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May 20, 2007

Padraig Harrington


RODDY WILLIAMS: Padraig Harrington, Irish Open champion, it's been a 25-year wait, but the wait is over. How does it feel right now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, I'm thrilled. You know, to spend the whole week, I felt coming into the tournament, aside from a bit of jet-lag, my game, game-wise I felt on top of my game really ready to play. So I spent the whole week trying to keep a really level keel and not get ahead of myself all the way through today. It's quite a relief to finally, you know, when you're trying to keep it down all the time, trying to keep your emotions down, it's quite a relief now to have won it.
RODDY WILLIAMS: How did it feel in the playoff?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I felt good. I felt like, you know, like I felt confident all day that I was going to do it, and even in the playoff, I felt good about it. It's very a difficult hole, 18. You know, it really is one of the tougher holes out there. It looked like a hole, especially with that pin position, that was going to be won more by a mistake than anything else.
But, what can I say? It's a tough hole. My second shot could have been just as easily in the hazard as Bradley's. So I was delighted to see mine stop. So I just got the break there. But I did believe that, you know, that I was going to get that break if needed.

Q. Many congratulations. Huge onus of responsibility on you going out there today. Were you very, very nervous and aware of the public desire that you should go out and finish up the job?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was good. I prepared well. I was very happy -- a little bit more nervous certainly than maybe I was -- strange enough, a little bit more nervous than the last round of the U.S. Open last year or the last round of the Masters. In both those cases, I wouldn't have been leading. It's definitely harder to go with a lead. There's a lot -- we all want the lead, but there's a little bit more pressure involved. There's a little bit more of, that things can go wrong.
Going out there, I knew it was never going to be easy and I was kind of sure, I had it in my head that it was quite possible I would lose the heed at some stage here in the round. My own visualization and different scenarios I went through, I felt good that I had a great chance of winning, and that, you know, I felt confident about winning. I didn't wish I was going to do it easily, but that was kind of a wish. I kind of knew I was going to make it hard.

Q. You said this week that it was your fifth major; do you still feel that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, definitely. As I said I felt more pressure out there than I would probably at any event. So, yeah, has to be in my head the fifth, the one I wanted to win. It might not be the fifth hardest tournament to win, but it's certainly the fifth, No. 5 in the pressure I would feel and the expectations about winning it.

Q. After the ninth where you eagled, one would have thought you might relax a bit at that point, but how did you feel at that stage?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I was playing very good. I hit a super shot into 10; a super shot into 11. You know, both of them, one stopped at the tier and the other came just short of the tier. Another day I would have made two birdies, and I played them in 1-over. I knew things like that was going to happen.
I was amazed, I thought with the course setup today somebody would go very low. I've never seen as many pins in birdie positions as there were out there today. There was a lot. You know, I'm really surprised somebody didn't shoot the lights out actually because it was certainly on. I knew things like that were going to happen. I felt I played, you know, I played nicely the next couple of holes, and you know, Bradley kept making birdies.
17, you know, when he hit it close, it certainly forced me to go more aggressively down the green, and, you know, it was only -- probably was only about 18 feet in the hole and you know, in a foot of rough. So it was definitely, you know, his second shot put me -- put the onus on me to fire at the greens, probably if I would have stayed another 20 feet short if he had not hit it close. But there you go. He played very well. He certainly put the pressure on me to, you know, to do the job at the end.

Q. You came here the highest-ranked player in the field and you're obviously now back up to the Top-10 in the world. What does it feel like to deliver under so much expectation?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I felt my last two tournaments really set me up nicely for this one. I knew my game was good coming into it. So the highest-ranked player; I'm the favourite for the week; I know my game is good. So all of these things are putting pressure on me. But I believe I've improved my game enough over, especially last 18 months now, that I'm better able to manage my game to perform when I need it more so than -- it's not as haphazard as it would be in the past.
It's a definite boost to my confidence that I can come into an event that I want to do well in and perform.

Q. The last few days -- in terms of the atmosphere and the crowd, what did it feel like to you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The crowds were fantastic. I think the venue lends itself to people turning out. I'm sure anybody who came here today would say they had a great time. The venue is spectacular and you couldn't but enjoy yourself out there, player or spectator. The crowds that turned out were so supportive and they just added to the atmosphere around the golf course.
I think 50,000 people turned out during the week which is a tremendous achievement and they are known for doing that, turning out and supporting. It's a place that gives everybody hope and that should make them very proud.

Q. You now have the potential for a million Euro bonus and you may be favoured next week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Couldn't be favoured at Wentworth, the bookies would hold that bet, but there you go. What can I say, I have a chance of winning one million dollars -- or a million Euros. I'm the only one with a chance of winning a million Euros. I wish it was somewhere else. (Laughter).
And also, you know, this has been a stressful day. I'm going to be flat, no question about it, next week. Wentworth, I believe, is potentially, no more so than this golf course either, either of them could potential take the mantle of No. 1 golf course in Europe. Of Valderrama, Wentworth I think is one of the finest layouts you have tee-to-green and has a heritage that's probably second to none in Britain with Ryder Cups and things. Absolutely a great place to go and play golf. Love it tee-to-green.
But unfortunately, you know, I worked very hard last year to have a good finish, and you know, I feel like I can do that again. But it's not like I feel like I'm going to turn up and -- I don't feel like this is the course for me; where here I knew it was the course for me this week, no question about it. Everything set up for me this week. Nothing about the golf course I didn't love.
Next week is not -- you know, next week is a tougher week for me. I'm sure the bookies wouldn't mind holding that bet.

Q. How flat do you think you'll be?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We'll only find that out tomorrow, won't we. You know, I did have a little think about it before I went out today, the circumstances I win, what sort of preparation for next week. I know that I am flat, so it's a key for me now between this tournament and next week is more getting myself backup, getting myself right and not necessarily feeling like I have to do too much work. My game is obviously good and solid. So I'll basically play the Pro-Am on Wednesday and hope that on Thursday, I'm ready to go.

Q. At the Pro-Am here in 2005, you said the course was suitable for a major European Tour event; what's your assessment now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's no question this golf course could hold any event. The course, tee-to-green, and there's no question the setting is spectacular. You know, this golf course and all of the players, a number of the players, even some of the guys who missed the cut, love their experience. They can see so much of it -- there's obviously elements of rough and things like that, and you know, it's up to the tournament director and whoever to prepare the golf course the way they want it. If they wanted a lower score, you know, a few different things could be done. But the golf course is top-notch.
It's a great testament to this golf course. They could have -- which is always a good sign of a course, they could have us shooting 16-over par this week if they wanted to if they changed a few little things, or shooting 15-under par. That says a lot for this golf course. This golf course, they are very much in control of the scoring. Like I say just push the tees back up, and the pins, they used easy pins all week to keep the scoring as they did. It's a great golf course that they can manage and change things. It's always the sign of a good course that they are in control of what they want with the scoring and that they can make it a little bit easier, a little bit harder depending on what sort of weather coming in.

Q. Given the weight of expectation, did you sleep easy last night?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No problem at all. Slept fine. I'm good at that. As I said, a lot of these things, it's about your preparation. And I had a clear head of what I wanted to do before I went to sleep last night, so I didn't worry about it.
I must admit it's easier when you get up in the morning. I'd be busy this morning, it's great when you get up and you're actually doing things and you can stop think about or wondering about, where before I went to bed last night, I had it clear in my head what I needed to do today and that was enough thinking about it.

Q. Does this tell you anything about how you can manage pressure in a major championship and that you'll feel more comfortable in it situation in a major?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm very happy -- a lot of shots out there, I was hesitant over with my irons. There's a lot of sand, top sand out on the course. And that obviously means that you've got to be hitting your irons very cleanly in order to get a good strike at it. I found that very intimidated all week, especially on shorter shots, wedge shots and that, and that put me under a the lot of intimidation factor, let's say. And it was nice that even though I always fell like that, that I still managed to focus and didn't miss any shots. The one I hit at the pin yesterday, I'm happy about that, very few iron shots I felt comfortable on, yet I was able to go through my whole game plan and focus and hit quality strikes nearly all the time.
No question about it, because I'm emotionally involved with this event, this is a good -- and I wouldn't call it a practise run, but it is a good practise run for a major, no question about it, because of the emotional involvement. I can't see myself, you know, in a major wanting to win any more than I did today.

Q. Talk about Ronan.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Ronan did an excellent job as he always does. He says the right things. That's his job, he says the right things when he has to and gets me focused on what I'm doing, distracts me when I need to be distracted. We were having a casual chat today when we were waiting on Bradley to chip out the first time around, we were having a casual chat about something or other. So he knows when to say the right things, and all the way down, all the way through, he keeps a clear head and he's very good at keeping a clear head. Not to say we don't always get everything right. But today was a good day and we worked very well to get -- very well, again, together today and I do have the utmost confidence in him.

Q. What were you chatting about?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Actually what we were talking about -- I don't know, it was very simple stuff. Maybe it was -- we were trying to -- you know, we didn't know who won the Heineken Cup. We were discussing -- that was amazing that the Heineken Cup was put up against the FA Cup in that it does prove that maybe we are up to it but as it turns out because of the coverage, we didn't know about the Heineken Cup but the FA Cup was the clear winner on the day and that was our discussion in terms of the marketing that they put it up against it.

Q. John O'Leary was at the presentation --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think John, 25-years champion, I'm sure he's glad nobody will have to ring him up have every year and can him for a few quotes. Yeah, he's delighted to pass it on and I'm delight to take it from John O'Leary. He was a great champion and he's a great stalwart of The European Tour now. Yeah, I'm very proud of that, and I think he was very comfortable and happy giving it up.

Q. You've won Ryder Cups, World Cups, European No. 1 last year, where does this rank in the golfing picture for you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would put it as an equal. I can't say it's any -- you know, the World Cup I won with Paul McGinley if '97 was just unbelievable, there's no question about it. I would have to say for excitement that was incredible.
The Ryder Cup, 2002, again, unbelievable, the excitement in that. I think there have been a number of other events, but this is at the top of the pile, no question about it. But I wouldn't set it apart. It's there, there thereabouts. I suppose we'll have to wait and see what the celebration is like to see if it really wins out.

Q. Just speaking to John O'Leary, we were asking him looking backwards --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, you know, obviously in terms of quality of events I've got to win, it's obviously world events and majors. This in my mind is a bigger event, is something I would prefer to win over any tournament bar a major. So it's majors next, no question about it. But if it's world events, that seems to be the way I progress, and hopefully my game is capable of going on to win not just one but more.

Q. You're saying it is good preparation for the British Open; how?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I'm playing the PGA the week before the British Open, and one of the main things for my I feel in my preparation in any of the big events is playing the week before. I have a great opportunity to play the Irish PGA, arguably the toughest links course in Ireland, and arguably going to the toughest links golf course in the British Isles the following week.
It is the ideal preparation, no question about it. Nothing better than playing a competitive four-day tournament on a links golf course to get ready for the Open. And I thank the PGA for helping me in that and putting the tournament on a strong golf course just the week before the Open.

Q. You hit driver on the tie hole, did you?

Q. What were you thinking at that point?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Couldn't hit birdie any other way. The pin position was such a tough pin that the only way you could make birdie on it was hitting on the green in two.
I've got to say, that to me, I've played -- you know I've played all around the world, but there's no tougher tee shot to me than that you stand on the hole and it's into off the left. When you line up, you look up the fairway, you look like you're lined 10 to 20 yards left of where you think you want to line up so basically if you try to line up right half of the fairway, you look up the right half of the fairway, you feel like you're aiming at the left half. But when you check it, you're aiming right of where you think you're aiming, so you have a double-whammy there. It has to be the toughest tee shot. That's why I hit the 5-wood in, maybe I could hit it in the fairway or right rough and try to get myself up the fairway from there.
I felt in the playoff the end of the day, I would take a chance and aim it at the tree and hit it, and if I over-drew it, got it on the fairway, I could make birdie. But I really, realistically, I probably hit my driver really straight and still missed the fairway by 15 yards. It's just a tough drive.
My only personal opinion in a left-to-right wind you probably need about 15 yards more fairway in the right in order to entice yourself to hit a good tee shot rather than to bail out on the right.

Q. Talk about the crowd today.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think we've mentioned rugby as well and when Munster play rugby, they are known for having the best support in the world and obviously those same Munster fans turned out today. No question about it, they were second to none in support and definitely gave me a boost when things weren't going so well.
You know, it was a tremendous, tremendous day for me to have that support and really proud of it and extremely proud, the people of Limerick and Munster should be proud of their turnout.
As I said earlier, great venue for people to come out. I think anybody walking around here is going to have a nice day. Adare Manor, got to be one of the most beautiful spot in the country.

Q. Having Europe's top golfer win the Irish Open, will you encourage more of the top golfers to come here next year and the year after, and will it encourage the Tour to give it a more favourable date?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, I think it should help. But I think what's going to help is people coming here and playing and going back and telling their mates, yeah it was a good event. You know, I think the fact that Tom Kane and Adare Manor showing their willingness to improve and to keep getting better, that will encourage players to come back, no question about it.
I don't think the date is as big an issue as people make out. I think they will come here if they feel like they are going to get a great tournament. The golf course is capable and the sponsors are capable of hosting a great tournament.

Q. I heard you describe in one of the TV interviews afterwards Bradley's birdie on the 17 as a "body blow." How big was the sense of dread there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I stood on 16 and said, look, I'm the one with a one-shot lead. I stood on 17 when I went to 18 and said, look, in my head I told myself, I'm still going to win. That was it. You know, I'd not lost the tournament. It was -- the pin on 17, of all the pins all day, as I said the pins were particularly easy all day. 16 is obviously a difficult pin. And then 17 is a very difficult pin, and 18 was a very, very awkward pin. I don't see too many -- it was a right-to-left wind. I don't think too many people are going to fire up the right-hand side of 18 with all of the trouble.
It was a tough pin, the green was very fast, I played an excellent chip and couldn't believe it went so far by the hole. I hit my wedge probably inside, you know, average distance, I probably was only about 18 feet from the hole. But it's a narrow spot at the back of the green there, and Bradley hit it in close. It certainly put the pressure on me to try and hit it close, as well, and I didn't.
So, yeah, if I look back and didn't win this tournament, I'd be thinking to myself should I have played for par there, should I have hit down the grown, who knows. But certainly Bradley making birdie from the rough was probably not what I expected.

Q. Could you give us the details?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Details, No. 7 I hit 3-wood off the tee, felt I would hit it through the fairway with driver. Hit hybrid to 25 feet.
8, I hit driver and sand wedge to two feet.
9, I hit a very good drive and I hit my 5-wood about 12 feet and holed the putt.

Q. How far was the second?
RODDY WILLIAMS: Congratulations once again. Well played.

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