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May 25, 2007

Padraig Harrington


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Padraig, well played today. Eagle on 17 has put you right in the tournament I think. Your thoughts on it.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: On the eagle or on the round?
MICHAEL GIBBONS: On the eagle and then the round.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hit a good drive. Not often you can see the flag on 17 for your second shot. Hit a really good second shot, hybrid, straight at the pin and really thinking this could be very close. It kind of got very, you know, I thought it would run over the green. Like when I came up to find it was six feet away, I was very happy I'd say, and it was nice to roll the putt in, as well. It certainly made my round, no question about it.
I would have said it had been a little difficult up to that point. Missed a number of opportunities in the middle of the round. Then on 12, made a careless 3-putt and a careless chip-and-putt on 14, and all of the sudden, instead of looking like pushing on with the finishing stretch, I'm trying to hang on.
17 was a nice tonic at the time. A little bit disappointed not to have, you know, maybe 16 and 18, had chances, maybe a little bit disappointed. But 17 certainly is the highlight of the day and keeps me well in the tournament. If I stay two shots behind, I won't be complaining going into the last 36 holes.

Q. Distance you had with your second shot?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I had 236 yards front. Pin was on 22 or 24. Let's make it 24.

Q. That's the same as last week at Adare Manor?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hit 5-wood on the ninth and I hit hybrid here. It's slightly, you know it's going to run out and run down to the pin here. At Adare, it wasn't so evident. So, yeah, that's carried into the green at Adare. Here I knew I could pitch it short and it would still run up.

Q. You thought it might go through the green because you hit it so well?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I thought it was going to be A1 but it was just a reasonable applause. It wasn't that loud, so I thought it was like maybe 30 feet short or over the green sort of type thing. So I was very pleased to see it six feet away.

Q. Somebody in the previous group had put it to two feet and it wasn't good enough?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was a hard crowd down there. (Laughter). But as I said, it's a big bonus then when you come up and find it's actually six feet. It's a lot worse when you think you've hit it closer and it's not so close. That was one of the positive ones, no question about it.

Q. The eagle turned a decent round into a pretty good round.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, I made a terrible 3-putt on 12 for no reason. I missed a number of putts through the middle of the round, as well, not short putts. But I feel I'm playing well and then made a terrible 3-putt and hit my tee shot a bit hard on 14 and took three to get down and all of a sudden, I'm like, I'm feeling like I'm stalling.
So no question about it. 17 was a big bonus. It was disappointing not birdieing 18 but I had a very difficult lie in the bunker, a difficult bunker shot from underneath it but everything else is pretty good.

Q. Is fatigue, mental or physical a problem?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, there's definitely -- I struggled at the very start today. You know, I really do need to be going well in order to stay focused, rather than, you know, when I stalled in the middle of the round, that 3-putt on 12 was just pure lack of concentration. You know, chip on 14, again, those are definitely mental tiredness, no focus. The better do I though, the more likely there's going to be some adrenaline and if there's more adrenaline the more likely I'll stay focused.
So I'm hoping to stay in contention and I'm sure if I'm in this sort of position with nine holes to go, I'll have plenty to keep me going.

Q. There are a million reasons, as well, why you might have a certain amount of adrenaline, aren't there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's an extra million reasons on top of the normal reasons. You know, we don't -- I am very aware of it. I didn't know how much the prize money was this week but I knew how much the bonus was, so I'm very aware of the bonus because it's something different.
I'm not, generally I wouldn't have any inclination of how much money we're playing for on a given week or what, you know -- and I wouldn't want to, because you don't want to be focusing on, you know, what this putt is worth or if you miss it or hole it or anything like that.
Unfortunately you have -- well, not unfortunately, fortunately there is that side bonus, and it is evident -- I'm very conscious of it. But it's actually providing me with entertainment. It's one of those things that you kind have to have a little laugh about or chuckle about. You know, it's not something that I'm not going to let it hang over me and let it distract me let's say.

Q. I thought you were going to say you weren't worried about a million bucks one way or the other.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, right. A million Euros is a million Euros in any man's language.
As I said, we don't see -- it's interesting. It's a lot bigger an amount of money than if everybody turned up this week and was playing for a million. You know, if the tournament prize fund had a million extra for first place, it's more evident because of the fact we're talking about it or because I'm the only one who can win it.
So it wouldn't normally -- prize funds that we play for are great, but we try and distance ourselves from it. But obviously I can't distance from myself from the bonus, so that's why it is evident all the way through.

Q. And you like the fact it's win or bust, because there's no great prize on the bonus rather to come in second.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, I wouldn't like -- well, maybe I would like to be doing it more often, but it's nice as it is a bonus; it's an extra. It not something that I feel like, you know, it's only an incentive. It's not something that I feel like if I didn't win it as if I'm losing. I'm not losing. If I don't win the bonus I haven't lost a million. If I win it, I win a million. So it's always a positive.

Q. Especially because you never had it.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, a million Euros at the start of this week is 62 and a half thousand Euros. That's what a million Euros is on Thursday morning before I teed off. Let's be realistic about it. I didn't have it -- I was 16 to 1; to 62 and a half thousand would add up to a million Euros, so that's what a million Euros was. If I have anything to lose, it's 62 and a half thousand Euros is what the start was at the start of the week. I might lose 62 and a half, but I could gain a million. 62 and a half thousand doesn't sound as good in the newspaper, so we'll stick to the million. Obviously I didn't go in on the action.

Q. Did you vote in the election?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't actually, my vote's unused at home unfortunately.

Q. Have you considered buying off the competition tomorrow?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I think there's too many out there to buy off. And as I said, I don't know what my odds -- my odds came in a little bit I think. So starting out today it was about just under 100,000 Euros was the value of a million Euro bonus. So probably shortened a little bit again.

Q. After winning, the tournaments you've played how would you say you've sort of performed?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Actually I've won -- I suppose it's not often happened, so I should remember. I did have a 13 at the Oxfordshire after winning!

Q. Is it a struggle to backup after a victory?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, it always is. It always is. I think the key here is that I'm still in the tournament. If at any stage I was going south and scoring wasn't happening, I think I could go quite a long way. Whereas by staying in the tournament, it keeps your focus, and there's no question about it.
This week, it's either you do well or you don't do it at all after a big week like last week. And there was a lot -- last week was a bigger win than a normal win. Had a lot of things around it. So I've got to think it took more out of me last week than even another win would have taken out.
So it's a big deal. Stay focused this week, stay in there and hopefully keep in there for Sunday afternoon. I'd like to take my chances.

Q. Did you ever win back-to-back as an amateur?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I must have won back-to-back as an amateur because I went 18 months in Ireland without losing over stroke-play events, 36 holes or more, so some of that must have been week on, week off. So, yeah, I must have won two in a row.

Q. How old were you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: When I was -- the year before I couldn't get on the Eisenhower team, 18 months without losing a stroke-play event in Ireland over 36 holes or more. So that would have been '95 -- no, '94. A year and a half before I turned pro it would have been, the last 18 months I'd say, maybe even 2 1/2 years -- I remember a year and a half, 18 months, every stroke-play event I teed up in Ireland over 36 holes or more, I led.

Q. No million Euro bonuses?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's not quite the same thing, though, a 300 Euro voucher at the end of a 72-hole scratch golf.

Q. Do you have the same reservations about this course at this time of year that led you to not play in it for a couple of years?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I really, really like the golf course. I think the changes they have made tee-to-green are superb. This golf course is much better golf course than it was two years ago. You know, you couldn't possibly hit 17 fairway two years ago. It was about 20 yards wide. Now it's 40 yards wide and I was hitting 5-wood off the tee two years ago, and now you're standing there, if you hit a good drive, you hit the fairway.
A lot of holes they have done that. 13, they put in the bunkers, but the fairway is probably ten, 15 yards wider than it was two years ago, and that's a better way of playing golf. Having a reasonable target to aim at gives you incentive to try and hit it. Whereas years before I think the course was shorter and they tried to protect it by narrowing the fairways by 20 yards and they are two bouncy, they are too uneven; any fairways are too narrow 20 yards. 13 is a good example.
15 is a good example, if you saw where I hit my tee shot, I'm on a hump. I was actually in a divot on quite a steep mound. Two years ago I was in a foot of rough there, and I was delighted to be on fairway this time. They have given a good -- they have widened the 15th fairway by at least six or seven yards on the right-hand side. Let's put the tee back 15 yards and let's give it a fair target to hit at. A lot of holes they have really done a tremendous job tee-to-green out there.
You know, I really can't fault them. They have improved the course no end and I particularly like the reintroduction of the heather. No question about it, would I love to see a lot more heather, the reintroduction is great. Obviously it slows down rounds and it's not a very commercial thing to put heather on the golf course, but it's what is naturally there and it's fantastic for setting up the fairways and that. It looks good. It plays good. So there's a lot of good things going on here.

Q. But there's a reservation.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's a commercial golf course. They need to think 36 months out and change what's there all the years. They know it. Everybody knows it. I don't want to sit up here and be the one griping about it. I said it enough for a number of years. There's no need for me to add to it. And they are well aware of it themselves.

Q. You started your answer to my question; yes, you still have reservations.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I do, yeah, because the main thing, the only thing I ever had reservations about hasn't changed. The golf course is great tee-to-green no, question about it. This course has potential with its heritage and its history and its players and its position to be the No. 1 golf course in Europe. It could compete with Valderrama if there was only 20 people playing in a day like Valderrama. That's the difference, isn't it. Valderrama is run in a different way.
It could certainly be the No. 1 parkland golf course in Britain, no question about it. With the layout and where it stands and it's history, you know, it could be right up there with everybody saying this is the best golf course we play, and tee-to-green you know you can't fault it. It's a great challenge out there.
Ernie has done a tremendous job in his redesign, no question about it. It's a really -- we get the driver out, we've got to hit it. There's a number of holes out there and then there's a number of tricky holes. It's a fine, fine layout no, questions about that. Certainly one that I enjoy playing.
But as I said, the reservations were there two years ago. Things haven't changed three four years, and it is difficult.

Q. If you were playing with Ernie on the weekend, would you mention it to him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, asking me do I have the same reservations, everybody knows what I think. There's no point in me, you know, bringing it up and there's no point in me telling everybody. I don't think there's a player out there who doesn't know what I think about the greens, or what I assume they think the same things. But, you know, I come out and said it in the past with the hope of things changing. I'm probably a little bit older in the tooth now and realise there is far more commercial reasons, you know, somebody has invested 125 million sterling to get that money back, you know, it's minimum of five per cent return; five per cent return on that and you've got to keep the golf course open to do that.
I'm well aware of the commercial side to this. In perfect world, though, it would be could be different, but this is not the case, and all the players know that. I think, you know, but there's no point in me -- there's no point in bringing it up. It's just irrelevant. I've said it in the past and that's the way it is.

Q. What are the odds now on you winning this thing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Might have shortened to about eight, eight to one I would say. Depends, if I stay two shots back.

Q. Where would you like to be on Sunday morning, just behind or leading?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Eight ahead. If I wasn't eight ahead, seven. (Laughter)
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Padraig, thanks.

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