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August 19, 2008

Padraig Harrington


LAURA HILL: Thanks for joining us. Last I saw you, we were congratulating you on one major win and now you've collected two. Tell us about how the last week of celebrating has been going and what you think of the course this week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's been very quick. I've just taken a week's holiday down in North Carolina. I'm building a house down in Tryon, North Carolina, so went down to pick out a site and do some stuff there.
It was an interesting week, and come Sunday, I was thinking I would like to sit there for another week. Well, on that extent, the FedExCup is a success. I wouldn't be here -- okay, the FedExCup is what is attracting me out again this week, and that was the idea of it was to get players out here to compete at this time of the year, and, you know, after winning two majors, you kind of think, well, I could do with a rest, but there's other things to play for. That's why I'm here this week sort of thing so, it's good to have it.
I'm looking forward to playing The Barclays, it's a very nice golf course. I played 12 holes yesterday, a good, old-style golf course. It will be an interesting week. There will be some good scoring and some difficult, tricky holes out there, as well, what you expect from a Tillinghast course, so it looks like it will be a good tournament.

Q. You said at Oakland Hills that you had a little hangover from the British Open before you really turned in on the weekend; in a similar vein, do you think that you can find the motivation here for the FedExCup after winning two majors?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I do. I played 12 holes yesterday and will play some more golf today and I'm certainly putting the effort in this week. I did make sure I rested last week. I've got a little bit of experience now at winning these majors, so I knew what to do afterwards.
Yeah, I believe I'm going to be ready, but I never will truly be able to tell until I'm into the tournament and see how I play. I remember last year I did struggle in the first couple of the FedExCup tournaments and ended up having to pull out of the third one because I was fatigued.
But this time around, I feel better and stronger. I'm motivated. There's lots to play for. You know, anybody realistically, anybody in the Top-10 I suppose, if they get at least one win and then follow it up with some good performances, can win this FedExCup; maybe anybody outside might need two wins.
But there's a lot to play for in that sense. I'm ready to go.

Q. I was just wondering, had you had a chance to play the fifth hole, and what's your reaction to it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I didn't play it. I actually went and played four holes and skipped to the 11 tee box, so I saw it up there in the hill, and I really couldn't give you any opinion on it. I just hear it's a drivable par 4, which I'm all for, but I haven't seen the actual hole. I'm looking forward to it now.

Q. You have made an awful lot of big putts in an awful lot of big situations lately. Is that a confidence thing with you over these past few years, and can you compare the kind of putter you are now to when you made that bomb at Westchester, three years ago now, I guess?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm certainly not as good of a putter as I was when I was an amateur. If you ever got the pleasure of talking to the guys that competed against us, as an amateur, they will inform you, I've only given you half -- I'm only putting half the standard they believe I had back then. When I do get focused, I do hole putts. That's one of the things I do, when I get into the zone, I can hole long putts, good putts.
I do need to have that bit of intensity to do it. You know, when you get that in majors down the back nine, and you can get it at other times. But I remember many times as an amateur feeling the same way as I felt over the last couple of holes; when it's a do-or-die situation, it's easier to be focused.
It can be harder at times when there's other complications in the way, you're trying not to 3-putt the hole or if you're just trying to hole it, things do get a little clearer, and when you get under a lot of pressure, that's kind of mind-set that you get into.
It's something I have been familiar with in the past. It's something I've been good at. It doesn't mean I've got to keep working at it. It doesn't mean you can do it for the first 63 holes for first 70 holes, but certainly I've holed a few putts on the last green now to win tournaments over the last few years. It's nice memories to have and nice to think about when you get to the 18th green that you can do it.

Q. When did you go cross-handed?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: First day I turned pro.

Q. Why?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was struggling to hit right-to-left putts and it helped to square up my shoulders; TOUR School in 1995. I was also doing conventional right-to-left putts for a year, yeah, about a year, maybe two years, but it was just too much practice to do both, so I stuck with one.

Q. What is your motivation for the FedExCup? What do you like about it? What do you want from it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I suppose to me there's a great chance of winning the title Player of the Year, as in leading the Order of Merit. I've done it in Europe and it would be very nice to do it in the States. I think that's No. 1, motivation, I think it's an opportunity for all of those guys to do it now. I think after that, they are all good tournaments, and you want to win those. They are big tournaments and obviously I would have one eye on the World Rankings, so that would be a definite motivation in it.
So realistically, just trying to win the Order of Merit, which is now the FedExCup, and obviously trying to play well and win World Ranking points and win tournaments, big tournaments.

Q. So many of your fellow pros set up shop in Florida. Why did you choose to it build a home in North Carolina?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think first of all, the guys that are developing are Irish, and they brought it to my attention and I went to visit it. It's a really beautiful shot spot, clean, clear air, crisp and peaceful, somewhere would I like to go with my family. I brought my family down and they loved it. I can't wait to get back there. It has to do with the atmosphere they are creating there, and just being a really beautiful place.

Q. Is there a golf course nearby?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: An Arnold Palmer course is being built there, there's nine holes open in October and a full 18 probably, maybe spring next year. It's a good course to play on. It's the whole package, everything around it as well.

Q. Where is it near?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Tryon, North Carolina is 45 minutes from Greenville, 45 minutes from Asheville and just an hour and 15 minutes from Charlotte.

Q. In the Appalachian Mountains?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Just underneath them, looking up at them.

Q. So to get back to holing putts in the zone, what is it that happens? Do you see the line better? Do you feel the weight of the putter better? Do you gauge the speed better or what occurs; is it definable?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It's the opposite of all those things there. You see the hole and you knock them in. When you're in the zone, you're actually not thinking as much, is really what's happening.
So it's not about me -- I suppose it's about not second-guessing what you're doing, commitment to it, and not having any -- having only one goal and no secondary goals.
A good example, I would have been in the zone obviously when I was winning the Open and putting the last green, 12 feet maybe, for birdie. And like I hit the worst putt in the world, because all I was thinking about was hurry up and finish the tournament, get the putt up there and tap it in.
There was no interest in me holing the putt, as in I was thinking about holing it, but I was also thinking about that I had just won the Open Championship; I was four ahead, it made no difference.
Sometimes when you get into a position when you get distracted by whatever it is, it could be a spike mark, it could be trying to 2-putt or it could be thinking of the one you missed on the last. You do hit average putts. But when you're in the zone and focused, you don't.
As I said, it's a difficult position. You can't always get into it, and a lot of times you can putt effectively without being there, but you never putt as well as you do when you are in the zone.

Q. Where do you in your own mind, if you do, slot yourself now in terms of golfers of all time? One of best of all time, one of the best of the generation or have you thought about it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't. That's something for you guys, the journalists, the public, to talk about and discuss. For a player, he doesn't need to get into that until he finishes playing golf. That's something when you sit down and retire out of the game and you sit there and you say, well, I did it as well as I could.
That's the only goal anybody should have is to do as well as they can. It's irrelevant to me if I turn around -- and say Faldo's record of six, some people have said, European six majors. If I turned around and beat Faldo's record of six and got seven, but I should have got more, I'd be disappointed.
If I get five and that's the most I should ever have got, I'd be thrilled. So judging yourself against another person -- people say, oh, well, there's just no point. Your own standards, you can go out in a given week and play the best golf of your life and not win the tournament; you shouldn't beat yourself up that you didn't win the tournament if you did as well as you could and somebody just played better that week or got the right breaks at the right time.
I think that you have to, as any sportsman, you have to have your own way of setting goals and regulating those goals and not getting involved in letting outside people dictate to them how they should be doing and trying to appraise my career against others. And obviously a few things have been said to me, even though as much as I try to keep away from doing it, people have obviously come up and said, name how many players have won three majors who are currently playing and things like that. But you know, as I said, it's up to how you're going about your own things and your own goals, and that will ultimately determine how you feel you did in your career.

Q. Wondered if I might ask you a bit about The Ryder Cup. One of your teammates, in particular, Sergio GarcĂ­a, the two of you have had some great battles, last year at the British Open and most recently at the PGA. How would you feel playing alongside him and competing with him rather than against him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, Sergio has a good record in the Ryder Cup and he loves the idea of the team format, and he seems to excel in it.
I think as the regards the two of us playing together, yes, we are competitors on the golf course and in many ways we would be rivals on the golf course. It all changes for some reason the week of The Ryder Cup. We all pull together in Europe. There's many guys that make up a team, and yet often there's guys on that team that you might not have had dealings with or that speak a different language or struggle with English, but for the whole week, there is a bond there. It's an amazing feeling that week and an amazing tournament that it creates that.
It's hard to explain how well the team gels together. You've got to remember, all 12 of us compete against each other all the time during the year, and some of the guys are competing tooth-and-nail to get onto the team with other guys. There's a lot of competition there.
But when we come on Monday, it really is a big team. It all works very well. You know, as I always say, the interesting thing about The Ryder Cup is the Monday after The Ryder Cup, you might go to another tournament, and then when you meet a teammate, there will be hugs on the practice tee, how is it going. The following week, you meet your teammate, it's high fives on the practice tee; and the following week, it's shaking hands on the practice tee; and the following week it's a wave; and the following week, it's the head down and keep going. (Laughter).
You know, that's what The Ryder Cup does. It just generates that team bonding, I suppose, and it works incredibly well the week of the tournament.

Q. In those great hours after the PGA, you were saying it was perhaps time for you to arrive at tournaments, puff out your chest and say here I am, is that something that automatically happens when you're a throw-time major champion, or is it that something that you have to affect yourself, and how?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. For the guys that might not have heard, one of the things I said after the PGA, in order for me to move to the next level, if that's the case, one of the things is to take some confidence winning three majors. Most of my life I've been motivated by fear. It was nice to be able to walk around and puff out my chest and say "I've arrived," and say, "I've won three majors and played better golf because of that confidence."
I took no confidence out of winning the Open last year. I still played the same way for the following year. And again, I'd love to say to you that I will turn up and play this week and stand on the first tee and strut my stuff, but that's just not what I'm like. (Laughter).
I will go back to, you know, working from the premise, when I generally play my best golf, I stand over every shot worrying about where I'm going to miss it, rather than when some people play their best golf, they stand over every shot and don't see a miss. I'd love to be able to be the guy who doesn't see the miss and stand there and play with that confidence. I think that would help me do better earlier in tournaments and stop the reliance on adrenaline and intensity in order to get the best performance out of myself.
It would be nice to be able to get the best performance out of me, easier, let's say, or less stress, and sometimes that's why I have to work very hard on my scheduling and my preparation for tournaments because I do put so much effort in that it takes a lot out of me.
Certainly when you get into these intense situations, the highs of winning majors, it is very wearing mentally, and yet you need to control that. So the next level would be to take a little bit of confidence out of that, and play a little bit -- play a little bit more confidently.
I've talked with Bob Rotella about this for a while, and it has not happened as of yet. As much as I would like it to happen, I still have my doubts whether it will.

Q. There's a little bit of a debate right now about in the voting for Player of the Year, whether it's you with your two majors, or that other guy with his four wins and the U.S. Open. What do you think?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'd love to win, and I'd be very proud to win Player of the Year, but has nothing to do with me.
Who votes on that?
LAURA HILL: Players.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: So I get one vote? That's what I was thinking, I get one vote. (Laughter).
I get one vote, and I know who I'll be voting for. (Laughter) And that's as far as it goes.
It's not really something for me to get involved in. I don't need to spend my energy, because it's up for you guys to generate the press about it. It's up for I suppose the fans to discuss with themselves and try and figure it out, and then it's up for the players to give the vote on how they feel about it.
But how I feel about it, as much as I would love to win it, and I think it would be a great honor, there's not much more that I can say about the merits about whether I should win or Tiger should win. Again, it's about me doing my own thing and not getting distracted by these outside elements that I can't control.

Q. One thing of interest, obviously in Ireland, do you know Kenny Egan an has won a bronze medal?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't know he had won that today. I had been looking online and I knew the three boxes were eight minutes away from getting into the semifinals. I assume he's won a bronze medal at least; he's still fighting?

Q. Yes, he's got to fight Jeffries from GB in the finals on Friday night, but the story has been going around from the Olympic camp that you actually played a part in sort of giving Kenny a mental lesson.

Q. Can you talk us through it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, a couple of times in the past, athletes have come and asked for advice, and Kenny being one of them, and he came to my house, and basically was talking about, you know, how to peak, how to go to a big-time event and produce your best performance. He was obviously a very talented competitor himself and knew what to do, but was feeling that he was slightly underachieving at the big events.
He came and we had a chat. We had a good day to get together, and you know, I went through a few things, gave him a bit of advice, gave him a few books to read, and it's good to see it's paying off.
I won't take credit for it. As any boxer, they put in incredible amounts of work. It's nice that he's saying these things, but one of the keys I put across to him at the time, and I'm sure some of this is driven by the media here, but one of the keys is his ability to do his own thing and be self-sufficient and concentrate on his own personal performance and not get distracted.
I think he obviously is doing that, and it is a tremendous success. But I would suggest that he shouldn't be thinking at this stage, there should be only one thought in his head, and that's the semi final bout and not get too drawn up into how he's done so far. There's plenty more ahead.

Q. What books did you give him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, just pure sports psychology books, just a couple of different ones. I have a fair idea of what they are but I'm not 100% sure at the moment, but general sort of sports psychology.
You know, the thing with sports psychology, you never pick up a book on that that you won't learn something from. More of it was the idea to get out there. The tough thing, especially for Olympic athletes, and it's great for golfers, I'm 36 years of age and I've spent probably 20 years gaining the experience I have.
But when you're an Olympic athlete, some of these gymnasts are asked to be worldly-experienced at 16 years of age, and it's an incredibly difficult thing to do. The only way to learn experience without actually going through it yourself is learn from somebody else, learn from some looks, learn from other people.
The great thing about Kenny, just as when I was 18 years of age, I was motivated to seek help maybe outside of the mainstream. I started working with a sports psychologist when I was 18, and I think a lot of people at the time, this is 18 years ago, you didn't mention you worked with sports psychologists. It was seen as a weakness.
But the better and stronger players in all sports seek out the best possible help they can and the best possible team behind them. Kenny was not afraid to ask a couple of people to make the contact with me, and I love to talk, as you know, so I was more than obliging.
I will mention the fact that I did have talk with the Dublin football team a few years ago, and the following day they went out and lost to Carlow, which is one of the favorite teams losing to one of the lower-down teams, so it was a bit of an upset. I wouldn't say I have a 100% record in these things, but it is great to see Kenny doing so well. And for me it's great to have somebody to follow and we wish him the best going forwards.

Q. Have you been able to watch any of the fights over there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't watched any of Kenny's because, again, unfortunately I've been in the States and obviously if we are at home, each country puts the main focus of the television on their own athletes.
So I haven't really seen too much of any of the Irish performances so far this Olympics, but I have been watching quite a bit of the Olympics.
LAURA HILL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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