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August 5, 2008

Padraig Harrington


KELLY ELBIN: Padraig Harrington, ladies and gentlemen, at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. Padraig two-time and reigning Open Champion joining us.
Padraig will be playing in his 10th PGA Championship. His best finish to date was tied for 17th in 2002 at Hazeltine National.
Padraig, welcome back to Oakland Hills. You were 4-1 in five matches at the Ryder Cup in 2004. Some pretty good memories coming back.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I have good memories of the golf course. I think when we played it in the Ryder Cup it was slightly different than this. It was firmer and faster during the week. The golf course wasn't quite as long. But the greens were definitely firmer and faster.
I think now they have lengthened the course and but it's definitely a bit more receptive.
KELLY ELBIN: You played two practice rounds; thoughts on some of the changes that you have seen over the two nine holes you played.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As I said, the golf course is just a bigger golf course. Since we have come back, there's more drivers off the tee, it's enclosed with more bunkers, I suppose most of them were there the last time but I think that you got to hit driver, you've got to hit it straight. And the greens, while their incredibly difficult to putt on, they're at least a little bit more receptive than they were back in the Ryder Cup.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. Do you have any theories on why a European has struggled so much at the PGA?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I was curious when they read out my best finish tied 17th; I realized I obviously have struggled for ten years. So I don't know. I couldn't tell you. This is setup -- the usual setup for the U.S. PGA is more like a tough U.S. TOUR event.
This year, the last couple years it's gotten more like a traditional U.S. Open-type test. It's nearly more U.S. Open-type than the U.S. Open is at the moment; if that makes any sense. It's actually like they switched the two of them around this year.
I think that I have no particular reason. I think over the last ten years there has been a little bit of a maybe a last, maybe the last 15 years there's been a little bit of a lull in European golf in terms of winning Majors, so that's why there hasn't been such great form in the PGA. But obviously there's plenty of good European players around now, and there's plenty of them capable of winning.

Q. Only four guys in history -- or, sorry, only three guys in history, four times have won the PGA Championship after winning The Open Championship in the same year. Obviously you would have felt last year with all the excitement it was beyond your reach; do you feel substantially different this year that it is within your reach this time to make that sort of history?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well obviously I'm the only guy capable of doing it this week. That's, because I'm the only guy to win The Open. So, it's a possibility. Will I be ready? I think I will be ready.
But unfortunately you can't be a hundred percent sure until you actually tee it up and play. But I do feel like that last week I was a little bit off my game a little bit tired, but I think coming into this week the game is fine, it's just a question of making sure that I'm ready mentally by Thursday, and yeah, I believe I can do that.
I'm reasonably confident that I can get my game in shape come Thursday and it is a tough golf course, which suits me. So I'm pretty comfortable with the test ahead.

Q. You're a good student of the game's history; does it weigh heavily on you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't need -- no, no, that wouldn't weigh on me at all. That's sort of being made up for the sake of statistics to give you something to write about. It doesn't make any difference to me going into this event the fact that I would be the fourth guy to do it in history. It would make a difference afterwards if I did do it, but not going into it. This is all about playing this event and trying to do your best and play your golf this week and see if you can come out on top of the field.

Q. A lot of casual golf fans will look at this tournament much like The Open Championship and say Tiger Woods isn't here, so what does it matter, but I have to assume the players on the TOUR, if you win it, it's not any less gratifying in having won the Open championship without Tiger, I have to assume that it wasn't any less gratifying winning the tournament?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, you answered your own question. I got to say like Jack Nicklaus didn't play in the Open Championship either, either did Arnold Palmer or Ben Hogan, so we can list a number of players that weren't there, the greats of the game, so it doesn't work like that.
You can only win the tournament you're playing in, you can only win the week you're playing and you can only beat the field that are there. So it's irrelevant at the end of the day who is in the field. There will always be somebody missing.

Q. This is a much lighter question, I wonder if you've heard at all lately from your cousin, Joey Harrington, and from that same standpoint, I wonder if you're aware that about a month ago he had two holes-in-one, same course, same hole down in Atlanta.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, he was over -- actually I had him over for dinner in Ireland a couple of weeks ago, actually about six weeks ago he was there. So it's about two and a half months ago that he had the two hole-in-ones. The first question I asked him, "Was it a blind par-3?" And I believe it is. And I at home when you have a blind par-3, often the caddies stick the golf balls in the hole. (Laughter.) So I've been teasing him about that.
He can play the game. And obviously he has a bit of time in his off-season to manage it, and he has been getting out there. But, yeah, it is a remarkable feat to have two hole in ones in quick succession on the same hole. But then again, it is another statistic for the sake of statistics.

Q. Wonder if you could expand a little bit more on what you said earlier about they have kind of flip-flopped the PGA and the U.S. Open this year. Strictly from a course point of view, people talk about the rough being a lot thicker and narrower at U.S. Open venue, is that kind of what you're talking about, this is almost a U.S. Open-type course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, the U.S. Open, I think players now the last two setups for the U.S. Open, I don't think there's a player that wouldn't want to play golf courses like that every week. Brilliantly set up, very fair, a grade of rough, different grades of rough as you get away from the fairway.
I think this golf course is setup more like what a U.S. Open was set up three or four years ago where missing the fairway by a couple of yards is the same as missing it by 10 yards. As in there is no difference once you go off, there's no first cut, second cut, third cut of rough, let's say.
So this is a tougher test in that terms, and it's a more intimidating test and more punishing in that sense that a slight miss is just as bad as a big miss. Maybe even a big miss might get away with more.
At times out here, you're hitting down between the bunkers hoping to hit it, if you're going to miss, hoping that you hit it in the bunker, rather than the rough. Because it is very penal. It's at that level that the majority of the holes you won't get to the greens and you wonder whether it's worth a gamble considering the severity of the greens to hit one that might miss in the wrong place, because certainly if you miss the greens in the wrong place here, most times if you're in the wrong place, you struggle to chip it to 25, 30 feet, putting back up over a tier.
So it will be an interesting golf course to see shot management out there and whether to be aggressive or not, or whether to play very cautiously.

Q. Would it be fair then to say obviously the British had the 40-mile-an-hour winds, and that was something you couldn't account for, but would you deem this course and this tournament to be the toughest of the four majors this year, the way that this course is set up and this type of course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Like Augusta, Augusta is always the toughest. They could have us shoot at Augusta whatever score they want. They could tell us on Thursday what the winning score is going to be, and they have been going easy on us the last couple years; their golf course is so difficult.
Here, yeah, it's likely that the setup of this golf course will be the toughest of the year. I don't think they have as much room to or as many options to change how the course is going to play during the week. It's kind of fairly set. Even trying to find some pin positions, the pin positions are nearly setup themselves by the available space on the greens.
So they don't have as many options as they would at Augusta as they probably did at the U.S. Open this year where they were reasonably generous with us when it came to setting up the golf course.
The Open Championship itself, again, because of the windy weather, they went as easy as they could; they moved a few tees up and things like that. Here, of course, they probably will use a variety of tee boxes, and that probably won't be as tough as we're playing it in practice. As always, we play the toughest golf course of the week on Tuesday. By the time it gets into the tournament with a few tees moved up and a few other things, maybe a bit of rough trampled down, the course doesn't play quite as tough when it comes to the tournament.
KELLY ELBIN: Open Champion, Padraig Harrington. Thank you very much.

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