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July 22, 2007

Padraig Harrington


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Padraig Harrington, The Open Champion. Padraig, you're now The Open Champion. What's it like, your quick reaction?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it's going to take a long time for it to settle in. One of the few times I had a three-footer at the last -- I couldn't believe my putt went three feet by. When I looked up I had maybe 14, 18 inches to go and it was rolling into the middle of the hole. Unbelievable the emotion hit. I didn't know what it meant, actually, as it's going in there.
I stayed in the present so much this week, that that putt dropping just -- it's going to take a long time for it to sink in. Just to see it rolling in there, and I know it was only a short putt, but the emotions of it, I couldn't believe it as it was rolling in from right in the middle hole and I'm thinking The Open Champion. Am I The Open Champion? What does this mean?
There were so many things going through my head. A huge amount of it was genuine shock, and I won The Open Championship. I had a foot to watch it going in there, and it was just amazing, incredible to see it drop.

Q. You've waited so long, we've waited so long for a European winner. What impact do you think this will have on the guys around you, the Paul Caseys, Luke Donalds and Paul McGinleys?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hope it has a very positive impact. Miguel Angel Jiménez came to me on the first hole of the playoff and said, we've got a European winner. I do believe very much in that side of things, that hopefully it will inspire the other players. But then again, Michael is part of our Tour, and we consider Michael one of us.
Yeah, okay, I hope it does push out to the other guys, I know I've got my trophy. And as I said, my goal has always been, if I'm asked about this in the past, I'm saying, look, I'm trying to win more than one major. I think that's a huge point that I need to be -- I need to try to focus on winning. My goal was always to win more than one major. If I ever crossed that threshold to win one, I wouldn't feel like that was the end of my road. It was always very important for me to have -- now that I've won one, I'll try to win another, rather than feeling that this was the pinnacle.
I'm going to celebrate like it's the pinnacle, but my attitude is, look, I've got other goals now to move on with. I'm certainly going to enjoy this one as it is, for the foreseeable future. Forever, actually.

Q. You made steady progress on those ahead of you in the early part of your round. Were there any alarms going on, because you seemed to play spot on?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The alarm was nothing happened in the round until the 14th. That was -- I didn't get like a situation -- maybe I holed a good putt on 10. But besides that, nothing happened in the round that was, this is my day. I had a number of putts that sat on the lip. A number of putts that were ever so close. There was no signal there.
Normally when it's your day, you chip in, you hole a long putt. None of that was happening. That was a little bit -- until I got a very good break on 14, I assumed my ball kicked just left of the green up there, I thought I was going to be like 30 feet away from the hole. Instead I was 15 feet away with a great chance. That was a big break to hole that.
Again, at no stage besides that one putt there did I feel like, hey, everything is going my way today.
And missing on 16, 16 is a tough hole. I hit a great putt on 16. That was probably an alarm bell to me. You don't normally get away with your -- your good shots normally are good on the day everything is going right for you. I hit a lovely putt from about six feet. I can't see it, basically, it's missed on the high side at a dribbling pace. You just go, things like that are not a good omen for today.
So that probably was an alarm bell. And against that or the opposite of that was making a good up-and-down on 18 was probably the opposite.
That said, hey, look, if you get into this, you have a chance. So hopefully -- I sat and watched Sergio play the last. His putt was incredibly unlucky to miss. I'm sure he thought he had holed it. Me having made a good up-and-down at least made a positive for me to go out in the playoff. I knew I played well all day and it was just a question of getting back into that frame of mind.

Q. How weird was it that your adventure on 18 in regulation sort of unfolded right in front of Sergio, who had a perfect view of it, and what were your emotions as that all unfolded?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I never -- when I hit it in the water, that was the first time I asked today -- I knew how the tournament was going, but it was the first time I asked -- when I was going up 17 I asked how I was standing and we were tied. As I was going down 18, I was one ahead.
When I hit it in the water I said, well, 5 is going to put up at least I'm going to be well in there. The problem is you're coming from that side of the fairway, I've got 229 yards, I'm trying to aim left of the pin and cut it back to the pin with out-of-bounds left. It's a tough shot. I didn't execute well. I hit it fat.
I was trying to play to the front left of the green so that I'd have a good chance of -- I knew that was the most sensible play, make my 5 ask put some pressure on Sergio.
When I hit it in the water I was disappointed. But once I walked up there, I said, look, I've got to get this up-and-down. I kind of had a feeling, even though things hadn't gone for me, I had a feeling that, hey, I could chip this in. If I'm going to win an Open, my break is going to happen at some stage. I hit a lovely pitch. Holing the putt that was probably the most pressure-filled putt I had of the day. If I missed it, it was the end of it, and to hole was it was a great boost to me. That was a moment that I thought, now maybe things are going to go my way.

Q. Just to follow up on that, you still make a 6 at the last. I'm just wondering what your emotions were as you sat there watching Sergio.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I never left myself feel like I'd lost The Open Championship as I sat watching. The one thing, I never, ever had it in my head that I'd lost.
Now, if Sergio parred the last and I did lose, I think I would have struggled to come back out and be a competitive golfer. It meant that much to me. But I never let it sink into me that I had just thrown away The Open Championship on the 18th.
I sat there in that hut and I was as disciplined as I could be with my focus not to brood or not to, you know, ifs and whats or buts or if I had done that. I never let it cross my mind that I'd just thrown away The Open.
Obviously if I had just thrown away The Open, if it turned out like that, it would have been incredibly hard to take. It come so close and not to win would have been -- take a 6 down the last, playing the hole, obviously very poorly, it would have really felt -- it would have hit me very hard. And I think I would have struggled in the future.
But, as I said, I didn't let that cross my mind. I wouldn't let it enter my mind. I knew that it's a tough, tough hole. If Sergio doesn't make par, which essentially it's the toughest hole in golf, toughest finishing hole in golf, no question about that. To try to win a tournament on that hole, there's just trouble everywhere you look at it. I knew Sergio -- it was going to be a tough hole for him to make par.
He did hit a lovely putt. I'm sure he's going to look back on that and -- I thought he holed it. But as I said in my head going out into that playoff holes, there was a little bit of, I've got a second chance. But I didn't have a down after the round, which I think was very important. I kept myself very level all the way through.

Q. When were you in the hut, where were you watching?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I sat in the recorder's hut and just turned down the sound (laughter).

Q. Were you by yourself?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, my caddie was with me and obviously the recorders and a few R&A officials. I just basically sat there and watched it unfold. Obviously I didn't want to hear any analyzing of my six (laughter). Again, I was trying to ignore that fact.
And I was -- I knew it was a tough hole. As I said, definitely for me the toughest hole in golf. I lost a match in the '92 Amateur, that's what I was referring to, where I hit it out-of-bounds on my second shot there from the fairway. And I've always looked at that as being one of the more tougher moments of my golfing career.
So I think in my own head I think that 18th is as tough as you're going to find in golf. There's nowhere to hide.

Q. There's been much talk this week about Europe's eight-year wait, but I'm sure you're well aware that it's been a 60-year wait for us. What's this perception of what all this is going to mean back home?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously that hasn't sunk in. It's going to mean a lot to Irish golf, a lot to all the young lads that are competing as amateurs turn pro, a lot to golf, in general. We have an Open Champion from Ireland.
Obviously in Ireland we celebrate all our sporting achievements. I think we're a great country for anybody who does well; everybody gets behind them. And I think I'm very proud as a -- of the support I get at home, the amount of people who wished me well and believed I was going to win a major championship. There were far more people believed I was going to win an Open Championship -- far more people had belief in me than I had in myself. They generally believe that you're going to go on and do great things.
The Irish people are fantastic like that. There isn't a nation like them that get behind their sports people, and their support, no question, has helped me along the way.

Q. Before the tournament you were quite passionate about your comments to what Nick Faldo said about players being too chummy. Do you feel --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I had a talk about that afterwards. There was less players in the worldwide scene. I think more players are capable of winning a major now in terms of you had a few really unbelievable standout players. Nowadays besides the one standout player, because a lot of other players are capable of winning majors, there's no point in me looking at one person and thinking he's a rival. Just so many people out there that you're competitive with.
So I think it was easier to know who your competitors were back in the '80s. Now our competitors are -- my competitor on the golf course is me, always. I'm always trying to win the battle with myself. I'm a great believer in, with my playing partners, I'm always a believer that I want them to play well to bring me along. It's only the last couple of holes that should differentiate.
So I like the positive idea of wishing people well and not wishing them bad sort of thing. I take after my dad; we're not that competitive. I try hard. I work really hard. I want to win.
But like -- I wanted to win that playoff so badly today, but I genuinely felt sorry for Sergio when I won it.

Q. You said, "nice guys can win" before the tournament. Do you feel like you've proved that now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That would be saying I'm a nice guy (laughter). I can't give that -- I can't say that about myself, obviously. I am a very competitive person inside. I work very hard at having a competitive instinct, but I'm always a believer that it's possible to win without genuine -- you can be a nice guy and win, yeah. It's a nice thing to aspire to.

Q. You decided not to play at Loch Lomond and instead play some links golf?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: And won in a playoff, too. I did think that while I was out there.

Q. How important was that in retrospect for your preparation in this?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It definitely helped me. There's no question playing last week, there was a number -- just getting used to the fact that you could hit 7-iron into the wind and it's only going to go 125 yards. That just doesn't happen in our regular golf. We're used to hitting a 7-iron 180 yards into a slight breeze because it's warm.
All of a sudden you go to a links course and that same little breeze is taking 20, 30 yards off the shot. A good example, like I had 162 to the pin on the first playoff hole. And like I know -- I've got 7-iron in my hand and I know because of the temperature and it's only -- there's hardly a breeze out there, but I know I'm probably going to hit my 7-iron 180 yards. But I know in these conditions I'm doing well, I hit that well to get to pin-high.
Just playing last week, definitely you have to spend time to getting used to the different conditions. And obviously chipping and putting, similar sort of thing. I had great pace this week. Anytime -- I had no fear standing over 25-yard, 30-yard, 40-yard putts from off the green. I had no fear. I rolled them up stone dead.
Like I had a great week of rolling putts up like on 16 up that bank. I was confident I was going to put that in.
Actual fact, the only putt that probably did something that I didn't expect this week was my putt on the fourth hole of the playoff. I couldn't believe I hit it three feet -- I thought I hit that stone dead. I actually thought I had a chance of rolling it across there. Because I thought it was going to just get to the hole and die into it. And then it was a foot by -- I couldn't believe I hit it three feet by.
But if there's a putt I don't like it's a right-to-left -- I really didn't like that putt (laughter). It was two feet too long, probably three feet too long. The beauty of it is I got to see it going into the hole, which is always a joy to watch a putt drop.

Q. Was there ever a doubt in your mind about the wisdom of taking a driver?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, no doubt. I needed to make par to win, that was the way I was looking at it. The biggest target down there was with driver. I was very comfortable. I struggled with my driver the first two days, and I changed today. I took a Wilson Dd6 driver and really bombed the ball. I just hit it fantastic. I was very comfortable with it. Very confident with it.
There isn't really -- either you lay up and play it as a par-5 as I did in real-time. The one thing I couldn't do -- it's a different way of playing -- I wouldn't lay up off the tee and then go to the green. The last thing I wanted to do was hit a shot and leave myself 240 yards, 220 yards into the pin there, because as I said, I have had history of being out-of-bounds. I just wouldn't like that shot. Whether I'm going to hit the shot down there and leave myself 180, 190 yards or play it as a par-5.
Obviously I didn't have the option of playing it as a par-5 in real-time. I only had the option when I was two ahead. I wished I was three ahead. I would have been happier with a three-shot lead going down the last. But that's neither here nor there now.

Q. You always said that on turning pro you would have been happy to be a journeyman. When did you start believing this was possible? Was there a turning point?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I qualified for The Open in '99 here at Panmure. So when I turned pro, the only reason I turned pro -- I decided to turn pro -- this could be a long answer (laughter). Obviously I went to college. At 21 years of age I decided I would turn pro because the guys I was able to beat as an amateur were turning pro, not because I thought I was good enough, because the other guys that were turning pro.
I thought I would have a great life. I love playing golf. I thought I would have a great life. And if I did well, maybe I'd make a comfortable living on the Tour.
Now, that doesn't mean that I always had the focus to improve my game. The idea was to turn pro, have a couple of years on the Tour if I could. With those couple of years, learn the ropes, see what I needed to do to improve and then try to move on after a couple of years on Tour, I started so well, I just kept my head down and ran with it.
I couldn't really believe I did as well as I did. And it was fairy tale stuff. I won after ten weeks. I didn't really think about it, I just kept going.
After two years I think I went to The Open Championship at Congressional, and it was just too difficult for me. I couldn't get around a golf course like that. I shot 76, 77 and came home, just thinking, well, I'm a good golfer, but that's really tough, unless I do something about it.
It was then I started working with Bob Torrance -- told you it would be a long answer -- and I've worked tirelessly to improve my game so that I could compete on the U.S.-style golf courses. It's now interesting that it's come back, and winning this tournament this week is definitely my instincts for playing links golf as an amateur growing up. Just the ability, as I said, to get the ball into the hole, two-putt from -- pace-putt it from off the green, just working it around the place.
But it's been a long road. I don't know if I ever believed I was going to do it, but I tried, especially this week, to convince myself I was going to do it. I certainly at Muirfield had a chance. I played great golf there, way above -- I don't think I've ever quite emulated the way I played in the final round there or the whole week.
Last year -- not Hoylake, but at the U.S. Open last year I had a genuine chance of winning The Open and felt very comfortable about it. I felt great that day. The Masters I had a little bit of a chance and felt good.
Today was a harder work. I didn't feel as good about my game today, but I stuck to my guns, stuck to what I wanted to do and just kept playing the golf. I wouldn't for a second say I was as comfortable today as I was say in The Masters at the start of the year or the U.S. Open last year. Those were real good days.
Today I just worked hard and I think I just drew on all my experience of playing links golf and honestly convinced myself I was going to win.

Q. From what you just said, does it follow that Europeans can stay in Europe and win majors or do they have to do what you've done and play more in America?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think every player has to look at their own way of doing things. It's interesting because I think what we have in Europe is we're real competitive and we show it in the Ryder Cup.
I really don't know how to answer that because if I say -- if I say one thing I'm proving myself wrong, because I've obviously been playing in the States. I do believe that -- I think all my years winning in Europe I think has helped me win this title more than anything else. I think definitely the fact that a dozen wins or so in Europe, I don't know how many wins I've had, maybe 15, 16 wins in total, but most of them have been European Tour wins, there's nothing like having done it before. And I think that's the greatest reason I'm sitting here today is getting out there and winning and the experience of it and bringing it to the fore in a playoff today.
I obviously kind of believe a little bit in fate. I had lost to Sergio in a playoff a couple of times before, so I knew I was due.
STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Padraig Harrington, The Open Champion.

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