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July 4, 2007

Padraig Harrington


RODDY WILLIAMS: Padraig, thanks very much for joining us and welcome to the Smurfit Kappa European Open. Obviously going for an Irish double this week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Isn't that great. You go win one and expectation is to win two, but that's good. Obviously I'm looking forward to trying to do it. It's an interesting time. The last couple of weeks, my form hasn't been so good. But it hasn't been so good because I've been, you know, going out, trying to win in the first round, just trying too hard instead of being patient and letting it happen.
So I come to this week and I'm trying again, I'm trying too hard again. As much as I want to try and go out and win here, as much as there is expectation, the best way of me going about doing that is to be -- is to ease up a little bit and relax, but not necessarily trying to go out there -- and especially this course has taught me in the past, I have to play a little more conservatively and be patient. Just because I can hit shots doesn't mean I have to take them on on this course.
I just have to bide my time. And not necessarily as I've done in some weeks, I've never played very well when I'm confident in my game and I have to be a little bit more patient. An example like on 18, I can carry all the water down the left, which, you know, puts me well in range of the green. Yesterday in practise, I had no problem hitting a drive and 5-wood to the middle of the green. But that's a hole that I probably should be happy to hit 3-wood off the tee and lay it up and play the hole that way.
So there's a lot of choices out here that I have to be careful about in the tournament, and just my general attitude for the week has to be even though as much as I want to win it, and as much as I feel good about my game, I have to be -- I have to play a little bit more conservatively than my game suggests I should.
RODDY WILLIAMS: And probably the weather which we're expecting this week as well, probably need a bit of patience for that, as well, I imagine.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The golf course is fantastic and the greens are as good as we putt on. You couldn't have them any better. The greens are superb, and the fairways are excellent, but it's soft. In fairness to the greens, they are draining perfectly well. Some areas of the fairways are still a little wet; and it's unfortunate we've had so much rain, the golf course is in great condition and would be in absolutely perfect condition, if only for the rain.

Q. Given the weather you just alluded to, does that help you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You have to think that does suit me. As much as you don't like it, there's a lot of things when you play in blustery weather and cold and all that, I would rather be out in the sunshine. But in terms of competing, I've got to think that it's in my favour. So I've got to look at it like that. I won't like putting on my rainwear and being all wrapped up and being a little bit tighter than normal, colder than normal, but I've got to think it's taken a majority of the field out and gives me a better chance.
So I've got to be positive about it even though it's no fun.

Q. How do you think the course will play?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I know they are going to push tee boxes forward and things like that, but there will be a lot of -- they will shorten the course up and make it very playable compared to playing it at the moment often back tees.
But saying that, you know, there's players coming from the southern hemisphere who just to matter how much they play in this, they don't like the conditions. There are some Europeans that just don't like the conditions. Certainly, it's going to be -- especially if it stays the way it is now, if it's heavy but not too windy, you've got to hit the ball a long way out there. So that's curtailing a number of players. And you've got to be able to control it in the wind; some players won't like the wind, as well. There's a number of factors that will take people out, and that will certainly reduce the number of people capable of competing this week.
I could say you could talk to 25 per cent of the field out there who give themselves absolutely no chance because of the conditions and there will be another 25 per cent after that once they start on a few holes and have had a few bogeys.
I used to be brought up, Harold Bent (ph), my old coach, great piece of advice as a kid. Look, you go out on a bad day, 50 per cent of the field don't want to be there, and the 50 per cent of the 50 per cent that are left haven't got the ability or capability for the preparation to deal with it. So you're only competing against 25 per cent of the field on a bad day. That doesn't happen too often as a professional. Most times professionals are well capable of dealing with whatever the conditions are throwing up.
But saying that, when it gets a bit colder, there's a good few -- like the Asian players, southern hemisphere, just don't want to play in those sort of conditions; they never have. Once they have to putt on -- you can talk to a few of them and they will tell you, they just never get warmed up. Like you can't play unless you're warm. Somehow you've got to keep yourself warm and some of them can't get to the stage that they are warm, so this is a number.
And it's a pity, we've had five years with both tournaments now have really struggled with getting some nice weather. Just players will struggle to want to come back to Ireland and we get some nice conditions.

Q. I know you don't read the newspapers so you may not be aware that two of the top 50 players played in the French Open and only six are playing in the European Open, that is bad news for sponsors; How can the European Tour tackle the problem when so many top players are not supporting these events?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know what, I sat down today with one of my trainers, or actually last night who I work with, and we discussed a big problem of mine is I'm playing too much. That's scary when you consider what our problem faces. Myself, I've got to find a way of playing less. I'm playing 30 events this year, might creep up to 32; that's too many. In order to give quality time to my training, especially my physical training outside, I need to play less.
There's a lot of good events out there and we are really, really caught with trying to fit everything in. It's a difficult, very difficult schedule.
I do see this easing out. On a positive, I see these things over the next couple of years easing out. But like the French Open last year, I finished second and had a great week and I didn't go back this year. That's a perfect example of the stresses that a tournament player, especially the top players -- you're dealing with, once you've gone to this category that you're saying there, the world -- I don't know what the World Ranking basis, what level, Top-50, but a Top-50 player is a worldwide player and he's playing 12 months of the year. He's got 52 weeks of year to play bar Christmas, so we're down to 51 and he's only trying to play 25, 26, pushing it up to 30.
You look at all of the European players who have played 30 events. The top European players will play up to 30 events a year. Other players don't play as much around the world will play 25, 26 events. An international player is already putting -- he's already sacrificing playing a few too many tournaments.
It's a difficult situation. Just there is a lot of tournaments out there that are really good. The French Open, I had a good tournament there last year, it's a massive money event; it's a quality golf course. Everything about it is a good event. Yet, I couldn't find it in my schedule to get there.

Q. Isn't that because you are playing so much in America, as are other players?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You could look at it like that, but a lot of my schedule in America, I played around -- I played two around the U.S. Open, two around the Masters. I played two before the Irish Open -- sorry, one of them was the TPC. So basically I've gone the Masters, TPC and the U.S. Open and I've played a couple of events around them, and the Match Play, as well, at the start of the year.
So bar going over there and playing the one event, I tend to try to play three events. If you look at my schedule, I'm playing three at the moment: This week, next week and The Open Championship. It's always about trying to get a flow of two, three events in a row, wherever that one event is to go and play it.
It is difficult. I would see myself trying to curtail events next year rather than find places to play. There's just so many choices. I would see it as -- you know, I would see it as an issue that I want to hit three tournaments in a row, generally.
So you know, if I was looking, I always look at my schedule as trying to play a little run. So if I go to -- like the ideal run in the Middle East, I have three events; that's a good idea. They need to have three strong events in Asia, three strong events in Australia, three strong events in South Africa. That's the way the players will want to go, to play on top of each other, rather than have one event here and there.
I've avoided going and playing the one good event, traveling to play one event isolated, like BMW International Open is one of my best events in Germany. I lost in a playoff last year, but it would have meant traveling away from where I was to play that extra event. I felt like it would be better to stay where I was, play three events and go home.

Q. Do you have sympathy for the sponsors?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, yes, without a doubt, no question, the sponsors -- everything should be about the sponsors and giving back to the sponsors and giving them the most you can. They are the most important thing to the Tour is the sponsors. You always want to make sure that they get a 100 per cent of value. It is something; definitely, if the sponsors are not happy, and I can see why they are not happy; it needs to be tackled and it needs to be sorted out. I don't have the answers.
I don't have the answers. I'm coming from a player's point of view -- I'd have to sit and think about it. Maybe some -- you know, I could give you some far-reaching ideas of short periods of tournaments. As I said, a run of maybe three or four times of the year in Europe that there's three big events back-to-back and try to entice players to come for three weeks and go with that. But there's so many good events.
Look at the run -- as I said, the French Open is a quality event. The European Open is a quality event. Loch Lomond is a quality event. We've got so many choices. In many ways it's a product of our success that we've got these choices to be made.
As I pointed out to somebody, if they turned around and held 25 €4 million events in Ireland, I'd be playing 25 events in Ireland and that would be my schedule. So we do travel to find the best events around the place. I have to travel -- there's only two events in Ireland, so I have to move about.
Whether I travel for three events in the U.S. or in Europe, it's not a huge difference in terms of the effort on by me half. But the thing is, where I go I want to keep playing for a couple of weeks, rather than go somewhere, jump across the world and come back. I like to be somewhere, acclimatize and stay there for a couple of weeks. And you're hitting towards those major events as the key.

Q. Are you disappointed then that more of the top players in the world are not here this week, or do you feel you have a better chance of winning and closing the gap on the top of the Order of Merit?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Haven't thought of it like that. I know to win -- we're going back to me and not necessarily the issue of the field. To win any tournament, you've got to play great golf. There's no -- there's always going to be -- doesn't matter who he is. There's always going to be something playing the best golf of his life that week. So to beat him, you've got to be on top form.
So I prefer the field to be stronger because I kind of think if I'm going to win, I'll win against anybody regardless of who is in the field. It's more of a battle against myself mostly. So I'd rather the be stronger. There would be more World Ranking points if it were stronger. My attitude would be -- if you don't have a good week it will be harder to finish higher up but if I have a winning week, you'll finish high regardless of the field.
So I would prefer the feel to be stronger. But it's just there's so many choices. I think with the emphasis players are putting on majors and trying to peak for majors are developing their schedules for the majors and that means taking a lot of weeks off and playing less.
You know, some weeks are going to struggle. But it doesn't look like -- I can't pick an actual week that doesn't -- I couldn't tell you what date is a perfect date. If somebody turned around and said, "Look, we want the Irish Open and we'll give you any date you can have," I wouldn't know. I would have to sit long and hard to figure out what would be the perfect schedule that would attract players purely based on its date. Obviously a links golf course the week before The Open would attract every player in the game probably. There would be very few who wouldn't turn up for a links course the week before an Open. You know that, would be an idea.

Q. Doesn't it underline the importance of having more world events outside the U.S.?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would agree that, yeah, I would think about -- I don't know about a world championship event but I think that you've got to focus on micro tournaments as scheduled, a three weeks sort of thing, where you're attracting a lot of players to play back-to-back to back.
I think a world event used to be the best way of doing that. You bring a world event and players may play the week before or week after. Yeah, it is something that has worked in the past that has encouraged. But you only have to look at the Australian Open, running a hundred years, it has all the heritage and played on great golf courses. That tournament, that should be the fifth major, and that struggles; players find it hard to get down there and play. There's a lot of events out there. Like that's probably the best example of an event that should be high priority.
It's a tough, tough schedule now, and as I said, maybe a micro schedule of a few events in a row like the three in the Middle East are the way to go during the schedule to try and encourage players. Rather than encouraging a player to come and play one week, maybe a three-week run is the way forward.

Q. Do you feel that you're asked to play 15 events in America, of which seven are dual-qualified, so you have to play eight others in America, whereas Europe, we're only asking four; should it be more?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the reason for that is Europe is an international tour. I think we get so caught up with the fact because of the name, The European Tour; we are very, very international, and our players are very international.
And to suggest, you know, to tell somebody coming from the southern hemisphere coming to Europe with good intentions and tell them, look, in the future we want you to play eight events on top of your seven, they are not as attached to being in Europe as much. They are not from Europe. They are international players.
You know, it's not like they have an affinity to be here and have to be here. If I was from -- you know, I'm from Europe so I'm going to play here. But if I'm from somewhere else, yeah, I'll come and play in Europe. But if you force me to play in Europe, I might say, well, you know, I can leave it. I can play my seven and not do it.
Europe is not sitting in a position where it can demand of its international players to play in that many of its event because it's not like it's their home tour.

Q. But in terms of that, there are a lot of Europeans who only play the minimum of four?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, can you ask -- I'm not sure of those Europeans. I'm not sure of their situations, but you can't have one rule for one -- maybe you can. Maybe if you're European-born, you have to go to the EU Commission and see if that's legal to demand of a European person that he play 15 events and a non-European member of the Tour. Then we'll have players looking at dual citizenship and different things.
This is very political, guys, here. Do you want to know how I'm hitting it? (Laughing)

Q. If you're going to reduce, can you reduce in America or does it have to be Europe?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't see -- I can't see how I cannot play -- I would suggest I'll play more in Europe. I'm looking -- I want to play -- there are certain events I missed out on Europe due to schedule this year and they are the events I want to play. So I'm looking at my schedule to reduce my tournaments, yes, that would be a goal.
But some of my good events, TPC in Germany, the BMW International Open in Germany, those are two events I've won one and contended in the other regularly. So these are things I don't want to miss out.
I certainly have no intention of reducing my European Tour schedule.

Q. So if there were two tournaments on links courses before The Open Championship, more players would come?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's a lovely micro schedule, two links tournaments before The Open. Now you're getting people interested. If you had a links tournament here, a links tournament -- actually even if you came along and put this on a links course, even with Loch Lomond next week, you would still have people come and playing here with the idea -- you would definitely get more than six of the top playing if this is on a links course.
Yes, anybody who has got true intentions of winning The Open Championship, you know, is looking to play links golf, and the Top-50 players are all, you know, a lot of their goals will be based heavily on the majors. I would definitely put a wager down that if this was on a links golf course -- and this is a links design out here in many ways. Doesn't play like a links but is in many ways a links design; you would have and encourage more players to come.

Q. How do you feel about your game? (Laughter)
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I feel very good about my game, yes. But yeah, a couple of -- you know, I was very happy with it for the first six months of the year. Probably did a bit of work last week and that might be my biggest concern how changing a few things, a bit of my posture and a little bit on my putting and things. So things like that, when you get into tournament play, it's all very well to do it in practise.
But when you get into tournament play, it does take a little time to get in there and bed in there. That certainly would be a little area of anxiousness, but I'm comfortable with my game going forward, yeah.

Q. You never play well when you're comfortable with your game, but you seem to play well when you're not comfortable.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We're back to the golf questions, great.
Yeah, when I'm confident -- I always play my best golf when I'm struggling a bit. I make very good decisions when I'm not on form. I know when to play safe and when to attack. I make the most of my opportunities. Obviously when you're struggling a little bit with your game, your short game is sharpens up.
When I'm confident, I tend to take a lot of things on. I have no fear and just take a lot of shots on, and sometimes the risk/reward, I don't see it as well as I would when I'm not so confident.
As I said, perfect example is the likes of 18, if you're playing well, you feel, why not hit it over the 300-yard carry on the left-hand side, and why not hit it to the island green with a wood. If you weren't confident, you do neither. You probably play the hole in less by laying up and hitting wedges. Just shot selection changes when you're really confident about your game. It's an area I have to improve. It's something I'm aware of; for years I've always played better with fear, and fear is not a great way to motivate yourself. It would be a lot less stressful to be confident and to go out there and make the right choices.
You know, as I said, the experience will help with that.

Q. When you were sitting down talking with your trainer, do you feel that your body is not able to take the schedule; is it the wear and tear?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, it's more to do with the fact that I cannot -- I'm not providing enough time to improve my physical performance. That would be it.
I work with Lee Hanessey (ph), and the man I was discussing it with was Paul Hurrey (ph), a biomechanical coach, but it's very evident. It's like taking my nine-week winter break -- well, six weeks this year. That's a perfect example. That's where my extra tournaments have come from this week is I took six weeks instead of nine weeks.
You need sustained periods to train. You can't expect to come off three weeks of tournaments. There's a recovery period after that, and when I've recovered, I'm back out playing almost immediately; whereas I should be recovering and training and then go back out playing. So it's an issue, physical fitness, physical strength and all that, and you need more time to do it.
You know, as I said, if you were competing in other sports, you would only have half a dozen events in the year. We have only 30 to play in and that could be a hindrance in terms of getting in the gym and doing some serious work, bar maintenance work. You need to have that rest.

Q. Can you talk about The Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarships, launched today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I am really proud of that. My dad would be thrilled. It's something -- my dad always wants to be involved and he was never cut out -- he always wanted to be a coach and things like that and he was always very keen on junior golf or any junior sport development, and this is great. It's encouraging the amateur golfers to get a good degree, to stay amateur, get a good degree -- not necessarily stay amateur, no, but stay a little bit longer, get a good degree so that they are a little bit more mature when they make a decision on what their future is going to be. So it gives them options.
When you're in college, it's a great place to go in and study, to have a great life, great lifestyle, great time. They will have the great experiences of college life that will develop them so much more. Even if it's a case of turning professional, they will develop so much more as a person, and they are also getting the benefits of being able to improve their golf. They have the facilities of Carton House which is fantastic. They have the GUI facilities there. They really -- I wish it was around in my day. They have got everything they could need to develop both their education and their golf. When they come to make a decision, they will be that much more mature and that much stronger this their own self to decide on what their future is.
But that would be over the moon. It would be exactly what he would have wanted. He really loved amateur golf I would say a lot more than professional golf but he never would have discouraged anybody from moving from the amateur ranks to the professional game. But he would have -- he certainly, his hard was in the amateur game I suppose coming from the GAA. I think this would be right where he wanted, so the guys or girls would make the decision much later in their life when they have the capacity and the self-belief and the maturity to know what they want.
RODDY WILLIAMS: There is a press release about The Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarships which are happening today and John Hughes is here and so if anybody wants to ask any further questions about this golf scholarship, then feel free to ask the gentleman.

Q. Do you have little option other than giving up your US Tour membership?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I'm not doing that either, no. I don't know what to do. This is very, as I said, this is very early. I've just come to the conclusion I need to play less. It's very early. How I'm going to do it, I don't know. I want to take a bigger break during the winter. I want to take more time off during the season. Obviously you've got to -- I've always said the better a player you are, the less you say.

Q. If you gave up your membership, you could still play on invites, and you can still play in the majors, why would you not give it up?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would suggest the reason for doing it would be the fact that I took it. Because I took membership. I wouldn't, you know -- if you take it. You're not going to just give it up. That would be --

Q. But keeping membership on both Tours requires playing in a lot of tournament?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's adding tournaments, no questions, but I don't think -- as I said, this is very early for me. Look, the best players in the world plays 20 events, 22 events in the year. That answers a huge amount. If the best player is doing that and we're all trying to beat the best player, you've got to look at what they are doing and see if that suits what they are doing; how does that work for you. And I do see it, you know, playing 30 events a year is difficult.

Q. You were saying there were going to be 11 students next year with the Paddy Harrington Scholarships - is it an advantage studying here rather than in the United States?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, there's two reasons. Education in Ireland obviously not -- I think probably not as much in my day. There was a certain issue in my day where sports scholarships in the States given to the student and what is the qualification really, how good of a standing is it. Obviously it's great for Maynooth. You can go anywhere in the world with that and you've got a qualification that will stands up to the rigours. So that's the first thing to getting a solid education.
The other issue, and I always recommend this to anybody, I think golf scholarships in the States are great as well, I don't disagree with it. I always recommend to you don't go to -- which is always where people are keen to, is the southern colleges, because if you play golf from September through to June as your competitive season. And then you come home and play in the Irish competitive season, which is June through to August, you're playing 12 months of the year and you're going to suffer burnout.
And many players went on scholarships and suffered burnout, both in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. The amount of players that came home from the States and be billed as the next great thing and wouldn't perform at all, it's because they played all year.
You're better off going to a college in the northern states where you've got two, three months of the winter that's not competitive. You've got three on the ground. Same here in Ireland. You have a period during the winter, two, three months, where you can develop, going to the gym and your swing technical, and the rest of the season you're building up for competition.
The worst thing you can do is have 12 months of competition. That year, you'll burnout. That was a big problem with guys when I was around. The amount of guys that would come home from the states from our summer campaign; yeah, we were No. 1 in stroke average and won this and won that. But players would look and say, well, how is our competition. They are obviously quality competition, but it's a question of burnout. You can't play 12 months consistently.
And that's why staying at home, they are going to develop their game in a much quieter environment. There's no coach going to be saying to them, come November -- and they might have exams in December saying, come on, we have a tournament. They are going to be saying, yeah, this is your winter game. You can go to the gym and work on your technique and change your swing. You have a two- to three-month window. And I used to love it as an amateur where you would still be playing and practising. But remember this, if you play good golf in the winter, you won't play good golf in the summer. It never happens. You can't play good 12 months of the year. So you're always better off having a development period during the year.
And that's what happens to professional golfers, too. You see, and I've been -- definitely happened to me many times. You see it happen a lot. A guy goes, wins a tournament and all of a sudden, clicks into his head, I've won now, now I can go away and work on my swing and develop. We all look for development periods where we have three months of not the stresses and pressures of having to perform. It's not that we don't want to pay golf and practise. We do want to be playing and practising and going through the whole thing, but you certainly need a period of time where you're not competing, where you're under no pressure. Staying at home in Ireland in college I think will develop players. They can develop at their own pace. There's no pressure on them to go out and perform for 12 months of the year. There's a better development period, a better period of relaxed non-pressure. Now that we've talked about it, it's probably what I'm looking for more of a period where I'm developing my game rather than a period where I'm competing.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thanks for your time, we covered a lot of subjects, and now you've got to concentrate on the Smurfit Kappa European Open.

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