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January 16, 2008

Padraig Harrington


Q. Before you won a major, did you think you'd be happy with that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Kind of, yeah, I wouldn't say I'm fully positive but I'm definitely looking at players who have won one major and looked at the fact that, you know, if they have gone on not to win many tournaments after that, would they have taken more wins and not the major, or would they have taken the major and no wins.
And when you look at if they are currently playing, you always want to play well every week, every time you tee it up, and the fact -- that would give you more satisfaction about your career afterwards. But I think the satisfaction you get from during a season is from how you're playing that season, how you're doing, how many wins you have.
So would I have realised that before I won the major? Probably not. I didn't really -- I wouldn't are looked into it that much or analysed it that much before. Obviously I wanted to win a major. But it's certainly something that I've looked at since then and there's no question that I will not -- I would not enjoy playing golf if I was resting on my laurels of The Open Championship.

Q. Are there ladybirds in the Claret Jug yet?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes plastic ones, I suppose, man-made at the moment. The real ones haven't gone in yet, maybe in the springtime.

Q. Sense of relief to be playing again?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: This one maybe is a couple of weeks early this year. Last week I was coming to the end of my preseason preparation, and it was hard on time for me to get out there and play a tournament. This year I was very busy before Christmas and then I got sick over Christmas. So I'm kind of in the middle of what I would be doing.
So possibly not quite the step that would have been here last year, as I said when this tournament came around last year, definitely looking forward to getting out to the golf course and playing whereas I've still got a little element of what I'm working on and still very much just getting, you know, getting my game worked through.
So there is definitely an element -- there's more doubt this year.

Q. Blessing in disguise not going to San Diego?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The way things went, the traveling, I came back for a week. As I was sick over the Christmas, any work done essentially -- it's not a blessing -- (indiscernible) -- because I chose not to go. So it wasn't a situation of something else. It wasn't like -- it was me who made the decision.

Q. You got sick at the AT&T last year, are you taking the same risk again?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: AT&T. So my schedule has now reverted back to last year's schedule. I wouldn't have said it was a sensible decision to put that travel on me at that stage. It was more the fact that I need to spend a bit more quality time in the gym before I go away and playing tournaments and then having to recover afterward because of the long journey.

Q. What has been the most surprising thing about being a Major Champion?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think anything is truly surprising. The most interesting thing is I've reset myself back to maybe my early years on Tour where I want to work harder and harder and harder. And I've actually gone back to being a bit obsessive about the fact that I'm getting out there and working and practising and all that sort of stuff, which is -- it's like I've got to go through something all over again. There's a development inside me, it's nearly like -- you'd think I'd lost a tournament in the sense that I'm trying to get out there and prove myself again.
There's no element of sitting back and relaxing. In fact, I've actually done the opposite which is probably something that I didn't -- I'm keener now to getting to work on my game than I ever have been. You'd think I'd have the element of, won a major, but I've already got to just maintain sort of thing and I've probably done the opposite. If anything, I'm more obsessive about getting my work done and doing the practise and that end of things. That's probably the most interesting thing that's come up.

Q. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It has to be managed. It's neither a good or bad thing, but it has to be managed, no question. You win something like that, you use that as a confidence-builder. It's never a good thing to be too focused -- or not too focused. It's never a good thing to be spending all your time thinking about work and on the game.
You have to have a good balance. That would be always an area that's an issue for me that I would have a problem and tendency to overdo things rather than to get the balance right. I was getting the balance right going into the open. It not that I'm not getting the balance right now. It just that I have to work hard and make sure that I don't overdo it.

Q. I saw you with about three dozen clubs on the range the other day - is that symptomatic of the obsession to get the balance right?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I think that's the start of the year. You know, in general, I might have access to three dozen -- in the space of a couple of months. There's new irons there, new woods, drivers, some hybrids, wedges, and what you're basically seeing is taking them all on one day whereas in the season, I haven't seen them for two months and they would come a couple every day for different tournaments.
So the start of the year, you look at anybody up there, there will be a lot of guys out there with equipment -- there will be more equipment changes at the first tournaments guys play in the year than there will be in the middle of the year, because everything has changed during the winter.
And a lot of guys will go through a season, and if there's something new, they will say, well, I'll wait to the winter to change it.
I'm very happy with what I'm using at the moment. There was a couple of clubs there that I picked out and looked very promising. But it's a question of getting them home and testing them a bit more.
I don't have the -- it would not have been an ideal time to change something this week because you've kind of got to be a bit more familiar with what you're doing. I might make a bad swing this week just based on the fact that I haven't been playing so if I put a new club in the bag I wouldn't be able to tell that. So I'll wait until I'm a little bit more in control or have expectation over what I'm doing and as I said, the ones I ear marked will be the ones that most likely will go in.

Q. Any holes out there you are wary of?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I know we made a few holes more conservatively last year than a couple of players. 9, I think I played conservatively off the tee. Left myself a longer approach shot into the green. Maybe I did hit driver off.
I think the holes we practise on, certainly 18, if you can drive it down the right-hand side, it makes the hole shorter. You have that ability to get on in two.
There's a lot of really nice holes out there, a lot of good golf holes. I'm just trying to think of my strategy. I would probably be hitting too many -- certainly there's select clubs to make sure that I have more chance of hitting into the bunker than hitting in the rough; that would be for sure because the rough is very, very deep. I would certainly be more aggressive on holes off the tee to get the ball further up the fairway in case I miss the fairway so I can have a shorter approach shot.
Certainly in that sense, the rough is at a level that you could be hitting it out 40 yards. That would be probably the key strategy is, you know, making sure you avoid the rough or making sure you avoid the uncertain holes, any other holes out there.
I know I think 10 was the one, I believe, going into the back nine I hit a bad drive on the par 5 there. So that's one that sticks in my mind. But certainly 9 is one I've played more conservatively. The course has changed quite a bit from last year in terms of -- because the ball was traveling a long way and the course was dryer.
This year, the temperature is so far west that it really is not moving as much. So you kind of have -- it's not as easy to play different strategies in terms of the ball is landing and stopping, you kind of see more people hitting the same club. When it was warm and the ball was moving, there's a lot of options off the tees. At this stage, we're not sure how it's going to play in the tournament, so have to wait and see.

Q. Are you coping all right with the new baby it being six weeks old now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I'd like to tell you, getting up three times a night and things like that. No, no issues with that at all. They are out here with me - they are in Dubai at the moent but are coming out here later on.

Q. No distraction?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No distraction on that front, definitely not. My wife makes sure of that and that they are all looked after.

Q. Before you won a Major did you take it as an achievement to finish in front of a Major winner?

Q. Can you expand on that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think -- that's like the guy saying that -- I could never understand the guy teeing up in a two-ball trying to compete against you, you finish 50th and 49th, it's irrelevant. If I finish 50th this week, the guys at 48 and 49 would be unhappy. There's no point in picking an individual -- well, there is that individual; yourself, you've always to try to beat whatever standards you want for the week.
Trying to beat another player, even competing against, you know, Tiger in a given week, you know, what if he has a bad week? You only want to beat him on a good week.
Now, where I think there is an element of having a major winner out there is the fact that most guys, certainly the guys that have the ability to win a major, know my game, know me, know what I did to win a major championship. They can see that; it's tangible. And every time they play with me, they can, you know, essentially gauge and judge that and that will make it easier for them to believe that they can win a major.
I don't think there's necessarily any element of my game that would intimidate other people. So you know, realistically, they can look at me and use me as a role model, a good judge, a good sort of benchmark for what it takes to go and win a major.
I do believe that like when Seve went on and that was followed by Faldo and Woosie and Sandy Lyle and Langer, they helped each other. You know, those were guys that were competing week-in, week-out, and if a guy can come here this week, he'll see my game, not necessarily beat my individually but certainly if we are in contention and he beats me, they can use that as a benchmark.
It would be silly to start the week out trying to beat me because it would be no use. I could be 49th or 50th, and nobody would be taking much satisfaction out of that.

Q. You have done a lot of work on your swing recently, were you ever tempted to say, 'I won the Open with that old swing, let's just leave it alone'?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I would always try and move forward. There's no question that -- I actually would even believe that it would be far harder to maintain what you've got than it is to move forward. The maintenance is something that you try and stay still, you'll go backwards. You try to go forwards, you try to find a way to move forward -- somebody who tries to hold onto what they have got is on a slippery slope and will be retiring from the game in a couple of years time.
Somebody who is trying to move forward is always extending things. I wouldn't get up in the morning if I didn't think I was going to improve. I wouldn't get out there. If I didn't think I was improving, that would be me, I would be lying in in the morning and watching daytime movies and daytime soaps, so I wouldn't have that emphasis.
No, I will all be moving forward and trying to work on things. As I go with experience, I understand how to do these things, and that's also important.
I have a fair idea how I went about winning The Open Championship, I think I have a very good idea. Whereas I am doing things and with changing things, I certainly would be keen to make sure that work is done and ready to go when I need to go?

Q. Did you go to the Players Meeting last night?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't. I went to the gym.

Q. There are a few players worried about protein drinks and stuff now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, my trainer, long before -- he pointed out the problem with stuff that doesn't have -- the problem with legal stuff is they tend to be made at the same places as the illegal stuff, the stuff that would be banned is made and could become tainted.
So I've been well aware of that for a long time and so you just don't take anything unless it's absolutely -- you know, it's very interesting, the whole drug policy. Because obviously the fear is that somebody has done it. I really honestly don't believe it -- golfers are conditioned not to cheat. So the conditions, whenever they take up golf and they are playing on their open, they are conditioned that you don't push rules. You play by the rules and that's it.
I concede that if there's ever going to be an issue, I would say there's more issues with the players doing something unbeknownst to them, whatever it may be. But I don't think that golfers are worldly-wise in that sense that if you are an athlete -- (audio interference) -- they take a painkiller, whatever they would. I think we're not as worldly-wise as maybe somebody who has been brought up with a drugs policy and has had the experience.
So it will be a teeny issue with that. I think that's what they are trying to warn people about and you know, whether you go and take -- you've got a flu and you take one of these overnight medicines to help you sleep or something like that; there's issues with everything you take.
So I think they are probably right to get it out there and make sure that they are working on being overprotective in terms of a little bit -- you know we need to be scared in terms of that, because as I said we haven't had that culture. We have been brought up with an early age from a culture of don't touch anything unless you're sure.
Protein drinks and something like that of the wrong sort have been found, huge per cent and things like that are tainted. Other drugs they say mix them or dilute them to make them more potent than their own, so don't touch them. You've got to be very careful.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, thank you for that.

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