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July 30, 2008

Padraig Harrington


RODDY WILLIAMS: Padraig, thanks very much for coming in and joining us. I know it's been a long morning so far. First off, many congratulations on a terrific Open Championship victory. Give us your thoughts on what you've been up to for the last week or so and obviously looking ahead to this week's Bridgestone Invitational.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think winning it for the second time is different. I think there was a severe -- the high of winning in Carnoustie, the way it happened, messing up down 18, getting a second chance, taking that second chance, winning your first major, the adrenaline rush, everything that I did with it, because you're only going to win your first major once. So I made sure to enjoy it, celebrate it. And I also did everything that -- the responsibility of winning the Open and winning your first major goes with it. So there was a lot that happened afterwards.
And certainly I was very flat after I won it in terms of the PGA Championship, the Bridgestone Championship, the FedExCup. I really struggled. My game came back towards the end of the year. I had a couple of illnesses. It definitely took a lot out of me.
This time around it was a more satisfying win the way it happened, more confidence boosting. It was definitely walking away with a sense of satisfaction from it. I did celebrate the win, had a couple of great parties, but didn't do as much of the extra stuff. There was no -- didn't do the civic reception this time around, didn't do as much -- I did one sort of press conference, didn't do as much with the media. And I think that kind of reflects the fact that -- the difference between winning your first and winning your second. There is a distinct difference.
So I'm in better shape. I'm a little bit flat. All the markers were down last week. I definitely was flat after winning. And gradually, hopefully I'll come back this week and hopefully I should be in better shape come the PGA next week.

Q. What's in the Claret Jug now? Has your son come up with something else?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Still lady birds, still lady birds. We have some permanent lady birds that we kind of bought, sort of wooden ones on a little stick that sit in the jug and hang out the top of it. Yeah, he's very comfortable there. He hasn't put anything else into it.
I had said snails or something, and I actually kind of got a little bit lost. It's caterpillars. He wants to get butterflies or something like that. He thinks it would be an ideal place to host those.

Q. Have you brought the Claret Jug with you this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I should have traveled with it, but considering I forgot my suitcase this week, I'm a dangerous person when it comes to that. I left my suitcase in my bedroom at home. I only managed to realize that when I was waiting at the end of the carousel just when I was about to complain that the airline had lost it. It took a little bit of soul searching to realize -- as my wife pointed out to me at this stage -- we were just at the counter where you lodge your complaint and fill in your forms, and we discovered that actually, in fact, I had left it in the room. My wife looked at me and said, "You're lucky you won the Open two weeks ago. We're going to give you a pass on this one. We're not going to give you a ribbing over leaving your suitcase behind just because you won the Open two weeks ago." So I got away with that one.

Q. Was this at the Cleveland airport or where were you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Chicago. All the bags came in first, and we had to wait all the way until the end to think about this one, where was it, and then we realized it was still sitting in my bedroom.

Q. Did you take last week completely off from golf?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I practiced every day last week, actually. But I definitely took it off in physical terms and mental terms. A lot of the practice I did last week was clearing my head, and it was a much lower key practice, and just did a little bit to keep myself -- just because I enjoy doing it, rather than necessarily feeling like I've got to get out there and work.
None of it I would have considered -- never have I considered practice work, but it was more to get out here and clear your head and hit a few shots just to keep yourself in it and occupied, and as I said, I enjoy doing it.
I always have a few little things to work on anyway, so I like to get out there every day and do something.

Q. Is the suitcase coming on later?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: FedEx just got it here this morning. You saw me arriving here today in my shorts and tee shirt, and then I got to the locker room and there were my golf clubs. It's a miracle.

Q. FedEx will be ready to sign you up then.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: They did a good job, got it here pretty quickly, on time for all this media stuff so I looked like I got my logos.

Q. You mentioned earlier on two very different finishes to your wins at the Open. How much do you look back on that back nine, and how much of it were you able to live in the moment and how much of it comes back to you after the event?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, a couple of points to that. I've always talked and espoused that majors are all about getting in position when it comes to the back nine on Sunday. The first 63 holes are jockeying just so you have that chance so if you do play the nine holes, you're going to win the Open. I've talked about it, and it's nice to have proved that fact.
I think anybody who played my back nine on Sunday could have won the Open, the huge majority, whereas I went and did it, and that gives me tremendous confidence. I'm really chuffed that I put myself in position that I've always talked about and delivered.
The actual nine holes, I look back and realize now, I think I had seven birdie putts and two eagle putts in the nine holes, which is a little bit unlike me. Normally I throw in a few difficult chip shots that I play well or something like that. So the consistency and the play on the back nine was excellent.
But as it always is, was for 17 holes at Carnoustie on Sunday, when you're doing that, it actually is comfortable, reasonably comfortable, because you're in the zone, you're hitting the shots.
It's like the second shot on 17. I was in a position, it was obviously a difficult shot, and it obviously meant a lot. But I was coming from a position that I was very confident about my game when I hit the shot. It would have been a lot tougher to hit that shot if I was maybe -- maybe just bogeyed the last three holes and my game was creaking a little bit.
The whole back nine was in that mold. Once I got through -- I think once I got through holing the putt on 10 from about four feet, it was a left-to-right putt that I was hitting right half because of the wind, once I got through that and steadied the ship, a lot of the rest of the back nine was within myself and very comfortable. As I said, I was definitely in the zone, and when you're in the zone, it's a lot easier to play good golf in the zone or play great golf in the zone than it is to just play average golf when you're stroking it a little bit.

Q. On the 18th green you looked like you were kind of looking around, like taking it all in?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was enjoying it. I said to my caddie, my caddie who's working with me, it would have been his fifth Open this one. Originally I said to him when we got to the very first one, there was nothing like an Open Championship coming down the last hole on a Sunday. The galleries, the grandstands are full, they're the biggest grandstands in golf, and the atmosphere is electric.
We were laughing about this coming down, myself and my caddie. First of all, Carnoustie was the first Sunday we made as a partnership, but we obviously didn't get to enjoy it there. And we were laughing about it coming down Birkdale that it was time to enjoy it.
What I didn't realize in the original statement was I didn't add in coming down the 18th on Sunday at the Open Championship with a four-shot lead, because you can enjoy it then (laughter). And that's what I was trying to do. I was trying to take it in, soak it up. You're never going to get these opportunities to know that you've won the Open and see -- my family were there, and to see that they're not stressed out as they would have been at Carnoustie. My coach Bob Torrance had stayed on for once. Normally he'd go home. I'm sure it was very nerve-wracking for him, but it was nice for him to be there on 18, know that you're winning the tournament, know that it's a foregone conclusion at this stage, and just to enjoy it.
It's definitely a bigger high to hole a putt on the last to win. There wasn't that excitement. But there's the satisfaction, the deep sense of satisfaction to be able to enjoy the laud and the cheers as you come down the 18th.

Q. Was there anything about that that hit you that you didn't think maybe you would feel or anything?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, the only thing that's slightly -- you don't compare yourself, but when you win a tournament, like I was so focused on winning and just going out there and winning that event. When you've won it, as I said, I would have certainly -- when I hit the second shot on 18, I certainly could believe that that was the end of that.
You don't realize, as I said, as I was walking and Greg Norman stopped to let me walk and take the applause, and I insisted he join me, because you realize at that stage that as much as you've been trying to win, there's somebody that doesn't win that day. You do feel for the other guy in that situation, as I did for Sergio at Carnoustie.
At Carnoustie I was so determined to win in the playoff, and it was only when I holed that putt that I realized there was somebody that lost, that there was a loser that day. You look at Greg and you realize there's somebody that's not winning that day. With Greg, it could have been, and I was worried about it being his story that week. That was something that I thought might have been fate. Majors haven't been that kind to Greg over the years, and I thought fate was going to throw him one at this stage. Unfortunately I didn't want it to be on my watch.
You realize when you've won that it wasn't to be for somebody else, and you do feel for him. So there was that little bit there definitely walking up the 18th. But definitely on the green it was a solid sense of satisfaction, real deep down that you've gone and done it and played the golf to do it.

Q. Have you given much thought to the fact that you are now a two-time major winner as opposed to a one-time major winner, and how much of a more exclusive club that puts you in?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I definitely have given thought to it. You know, there's a number of guys who have won one major, and then when you win two, all of a sudden you start looking at guys who have had great careers, guys I've looked up to over the years, guys I grew up watching on television, and see that they've only won two. So in some ways, you're thinking, does that mean I'm comparable to them. I haven't tried to get too much into the comparisons, I haven't tried to get too much into the appraisal of my own career at this stage because I feel that's something you do when you're retired, when you're looking back, and I feel that would hamper my ability to win more if I look back and say, yeah, I've won two and that means I'm as good as so and so.
A question came up at home about how do I rate now in terms of sportsmen in Irish history. As much as it's a valid conversation for two guys sitting in the pub over a pint to discuss whether I'm as good as somebody else was, it's not for me to get into. It's not for me to compare myself. Those comparisons really do hinder your ability to set goals going forward. What I've got to do is sit down -- and I haven't quite done it yet. I've got to sit down, as I did last year when I won my first major, I always talked about winning my first major.
There was a purpose to that because you've got to make sure you have clear goals to focus on. If you don't have those, you're going to stall in your career. This is going to be the peak unless I can find another peak to look forward to. It's very important in the near future I sit down and make sure that I have clear goals ahead of me, that there's things to move on to.
You know, the last thing I want, I feel like I have a good certainly seven years ahead of me, and I'm probably fitter than I have been at any stage in my life at this stage. Certainly I have seven, if not nine, years ahead of me where I'll be motivated. You know, as long as I stay motivated I'm getting better mentally and maturing. Physically my game is improving, as well, all the time. I could see myself going on and winning more, but it's just getting the head around it and believing it.

Q. You've spoken a lot about the various challenges in dealing with winning your first major, especially when it comes to things like time management. The second time around it's early days. I just wonder if anything in particular has surprised you since Birkdale.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Since Birkdale I've definitely been more disciplined than last year. I realize -- I think my first major was more for everybody, everybody who supported me, especially at home in Ireland. It's a different situation in Ireland. There's so many fans, so many people who have lived my career, both the highs and the lows. And every time I finished second it was tough to take for them, and every time I won. And there's no question, I felt I needed to give back more with that win.
The second win is definitely more for me. It's definitely more about me moving on in my career, about my improving as a player. I was definitely more willing to share the first win in that sense and give more of myself.
Now I believe I have to be more professional. I tried to say during my first win -- I'd get a radio station or a TV station ring me up and say we'd like to do an interview program, we just need a day of your time or two days of your time. You'd actually have to say back, you realize that I'm a current player playing tournaments and that I have a schedule to keep. A lot of times outside of golf or outside of the sporting environment, and this is what happened, I crossed over outside of the sporting environment with that win.
A lot of times people think, well, we only play one or two tournaments a year or maybe that's the end of your career, that once you've won one you kind of stop. At this point in my career I've got to not just say it but believe it and live it, that it's just part of the career and move on and keep playing and keep doing my thing, and I have to be a little bit more disciplined and not necessarily, you know, give of my time as much as I probably gave the first year. I've got to be more professional.

Q. Following along with that, is it difficult to avoid a letdown? You probably have a lot of tournaments coming up now. Are you playing all the FedEx events?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I built my year around the four majors and the Ryder Cup. I've played very little up to this so far this year. I kept absolute to a minimum, which put me under a certain amount of pressure, because the less you play, it's saying you want to turn up and deliver when you play. Guys who play a lot of events are hoping to deliver and they're kind of -- the more we play, hopefully one of them I'll hit it good that week and win. Whereas if you play less, you're putting yourself under a little bit more stress, a little bit more pressure.
Thankfully I've got the win to back that up. But yeah, I'm in a good position in terms of I haven't over-played up until now. Interestingly enough, the fact that the win has gotten me well into the FedExCup I now have a good opportunity in the FedExCup, as well. So yeah, essentially there's the PGA, you've got this week, you've got the PGA, you've got three FedExCup events. Everybody in the FedExCup, you've got to win one of the first three events essentially. You've got to get yourself in position for that last one. You've got to win one of the first three.
Then we have the Ryder Cup, which in itself -- the week of the Ryder Cup, that totally takes over. It goes from being another event when you get there to just being everything. It's incredible how much that week changes when you get there, the adrenaline and the whole push that week is amazing.
And then if you're in position you've got the TOUR Championship. I think six guys had a chance at winning the FedExCup last year going into the last one, so you want to be one of those -- that handful of guys with a chance.
So yeah, a lot of big events. But I haven't over-played up until now, so I should be okay. I'm feeling like at the moment a little bit flat after that week and I'm probably a little bit flat this week, but hopefully I'll be in good shape next week and the rest on.

Q. Will you be staying over here for that entire time?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. I'm going for a holiday -- I have an attachment to try in North Carolina. I'm building a house down there and I'm going down next week to spend a week in North Carolina, Charlotte, and a few places like that. That's the idea, is to have a base over here to bring the family and get away from it.

Q. You mentioned last year after the Open Championship you were kind of flat, and you wanted to set clear goals after this year's championship. So how important is it to play well here at Bridgestone this week and have two consecutive good weeks?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I'd never put anything to do with -- results, well, you guys love results. It's easy to categorize things when you see results. Players have to be much more disciplined. I could carve out a good result this week or I could have a bad week, and it doesn't make much difference to going forward. I didn't take much confidence last year in terms of I didn't ride a high, as a lot of major winners have after they've won and had a good couple of months.
I'm just not made up that way. So I know going into this week that I have to be disciplined in order to play well, that I'm not going to have a good week unless I do the right things. I'm not the guy who can fly in on a Wednesday evening and not play his practice rounds and not do the right things and all of a sudden have a good week. I'm the guy that has to turn up, do the right things -- I got here and was practicing on Monday. I know if I want to play good golf, I've got to do the same things I do every week and be prepared, be ready to go out there.
Just simply confidence, I've never been a golfer who's played with confidence. I've always been a better player playing with fear. It's strange that way, but I've got to motivate myself every week and in some ways find a little incentive to push me on.
Having a win the week previous, if anything, is detrimental to my golf. I'm a much better player, as I've proved going into the Open, when I'm under a little bit of pressure to perform. So we'll wait and see. Hopefully maybe it will change in all this time and maybe I'll be a totally different player and be walking around like I'm walking on air. But I don't believe it.

Q. As we head into the final stretch where the Ryder Cup team is finalized and as the guy leading the points now, looking behind you at the guys, how the team is taking shape --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's great fun. It's great fun watching the guys sweat to get into the team when you're not one of them. It's a lot better than the other way around. I think I went about six weeks without looking at that Ryder Cup table. Now I look at it every day, and go, "ooh, have a look at that."
It's an interesting one. I will say that there is a changing of the guard in Europe. There are younger players coming through. The great thing in Europe, those younger players are in contention consistently and are learning their game very well. So rookies have always tended to play well going into the Ryder Cup for Europeans. So we've got to be positive with that.
Yeah, the team, it's interesting how the team changes. Guys I would have said were positively in the team at Christmas and they're outside it at the moment. I'd say Nick Faldo would be looking for maybe one or two guys to play their way in that maybe are prospective picks at the moment. He probably has four guys that he can probably pick two from, and obviously he'd like two of those four to play their way in so he could pick the other two.
I think that's the way he's looking at it, and probably that would make it a good balance between experience and the new kids coming in. I think the U.S. Team having four picks is a big plus and they'll be able to pick more experienced players, guys who are more dependable, guys who are used to the situation, guys who are more intimidating in terms of their first-tee presence, guys who have won majors and know what it's all about.
So I think the U.S. Team will be stronger this year than it has ever been because of that. But hopefully Europe will be the underdogs going in and we can rise to the occasion. That's what we always play for any ways, try and get ourselves into a position that we're motivated and play above ourselves.

Q. You talked about playing with fear. What about this course and this tournament, if anything, is fearful to you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: This is a big golf course. I like the length of it, but over the years I've managed a few Top 10s but never really got myself into serious contention here. While I like the golf course, I can't particularly say it's ever done -- it's not one that for some reason I have done particularly well on. It's always a tough week here, and that's not a bad thing. I know going out there that it's going to be a good battle for me this week.
I know if I play my golf and play my game, I can produce the goods to win. We'll just have to wait and see. It's not like another event -- there's certain events you go to every year, and you just think, yeah, I can turn up and play this golf course with my eyes closed. This week I know that there's a lot more work involved in it for me. It will be a big battle for me to come through this week.
But I know I can do it. It's just there's a little bit more effort required.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Well, good luck this week. Thank you very much for your time.

End of FastScripts

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