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March 11, 2008

Padraig Harrington


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome to the Ballantine's Championship media centre. If you could start us off with your impressions of the golf course, I believe you played today, how did you find it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I found the golf course very good. It's in great condition, especially considering the weather that was here the last couple of weeks. The greens are excellent, and probably the toughest part of the golf course is the greens. There's a lot of difficulty in the design and the golf course is reasonably open off the tee. It's I guess much more challenging as I guess you get closer to the greens.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Just a word on the field itself and Ballantine's first tournament; they have assembled a great field this week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's great. Ballantine's, first tournament off The European Tour, first tournament in Korea, and they have done a great job in bringing players out. The golf course adds to that and Ballantine's being a sponsor have really brought it to a new level, and all of the players really do appreciate that and they are doing a great job.

Q. What have you been doing since you last competed?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've had two weeks off and I've been doing a lot of practise. I've been working on my swing. I've had my coach over and I've been just really, two weeks of a lot of a lot of shots. Not so much short game practise but more on my swing, and an awful lot of work. That's kind of, now I have to get back too playing and tone back down sort of thing.
I'm happy, I've had to work through a period that, you know, just tinkering with things, and I'm happy with where I'm going and I'm just now want to take it a little bit easier on that end of things.

Q. You have impressions of K.J. Choi's game and how much you've played with him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've played quite a lot with K.J. over the years. I think best word to describe K.J. is relentless. He just keeps doing his thing and he appears to be very self-confident and goes about his business in his way.
You know, he's a good, strong player, but it's the relentlessness that he keeps going with that and he keeps playing within his ability and to his ability. K.J. Choi is trying to be K.J. Choi. He is not trying to be anybody else.
You know, that's an intimidating factor in a player when a player looks like he's comfortable with who he is, and K.J. is certainly that.

Q. Is that something you've got in common then, the relentlessness?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I look at that -- I look at all of the players and try to find the best in every players game and then try and obviously copy the best of everybody much I would see that in some players, and admire it and want more of it myself I would say.
So I don't believe I'm -- well you always put other people on pedestals, anyway, but I don't believe I'm as self-confident as K.J. is, but certainly there are some parts of the game that you have to work on, yes.

Q. Just getting back to the work you've done with Bob, is that something that you've normally done at this time of the year, and second part of the question, is there something that you're doing to build up to events?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's something I do all the time. I continually am tinkering with my golf swing, always have, always trying to make it better and get better. I kind of would always take a winter break to do that sort of work. In many ways, it might be a little bit later, a couple of weeks later, but after Christmas I wasn't well and didn't do as much practise after Christmas.
Yeah, you know, I'm on the Tour, whatever, ten years, and I've always had something to work on in my game and would always strive to find something to work on I would never be happy unless I was working on my swing.

Q. With the first major coming up, more of a focus?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: To be honest, if I was trying focused totally on first major, I wouldn't be tinkering with the golf swing five weeks out. I am somewhat focused but I'm focused on the whole year and I'm focused on just improving my game.

Q. This morning you practised with Yang, could you comment on his game?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not too sure golf swing-wise but as a persons, he's a bright personality. He's keen to get out there and do his work. I often see him, he spends his time practising and putting the effort in, but he seems a very positive sort of good attitude to him. He seems like he has a positive attitude, and that's half the battle out here on Tour.

Q. Do you get a bit of a buzz seeing yourself on the posters and billboards when you come here for the first time?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's all good for your ego, no question about it, having your name up in lights on the billboards. As professional golfers, we always like to have our ego massaged, so it's always nice to see our name in lights. So, yes, it does, it's always nice.

Q. The weather can change quite frequently, so what is your strategy to ensure a steady performance?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, you know, I realise that the weather conditions do change here. I played yesterday and it was cold and windy and today it was warm and beautiful to play golf today.
So I think as professional golfers, we are used to conditions changing. Maybe not every day, but you know, from week-to-week, conditions change. The more experience, and coming from Ireland I'm certainly able to deal with the wind and to be honest I do hope one of the four days this week does turn a little bit, you know, windy and cold. That would give me a better chance of winning.

Q. On the par 4s, what kind of shots do you use when you practise for your second shot?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 7-irons, that's what I use -- (laughter).

Q. The first hole, your shot landed right in front of the green, do you usually use a wedge or do you use something different?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: First hole today, I hit a Pi7 lob-wedge 60-degrees from 59 yards.

Q. Do you have an impression of Anthony Kim, have you played much with him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've played with him and he's actually a talented player, strong, talented player, young guy coming out and with game, with experience. You know, he's a classic case of a possible of becoming one of the real top players of the world. He certainly has the talent and as I said, the quality of his game, there's nothing lacking. It just, you know, the experience, and you get that by just playing. So very bright future.

Q. I saw you playing and your shot routine is faster than other players, do you do any special training to speed up your shot routine?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I like this guy. (Laughter).
You know, for people, just be ready to play when it's your turn to play. Do what you need to do. You know, when it's your shot, be ready.

Q. Have you had a chance to gauge the strength --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Only the guys I know from around the world. I'm not familiar with the local Korean players, but obviously K.J. and Anthony and a few others and they are obviously very strong and this week, Ballantine's has brought such a great tournament and the first time The European Tour is here, you know, they are going to be up for it this week, no question.
As I said, both of them, would be challengers this week, and certainly I would expect to see both K.J. and Anthony thereabouts on Sunday because of the fact that, you know, they are ready for this and want to do well in their hometown sort of thing and hopefully I'll be there fighting out with them on Sunday evening.

Q. You won the British Open last year and it had a been a long time for a European player not to win the British Open so, do you think there's any difference in the performances between American players and European players?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think there's ebbs and flows on all tours with the quality of players. I think in the mid to late 80s, early 90s, The European Tour obviously had the best players in the world. You know, when we had the Seves, Faldos, Sandy Lyle, Woosie, Olazábal, we had the best players in the world.
Through the 90s we had good players, but, okay, we didn't win the majors, but I think Europe is coming very strong again. There's a lot of good, young players coming through, and I think over next number of years, I think European Tour will go from strength-to-strength certainly players-wise and the quality of young players coming through and should hopefully redress the balance and win a few more majors, because they are not easily won at the moment.

Q. What have you done with the Claret Jug?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It sits on the breakfast table in my kitchen. Every morning I come down I open the kitchen door and I see it and I have my breakfast and it sits there. It seems like it's at home there.

Q. If you have to choose Masters title and Order of Merit ranking, what would you choose?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: A major, no question. Any major, Masters, yeah, that would be okay. (Laughter).
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Padraig, thank you very much for joining us.

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