don't stare, you just have a chat and you talk about things, and then when it's your turn to go, then you start looking at what you have to do.
The key is not to stand there and play the shot for ten minutes. The key is to spend nine of those minutes having a chat and one minute concentrating.

Q. When you took a three-week break did you go anywhere or do anything exotic?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That was the longest break I've taken in the golf season since I've turned pro in ten years. I spent most of it at home chilling out. It was beautiful at home, shorts and tee shirt for three weeks. Couldn't have asked for anything better.

Q. Did you have a little surgical procedure done?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I did. The first week I had a --

Q. A lobotomy or something?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I wish. I'd be a better golfer if I did (laughter). I had a sun spot of skin cancer removed on my forehead. I had about a square inch of skin taken out with some roots and all that sort of stuff. It was only a sun spot. I'm told it's like the third form of skin cancer. It was not melanoma or anything like that.
You can see there's about a two-inch scar up there that's healing nicely, and I had to take about a week off totally from golf and then I spent two weeks just doing some practice.

Q. More of a precautionary thing so it doesn't go bad?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: More it was just continuing to grow. I'd keep catching it with my hat, and if I rubbed it off with a sweater it would bleed and seep a bit. It was just something that needed to be dealt with.

Q. You don't hear that from guys that stay in the accounting world, do you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, something that needed to be dealt with, yeah.

Q. What's the difference between this week and next week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I've got to say, there's not a huge difference. I've got to say they've done such a good job here. Like there's no question about the TPC is -- it doesn't have the heritage, but it's probably the number one field -- it's definitely the number one field and the number one test and the most exciting, and the fact that we go back makes it a little bit like Augusta; you're going back continually.
So no question about the TPC at Sawgrass is like as close to being the best tournament in the world as could be, except for the fact, obviously it doesn't have the heritage of the four majors. It's obviously not far off. I'm sure one day we'll be sitting here saying the fifth major.
But Wachovia has definitely brought this tournament as close as they can and possibly to that level. To be honest, I'm sure you couldn't figure out any difference, just the fact that it is the flagship event.

Q. The way the schedule is now, does this feed in better to the U.S. Open? Are you thinking about the Open?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, in fairness, I'm more thinking about the TPC than the Open at this very moment, yeah, no question about it. It's gone nicely into the schedule that you play the first part of the year for The Masters, then you focus on the TPC. Once TPC is over, U.S. Open. It has played well with the other dates for the TPC. I think the changing date does suit the schedule better. It kind of now lends itself to there being five tournaments to peak for.

Q. Having three weeks off, anything in particular since you putted so well today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I changed putters this week. I was so bad. I practiced my putting at home, and I went from putting very nicely to putting horrendously when I came back out. I ended up using a new putter shaft this week, something that's quite revolutionary, and it worked wonders. I think there will be a few more pros, by the looks of it, that could be looking to get this shaft, as well. It's quite a different sort of an idea, and it definitely worked well today.

Q. What is it exactly? What's the hook?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's got two -- it has two lead weights right at the top just underneath the grip, and it changes the dynamics of the putter substantially. So good it should be banned (laughter).
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Can you quickly go through these birdies starting with 14?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 14, I hit a nice drive to the edge of the green and chipped it up stone dead.
15, I hit a driver, 5-wood just over the back of the green, chipped it up stone dead.
16, hit a nice drive, 9-iron to about 15 feet, holed it.
2, I hit 7-iron to four feet.
3, I hit 6-iron to two feet.
5, I holed about a 25-footer.
As you could see, for the first five birdies, I didn't play really badly. They were all stone dead. I did hit a few shots close. It didn't feel like that. I holed it from about 25 feet at the 5th.

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