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August 21, 2007
HARRISON, NEW YORK
STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome 2007 British Open Champion, Padraig Harrington to the interview room at The Barclays. Obviously you you've played extremely well here in the past, you won in 2005, runner-up in 2004, you come into this week 21st in FedExCup points standing, you have to like your chances of moving up the points standings going into next week, I believe.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I do like the golf course. I think most players like this golf course. It's an old-style, traditional course. If you can't play golf around here, you know, you don't really like golf sort of thing.
But it's quite different now. It will be quite different this week it seems than we would play in June. In June it's very hard and fast, it's very warm and the ball is going a long way. Certainly if it keeps the temperature, that will curtail a lot of that. The golf course will play substantially different and there will be a lot more drivers off the tee and longer second shots to softer greens.
I don't know if it's -- I can't quite tell whether it's easier or harder or just different.
STEWART MOORE: How is your game right now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've probably taken the longest break I've ever taken without hitting a golf ball; eight days since the PGA, and I haven't swung at a golf ball yet at that time. It was fine in Oklahoma. I definitely needed a rest after the PGA, and I'm hoping that the swing is the same and I can just stay sharper mentally.
Q. To what extent do you and other players struggle with some of the concepts behind this points system in terms of understanding what you need to do, or is your mind-set the same as it always is?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't struggled with the format since it was first announced. It's quite clear-cut. It gives somebody like me a great chance of winning the Playoff, or, say, compared to the old system of winning the Player of the Year, I would have needed to win nine times or something like that.
Now, I need to go into this situation and I probably need to win twice. So I need to get hot for four weeks; win twice, have another good week probably on top of that. But two wins is what's needed. Whereas somebody at the very top might get away with one win and a couple other good performances. It's more you have to get out there and win twice.
Q. Obviously your success, based on what you did in Carnoustie, where does this rank, the FedExCup, in terms of importance?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it's a bigger thing if you win it than if you don't win it. If you come out here in the four weeks and you don't win it, it will be quite -- you'll make a big thing of the fact that you won. Obviously if you don't win it, it's kind of, you know, it's a bit like the TPC. If you win the TPC, it's the fifth major. If you don't win it, it's not the fifth major. (Laughter) That's kind of like the FedExCup. It will take a while for it to build up.
You know, the majors were not majors when they were first run. They only became majors. The FedExCup, it's a start in the right direction, there's no question of that. They are moving in the right direction trying to make something -- it is more of a made-for-TV spectacular, but it is moving in the right direction. And who knows how it's going to be this year, we'll give it a few years and I think it will get there.
Q. Phil keeps reminding us of the fifth major.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: (Chuckling).
Q. When did the haze of Carnoustie finally wear off for you, or has it yet?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It hasn't. Certainly going home the following week, it was manic. There was so much happening, so much to do. It was very exciting. It was all go. Since I've come away, there have been some periods of that, but it's been a lot less and it's certainly easier to get focused on your golf away from -- certainly away from home.
But to that extent, you know, I could see especially in Oklahoma where there was a definite, you know, my game, there was a definite falloff with my concentration and my focus. I could see I was starting to lag a little bit. I was just starting to tire.
You know, I've had a good week off and I'm hoping to be strong these four weeks.
I think like a lot of players, I think we want to get into it, the better you start, will keep you focused, going a little bit with adrenaline. So I think we are all looking for a quick start in this tournament to sort of carry us through the next three weeks, but especially somebody in my position, somebody down there, say 21st or so, I want a good start to get me right up in position and keep me thinking about it.
Q. How exhausted were you after Tulsa, and also, are you feeling totally different about yourself now with the major championships?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As regards Tulsa, you know, I went into Bridgestone the week before trying hard and same with Tulsa. I started quite well in Tulsa. But you know, a combination of the weather, not quite doing as well as I would have wanted in terms of, you know, getting the interest and adrenaline, and then I think the biggest factor was, you know, the falloff after the Open, I just got real tired. On the Sunday, I could see it. I could see it, so I didn't fight it. I actually, you know, it wasn't something -- I could see in my whole body and focus and concentration, I just was not with it.
I've had eight days off. As I said, it's the longest break I've ever taken in season, and probably the longest break I've ever taken without hitting a golf ball. I needed it. So I'm hoping that I'm going to be reasonably fresh this week and for the next three weeks. It is an issue. It definitely is an issue.
What was the second question?
Q. The second part is, are you feeling better about yourself; you, yourself?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Some things have changed. I can say, I can tell you it's seven months until the next major. After winning one, your appetite, it's nearly only for majors, because that's a problem because I have a lot of other events to play. They are all big, serious events in their own right and I want to be out there competing in each event for the sake of that event.
So there's no point in me, you know -- it's very important to win majors, but there's a lot more out there, as well. So having won one, it could be very easy to sort of say, well, there's only major golf. And I have to be careful to remain focused on my other goals and not just wait around, as I say, seven months for the Masters.
That's an interesting one, a difficult one. As I said, I'm just so -- I wish majors were every week sort of thing. That's something that will have to be dealt with.
So, yeah, that has changed, but in terms of the way I go about things, I always have certain things I want to work on in my golf swing and improve. I have a number of things in my game I want to improve. So I'm continuing to improve things. That's the way I look at it. If I had not won at the Open Championship, I would still be doing this work.
The interesting thing is I'm not -- I don't walk away from the Open and think, that's it, I never need to do any more work because as my coach says, nothing is paramount in this game. I don't feel as if I've won a major that I can step back and change everything now. I don't feel like I need -- like it's given me times as sometimes happens when you win you kind of step back and go, I've got a bit of freedom coming away and can go work on things. I'll have basically the same mind-set as I have the last couple of year which is continued gradual work on my game as I play. But definitely the emphasis is on playing rather than the work, whereas maybe the first eight years of my career, it was definitely much more on changing things and working on things.
Now, I do have things to work on but I don't necessarily think of changing them in a given week. I think I can do this over time.
Q. Changing the subject a bit, this week, like at Bridgestone and at THE PLAYERS, there are the big scoreboards out there. Have you had any experience where you're standing over a putt, ten feet or so and you look on the board and see that you're ranked 120th in putts and you're ten or 15 feet, can those scoreboards be a distraction from a players point of view with the stats up there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't look at scoreboards --
Q. The video boards --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't see them when I'm on the course. Never look up, for that reason. I never looked -- if I can manage not to do it for 72 holes at the Open Championship, I think I can manage to do it every other week.
For that reason, I don't look at scoreboards. It's up to the players, they can look at what they like up there. Players can be disciplined not to read it. It would be a distraction to me if I started reading.
The one that somebody got me, one of your colleagues got me at the PGA when I walked off the course the first day, I shot 69, he says, "Well, how do you shoot 69 having hit only five fairways today"? And I start going, oh, and next day at the golf course I'm starting to count how many fairways I've hit. (Laughter).
So there's a logical reason for not looking at scoreboards, not paying attention to those sort of stats when you're in tournament play because you don't need to be aware of it.
The only thing you need to be aware of is what score you're signing for at the end of the day. So, I'm happy to see them there. They look good for the spectators. But, it's up to the players not to look. I don't think it's anybody else's responsibility but the player not to be wandering around reading how many greens the guy is leading has hit and how many putts he's holed and how many you haven't holed.
Q. You've always been very consistent about concentrating on your own game and whatnot. Curious what your reaction is to Tiger not being here in terms of the big picture and whatnot.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I definitely do try to concentrate on my own game. Of all of the people that's in a golf tournament, when I finish my round of golf, I will look to see what Tiger Woods has shot. You know, and he does have that presence in a golf tournament that everybody worries about what Tiger Woods is doing.
As I said, I would consider him as good as could be in terms of just worrying about what I'm doing, but certainly he provides an added distraction in an event.
The fact that he's not here this week, I would think that that's his prerogative for the fact he's played the best golf so for this year and he's leading FedExCup points. As I explained earlier, somebody in my position, I have to win maybe two out of four events, so I'd better take my chances and play all four. He probably only needs to put in one good performance. So he's in a position that he can take a week off and still go and win this thing. The rest of us don't have that luxury.
Q. What are a few examples of how hectic it was when you returned home after the Open?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Let me see, well, just nonstop. I don't know what you want as an example. (Resting head on hands, thinking).
Q. Was there a parade, a party?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There was an official function, there was lots of parties, I suppose, at my golf club and there was a number of press conferences. It just didn't stop. I could tell you even when it wasn't doing something official, it was more interviews to be done on the phone.
I would say it was 24/7, when I did actually get some sleep but it was all go. As I said, just the standard of things, it just happened that just kept going and going and going. I enjoyed every moment of it but it's great when you can get away again and you're back to playing golf and what I do sort of thing. But it was exciting during, and even now, the requests coming in for the different award shows and things like that are piling up, so it looks like I'm going to have a busy winter when I'm at home, as well.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you enjoy these old-style courses; why do you enjoy it, and what are your thoughts about this tournament moving to New Jersey in a couple of years?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Where?
Q. New Jersey.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: News to me. I honestly love playing here. So I hope New Jersey has a golf course equally as good as Westchester, and an old course. I think players love coming to old, traditional golf courses.
This course is exciting. You can make some birdies out there. The scoring has never got low because there's always some trouble, especially if you're not good with your distance control on your irons, it's difficult if you start missing the greens. It's a course that allows short hitters and long hitters to play. It gives opportunities to the whole field.
When it moves to New Jersey, I just hope they come up with as good of a golf course. As I said, I really didn't know. I don't know what course they are moving to.
Q. Liberty National. Brand new golf course, right on the river, right on the water.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I heard that's spectacular so I'll be looking forward to it and this event and seeing what it's like. I've only heard good things so far. It's supposed to be nice. We'll be in the City, I assume.
Q. Jersey side.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Jersey side of the city, but it's not too far away. We can stay in the city, so, if we can -- it will be nice to have a different feel to the event, yes.
So that will be good. I really have enjoyed Westchester, but I suppose that rotating it and giving us something different is good for the players. We'll enjoy that. I've heard the golf course is very good, so that's that would be a bonus. The course needs to be good, as I said, for an event of this standard.
Q. In a non-Ryder Cup year such as this, is it less of a grind?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was just thinking of those, you know, nest year we've got four FedExCup (events) and then the Ryder Cup, and that's five in a row. That will be tough. You know, that will be a big ask, a big take from any player who plays in all five events.
So, yeah, obviously the Presidents Cup this year, it is -- Presidents Cup is such a big event, or the Ryder Cup is such a big event, it does require a lot of, you know, effort on the players. So coming in off of something as big as this, it's a tough ask, it's a tough bit work.
Yeah, I'm probably pleased -- you know, the great thing about the Ryder Cup is when you play a Ryder Cup and it finishes on a Sunday, you're so happy you don't have to play a Ryder Cup the next day or the next year. But as you get further away from the Ryder Cup, you know, maybe a year after, or maybe 18 months, you're really looking forward to the next one. When you finish your Ryder Cup, the furthest thing from your mind is playing another. I can tell you, one is enough every two years, that's for sure.
Q. What's the difference when you come to a venue where you've had success and won before, as opposed to a place where you haven't?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It comes easier when you have had success on the golf course before. The course, it's something, you're never quite sure why but sometimes you try and figure it out but I don't think we're -- I've played well on totally different golf courses, so I don't always know. It could be just a place, the venue, it could be everything to do, it could be the hotel you're staying. It's just easier on a course you've done well at.
I go to some of the golf courses where I haven't done well, and you just work so hard. You really, really grind it out for the week and you get such an average performance and you're thinking, you can turn up at a golf course you don't like, play well, work really hard, grind it out and finish a dozen shots behind the leader and you're tearing your hair out. And you turn up at a golf course you like, you win by five shots and you're looking around and going, why did everybody find this plays hard.
Golfers repeat themselves so much -- of course you're not allowed to gamble over here, but if you were following the form, golfers play well at certain courses, it's horses for courses, they play well at the certain golf courses at certain times of the year all the time.
That's why I mentioned at the very start, I play well at The Barclays Classic in June. I don't know if I'll play well at The Barclays in August, because now it's become certainly a slightly different event so you might have a different set of guys playing well. We could go in and talk about biorhythms and things like this, but who knows why we play well at certain times of the year. But it's certainly a factor for golfers.
Q. Your own hectic year a side, how big of a deal is playing four events in a row, six of seven, and how does it manifest itself when you are worn out?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think this is the point I was trying to get earlier, if you can get yourself into the competition, it won't manifest itself at all, because you'll have a little bit of adrenaline to keep you going.
If you drop out of the competition, you don't play so well, it's real hard. You know, it's real hard to get yourself fighting -- you have to fight really hard for mediocrity to be honest when you just don't have that spar.
Obviously if you come into an event and you're physically fit and healthy and you're fresh, you don't have that problem of -- things seem to just go a little easier and everything seems to fit a bit more. When you're a little bit off, and that's why players need to take breaks. Tiger has just won two events, the mental drain of that, that's yes has to take a week off. It's not -- it just doesn't -- you know, you're pushing it out a bit too much if you're wanting to win, the pressure that it takes and the toll it takes on to you keep trying.
I know you feel like you're playing well and just keep going, but it just sort of causes a situation where the last draw that broke the calm he will's back if you keep going on.
Q. What's the longest stretch you've played in a row?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played ten in a row my second year on TOUR here, ten straight. I was probably -- you know, I think I traveled out to Australia and Asia, so you're kind of out there; you're not going to come home sort of thing. I played ten.
I certainly had not -- I would not try and go past three in general, four if I have to, but three is my ideal. When I'm looking at my schedule at the start of the year, I'm generally looking at 3 tournament runs.
STEWART MOORE: Padraig, thanks so much for coming in. Good luck this week.
End of FastScripts