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July 17, 2007

Padraig Harrington


Q. Playing the European Club last week must have seemed a good idea at the time. When you had to play 37 holes one day on Saturday, was that the best preparation for an Open Championship?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: This has been said to me a few times, it kind of baffles me. It made no difference, 36 holes or 18 holes. I could have done another 36. No, I can't see that having any effect at all. I'm well able to walk 36 holes of golf. No effect. It was very good preparation, as good as could be. Like it would be great if it was windy or harder or faster or things like that, but probably pretty similar to what it is this week. There wasn't too much wind. The golf course was obviously reasonably soft. But it was playing links golf and getting an idea how far the ball is traveling on different shots, like that. I don't think you can beat playing a four-round tournament, especially in that sort of situation where you're competing, but you're not -- it's not as stressful as maybe other tournaments.

Q. Over the years you've been in contention for majors. Have you worked out how to peak for majors? What is the best preparation for you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think it's not set in stone, and I think all players are different. I have kind of gone back to my -- how I used to do it as an amateur. I've kind of come back to that. Basically as an amateur I used to feel that in advance of the tournament, three or four weeks. Before a tournament I would work with my coach on whatever needed to be worked on. Then I go into a tournament, as much as could be a lower key event, so that you kind of find out the bit of practice you've done and how that's worked into your game and you find out where -- if you're chipping or putting needs more work, that you wouldn't see on the practice ground.
You can only see -- at least I can only see how any golf game is when I'm competing. So a low-key event usually tells me what my game is like, what needs to be worked on and then the main event. I've got to come back to that. That's what I used to do as an amateur and I try to do that as a pro. I use the week before -- I'll always play the week before a Major in an event. As much as you go out there and try to win it, you've always got one eye on the Major itself. And you're really establishing where your game is at in that week and just getting a little bit competitive.
I think that's another point. The more time I spend on the range the less competitive I am on the golf course. I need to be on the golf course to be working on -- just to know if certain things about how well I've played the ball or drawn the ball in a given week, you tend to learn that when you've got a little bit of pressure on the shot or when you're trying to hit it in a competitive situation rather than when you're out on the range and you're hitting ball after ball it's hard to -- it's good for groove in the swing, but it's hard to give you the true picture of how you're playing.

Q. You've done that in the past, you've hit too many balls going into a Major?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I've achieved that to no end in the past, yeah. I've definitely been one to over do it. The worst thing I can do, I over do it more so when I have a week off than anything else. That's when I tend to -- I just get far too much practice in and I come out of it just not match ready. I've seen myself play very well the week after a Major many times in the past. So it is a question of, for me, getting a nice competitive warm-up the week before the tournament.

Q. Last year at Hoylake we went into it with everyone saying it's the time for Britain to -- British golfers to step up to the plate. And there was all that hoo-ha. Do you find every year that's the same thing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, you do like to hype up your young players. You have an awful lot of very talented young players in Britain. They will win majors, there's no question about it. There's a number of players capable of doing it now. I would suggest that in time they'll have more experience and will even be better, but are well capable of doing it now and would just need, just like the rest of us, would need the right break here or there during the tournament to do it now.
Over the next number of years I think going back to when -- going back five years ago, I think, they didn't have anybody in the top 100 for the World Cup. Now you have a number of players that are exceptionally talented and potentially they're already the top of the world, but getting right to the very top you've got to win a lot of Majors. In time that will happen and it could happen this week. As I said, there's plenty of good guys out there.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously Ireland is -- I tend to look at myself very much as European in this sense. I think the more any European wins a Major, whether it's Thomas Bjorn or Luke Donald or someone like that, I think that would help the rest of us. I think there's time for us to go back to the era when Seve broke through, and that would bring on a lot better players. We've proved in the Ryder Cup that there are a lot of good players out there and it's just a question of that little breakthrough.
When you see people doing it, Michael Campbell is good, we see him week in, week out, it makes it easier when you see somebody else do it, you believe you can do it, too. If I don't win this week I'll certainly be rooting for another player that I'm very familiar with, just so that when I get here the next time I'll be thinking, he did it the last time and it would just be easier. It would be easier to visualize it in my own head when somebody you know goes and wins one. Knowing as if you played practice rounds, but you're very familiar with their game.

Q. So it's like Seve did --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I believe it just starts a little bit like that. Seve made the breakthrough and so many of those guys -- okay being Seve was probably exceptional. When you're Woozy, and Sandy Lyle, you have to have seen that yes, Seve broke through and the rest of saying, yeah, we can do this, too, we can follow. They're obviously unbelieveable talents. Europe was amazing at golf at that time. It certainly helps with the people doing it. It's good for visualization. If you see a friend do it you can say, yes, I can go do it.

Q. The bookmakers are making Tiger, Ernie and Phil, I think, the first three favorites, in that order. And then you come in at No. 4. Are you surprised at that?

Q. Do you think it reflects your chances of winning a tournament?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it might reflect the fact that we're obviously in Great Britain and Ireland, and there's a lot of home bark and they know they can pull the odds down a little bit and people will still put money on me. I think the bookies are being a bit clever on that. It's nice to be considered in that position. It doesn't help me win the golf tournament. It doesn't give me an extra shot start on the first tee. I'll go out there and play my golf and not worry necessarily -- if you turned around and told me I was 100 to 1 this week, I wouldn't be trying any less than if I'm 25 to 1, something like that -- 22? You know, I think some of that is due to the fact that it's a links golf course and I've played links golf and the fact that there will be a lot of sentimental betting, which the bookies can reduce their odds based on that. It probably is not a fair reflection of a perfect market. It's a reflection of what they can do.
Fourth favorite, hopefully they're right. I'd like to have that chance of that high up. That would be nice. But having not won a Major before, it's always going to be difficult. I'm capable of doing it. But doing it is another question. All I can ask is if I can get myself into the heat of the hunt, nine holes to go, we'll see what happens from there.
Bear in mind this is probably one of the toughest golf courses -- I think it could be a tough golf course for an outsider to win on. There's a lot of golf shots that have to be hit in the end here, probably the toughest finishing hole in golf. And 17th, you can't overlook, because of 18. 16 and 15, there's a lot of good -- nine holes to play here, there's a lot of shots that have to be hit.

Q. In '99 the course took quite a bark, high scores and frustrated players. Do you feel that this time around there's a need for the course, for the town, to do something about the reputation or the memory of eight years ago?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hadn't heard it explained, but somebody said it the other day and it seemed quite a good point. Carnoustie hadn't held an Open for a long time and they weren't sure how the golf course would hold up. They obviously went and erred on the side let's make it as tough as Carnoustie is meant to be, it's one of the toughest. This time around they have the experience of '99 that they know the golf course -- you can come out here and play this course with no rough and it would still be a very difficult test. So they realize now they have a very strong golf course in itself that doesn't really need anything extra put in it, it's already there.
If the golf course plays easier this week -- this is what I found in the majors, I prefer to go to a tougher golf course and for them to use fair pin positions, rather than go to an easy golf course where the pin positions get extreme. So if the golf course plays too easy we'll find more tough pins. If the golf course plays good, solid and tough we'll find fair pins. I think all the championship committees nowadays at the Majors have a good understanding of what's happening out on the golf course and they set the golf course up for Thursday, but they're keenly looking after Thursday to see how the players play the golf course. And a lot of -- I think a lot of the pin positions and a lot of the course setup is dictated by the scoring the first day. So as I said, you can go back to Augusta where they've obviously lengthened the golf course quite a bit. The pin positions are two yards away from the tiers rather than a yard away from the tiers. It's one golf course that they've made a much fairer challenge.
And I believe Carnoustie is a bit like that, that you've got a good, tough golf course that the likelihood is it will be a very fair challenge all week. If the course is too easy the pin positions just get really tucked away and it's -- I don't like that so much.

Q. Back to the talented crop of European players at the moment. Faldo made some comments yesterday about maybe the comfortable lifestyle that top players have now is a detriment to winning Majors in such a way that he wore blinkers to win Majors.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: He didn't have a comfortable lifestyle.

Q. The sociability side of it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Okay, you're talking just purely about the personality rather than --

Q. How to go about winning majors.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Faldo was saying he was just tough out and didn't -- I don't know, I think if Faldo came in -- does a person want to be -- how do you want to live your life? As far as I want to win a Major you don't want to, I don't know how to say, I think Faldo answered that. We have all different ways of going about our things. I don't believe that there's -- I don't believe any of the players, just because they're nice guys, can't win a Major. Sure that doesn't stop you from winning a Major. Surely being -- that couldn't be it (laughter). I can't hold him to that, no.
I think the guys I know, they want to win it because the great thing about golf now, most of the guys are competing in this -- maybe the guys that you're talking that are young or Europeans, their only focus is on winning. The financial rewards of playing golf are so high that you don't have to think about it. That's the great thing, you just know -- it's all about competing and playing your golf now, which is a great thing. I can't see -- everybody goes about things differently. I'm sure there's many nice guys that have won Majors. You don't have to be -- you have to have an instinct to win, but you don't -- nice guys do win.

Q. You looked to be surprised about being 4th favorite. But would you say this is your best chance of winning The Open Championship?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I wouldn't accept it's my best chance of winning The Open Championship, because I feel like if I walk away from it having not won, I might have lost something. Every time I tee up in a Major I'm looking forward to that opportunity. This is why we play our tournament every year, well, at least I'm very focused on it now. I look forward to coming here. But I can't have that ultimatum in my head that this is my best chance. That's going to put too much expectation on the week, too much focus on the week.
I have to treat this as -- I'd love to treat it as another tournament, and I do approach it like that but it is a Major and I've just got to treat it as one of a number of Majors that we play in. Given the number of Majors at this stage the bookies are saying I need to play 23 Majors to win one -- or 22 -- I just have to keep working on a numbers game. Keep playing, keep playing. Get myself in contention. The more I get myself in contention, and it will happen more than once. In my mind that's the only way I can tackle it. I can't say I've won here before, this is my big chance. By having an attitude like that, it's not going to help you, it will only put more pressure on you.
The key, as I said, is really to tone it down all the way through and just play to get yourself into that position with nine holes to go, and accept there will be a lot of pressure on those nine holes.

Q. In deference to Nick Faldo, to be fair to him, he said to Seve, we might not have got on well as players, in fact I could never envision sitting down having lunch with you, and then playing you for a million dollars. He said Tiger would never give a trade secret to another player. They drink together, and they're good fellows, but they're not -- you're the sort of guy that doesn't give away much to his opponents, either?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: One of my first ever lessons by my Irish teaching pro is never tell anybody anything, they'll go out and beat you tomorrow with the same information. I don't live by that. If I've got a friend and he's struggling I'll tell him. If I have a guy that's not a friend I won't tell him. But I would be all for telling a friend, yes, and I would have a number of friends that I would help along. I would want to give some advice, if I could give them advice.
I think Faldo probably had a number of friends, but Seve wouldn't have been obviously one of them. I'm sure this image of the Ryder Cup, of the European team being all the best of buddies, we are the best of buddies for the week of the Ryder Cup, but we're competitors the rest of the time. I think that's a false image. But we're out there all the time, bringing up our teammates, and saying, "Will you go out for dinner?" We have no trouble sitting down and playing table tennis, trying to beat each other, or whatever is going on, but I think we're still competitive.
I don't think there's an issue of -- yeah, I think there's good competition. As I said, it wouldn't be as intense as the rivalry between Faldo and Seve. I think that's something special, because you have two guys right at the top. Maybe the problem in Europe is nobody has really set themselves enough out there and -- like it's easy to see the rivalries that were back in the '80s, whether it was Seve and Faldo or -- then you had Langer, and Sandy Lyle and Woozy. And Ollie followed up, but Ollie is probably a different generation. But you could see, each of those five players, were trying to prove themselves. At the moment maybe the Europeans haven't gotten up to the level of winning majors. As I mentioned earlier, if one wins it, the others will be able to hold their place in the pecking order. And that rivalry may happen at that stage. But at this stage it's just good competition.
Then the other part is we're so globalized at this stage that we're competing -- it's not as much -- back then they were competing against themselves week in and week out. Now we're all over the place. We don't necessarily see the same -- most given weeks we're just another golfer in the field. We're not necessarily, whatever, competing against the U.S. or Aussies or South Africans. I think the game has just broadened so much, probably the five best golfers in the world were all European in the '80s.

Q. Your best friends wouldn't be your biggest rivals?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Neither were Seve's or Faldo's, his best friends weren't his rivals. I like to be competitive. There's a few guys, like as I said to Thomas Bjorn, we were sitting out to dinner last night (laughter), I said to Thomas, I said, I watched Loch Lomond last week, and they obviously always show Thomas winning at Loch Lomond. He was the first winner there. And it was pivotal in him winning the Rookie-of-the-Year that year. So I had to sit and watch you win again Loch Lomond last night. He picked me for Rookie-of-the-Year. There are rivalries, but I'm sitting there having dinner at the same time.

Q. Who paid?

Q. Where are you in your national pecking order?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: When I was asked about being fourth, I was trying to figure out who had skipped. I don't know, I have to sit down and -- there's a few guys -- Thomas, Michael Campbell are guys, we're all the same age, and would feel competitive together. The likes of Luke and Paul Casey and guys that are just a little bit younger, not quite -- I'm kind of looking more at the Thomas and Michael Campbell. We would have a good competitiveness together. And certainly, as I said, Thomas has gotten close, Michael has one, that sort of thing helps. Those would be the guys I'm looking at as, I suppose, my peers or guys that I would relate to. I don't know where I am in the pecking order. I have no idea. I'll have to sit and think about that.

Q. In winning last year in Japan, you were one of the few that beat Tiger head-to-head down the stretch. That's got to be a plus in your memory banks, doesn't it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It is a plus, not plus because -- it was more a plus because I did what I wanted to do. The competition being Tiger obviously put more emphasis on it. It's always good to approach something and to get positive feedback and results from it. One of my best traits all through my amateur career, I think, I'm a much better player when I'm an under dog. When my back is to the wall and I have to produce something, I tend to be better. I'm not great at being -- maybe complacent -- certainly when I'm leading I'm not as good a player. When you're coming up against Tiger in a playoff you feel like you've got to pull everything out and go for it. That's a good situation for me. So, yes, it is a positive for me if I come up against any player like that I think, yeah, I feel good. I put them both on a pedestal, and I have to produce the goods to beat them.

Q. Do you remember any shot or hole?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Which one? I can tell you them all. Not in particular, no. I just -- I remember the whole attitude. That was really it. I was down all the way through the key thing, I remember thinking on the front nine, I dropped out of the race and that Shingo was pushing hard and it looked like a two-horse race between Shingo and Tiger. And I remember saying, I think that Shingo just dropped out. I remember saying that I had been forgotten about. I remember saying to my caddie, things could happen for me here. And if Tiger doesn't push away, I'm going to catch up here, as in I kind of nearly -- Tiger nearly looked like he had won the tournament, and I knew I was in a good position that if he didn't close it out that I was going to push him. So just good attitude that day, one of those things. I was very focused on what I was doing and knew I had a chance all the way, even though it looked like maybe I was 2 behind with 5 to play and still felt good with my chances at winning.

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