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August 1, 2007

Padraig Harrington


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, welcome, Padraig, the 2007 Open Champion. I'm not going to say British Open, Open Champion from Carnoustie. The initial euphoria of Carnoustie you looked a little bit shocked and bewildered. Has it all sunk in yet?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I obviously enjoyed it, but it hasn't actually sunk in. It's only in the quiet moments that you kind of stand back and realize that you've won. It's been very busy during the weeks, so a lot of it when you're going flat-out, you tend not to stand back and think about it.
But it's great, and as I said, I'm enjoying it and letting it sink in slowly rather than -- let it take its time.
GORDON SIMPSON: Don't want to waste the moment.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, exactly. I've been enjoying it, but I'm quite happy for it to continue for a while.
GORDON SIMPSON: What were the highlights? Obviously the Taoiseach.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That was really nice, yeah. Probably the highlights I've shared with friends and a lot of people who have been involved with my career over the years, and to share it with them was very special.

Q. It's not often in the U.S. where an American wins a big tournament or something and the whole country goes crazy. In Ireland obviously it's a little different story?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, the reaction at home was incredible. There was traffic stopped on roads. I know people who broke their TV when I hit it in the water (laughter), the amount of men who cried. I could never have predicted the reaction, and it has been phenomenal.
The book makers owe $5 million. What more can you ask for.

Q. What are your thoughts on the course out there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: This course every year, it's the same. It's a real tough, fair challenge. There's nothing really on the golf course that nobody particularly likes. It's a very difficult test. It's quite long. The greens are a little firmer this year than I've seen them in many years, so there will be a huge premium on driving it straight this week.
It is one of the narrowest courses we play of the year, especially with the rough as heavy as it is. You've got to hit it on the fairway. With it being a little firmer, you've got to really be a straight hitter this week to do well. I think it's going to be hard to play this golf course from the rough. So somebody who's driving it straight, even a short hitter this week, if he's driving it straight there's plenty of run out there, so he'll get it out there, and it's certainly a big advantage hitting into these greens from the fairways. Certainly a good, straight hitter this week will be the premium.
GORDON SIMPSON: Is the hardest bit to engage the brain again, to get back to playing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: For me, yeah. I've been -- you can't prepare yourself for anything like this, but last week I knew that there would be a lot of things to do, a lot of distractions. My preparation is very poor for this, in fairness. I didn't hit a shot last week, I did no practice. I came here yesterday. I think I arrived at a quarter to 9:00 in the morning, left at half 5:00, and I managed to get six holes of golf in.
I'm quite happy to accept that. I've had a chat with Bob Rotella about it, and the goal going forward is to do all the things I need to do, and when the tournament starts tomorrow, just get back into playing and hopefully the game shouldn't have gone away. Hopefully it will still be there and gradually improve over the next four days, and maybe I can get in contention on Sunday.

Q. Is it over the boundaries to ask what you did between 8:45 and 5:30? You said obviously you were pretty busy. Can you give us an idea of what all took place?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I had a 9:15 appointment with USA Today. I had a 10:00 appointment with Titleist to do filming an ad. Each of those was 45 minutes. I was going to have another appointment at 10:45 for 45 minutes with a golf magazine, but we managed to move that to another date, and from 10:45 to about 12:45 I just did interviews and talked to people. There was quite a few -- nothing prearranged, had something to eat, then came back out at about quarter past 1:00 to warm up and go play.
I warmed up for a half an hour, and I had preplanned to do an interview with the Golf Channel later on that day, but I was so late at that stage that I did it then. I did that then and then I did a second one for Golf Channel. Oh, I did one for Sky Sports. I did one for PGA TOUR Productions, as well.
Oh, I did so many that I can't exactly remember. I did some promos, two promos on the range. You know, it builds up.
Obviously I wanted to talk to my friends out here who were coming up to me, as well. So I managed to go -- probably go out about 2:30, and I played -- actually played seven holes. I played the first four and I had an appointment to get back for 4:30 to see my physio, and I was late (laughter). Skipped a few holes, played a few more holes, got in about quarter to 5:00 and had 45 minutes of physio and left the course.

Q. Did you play 8 and 9?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played 8 and 9. I played the first four, 7, 8 and 9.

Q. Can you tell the differences at 8 and 9?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think -- 8 was a tiny bit -- as long as the weather is good, I think both those holes with their new tees just play like I would have played them maybe four or five years ago. You know, 8 is 300 yards to the top of the hill, and yes, I hit it all the way down to the bottom. So it wasn't a problem as long as the weather is nice and sunny.
Obviously if it was cold, wet and windy like it sometimes gets at home, that would be an extreme hole.
9 is the same where you can still carry the bunker on the left-hand side, not that you'd want to carry it, you'd be in the rough. At least it felt more like -- I think I hit 7-iron into 9. Last year we were hitting like sand wedge in. I think it's a good change. I think both of them are good, assuming that we're going to get good weather. So they have to be -- as all tournament directors nowadays are aware of what the weather is like and how to get the golf course up depending on the conditions. But I found them certainly very playable.

Q. If 9 is playing directly into the wind, does that change it a lot?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As long as it's warm, I wouldn't see it as being as big a problem. It was a little bit into the wind yesterday, and the ball travels in this sort of heat, in the high 80s, the ball really does fly.
I remember when I first came here, which is back in '99, you didn't -- it was a struggle to carry the bunkers down 9. So I think the new tee -- especially on 9, it's only gone back 15, 20 yards on 9. I think there should be no issues with that. It probably makes the hole -- there's a flatter area to land the ball in than there was last year, so it probably makes the hole a fairer hole, too.
And 8 has gone back substantially, 35 yards, something like that. And the green is tricky, so you do want to hit that fairway and leave yourself a pitching wedge in there because it can be very difficult. I don't know what it is from the top of the hill, but it could be as much as a 7-iron, and that would be a tough green to go into with a 7-iron.
Yesterday it seemed to play really well, no problems, driver, wedge, so I think it's good at the moment anyway with the nice weather.

Q. You talked about being back out here with your friends. Did anybody say or do anything that particularly stuck out in your mind?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know if anything particularly stuck out in my mind, but a lot of people came up and congratulated me. A number of people had talked to me before and it was nice to thank them for contacting me. It's always good for the ego when people come up and congratulate you. It's something you've got to enjoy when you've won a tournament. You've got to enjoy all that.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you know how many texts you may have gotten?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Certainly in the hundreds, over 200 anyway. A lot of text messages. One of my friends, he changed my name in the phone to Champion Golfer 2007, so that was nice.

Q. Tiger looms over this tournament. He's obviously had so much success here. With your win at the Open, does that help you just confidence-wise to be able to deal with Tiger's presence, because it seems like he obviously has dominated this tournament.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Golfers have often got horses for courses. Unfortunately for me this is not one of my happy hunting grounds (laughter), and it is for Tiger. I wouldn't like to put my career on the line with challenging Tiger this week and being judged on that alone.
I'm going out there to play my own game. I'll let Tiger play his game. He obviously does very well here. I can't control what he's doing. I've just got to play my game and see what happens.
You know, I assume he's favored for the week. But as I said, I have no control over what he's doing. Really after the Open Championship I'm trying to get my own head together and my own game together this week. I'm really not looking around me. I think if it was a different week and I felt good on the golf course, I'd probably -- you know, I would be a little bit more aware of what Tiger is doing or certainly would be looking for a score early on in the tournament. There's very few players in any event that I would actually consciously look at and see what score they shot. But they all look at Tiger's score. We are aware, when we finish on Thursday, we look at our own score and you look at who's leading and then you kind of check, I wonder where Tiger is.
I assume that's the same for every other player in the event. I know that's what I do.
GORDON SIMPSON: Is that what makes the Open so satisfying, that everybody was there, no one was missing and they were all playing well?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, everybody was there. It was on a golf course where nobody had any complaints. Everyone was happy with the course. It was very fair. Everybody could really -- whether a short or a long hitter, you could handle the golf course. You didn't have to be particularly straight. You know, there was a lot of options there.
Yeah, it does make it very satisfying that I won on a golf course that nobody can question.

Q. Can you talk about this stretch coming up? You just played the Open Championship, you've got this World Golf Championship, PGA, a week off and then four big events? Can you talk about how you prepare for playing six, seven big events?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, four events is a lot to play in a row, so I've got this event, next week, then I take the week off in between, then the four. More or less certain to be in the first three because I have to try to play decent enough to make it into the last one. I think a lot of golfers -- for me it gives me a great chance of winning. I know if I go into those four weeks and get hot from the position I'm in, any player who wins two would most likely win the FedExCup. That's the way I look at it. The points are heavy enough at the top.
So unless you're going to be pretty unlucky -- if a guy wins two events he'd have to be really unlucky not to win the FedExCup. Somebody would have to win the other two. It gives all the players a good opportunity because under the old system I'd have to come over and win eight times. It's a long shot, but still, just getting hot in four weeks, if you can go out there and win twice in four weeks it gives you a great chance. The FedExCup does have a lot of focus for a lot of players. As I said, it gives a great opportunity. We all want to start well. I think a good start is what's needed. The first two weeks you really want to get out there and get a big performance to carry into the last two events to give yourself a chance.
You know, it is a long number of events, four events, but they're all in nice places. I'm sure we can burden ourselves with that (laughter).

Q. With you saying that you've had a lack of preparation for this week and that this might not be your course, is it hard for you to not get ahead of yourself and think about next week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Basically preparing for next week is just to work on this week. I know that from experience. Yeah, I want to play well next week at the PGA. My preparation is definitely I'm thinking about the PGA, but I know in order to prepare right, the better I do a job this week, the less I'll have to do next week. A lot of my preparation for next week is about being in the right place this week. So I'm not going to get ahead of myself the four days of the tournament.
As I said, I was out on the golf course yesterday, my caddie reminded me, I was on the phone with Bob Rotella, he reminded me every shot I hit this week will help me play better next week. So definitely it's do the right job this week will be less work next week.

Q. How much of those demands on your time that you were talking about could you anticipate and prepare for, and how much is still taking you by surprise?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: None of it is -- like whenever anybody dreams about winning the Open Championship, they dream about holing the putt and they dream about holding the Claret Jug up. They don't dream about what happens afterward. So while I was aware that this is going to happen, and it hasn't necessarily, media-wise, surpassed that, it's something I haven't consciously thought about. It's amazing how much of it there is.
The one thing I probably will do is I'm thinking it's going to tail off now at this stage, even though the interviews for the future are piling up already, lots of things. But at least they can be staggered and not all together. But I am going to have a chat with a few of the guys who have won majors for the first time and ask them how they got on and what they felt and what they did right and what they did wrong, and I think that's -- at this stage that's probably my best tactic is to find out what other people experienced, rather than going along and trying to figure it out on my own.
It's been great. I've got to say, ten days, fantastic, having all the attention and doing all this. I'm only going to win my first major once. So it's great to run with it.
Obviously in terms of competing and golf, I couldn't keep running with it. I couldn't do this week in, week out. But I realize that. I kind of knew that straight away when I won that my preparation wouldn't be right for the next event, that I did no practice next week, I didn't get in the gym last week. I was only fit for sleeping and doing interviews it seems like (laughter), and partying a little bit (laughter).
I feel that's going to somewhat blow over and we'll get back to a bit of normality in terms of preparing for golf. But I am going to ask some of the guys and find out what happened to them, what they felt about. The only way you can learn is from their experience.

Q. Is there any particular guy you really want to seek out?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Any of them. I'll talk to any of them who have done it. This is a good week, most of them are here, so I'll be able to just casually sit down. I'm sure they all have one thing that they thought they really did right and a couple of things they thought they did wrong sort of thing. I've already talked to Michael Campbell. I was on the phone to him.
There's lots of experience out there that I can look for and get help from. So I'm certainly going to ask.

Q. I know the day after you won the Open Championship, you talked about a lot of things you were going to do, and one of them was that you were going to party for a week was the quote I heard in one of the interviews. I know the Claret Jug makes a nice holder of different liquids. I was wondering if there's a short list of things that have been sipped out of the Jug so far.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The first thing that was sipped out of the jug was Johnny Smith's Smooth Bitter, and that was a promise to somebody to start the week that was drinking, I says, well, I'll have one of those if I win the Open. So that's how that got in there. And then it was champagne.
After that there was a mixture of stuff put in there, nothing at home, no Guinness or anything like that, none of the, I suppose, traditional Irish drinks were put in it. But as I said, at this stage if you smelt the inside of that Claret Jug you wouldn't want to drink out of it (laughter).
GORDON SIMPSON: And on that note I think we'll just call a halt there. Thanks a lot, Padraig, good luck this week, and well done.

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