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July 2, 2008

Padraig Harrington


RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much for joining us and here we are at The European Open at a new venue. Can we have your initial thoughts on your first round here at The London Golf Club?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I played the course on Monday and it's playing very nice, nice course. I think the scores will be pretty good because the greens are good and the condition of the course is nice, depending how much wind there is. Better for what looks like a good week in terms of scoring. Nice test out there, and looking forward to playing it.
RODDY WILLIAMS: The title eluded you when it was played at The K Club but now we are in England, how do you feel about your chances?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I had a couple, one or two close runs at The K Club. Yeah, who knows with a new course, it's never quite sure how the courses do, whether it does or it doesn't.
I do like the course. I don't see anything out there that scares me or that I feel is not to my advantage. So I should have a as good a chance on winning on this golf course as any golf course. Never quite can tell until you play 72 holes of golf, how much the course suits you enough.

Q. Can you talk about the US Open and the emphasis you put on focus beforehand and this roller coaster nature of your way there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah I finished 36th at the U.S. Open, which certainly seemed like a catastrophe when I got home. I remember one guy coming to my house, and saying, "What happened last week? It really wasn't a good week for you."
Well it's 36th at the US Open it's not what you want. It's nothing that's sort of falling apart sort of thing. I had a look back at week and did my stats. I think that I do think with putting and I've taken a number more putts than I would normally in scoring range than my average, let's say, and it's not that I had a really bad week on the greens; I just didn't hole putts. I didn't chip-and-putt very well.
When I look back on it, I am not saying I would have made up ten shots but certainly probably five shots off, you know, 4-over par or Top-10 or something like that. I can't look at the week and say I did much wrong. I have to look at that as being one of those weeks that it's just golf. You play your way through it, and some weeks the putts are off and you get the right breaks here and there and some weeks they don't.
Certainly nothing to look back on and feel like there's no reason to change any tactics or change anything in my game at all. It comes down to being patient and let it happen.

Q. Would you say you find yourself itching to get back to the victory podium again?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, as I said, I've had a strange year in terms of World Rankings and things like that. My performances have just come shy of winning, and, you know, it's important to win out there. The wins, there's plenty of Top-10s and fives to keep me going but the wins are definitely the most important part.
Yeah, I'd like to go and win, but we always try to win and certainly there's some incentive to put on to get a few wins. I probably played about , I am not sure how many I have played this year, maybe a third of my season has gone, we are halfway through the calendar year, and it's better to say, let's get a win, we're running out of time to have multiple wins in a season sort of thing.
Yeah, I am here to win tournaments and I'm certainly working hard on playing for the moment and trying to win any given week I'm out there. I'm not of that mode that players sometimes get caught up in when after they have won they get caught up in a practise mode and are happy to work on their game and sort of sacrifice the short-term goals. I'm quite interested in short-term goals at the moment. Winning is where the focus is at.

Q. It was always going to be hard as Open Champion but do you think you got the schedule right?

That's the hardest part about it and I really tried my hardest not to go down the road of overplay, and I think that's the one thing when anybody wins a major, well, they have been -- I don't know if they do or they don't but certainly a lot of players will look back and say, well, they did too much. I may have done too much at times during the winter and different commitments here and there, but in terms of playing and the commercial side of things, I definitely kept it to an absolute minimum, certainly kept it to what was reasonable and kept the tournaments down. I'm not even sure how many I've played this year but I feel like I could have played more, which is a good thing at this time of the year. I feel that I'm in shape and I'm looking forward to every tournament I play.

Q. Are we looking at a new lucky beard?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: A lazy one. A lazy one.
Yes, it's a daily battle between at what stage does it start to annoy me and then I will shave it off. But no, there's nothing to it at all except the fact that I think I had no commitment at the end of last week so I didn't bother shaving and it was too late to do it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Q. How does the absence of Tiger for the rest of the year affect your thoughts and hopes and motivation?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I go into any event with a constant battle with myself and focused on what I'm doing and try to get most out of me. I'm kind of a great believer that every week that somebody is tuning up having a good week, there's always somebody that's having a good week and anybody that's on a good week can be the best player in the world.
But I'm trying to get that good week as often as I can, and whether the world No. 1 is in the field, whether Tiger is in the field or not, you're only competing with him when you play your game, so you've got to concentrate on that. It's the same thing every week this week.
There's got to be somebody here this week that place golf and we'll look at him at the end of tournament and say, he's the best player in the world if he plays like that every week. Just because one, anybody on a hot streak is the man to beat. So you can't worry about somebody that's not here. You have to worry about yourself and what you're doing and a situation that by fair rights is giving you the chance of beating the guy on the hot streak every week.

Q. You've come close to winning; is there a common thread that has stopped you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's different every times. So many times, over a period of time, you'll have a certain number of occasions that you can spot that you'll come back. At The Open last year in the playoff I had a 6-footer on 17 to go three ahead and I hit a real nothing putt. There was no intensity in the way I hit that putt.
And the minute I walk off the green, or after I hit the putt, that sort of period, it dawned on me that it feels exactly like it did when I was 18 years of age when I was playing the Irish Youths at Dundalk and had a two-shot lead and the whole intensity went out of me. I just lost that sort of adrenaline that you need when you're in that sort of feeling. You need that adrenaline as part of focus. I can see it on that putt how with a three-shot lead, you can't lose from here type of thing and that intensity I had gone out, I didn't realise it, and thankfully it scared the life out of me so that the intensity came back.
You know, situations like that, where you get into places and with experience, you remember that it feels like, and this is what happened then, and let's do this. But there are new occasions. I've had many wins where I did win and was outside my control, and finished second in tournaments where I played my very best golf that week and it was somebody else's week. I've had losses where I could say I've made mistakes.
Maybe like the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, there's no doubt in my mind, looking back at that, I had to make three pars to win the U.S. Open as it turns out and made a bogey from nowhere on the 16th. It was such a - it came out of the blue and I had not made any bogeys that day and didn't look like making a bogey, and all of a sudden I started pushing and pressing and I didn't realise the two pars would have tied the U.S. Open.
It's amazing how experience and things like this, but in hindsight, who knows and I guess the next time I get into the U.S. Open with three pars to win, of think I have, maybe I'll take two pars and a birdie. It takes experience to tell what's needed in each situation.
You never get it 100% right, there are too many variables, but the more experience you have, the more you know you can read a situation and do the appropriate things.
I'm thinking back, I remember losing the European Open the year Michael Campbell won it, I remember going into that hole trying to make eagle, but a par 5, and looking back, maybe just take my chances making birdie and moving on. It's an interesting concept, but certainly when you have a number of them like I've had over the years, there's a lot of experiences to be called upon, that's for sure. You build off that.
But I will say that the more you get into the game, the more often you're there, the easier it is, and that's something all players have got to try to do is get themselves into -- like I said to a player earlier in the year, had a couple of birdies in the early round of tournament and he blue himself out of the tournament at the weekend. Finished strong on the last nine and maybe got himself into a Top-5, and, you know, as I said, if you finish that way and finish Top-5 in a week that he wasn't up there, everybody would have patted him on the back and said, well done. And to be honest, he would have learned nothing about his game if he had gone out and shot 65 and finished fifth.
But the way he's done it, confronting it, the public saying can't believe you lost it sort of thing. But he learned far more from being in the lead and being in contention. Playing yourself into Top 10's and things like that, it's nice when you get paid well when you do it, you don't learn much from doing it. It's all about getting yourself into contention as often as you can and being there as much as you can to give you the experience so you know where to putt and where not to putt.
Look at what Monty did in his heyday, waiting for other people to make mistakes if necessary, and it wasn't always about charging and finishing and things like that. It's about knowing when to come forward and when to hang on and that's something you can certainly admire in Monty's game when he was winning in the 90s was his ability to judge that situation; to wait and be confidence and be patient and to see the whole situation.
What a ramble! (Laughter).

Q. You mentioned Montgomerie just now, he's returned to form in the last week or so; how much of a threat do you expect him to be this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, again, it's nice to see him playing well. If I'm not going to defend The Open in two weeks I'm, I'd be very happy to see him -- I'd actually be delighted to see him go and win something, win a major and win The Open in particular.
But unfortunately this is professional golf and as a professional golfer we don't look around at anybody else but ourselves and we concentrate on what we're doing. You know, you've got to go out there, as I said, and concentrate on your own game and not -- you know, okay, when it's all said and done, you actually have a look around.
But it is a selfish game and you have to focus on what you're doing. I know that if I go there and play my golf, do my best, it doesn't matter what anybody else does. I can't control them to a great extent. I'm worried about 155 guys, not necessarily one guy, and the only one I'm worried about is me.
It's great to see him playing well, yes, and I would love to see him win a major yes, but hopefully not when it's my time to win a major.

Q. Also being a Ryder Cup year?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Everything changes that week in the Ryder Cup. We all want to get there. Certainly some of us have to get there. You know The Ryder Cup is one week and everything does change in that week, and everybody helps everybody else out. There is a strong camaraderie during the tournament.
But there's a lot of competition outside of that, and it is amazing how well we come together during the week, I've got to say. It is incredible how much the team pulled together week-in, week-out, and very positive on The European Tour when it comes to actually competing, you're out there trying to do your best and as I said, beat the opposition -- inaudible -- beat yourself really is what you're trying to do every week.

Q. At the risk of belaboring the point, how important is it to you that Montgomerie makes The Ryder Cup Team?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Personally as I said, yeah, I would want Monty on the team, if his form is in any way decent, he definitely can be a leader. I think he needs to be a leader on the team. I don't think that -- I don't think you can bring Monty in and say, you know, play No. 8, that's not going to work. He's not going to play well and he's not going to help the team out. He has to be in a position that you can bring him in and say, Monty, you're the playing captain, out No. 1.
So it's not something, you can't bring Monty along and it's not like you're sort of saying, this is like a testimonial, your last chance and we'll protect you down the back there and you can play down low. It just wouldn't work with him. He needs to be leading and he draws a lot of confidence from being the sort of unofficial captain or the playing captain, but he does need to be in form to do that. In that situation, he's proved it over the years, he leads well from the front and his game sets up a couple of levels.
So I would definitely hope that we can get that sort of mind-set.

Q. Do you think it's going to be good for The European Tour to go to Oakland Hills to play the PGA, having played there before in the Ryder Cup, you're going to play the last major on the course where you gave the Americans such a beating.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: For The Ryder Cup or for the PGA?

Q. Do you think the fact that you can go and play a major on a course where you've done so well at a Ryder Cup, from a European perspective?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It certainly will be interesting to see how the players score. I'm sure if you compared the individual scores in the Ryder Cup with their scores in the majors, it would be a lot better in the Ryder Cup. If anybody can could take the attitude that they have at a Ryder Cup into a major, they would probably win and certainly have an ability to perform to our very best in the Ryder Cup where bringing a certain level of trepidation to them and you know, with that, it takes the edge off guys scoring.
It would be interesting to compare how we feel about the golf course and how we perform, I should say it would do nicely for The European Team but that doesn't all work out. And as it is a major, as I said, there's a certain level of expectations and things with majors that certainly limits the ability of the players to create what they would like to be in and it's hard to survive a few under par and move forward and they can't always come back to that level par sort of number in a major.
It would be a different sort of mental test than The Ryder Cup and somebody should probably do one of those scientific tests on the scoring of The Ryder Cup players there and I guarantee you'll find that we score a lot lower in the major championships.

Q. Wonder if you got any medication, have you done anything from that angle?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I have a bit of a dodgey neck this week. Allergies are okay, that's fine. I checked out and I've asked a few times about certain things but no, nothing needs to be feared. I don't need a medical pass for anything as of yet and hopefully I won't in the future.
It's reasonably straightforward. Ask if you're in doubt. As I said, it's so new to the players that it would cause an issue with teething problems over time, I think the next generation of golfer who will join the Tour and be brought up with a certain policy and won't cost them a second thought. They will tell know right and what's wrong by reading the packets themselves.
As usual, it is going to cause a little bit of teething, we're not used to it so we have to ask the questions and pay attention for the initial probably couple of years, anyway, until we all have the ability to say, if in doubt, don't take anything and maybe don't take anything, aspirin, but it will take time. We are not like athletes that from the age of 13 or 14, straightaway, you know that you can't take this and can't take that and with experience, golfers will become like that, too.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much for your time, and good luck this week.

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