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May 15, 2008

Padraig Harrington


Q. Chopping out of the rough sideways, not that easy, is it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, and it's very long, as well. Narrow fairways, heavy rough, and certainly not what I'd be used to playing in the States where the fairways would be sometimes three times as wide, certainly twice as wide on a lot of holes, and you know, I've seen the rough a lot heavier.
It's tough, and your game, I thought it was -- I really felt I hit a lot of good tee shots, didn't really get myself into too much trouble. Had a few opportunities and lost my way in the middle of the round for a few holes and it cost me.

Q. Fairways being so much narrower than they are in the States is it intimidating even to someone of your ability?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, 9 there where you're trying to hit it, it's probably, I suppose it's 18, 20 yards wide between the bunker and you hit it right, you're going to be a lot of ball, so you're aiming at left edge of the fairway and hoping to just drop it off a little bit, and I kind of hit a good, solid one and drew in a little bit of right-to-left wind in the bunker.
There's a lot of tough tee shots out there and you've got to be very focused, you know, even on easy holes like 7 which is a good birdie chance, you can't afford to be a little bit right or a little bit left; you're in the water right and left you're going to reason through the fairway and be chipping out.
Like Graeme's tee shot on 7 was probably five yards left of mine, and he ends up hitting a wedge and nearly hit in in the water from there. It's definitely a tough test.

Q. We've noticed you're wearing the strap on the arm?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Just a little bit of tennis elbow. Just been struggling to get on top of it. I've been getting some good treatment, and when I do get the treatment; it's fine, it clears up. But when I don't hit a lot of balls, it comes back.
So I'm really just using it as a precaution and trying to get ahead of the game with it. I actually took it off the first hole today thinking that I probably wouldn't need it but there was a little bit of pain in it but it's not affecting my golf whatsoever.

Q. Will you spend the afternoon banging a few balls?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I was very happy with how I hit it. Made a few mental errors as I settled in the middle of round and seemed to drift away a bit. No, there's nothing -- I hit the ball really solid, so you know, I'm not going to find anything on the range this afternoon that's going to make my game any better.
I probably will hit a few, practise my short game a little bit just to keep on top of that, but swing-wise, no, I was happy with it.

Q. The 72 looks good on paper; what's the real story inside the ropes for you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I suppose 72 doesn't look that good when you see 6-under par, but it is a tough golf course, and by the end of the week, that 72 won't have played me out at this stage. There's a lot of golf to be played. Obviously it was a very nice day out there. Probably the easiest day you'll ever get on this course in terms of weather.
So there was opportunity to be had out there. I lost my way a little bit in the middle of the round and made a few bogeys and struggled to make the birdies coming home.

Q. Was it a case of a couple of stray drives that led to the dropped shots for you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I suppose I hit -- I drove the ball really well today but I hit a poor tee shot, got a little upset on the 18th tee and hit it in the water, which it's a tough tee shot. And then the third hole is just a horrible tee shot full stop. You're trying to hit a big, high hook off the tee to a 20-yard wide fairway, or 24-yard wide or something. So it's not the easiest shot in the world and I just played it badly.

Q. Going back to the 18th, which was your anyone ninth, that was maybe a shock to the system because you had come off two great birdies in a row. How are you feeling?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, won't be a shock to the system on 18. It's a real tough tee shot and it compounded a little bit that it's awkward to line up and as I was over the ball, I just lost a little bit of trust in my alignment and hit a bad shot.

Q. You're just six shots behind after round one, so a lot of golf to be played, what do you figure in yourself over the next few days as potentially being a winning score?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I just have to play my best golf over the next three days. As I said, 72 means I've got a bit of work to do but it certainly doesn't mean I'm out of the tournament.

Q. And overall you're happy with the way you played today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not happy with the score, but I'm happy with the way I played, yeah.

Q. It was a day which didn't turn out for a few reasons; why?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Certainly the first six holes I played great, missed a few chances and then I got the putts on the 7th and 8th holes so I felt good, probably feeling a little overconfident. Probably just got a little put out with my alignment on the tee. It's a very awkward hole lining up. Didn't trust it and hit a bad shot. More disappointed with my wedge shot on to the green, I spun it down the hill. I was more disappointed with that than the tee shot.
Then I just lost my way a little bit the next couple of holes. I just wasn't comfortable with myself. I played nicely for the last five holes or so, and had a few chances but just didn't convert them.

Q. 72 is going not going to hugely damage you in the tournament.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, it means a got a bit of work to do the next couple of days but certainly doesn't mean I'm out of the tournament. It is a tough golf course and even if you play very well, you might not shoot a good score which gives hope to anybody chasing but it's going to be difficult for anybody up there.
You know it's a tough course.

Q. The round at Sawgrass last week where you missed the cut, was that in your mind at all?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Hardly, no, not at all. No question. Why would I think about last week? As I said, I played very well last week, so, no, I was very much focused on what I was doing today.

Q. The one thing about this course, the 18th, which you won in a playoff last year, but you don't really see that hole as being one which you really like to be honest; is that fair to say?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I like the hole. It just very awkward. Yeah, it's an awkward hole, just the angles of it. It's a great hole, though. I wouldn't -- I might like to hit a straighter tee shot but that's just me feeling uncomfortable. I'm sure somebody else thinks it's very fitting to their eye.
We all have those things on golf courses. Some holes suit us and some don't.

Q. And will the driver be the strategy on 18 for the rest of the week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, hit two lovely drives on Tuesday and Wednesday.
You hit a nice drive, you have a difficult second shot, so you never know.

Q. The par 5s today --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: One bogey and three pars. Two good shots up the first one. Had about an 8-footer, a bad tee shot on 18. You know, what can you do? The wind turned down on me on 7, had a little 5-wood into the green, into the wind off the right, you can't afford to underclub and went downwind when I hit it. For an easy 5-wood, I pitched it 239, so can't do anymore than that.
If you think 18 is an easy par 5, you know, it might be a 5 on the card but certainly no two-shotter -- I would say it would play close to over par rather than under par today.

Q. Why is it so difficult?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We're 80 yards further back on the tee. I'd say I was about 30 yards in two after driving 6-iron past where I hit my tee shot last year. It was 560 downwind and now it's 630 into the wind.

Q. Is the 18th intimidating?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the 18th is a great hole, it really is. The thing about, you hit a good drive down there, as I said, you're left -- obviously the 4-iron, yes, I hit a 5-wood in the Pro-Am and it's a tight 5-wood and it's just trees on the left. It's one of those holes, as I said, you're not too disappointed if you hit it slightly up the right rough and I can lay up fine, you're happy enough.

Q. What do you need to improve on tomorrow?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would be happy to play the same way tomorrow, just, you know, just like I hit 5-iron into the last, pitched five yards short of the hole and end up with a 30-footer. I could hardly fix my pitchmark on the green. On another day, that would have been close.
So you just have to be patient. Golf is a strange game. You never can command; when you get on a run, it always seems easy but you can't command these things to happen. You just have to stay patient. I couldn't have played 7 any better. I'm thinking, should I have laid up, should I have done something else. Another week you hit 5-wood, catches the stump roles down and make eagle and it's happy days.
I hit it in the bunker and did well to get on the green. That's just the nature of the game, you're trying to stay patient, do your thing and hang around there and in the course of a week, you'll have two nine-holes runs where you know, I probably play -- to win this tournament this week, you probably only need to get a run twice where you get a real good run and you play two nine holes in 4- or 5-under par, and then a couple of nine holes of 1- or 2-under par and the others are level par, you'll be very close at the end if I did that. I would be 5-under par, couldn't I.
I'd settle for anything single figures under par. I'd even say high, 7- , 8- , 9-under par maybe. I'm assuming the weather is going to get a little windier. I'm assuming that. Usually whatever is leading the first day, double it and add one; 13-under. There's not like there's a lot of 6-under pars.

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