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July 17, 2008

Padraig Harrington


MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we've got Padraig Harrington with us, shot 74 today. Padraig, thank you for joining us. Given how little practise you've been able to do over the last couple of days, how pleased were you with that as an opening round?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm sure I would have taken it on the first day, especially if you said I didn't have to play under the conditions or test my wrist. But obviously the bogey-bogey finish has tainted it a little bit.
It doesn't look like it's going to have done any damage by the end of the day, assuming that the weather holds up the way it was all morning. 74 will be a respectable enough score with 54 holes to go in this tournament. I kind of have to focus on the positive that there are 54 more holes, that my wrist should be getting better and better, and I look forward to playing those holes and not necessarily the bit of a slip at the end of my round.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Two good birdies on the front nine. Could you take us through what you scored there.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hit a 3-iron off the 5th tee and I hit a really, really nice 6-iron probably about 150 yards to about five feet and holed the putt. Very important at that stage of my round. Obviously I'm 2-over par and facing into a difficult 6th hole, and it's nice to get one back. I think that's crucial when you're playing in difficult conditions, is to make the odd up-and-down and make the odd birdie. You feel like you have something to play with if you're making the odd birdie out there. If you're always slipping backwards with those bogeys, it feels endless out there. So very important time to make a birdie.
Like everybody else, I'm sure I made -- 6 is obviously a difficult hole and I made a good 5.
Eighth hole I think I hit 3-wood, sand wedge to five feet and holed that for birdie, again. All good.
1th hole was probably -- I started playing quite well on the back nine after the front nine. I didn't seem to be quite committed to my shots, releasing the club at my right side, I think, because of my wrist on the front nine.
I hit two lovely shots up 11 and still came up short and three-putted it.
And then 17 -- probably 17 and 18 were the two holes if I look back, not playing a practise round definitely cost me on 17. I thought the wind was going to be hard off the left, and it played very straight down, and I was trying to hit a hard draw when I didn't need to, and I missed it left in the heavy rough, had to chip out and then missed a five-footer for par.
And 18, while I knew it was difficult off the left, I hit a reasonable tee shot but found the bunker, and that's a straightforward bogey.

Q. You played in pretty awful conditions at the European last Wednesday. How would you compare the two, and was that good preparation?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I've had three weeks now because the European Open, as well, we had some awful conditions of trying to get the clubs and grips dry. Yeah, I think it was excellent playing the European. I think this course, they kept the tees back and the pins tough enough so they haven't been easy in terms of -- as they would have at the European Club last week, at the Irish PGA. They pushed a few tees forward. None of that today. If it's a tough hole, it's a tough hole. So there was good preparation mentally. Yeah, I would say it was excellent.

Q. How would you compare the conditions on the two days?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would say the conditions were very similar. Very, very similar to today. Exactly the same, actually, in terms of the -- the golf course is slightly different, but the conditions were 100 per cent the same. It was like there were shots out there today -- there was a number of shots I think I had 88 yards on the par-5, 15th, and as it turned out, I thought I was being clever hitting 9-iron. I probably should have hit 8-iron (laughter).
There was other shots out there, 170 yards, and you're saying, well, I can't get there with 4-iron, I have to hit 3-iron sort of thing. There was a lot of shots you really -- as I said, you've got to convince yourself and go with it. It was a big golf course today.

Q. Can you take us through the day on the wrist? You had one shot on the range.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I had about three or four shots on the range where it twinged. I had taken some anti-inflammatories and painkillers, and I expected to have a few more twinges on the golf course. I was apprehensive about hitting out of the rough. That's what I managed to do in the first four or five holes (laughter).
But I think when it didn't on the 1st hole, I hit it in the rough, and when it didn't hurt, then I kind of was getting a bit more relaxed with it as it went on. And as I said, I think after seven or eight holes, I certainly wasn't thinking about it at all.
I think the tougher weather helped in that sense, that as bad as it was out there, you could only focus on your next shot, getting your grip dry, trying to -- there was a lot of effort put into that out there today, and you can't -- there was very little time to be distracted out there, and that was a good thing for my wrist.

Q. You've obviously been through a lot of pain today and in your preparation --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think that's a slight exaggeration to say a lot of pain. I've had a slight distraction with my wrist. It's not that painful.

Q. There's two players today that have actually walked off the course and given up after nine, ten holes.

Q. Sandy Lyle and Rich Beem. What do you think about players doing that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Were they injured?

Q. No.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know, maybe they were. I'd have to talk to them personally to know what the situation was. You know, who knows. I haven't got anywhere near enough information to judge.

Q. Could I get your comments on the round that your playing partner Retief had? 71 is three shots better than anybody else that's finished, and relatively speaking, looks pretty stellar at this stage of the game.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, and to be honest, like he had a tough double bogey early on and he kept the ball -- he kept the ball in play, hit it around the greens most of the time. He holed enough putts.
I did think that we were, myself, just missed the odd one later on. For a long part of that round, our three-ball had a better success rate on the greens. We all holed a few putts, and I think that really helps a round of golf go well on a tough day. It helps that Retief missed a short one on 15. He bogeyed 16, but he birdied 17 to get home there. I think he'd be happy to finish in 1-over even though he got it to 1-under.
But a good, solid round. He probably -- that was as high as he was going to shoot today, which is a good sign, isn't it? I hadn't thought too much about his round until you've asked me. I paid attention to what I was doing. But looking back, besides the putt he holed on the par-3, 14th, everything else was very solid. Probably his high number was 1-over.

Q. Given the condition that you had with your wrist, how important does a high-tech physio van become in certain situations? Was it useful to you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think in this day and age any tournaments you would go to, seriously, without having physios available and a gym available, the Tour bus available and medical doctors available as there are now. It's a big thing when you come to a tournament. There's a lot of injuries out there, and yeah, you really do need all the facilities you can get. I have a guy who travels more or less full-time to all my events. You've got to be committed to all these things at this stage because we probably -- this is sad to say. We probably, as professional golfers, put the most time into our sport of any sport in the world. Like most of us are at it 12 hours a day, 10 hours a day, six, seven days a week, so there are a lot of repetitive stress injuries in the game. It might not be so much high impact, but when you're playing as I do over 30 events a year and practise probably every other day, you see how it gets up there to 10, 12 hours most days of work. You do need the physios and all that to keep yourself from breaking down.

Q. Were you expecting to find some tees forward like coming off 5 and walking to the 6th tee?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: One hole -- I wasn't expecting it at all, but there was one hole -- one of the tougher holes.

Q. 11?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think it could have been 11. But I walked up to the tee, and Retief was in front of me, and I couldn't see the marker on the tee box. He was blocking the right-hand one, and I think there was a sign over the other one. For a second I couldn't see it, and I was thinking, oh, they've put us forward (laughter).
You know what, I think they're right. They recognise if it's a tough hole into the wind, so be it. Par might have been 74 today. It might have been an extra four par-5s out there, and that's fine. It would be the wrong attitude to go out there and think that the 6th hole today was a par-4. It doesn't make any difference. It might be called a par-4 on the card, but at the end of the day that wasn't even close to reachable when we played it, and you've got to take the attitude that the lowest score is all that counts this week, not the guy who's under par or over par. They didn't need to push the tees forward.
I'm sure some guys will struggle on 11 to reach the fairway.

Q. Just to summarize on the wrist, you said 50/50 yesterday on completing four rounds.

Q. Have the odds improved?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The odds have to have improved. I've only got three more to go (laughter). I would think 90 per cent. I would even go higher, a 95 per cent chance now of completion. I would think it would only be a slim chance that I would now have to do something to -- you know, I suppose you could find -- if I was looking on 17 and I hit it in a heavy lie but the grass was going with it. If you got into some of those lies and the grass was going against you and you really had to dig at it, definitely there's a chance of that happening. But 90 per cent I would give myself.

Q. You know some people in this room think we only get weather like this back in Ireland (laughter), but could I say to you, do you think that you'd like to see this weather continue? And if it does, will it be to your advantage?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'd like to have another go at it, yes. I wouldn't mind having another go at today's round. I think I could do better. I don't know if I could handle doing it for another three days. I think we'd all be physically and mentally exhausted if we had to -- that round of golf today is like playing two or three rounds of golf. But I definitely wouldn't mind another go at that round.
If you told me we all have to tee it up again tomorrow in the same conditions, I'd look forward to that test. But maybe not another three of them.

Q. Do you think it gives you an advantage?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know. I enjoyed the battle today. I enjoyed going out there, and it really was a battle. I think I would, yes. You're probably looking at close to 40 per cent of the field that really aren't prepared to play in weather like that. So yes, it does give you an advantage, big advantage.
You know, Birkdale would be known as a golf course that has suited, some say, the U.S. players coming across. But obviously if it stayed like that, they wouldn't be very happy with those conditions. Yeah, I would definitely think it gives an advantage to anybody who's been brought up playing these conditions, is comfortable in this temperature.
You look at some of our -- our Asian friends would find today very cold, so they're not comfortable in that weather. Yeah, I would definitely think it gives an advantage to any of the guys from Great Britain and Ireland and anybody who's used to playing links golf.

Q. You're saying sort of par 74 for the day, so you're obviously happy to have even par for the day.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I would have taken my score on the first tee, yes. And certainly after starting off and I made a couple of bogeys, I'm thinking, you know, like mid-70s, 76, 77, after the start, was looking like a decent score. The course obviously is toughest early on. But yeah, I would think 74 is about par out there today. It probably actually is under par if you do the stats. If Retief is 3-under, I'm 1-over. Normally slightly better than 3-under would be leading the first day, so maybe 74 would be even slightly better than par.

Q. What time was the alarm clock set for this morning? And those two par saves on the second and third holes seemed pretty important.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 4:55 was the alarm clock, and two par saves, yeah. I holed a long putt on the second hole from 30 feet. And as I said, people always ask, well, how do you deal with playing in tough conditions. We just need the odd break to give you a light at the end of the tunnel. And that putt, as I said, birdieing 5, you've got to do the odd thing right at the right time. If things are going against you on a day like that, you know, you just can't see the answers, you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it just gets tougher and tougher. You need a couple of breaks.
It's not just as simple as being able to play all the shots in the bag out there. You do need to have the odd thing going in your favour. As I said, holing a putt like that was a big boost to my round. I got up-and-down on the next from 50 yards. I hit it really close on 5 to make birdie. These things are -- five, like I've hit a really good shot in there and it's gone to five feet. Plenty of guys hit good shots today and they've gone ten yards past or ten yards short and they won't make birdie off that. I hit my first good shot and I make a birdie. Those breaks are very important in helping you get through a tough day.

Q. Has David instructed you not to go to the range again today, or how does the treatment continue now?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I know at one stage of my career you probably would see me head to the range on a day like today, but I have matured a little bit. I ain't going to any range.

Q. Injury or not?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Injury or not, yes. I wouldn't go anyway because of the injury. But no, I realise that you ain't going to find anything out there today. Resting is good for my wrist. And as I said, it's been a tough day mentally on the golf course, so getting your head in the right place, because you've got to expect even if it doesn't rain for the next three days, you've got to expect some wind out there and you've got to be focused.

Q. Was there any point in the last five days when you said to yourself, I'm in serious trouble here, I'm not going to make this?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The worst point was on the 10th fairway yesterday when I just started my practise round. On my second shot it jarred. That was the low point of the week. I thought after that, even though there was pain and problems, I thought five days is a good bit of time from Saturday to get things right. I was comfortable with that.
I think when I came back out and made another swing on the 10th tee and that hurt, that was the second lowest point, and I really was concerned at that stage.
And bear in mind, that's 24 hours nearly ago, I haven't been able to test it in terms of I haven't swung a golf club and pushed it or done anything to see what it's like.
I was getting up this morning not knowing what swinging a golf club would be like. I was convinced, though, that if there was only a small or reasonable amount of pain, or even enough pain, I couldn't do any more damage, that I was going to try and figure a way of playing and ignoring it, which was -- I was convinced I was going to give it a go anyway.

Q. Now that you're actually playing, what would it have meant to you to have missed this event?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, the great thing is if I didn't tee it up this week, they won't take the trophy back from last year, I'm still the Open Champion 2007. While I'd be disappointed not to be playing the Open in 2008, it wouldn't have made a huge difference to me in terms of -- it doesn't make me win in 2007 any better or any worse whether I play the following year. I haven't come here to use this as some sort of measure of winning in 2007. I've come here to play the 2008 Open and try and win it.
I wouldn't have -- I'd be disappointed not to be playing a major, but I wouldn't be disappointed -- I wouldn't be hugely disappointed just because I was defending.
Defending is -- you've got to -- the winning is the important thing, not defending. That's it. Going to try to win the next tournament is always the important thing, and there's no marks -- I get no extra points for winning 2007 by finishing 10th this year. Everybody talks about defence, but I can't tell you how the guy who won each Open for the last ten years finished the following year. It wouldn't make a huge deal of difference.

Q. On the occasions you were in the rough early on, was there a shot you played because of the wrist?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I tried to play the right shot every time, but I was certainly nervous playing a few of the shots, particularly the first one out of the rough, even though it was a wood. I was worried about that.
I think the worst lie I had was on 6, where I got a little bit of -- the hairy stuff that's in the rough, I had a little bit of that around the ball, and that concerned me because I didn't want it to get caught up. And obviously my lie on 17 concerned me.
I think in general when I did hit it in the rough, I didn't get too many lies where the grain was going against me, and that's where you can get caught. If the grain is going against you, that will snag the club in that rough and you could definitely hurt the wrist.
But in general the lies I had today, bar probably six, were good in terms of not hurting yourself, at least the club was going to keep accelerating forward.

Q. So you didn't hit a different club because of the wrist?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I didn't. Yeah, probably on 17 I definitely did, yeah. I definitely went to the shortest club I could go with. Yeah, and 6, as well. I went to a pitching wedge out of that.
Yeah, a couple of times -- the conditions were so bad, it was great, you couldn't hit the ball that far out of the rough anyway. You might as well try and hit it 60 yards right or 100 yards. It wasn't like you were advancing towards the green on a few of them. I changed maybe a little bit, but not significant -- it didn't cost me anything; that's what I'm saying.

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