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October 9, 2007
VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND
GORDON SIMPSON: Padraig, welcome back to Wentworth and this year's HSBC World Match Play, and you've had a final here, a couple of semis. Is it about time you actually finished off the deal here?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, there is a little bit of past demons to be exorcised. Wentworth is a fine course and I've never won on it. Obviously I struggle a little bit at the PGA and I have a better opportunity at The Match Play. And there's certainly a part of me that wants to win a tournament on this golf course. You know, no better chance than at The Match Play and, you know, this is the one we're being presented with in front of thus week. So this is the opportunity to take that.
GORDON SIMPSON: And it's not going to be running hard and fast like it does in May.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, certainly over the years, certainly the year with Woosie, I tended to play the course better when the greens are a little bit softer, and there's a little bit of moisture with them. I struggle with them when they are firm and fast at the BMW PGA in terms of reading them, and I think I've been a little bit more comfortable at this time of the year.
So I'm looking forward to this. The only thing is with this sort of event, you've got to have your very best game from Thursday morning and you have to keep it for four days. It's not like a 72-hole stroke play and you have an opportunity here building up all the way through the event. There's no point building up this week and be finished on Thursday. You've got to be ready to go on Thursday morning and play your game.
Obviously I'm up against Anders who is very comfortable at this golf course. So, you know, I've got to feel like you've got to be ready to go Thursday morning and play my very best, and, you know, everything after that, you know, is to be honest not to be talked about until you play your first game.
Q. Has it just been the greens (that's been the problem)?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I really particularly like the changes Ernie has made. I much prefer playing golf, say, an example the first hole, the fairway now is 35 yards wide, at least. Could even be a little bit wider. And then you've got trouble outside of that. Whereas when we were coming maybe three years ago before Ernie made the changes, it was 24 yards wide with rough.
I prefer the bigger target with more trouble. I think that's a fairer test. A good example, 17 is now 40 yards wide, where now at the PGA, it was -- anyway, where two years ago, it was 20 yard wide on a slope and you couldn't hit it. There was no incentive to hit it. You might as well try to hit it in the right rough. Where 40 yards wide off the slope, somebody could hit a good drive down there on the fairway and have a good chance of reaching the green in two. Whereas 20 yards wide, I felt nobody could hit -- wasn't much point in trying. Much better test of go golf now.
16 is certainly five yards wider, and it feels like if I can hit a good golf shot, I can hit the fairways it doesn't have to be perfect. Whereas, you know, when they really narrowed them up, it was sort of getting to the stage where it felt like it was, you know, a little bit of a lottery.
So I much prefer the course now. Ernie has made some great changes.
Q. You shot the lights out in the final against Woosie --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: For a while.
Q. How badly did that defeat hurt?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The times that hurt the most, when you lose, for me anyway, because I've had a number, is when you've played the golf to win, and then as I did in that match, I think I've won and I lose my intensity. If I was down going into that last nine holes or so, I probably would have kept playing good golf. Whereas if I was 3-up or so, I always have struggled with the lead. I just lose a little bit of my intensity. I lose a little bit of, you know, just the readiness in my, and I tend to come down a little bit. And it does hurt when you do it. It's definitely, you know, because as I said, if I kept going with the same mind-set, I would have went on to win.
But unfortunately I have a habit of that in the past, and it's something, even in the playoff at The Open, I did it on the 17th green when I had a short putt to go 3-up, it was very much a case of, you know, I would have holed that putt if I was one behind; with two ahead, I wouldn't hole it.
It's something I'm better at than I would have been when I played Woosie, I see it, I spot it quicker and know all about it. But it's just part of my makeup. I'm a better player when my back is to the wall. And you know, when I'm ahead, I don't do comfortable very well. (Laughter) No, I don't do comfortable or confidence very well. They are my two worst traits.
GORDON SIMPSON: What do you do well?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, this is interesting and this is what's changed a little. When i was an amateur, turning pro, I was probably four shots or even six shots better in match play than I was in stroke play.
The way I've progressed with my game as a professional, I've got more consistent, more steady, all of the things that I wasn't as a match player. And it's kind of knocked the edge off my match play a bit. Certainly the last few times I played match play, I've struggled to raise my game. I've played steady golf and I've played nice golf, but when it's been put up to me a couple of times, I've actually just not had anything in the tank.
Obviously the work that I did with the match play earlier in the year, The Ryder Cup was a bit like that -- I didn't hole the putts like I would as an amateur. So there's been a little bit knocked off me by playing professional golf by being conservative and being steady. It's easy to see even in my stroke play golf when I first came on Tour, I shot a bigger disparity between my scores. I had more 65s, 64s or whatever, and more 75s. Now, you know everything is being hit between 68 and 74. It's a tighter dispersion, which it's good and that's what -- you know, I've worked towards that, but it's not necessarily the best thing if you're a couple down in match play. You need to have that ability to get erratic and raise your game and go on a run.
So I'm looking forward to this week to see what it's like again, because as I said, the last couple of times, I didn't have that edge that I used to have.
Q. Does it suit a streak player like Paul Casey?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think, well, if he gets on a run, he's going to play well all week. I'm talking more about somebody if you go a couple down that you throw caution to the winds and you play with it and you can raise your game; as I would have done as an amateur, I did it a few times and did it at The Open. And no question about when I was in the zone, and I did it especially the back nine at the Volvo Masters last year. All of a sudden I started holing putts from 20 feet, 25 feet, 30 feet and I just would do it when I have to. Whereas as I've gotten more mature as a pro, I've just got a little steadier and just don't often get into that frame of mind that's, you know, no holds barred, this is going in and that's it.
But as I said, that's been the last couple and I'm hoping that was just the way it is. I'm hoping that I still have the ability, as I said, that when the going gets tough that you know, not necessarily shot selection into greens, but you just get that focus; that the only thing that matters is this particular shot and there's no negativity or defensiveness that sets in. You just go out and hit the shot.
That's what's great about match play, when I was an amateur, I used to go around links courses in really tough weather and I had no problem shooting, 4-, 5-, 6-under par. If you asked me to go same those same conditions now, I would be happy shooting level par. But that was my best ability as an amateur. In some ways now that I've spent years doing work on my golf game, on my swing, I have to look a little bit for that natural flair I would have had as an amateur and marry it in with my progressability in terms of swinging the golf club.
Q. Was the Ryder Cup a time when you tried very hard but didn't reach your best?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I would have thought. The Ryder Cup was a classic example. I tried ever so hard and worked ever so hard, but I played average. Average sometimes gets you by. If the whole team plays average, you'll win.
But in cases that, you know, when I got a couple down, I didn't make anything happen, which is, you know, as an amateur, I would have always -- sure, I could line up 50 amateurs who would tell you that they don't know how I won a match against them in cases that they would have played much better golf, but somehow I would have done something spectacular, chipped in or holed a couple of putts in a row, little things -- well not little things, but big things like that.
At The Ryder Cup, I just played very average.
Q. Was the loss to Woosie one of the toughest?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, it only hit me -- I lost a couple as an amateur in similar circumstances. What annoyed me, they hit me hard because it took me a while to figure out what went wrong. And what hit me about the one to Woosie was, you know, relearning the same old thing is never pleasant. I got through that once before, twice before. You think that, you know, as I said, would you hope that you would learn from your mistakes but it doesn't always work like that.
As I said in The Open Championship, on the 17th green, on the third playoff hole, I made the same mistake again. I'm thinking, oh, this is to go three ahead. Wow, it's great to be three ahead and you know what three ahead means and we can't lose three ahead. It just wasn't that intensity that I have got to hole this putt.
And that's something, at least at The Open, I thought of it and I was aware of it and I regrouped, but that's something that's part of my makeup. I'm definitely a better person, player, when I have to, rather than when I'm comfortable; I can be -- I can be -- it's part of this stuff that I have to work on. It's part of the stuff that I work with Bob Rotella and it's intriguing that, as I say, I've never, ever played well with confidence. You know, the worst thing I can do is play well on a Wednesday. That sets me up for a poor week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't necessarily want to -- I would never go into a tournament, and I don't go into any of these tournaments thinking I've got to in style, that would be reflecting on those events. These are their own events. I am playing them for the sake of each own event and there's no question I want to win the Order of Merit and no question about that. But whether I had not won The Open, I would be trying just as hard this week.
I think the difficulty after winning such a big event like The Open Championship, the pinnacle of my career so far, is finding that intensity that every time I go out, I've got to be disciplined and make sure I do the little things and work hard, and in many ways grind it out, because that's what my game is made of. As I said, my game isn't made on having a run of confidence and playing well for a couple of months. I've often had my best performances after down periods. Actually nearly all of my best performances have come after I've got a little bit of a kick in the backside. Because many times after I lose I go out and win sort of thing or after I've had a slow period I go out and win.
Obviously I haven't had a slow period this year, but to me, I have to make sure that I'm disciplined and work hard and try and get all the little things done, keep up, you know, the practise and keep up the gym routine and all of those. I don't want to sit back golfing-wise and enjoy The Open.
I've tried, yeah, I want to enjoy my win, but I've got my own incentives to get out and work hard and as I said I'm trying to focus on this Order of Merit to keep me.
Q. To follow up on the Order of Merit, if you were to be knocked out early, would you adjust your schedule?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Those are decisions -- I really haven't contemplated. I don't know the golf course; it would mean getting in late. I did last year go into -- because I'm obviously playing the Grand Slam next week. I'd have to fly home on the Wednesday night so it would be -- would play only for that.
I did it last year when I went to Pula, Mallorca. What tends to work for me, I need to be playing golf in order to be sharp. That is one thing I have found and through experience, as much as I try not to overplay, the more -- certainly playing into the bigger events is always good to me.
Yeah, I'm going to play the Grand Slam next week, so it's unlikely that I would be in Portugal.
Q. It's impossible.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've done it before. My manager is sitting there and --
GORDON SIMPSON: He's shaking his head.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: He's always got the phone call on Friday or Saturday night when I've missed the cut saying can you get me into the event next week. When I went to Brazil in -- 2000 was it, 2001? I went down and played two events after missing the cut in Bay Hill and there was a weekend of phone calls of, you know, getting into events.
So I have changed my mind at late dates but I think this one would be -- it would be ringing up and looking for a special dispensation to be looking for a late tee time on Thursday and things like that.
Q. So you haven't ruled it out?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I have ruled it out but you can never tell me with me. (Laughter) I have changed my mind in the past.
Q. 144 holes this week - how would you feel about that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, the two issues this week, if you're not playing your best golf on Thursday, you could go home on Thursday.
But there's also the issue that if you've not fresh for Sunday, you probably won't win. This rain is probably the best thing that could happen to me. Resting up into this event won't do me any harm. If I'm going all the way -- obviously I'm the sort of guy that likes to get out there and practice. I want to be ready for Thursday but I'm also keenly aware that four rounds, four matches and 36 holes, there is an element of survival in this and you have to make sure that you're ready for the four days if you're going to win it.
Q. Have you spoken to Bob Rotella about this?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's an interesting one, I have spoken to him about the fact that I tend to play better with fear than I do with confidence. Fear is not a good emotion to work on because it obviously is more stressful but it has worked for me over the years.
For many years when I came out on Tour with the fear -- it took me six or seven years on Tour that I would actually come out after my winter break -- I usually come out with the fear that my game wouldn't be there and I would wake up and you know, I would be back to being, you know, not good enough, let's say.
So it is something that drives me on. You know, there is certainly a fear after The Open Championship that I won't play -- that I will struggle because of the motivation after you win so big that you feel like you've made it, and that certainly is making me want to get out there and work on my game. I'm fearful that I will take it easy.
It's an interesting thing and certainly something I have discussed with Bob Rotella about it would be nice to be confident. But that's just not me. Certainly, you know, I have many little things to work on with that, and we do have some ideas. But definitely I'm a strange person; last week I didn't play well on Wednesday, and when I obviously told my wife and everybody else, there was obviously a loud cheer on the other end of the phone, and that's the type I am.
I look at it more of a practical sense, as in what's the difference. When I'm confident, probably my strategy gets a little bit -- could get a little bit aggressive and then I get a little bit disappointed when it doesn't come off. When I'm not confident, I tend to be very good with my strategy, pick the right shots, play defensive shot when they are needed, and then, you know, play the aggressive shots; when I have an opportunity I tend to take it. That's physically what's happening. That's my nature. That's who I am.
Q. If you had ended your career without a Major, would you say it would still be a successful career?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would have, yes. But in fairness, you couldn't judge that until you finish my career. So if it happens, you know, if I contend in 20 more majors, and I don't win another one, I'm sure my career will not be a success. If I turned around and didn't play anymore golf from today on, my career would be a success. So we can't really tell until it's all finished.
If I go out and play great golf and I lose a lot of majors, you know, people will think I should have done better. If I go on and don't play great golf and don't get in contention and don't win any more majors, people will say, well, he did well to win one. It only the future that will tell if it's been a success or not or whether one major is enough. I certainly would never have even contemplated -- I would have dreamt about but I never would have contemplated I was good enough to win a major when I turned pro.
As I've always said, I would have thought being a successful European Tour pro was certainly over stepping the mark. So, yeah, it's great that I've done it, but it will only be in hindsight when we look back that I will be able to judge. Colin Montgomerie has not won a major but he's had a very successful career, so you can only look back at these things -- not that Colin is looking back, he's still playing. I never said he should retire. (Laughter).
Q. What's your schedule after Belmuda?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm going to play Morocco the week before the Volvo Masters, and then the Volvo Masters and then the HSBC Champions, and then the Dunlop Phoenix. And then I have three weeks off, at least -- no, three or four weeks off, and then I have -- I may play Tiger's event. I know the best way of me playing good golf at the Volvo Masters is playing the week before. I tried playing Pula last year and I missed the cut. Wasn't a good playing to go and build my confidence.
Looks like I'm going to play -- obviously, looks like I'll play Tiger's event, but looks like I'll have a good nine weeks off during the winter, and that's going to be important for me, you know, in terms of building and recuperating from this year. I kind of figured -- I'm enjoying everything, but I figured it would tail off around Christmas and that would allow me to get back into working hard and getting ready for next year.
Q. Do you enjoy the travel or does it bother you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I take very little notice of traveling. The physical travel doesn't bother me. I'm not saying I enjoy sitting on a plane but I don't have a problem with it. I do like going to other countries, yeah, especially anywhere new. I suppose there's not too many new places but I do like it, I like being out there.
Hotels, you know, yeah, sometimes -- like this week, for example, we're treated like stars this week. We've got a house, we've got a chef. I'm staying in, it's basically a mansion down there on one of the greens. I keep telling people, I'm either staying on the course -- I've pitched a tent, but now it's actually a big mansion on the side of it.
As I said, you've got a chef and the transport on 24-hour call basically. You've got as many people as you want to bring in here. You get everything -- you know, it's events like this, they really do set it apart and it does make you feel like a star for a week. So, yeah, there are times that you would travel and turn up at places. Like I always go to Tiger's event at the end of the year. To me, it's like a Christmas party sort of thing.
So there's different reasons for all sorts of events. I have about 20 guys that go there with me. And you know, Shanghai, I like Shanghai, it's an interesting place to go just to see the culture out there. There's a lot -- yeah, there's a lot going for the events at the end of the year. There is a bit of work involved in playing. As I said when you turn up, you want to do the score and everything, but I certainly think I would enjoy those events a little bit more than I would normal events in the middle of the year.
Normal events in the middle of the year are very much, you know, hotel room and golf course and not too much in between. But I think at the end of the year, do you make a little bit of effort to relax and enjoy the outside of the event.
GORDON SIMPSON: Padraig, I think The Open champion is entitled to a chef and a mansion, enjoy the week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It does happen often but it is nice.
GORDON SIMPSON: I'm available for tea tonight, but anyway, thanks very much Padraig.
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