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May 16, 2007

Padraig Harrington


GORDON SIMPSON: Good morning, everyone, and this morning we have the familiar Irish weather I'm afraid, but that's not going to dampen the spirits because we have Padraig Harrington with us. I'm sure coming back here brings back very fond memories from the JP McManus Pro-Am, when I think last time you walked off with the Waterford Crystal, didn't you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I won the team, won the individuals, low score, it was a good two days, enjoyed it (J.P. McManus event). You know, hopefully, hopefully it will be as easy as it was those two days.
Amazing how I look back at it, and also when you play good golf, it was a breeze. We didn't start on the first hole. It was fixed doubles tee times. Our starting positions, it was hard to remember everything because it was essentially probably the best way to play golf. I hit it, found it, hit it again without doing so much thinking or anything like that. I think I won by six shots, and it was as comfortable a six-shot win as anybody had ever had.
It was -- golf was easy for two days. It would be nice for it to be like that for these four days, but obviously the golf course is substantially changed from the course we played two years ago. It looks like it's going to be -- I think I was 15-under for two rounds. I don't think that's happening.
GORDON SIMPSON: The people here actually seem to generate the atmosphere that you used to associate with the Irish Open.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's a wonderful atmosphere, but I think this golf course lends itself to having a good atmosphere. I played 18 holes yesterday and people were -- people were saying it looked like it was, a miserable day. It wasn't even close to miserable on the golf course. The golf course is so well sheltered and there's so many enclosed holes, and often times you're thinking that the wind would hold you down but it lends to a good atmosphere, because you get on holes like 12 or 9, that are really enclosed, and the crowd, it's just a great spot to stand and watch. You're in there in the trees and just there's a lot more colour in there. When there's people in there, there's a lot more noise resonating around. It's kind of an ideal place. It's an ideal championship venue. I always say you can't better of a championship venue than here.

Q. Can someone break your record of 63 out there this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, if somebody breaks 63 this week, I'll pat them on the back, there's no question about that. The rough is heavy out there and the fairways are narrower, and obviously the greens are more tournament speed than they were the last time. It was very windy the last time, but as I say the wind is not a big factor on this course because there are so many holes that are sheltered. Yeah, if somebody shoots 63, I'll pat them on the back and say well done.
You know, but you can never really tell a golf course -- one of the reasons I find the golf course tough is I'm coming home from the States and obviously -- well, not obvious, but the rough is a lot lighter in the States and the fairways are a lot wider. So coming back here, it seems like the golf courses are a lot tougher.
So for me, I have to wait and play the course for a tournament round, and generally when you get into tournament play because you're a bit more focused, it never plays quite -- even when we go play the U.S. Open, you always hear guys on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, thinking, it's testy, too tough. But by the time you get to the tournament, the ball goes a little bit further and it plays a little bit easier.
So I'm assuming that this course when we get into playing it, it will be playing hopefully a little bit like I played it in the J.P. McManus.

Q. (About pressure on an Irish player to win the Irish Open).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would suggest because in their own country they don't have the same media coverage and same expectation and same stresses coming into the event. It's the players' fault because of the expectation. It's a bigger deal in Ireland. At the end of the day you can go to some of those countries, and golf, it's more of an American sport than it is in Ireland. It's a big deal here.
The Irish Open is one of the bigger events in the country, so there's much more pressure I think, expectations involved in this week. I'm only putting an answer on it now. If I turn around and win this week next year, we can say, well, it's all the same. But I'm trying to find the reason for the fact that it's been 25 years since John O'Leary won in black-and-white trousers that we have not had an Irish winner.
If it doesn't work this year, I'll try the black and white trousers next year.

Q. Is there too much pressure?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, pressure, distractions, expectations, just the fact that people want an Irish winner putts a little bit more -- most professional golfers, there probably isn't anybody who can actually turn up and at will and win. It's not like I or any of my fellow Irish pros are go enough to say we're going it turn up and have our A Game that week. There's still a little bit of hit-and-miss; so if we win two or three times in a year, we've had a good year. For that to fall at the Irish Open, most of the tournaments, it's like we win a major. We put it up there on a pedestal so there is obviously a little bit more stress, pressure, a little bit more distraction.
So I'm around ten years, I'm getting used to it. So I should be able to deal with it. It's not the same as it was years ago. So hopefully it will -- hopefully it will all work out. We're getting older and we'll be able to get through it.
Definitely it is a big event and it does give us a bit more confidence -- the more you see it being done like at majors, the more Europeans start winning, it will make it easier for other Europeans to win.
So, yeah, let's let one Irish guy win it and whether it's me or one of the other guys, make it easier in future years.

Q. (About quality of field this week).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Every event, if you went to the States and see the promoters, they come out to the tournaments trying to get players to turn up to their events. There's just a lot of great events, whether you're in the States or whether you're in Europe. There's so many good, quality events that players are spoiled for choice. Generally they are picking events they have done two- and three-tournament runs around maybe one of the very big events.
So it is hard, like there's a number of events both in the States and here that, you know, are struggling to get the field that they want to get and it's not because of the quality of the event or the size of the prize money. You know, it's just hard -- there's a lot of choice and we can't play every week unfortunately.
You know, I'm probably playing -- I'd probably play 30 events this year, and that's because I can't turn down so many good events, and yet that's too many. You probably should really be playing around the mid-20s and I'll probably play five events more than I can. But, there's so many good events. I'd like to be playing every week, and twice a week if I could; that would be a good move. But there is, there's a lot of good events. And then you throw in events in Asia and other places like that and you're opportunity to play if Australia and South Africa and you're really looking at, we're in a great position in golf, and there's a lot of good golf events and a lot of good competition out there to get players to play every week.
I think with the Irish Open, you know, it's not necessarily that the date -- it's maybe just over the last couple of years it's maybe notched down the thinking in players' minds of what event they want to play in, because players have come and maybe with the iffy weather they have been exposed to in the last couple of years, it might set them back a few weeks. So it's not a priority in some of the players' minds.
I think here with Tom Kane, the promoter, is probably the biggest thing behind it, and what the promoter and sponsor wants to push the event. The promoter and Tom Kane seem to be behind it, and whether they push the Irish Open at Adare Manor the better the event -- as I said before, you've got a top-class venue here, there's no question about that.
Growing the Irish Open, it will happen, not necessarily this year, they probably haven't got the field they would have like to have got, but, you know, the more people see the venue is a good place to come, the more it will bring back players and the more they will tell other players and again it will slowly build up.
But you do need that commitment and I have to thank Tom Kane as an individual rather than anything else. He is really putting the effort into making the Irish Open into a top-tier tournament on The European Tour again, or on the world tour, I should say.

Q. How does this tournament fit into the schedule following TPC?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's a good fit for me. I've obviously played TPC and I'm obviously going to play Wentworth. So I want to play in between. It's a good fit in terms of that.
Most of the guys in the States who played that week, it's just convenient for them to go on up the road to the BellSouth. I think a lot of players found it easy enough to get an invite if they were not members, or other players were trying to fulfill their requirements to play 15 events. So it was convenient to go on rather than travel over here.
But I think when they see that this is a quality event, you know, they will come back. It's not necessarily, you know -- who knows what the good plays are nowadays. Like I said before, there's a lot of good events. Who knows which are the best and would it be a better thing to have it the week after Wentworth. It's very competitive. I think people will come to the event over time once they see it gaining in stature.

Q. Does the million euro bonus help the field?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the million Euro bonus, McInerney Homes the hole-in-one prize of the house (Home-In-One), the Audi car and associated prizes like that adds to the excitement and the buzz of an event. I think that's what's going to bring people back.
It's not necessarily the prize itself; it's the talk, the excitement, just people -- the interest, making an event more exciting, spectators turning out. It's a top-class championship golf course, no question about that. Nobody can have a problem. There won't be a player who will walk off this place that will think this will not have -- will not have good words to say about the quality of the golf course.
All of those things, it's really the talk about the event that -- how people put it in their minds, the stature of the event in people's heads that will ultimately bring players back.
We have seen prize money, it's big in building up an event, but we've seen some events with large prize funds not attract players in the past. I think, you know, the French Open being one that has a 5 million Euro prize fund. So I think there's a lot to be done around an event. You know, these days everything has to be top-class, and once it is, people talk about it and people will make the effort to come.
So prize money, million Euro bonus can only help. And the home, that's a huge prize for a hole-in-one, and the Audi car -- they are genuinely, these par 3s are genuine hole-in-one par 3s. With the undulations on the greens there's a genuine chance of the ball holing out. I don't know if you realise it, these are the sort of greens you'll see a hole-in-one on. So things like that add excitement.

Q. Is the PGA Tour trying to steal our players?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would say encourage. They definitely have made the effort to make it easier for international players and to encourage them to play.
As regards at the end of the day, you know, Europe has to -- my attitude is Europe, not being unfair to any of the other tours, it stops taking an example, they are the No. 2 biggest -- how does the biggest No. 2 corporate entity grow in it merges with 3, 4 and 5, and at the end of the day The European Tour has to become "The World Tour." And, you know, the only way it's going to compete with the U.S. is to be "the" Tour and to evolve with the South African, the Australian, the Asian Tour and you know, the Japanese Tour. That's how the No. 2 would try to compete with the No. 1, they would merge, and not necessarily take over.
At the end of the day, The European Tour, to be honest, really have to do with being European, and that's the only way it's going to grow or compete. In my eyes and that would seem how any business entity would compete with somebody who is substantially larger. You know, maybe that's -- and in fairness, I'm sure that's how they negotiate around the table, that it's five tours against one tour when it comes to a lot of decisions in things. But that's a bigger day, a bigger question, but yes, the U.S. Tour are encouraging a lot of players and they have strengthened their tour by making it a lot easier for players to play on their tour.
And you know we can have a different argument at that. You'll have a number of U.S.-born players that will see that their opportunities are being reduced if there are 75 players, not non-Americans playing every week and one of the reasons they are there is it's easier for guys to get out there. You know, it's like playing on the Ryder Cup Team; you have a card in the U.S. essentially and things like that.
Europe, the way to grow is as I said, you know, it's not just consider itself The European Tour but as a world tour and there are big enough tournaments and sponsors out there in the world to compete.

Q. Any reason why the public shouldn't come out in large numbers?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I wasn't out -- I'm fully hopeful that, you know, the crowds, Ballybunion was a fantastic event, the JP McManus Pro-Am was a fantastic event. You're right if everything you say, if it was rhetorical, yes, everybody -- I'm expecting people to turn out.
The one thing I will say, no matter what the day looks like, it's a lot nicer at Adare. I played yesterday and like I said it doesn't look like a nice day but you go out on that golf course, for some reason, there's a lot of shelter out there, there's a lot of enclosed holes. It's a pleasant place to be out on that golf course and no more beautiful place to be, to be honest.
I would say to the spectators if they are looking out the window, I don't know what the forecast is, and if they are wondering whether it's a day to spend outdoors, it's always a day to spend outdoors at Adare.

Q. What about length of the golf course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played it three weeks ago. I came down for a practise round, beautiful sunny day as we all know, we had three weeks of just perfect weather and the golf course just played fantastic. Just absolutely beautiful golf course, nice, sunny day, ball was traveling. Played it yesterday and it was -- it was tough. You know, it was like -- oh, this is a lot of -- I was kind of hoping to put it down to I just traveled home, a bit of jet lag. But you know, 7,300 yards, or 7,400 yards is a sunny-weather golf course.
Now, I'm fully confident in the tournament director that he understands, you know, the requirements. He's doing it longer than I am and he know that is more than -- 480-yard par 4 on a wet, windy day is no fun for a pro where on a sunny day, it's a great challenge.
So I would suggest that this golf course will not play like what guys saw yesterday. A lot of shots yesterday I didn't even play off the very back of the tees because I know we won't -- with experience, that we're not going to be falling off the back of the tee boxes here because there's no need to be. If it was a sunny day and the fairways are running, then the players can hit from the back of the tees.
But I assume everybody is going to be sensitive to that and there's no need to put us all the way back. As I say, I'm happy, I've gone there the most. But then again, the golf course is well-sheltered, so it doesn't play as bad in the weather but probably temperature-wise it was two clubs shorter than on a warm day yesterday. So that's where I'm talking about.

Q. You and McGinley had a say in lengthening the course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't realise I was involved in -- my theory on golf course is billing, wide fairways and pulling back nice, tight, no rough, not particularly long, drivable par 4s, reachable par 5s. That's my synopsis of golf.
GORDON SIMPSON: Sounds good to me.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As I said, I come back to Europe all the time and I can't believe how narrow the fairways are they are 50 per cent narrower in the States and how heavy the rough is, it's twice as deep. I prefer the fast, manicured look, the no-rough look. I'm not interested in -- length-wise doesn't scare me. I'm happy with the course and things like that. I believe that length has to be the right weather conditions. That's the difference. I hit a shot yesterday on one of the holes, a slight bit of breeze into me, about 160 -- I think I had 160 and I hit 7-iron and I came up short. I hit 6-iron then.
So I hit my 7-iron 150 yards and hit my 6-iron 150 yards. In warm weather, you know, good weather, that would have been a 9-iron, or maybe an 8-iron. So you know, that's the difference, the length in Irish weather at times.
I know from practise here, I hit a wedge in sunny weather 132 yards and in Irish weather I'm hitting it 105 yards, 110 yards, something like that. So that's -- you need the length in case the conditions are good. As I said, I played the golf course two weeks ago and it was just -- it was a magnificent place. It was perfect, no wind, and it was just a great place. And you need to have that length for the golf course if you do have good weather because it gives you options. You don't have to be falling off the back of the tees if the weather is not great. But it would suit me if they were, no question about it.

Q. (About golf course setup).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That's the tournament director's decisions. Depends what he wants. It all depends on the tests and everything like that and it all depends on how you want it. Like I said it plays into my hands the longer (it is) no question about it. As I said, you know, probably the most renowned course for length and I would be all for it, and I think the changes they have made for it are absolutely excellent, but it's because we don't get to play it on an average temperature cold day with rain. If we did, we'd all have serious -- probably 20 yards of run, 25 yards of run there is, it's there, but they are not running out here, not moving at all.
So it's -- this certainly would be, I'm trying to think if it's the longest courses we've played of the year, but there was somewhere I played a long golf course as well but this is right up there.
Just the whole thing about length is the ball -- these are sanded fairways; the ball doesn't roll. The temperature, I think everybody is obsessed with length. 7,400 in the right area does not play long, or 6,900 out here could play very long. So it's a question of -- and that's what the tournament director -- that's why we have a tournament director and that's why you don't have one player or number of players making the decisions, because we would all be pulling for what suits us individually rather than what's for the betterment of the tournament.
The tournament director, as a member of the Tour I assume that in some shape or form his job is there because all of the players are happy with his job and we trust that he's going to get the golf course right for the week. So it's up to him how the golf course plays. Like I said the longer it plays, the more it suits me but in Irish conditions, it's definitely a mental test for me to club myself because the ball just doesn't fly the same distance.
GORDON SIMPSON: You've probably got a press release in front of you, but --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've been rambling...
GORDON SIMPSON: You've been rambling as usual, so I'm going to introduce Tom Hayes, chief executive of Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking, and he's going to say a few words about the agreement with Padraig here.
TOM HAYES: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure this morning to announce the Bank of Ireland's sponsorship of Padraig Harrington. We are delighted to enjoy Padraig's elite team as a bank sponsor for 3-year period starting from today.
Padraig, a very impressive No. 12 in the World Rankings, successful global achievements over the years and international reputation and brand resonates what we wish to engage in a partnership that provides us with an international dimension. With this sponsorship, Padraig, Bank of Ireland, very strong sports sponsorship which covers the GAA Football Championships, Irish Cricket League, the Leinster rugby team, to name just a few.
This is not simply a marketing opportunity for the bank. It's our way of demonstrating our commitment to being socially responsible to sport through these associations we are demonstrating that we are sharing value with those who are taking part in the competition and who strive to win. Padraig has succeeded in capturing the imagination of sports fans not only across Ireland but also on the international stage.
This sponsorship from our perspective is a fantastic opportunity because it allows us to engage with a whole new audience on a global basis. We are eminently proud of Padraig and the success he has achieved to date, and we have committed to developing a terrific partnership with him and we look forward to sharing with him many great and successful occasions over the next three years.
And finally, I'd certainly like to wish Padraig every success this week at Adare Manor. Thank you.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much, Tom. I don't know if Padraig wants to say something.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I always have something to say. I'd obviously like to thank Tom and Bank of Ireland. I'm extremely proud to be leading their marketing both here in Ireland and internationally. It's a great association for me to be associated with one of the leading companies in Ireland and it just gives me confidence that they have selected me to represent them. And it gives me confidence that they like me I believe are trying to grow on a world stage trying to -- always trying to get better, and that's the sort of brand I'm delighted to be associated with, somebody who is striving to get better as we move forward.
So with that, I'm thrilled that Bank of Ireland selected me. And also, by the list of names there, I should be able to get tickets to a few rugby matches and a few other matches like that.
TOM HAYES: We are an organisation that has always been associated with golf. There's a strong commitment to business, there's a strong commitment to amateur golf and to encouraging your employee to participate actively in the sport.

Q. How do you go about selecting an athlete or sports to sponsor?
TOM HAYES: Depends on how good they are.
To get involved with sponsorships to give us a more year-round appeal and from our perspective particular any are relationship to this sponsorship, one of the key attractions is the global dimension because increasingly we are looking outside of Ireland for opportunities, and we have a very strong platform with and Padraig it's very easy for that.

Q. What are the terms of this contract?
TOM HAYES: I'm not going to tell you, but I can tell you that we are both very happy with the arrangement.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, it is obviously a substantial figure but that's obviously a private thing in the contract. It is a good fit, Bank of Ireland do have obviously business in the States, but also in Asia and I do play a world tour. I do move around and play a lot of places so it is a very good fit for both of us.
Plus, I'm going to use their private banking facilities personally. It's been recommended to me by a number of people as a facility I need to use on a private basis, obviously getting first-class banking services as well which I do need as well, so to invest all that money that they are sponsoring me. So certainly the international dimension, it's a very strong thing both in the U.S. and Asia.

Q. What's the base in terms of bonus?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The base in the terms of bonus, contractual, there's a certain number of bonuses in all my contracts in terms of throughout the year, and it's up to -- a lot of time it's up to me to decide how much of that contract goes towards a bonus, and it depends on how much I'm bonused up with overall.
But if you ever look into bonuses now, it's really just a question of pooling different sponsors money into a bonus rather than associating one contract with all of the bonus.
TOM HAYES: All I'd add to that is that we are very confident that the next few years are going to be very successful for Padraig. I personally believe that a major is not that far away. So it's a very exciting time from our perspective.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, thank you, Padraig, for filling up everyone's notebooks. Good luck this week and thanks again for coming in.

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