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January 18, 2009

Padraig Harrington


Q. Not a bad start to the year.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Better than the last two years I think.

Q. You're tied with Rory again.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There you go. Yeah, I'm pleased with what I saw. I've got two weeks now to work on some of the things that I've seen this week, and hopefully then I'll try and get myself back into the competitive mode. Certainly, there was plenty of mistakes made this week at times. But again, happy with what I saw.

Q. Better than what you expected at the start of the week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Certainly I didn't expect to shoot 17-under par. But then, I thought the course was much tougher. I think just the soft greens and no wind; the guys are good.

Q. How did you find Abu Dhabi?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I really enjoy this time of the year. The golf course is excellent. The conditions are excellent. It perfect timing to come down and see where your game is at, hopefully try and get competitive and win a tournament, but if that doesn't happen, you obviously get a good idea how you stand after your winter break and it did all of those things.

Q. How much do you feel you improved from the time you arrived to now, would you say?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know if I've improved -- in a week? No, I've got more work to do, that's for sure. I've got more work to do.

Q. Can you remember a more promising start to the year after a break?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I would love to tell you that I turned around and hit all of the fairways and all of the greens this week, and was just unlucky to shoot 17-under par. But I actually scored very well all week. So I wouldn't be, how would I put it? I wouldn't be -- there's work to be done, a lot of work to be done. The score flatters me to be honest and how I played.

Q. 17-under at the start of the week --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: If you offered me 12 I would have sat in the clubhouse very happy. I thought 12 had a chance. The rough was heavy.
But we were not predicting the greens would be soft and we were not predicting there would be no win. It was quite windy on the practice days and if anything, like the U.S. Open, the rough does tend to get a little lighter during the tournament with people trampling through it.
I had a shot yesterday in the rough, I think I had 114 yards to the green, and I couldn't get -- I think I hit it 100 yards, is as far as I could hit it. The rough is strong out there, but just the conditions, being perfect condition, you're going to see good golf. You can fire at the pins. That's the difference. Soft greens and you can fire at the pins with no wind is a recipe for good scoring. Somebody is going to hit the ball in play all week, and that's what you're seeing.

Q. You seem to be flying through, what happened with the marshal on 8?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I birdied 8. No story guys, sorry.

Q. So what happened, did you lose concentration?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was aiming at the right-hand side and trying not to hit it left, which was very clever and I succeeded nicely. That was it.
10, I was trying to go after the flag and just hit a bad shot. So you just -- that's the weakness at this time of the year, you do things like that.

Q. You seemed a little anxious, let's say on Wednesday, if anxious is the word?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm always anxious before every tournament.

Q. Do you feel especially anxious even after Christmas, even after winning two majors?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I had no idea what my game would be like coming out. You don't want to come down here and mess up at all. You want to play and perform. Yeah, I'm anxious before every event. I would never be -- I don't think I've ever teed it up on a Thursday not a little bit concerned about the cut, unless there is no cut sort of thing.
You want to play four rounds and make sure you're in there competing, because as you see, a number of guys shot 64 on Sunday. That's what they need to do in order to play well next week, and if they miss the cut, they would not be doing that. They would be out feeling bad about their game. So it is important to play four rounds every week. I've seen a lot of players start a run from scraping a cut and they relax on the weekend to shoot a good score.
So every week to play four rounds is essential. I was anxious to see myself through four rounds.

Q. Even more so coming out of a winter break?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not as bad in that sense as I used to be, but I worried coming out of a winter break that I'm just not competitive. Bear in mind that that's what makes my game is being competitive, being sharp. All of the things you find you lose when you get a bit rusty during the winter. I'm not somebody like Monty who can go home for a couple of weeks and not touch the golf clubs.
I need to keep on top of things, and you're never quite sure when you're coming out. As I said my score did flatter me this week, there's no question about that, but I'm happy with where I stand and two more weeks of practice, as I said, and then hopefully I'll be a little bit more comfortable getting into the flow of things.

Q. Did you bring Bob over this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I may do. I'm actually quite happy with where I'm at and need to work on a few things. You can only find these things out when you're on the golf course. Doesn't matter how many shots you hit on the range or how many friendly games of golf you play, you need to play competitive golf to establish where your game lies.
I was really pushing hard for a good score. So I didn't really have to think about -- it made no difference, winning was somewhat out of my control but shooting a good score wasn't. I was just trying to shoot a really low one.

Q. Looked like it could be a course record after eight holes?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Extrapolating 5-under par after eight holes doesn't quite work in the real world. Yeah, obviously as a player, I would not start thinking like that, because that would do me immense harm and I would probably bogey the 9th if I did think like that.
The worst score I could have shot was 5-under par, but a long way. Only the second shot on 18 was the only shot all day that he missed in any sense, so it looked easy from where I was standing for him, anyway. I don't know what he was feeling like, but it looked easy.

Q. Very good temperament, too.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: He really is. He's on song at the moment and you can see he's right there. The more he plays, the better. A lot of good young lads out there.

Q. Will you watch the golf the next few weeks?

Q. When did you start working with Bob?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I started work with Bob after two years on Tour, so '98.

Q. And you had an Irish professional?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Howard Bennett. He was a Yorkshire lad. He was another coach, eight years.

Q. Bob, you started with him in '98?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. Howard, I have to give him credit for my short game and Bob was obviously more to do with the golf swing. In many ways I was the ideal pupil going to Bob, as in, I was prepared to stand on the range long hours and work on my swing. But I also had my short game.

Q. And same manager you've had all along?

Q. Anything else you've had all the time since you've turned pro? Wife?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, she wasn't a wife when I turned pro. But had he likes to point out that when I was 18 years of age, we started going out and I wasn't even on the Irish junior panel at that stage. She took me at the bottom. (Laughter).

Q. So been together for 20 years and married for 11?

Q. You're going out to America for about receive especially tournaments, so how important is playing in Abu Dhabi?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Very important. All of the players coming down here see these as twofold opportunities. You get perfect conditions to play golf in, but also we are getting perfect conditions to practice in if we are not on form. So you get to play a good tournament against a good field and if you're playing well, you get to have great competition. But if you're not playing so well, you get three weeks of really, good, solid work on your game.
This, you couldn't ask for better tournaments at this time. The worst thing, you could be here -- you don't want to be going somewhere where the conditions are less than perfect because it is a time for a lot of work on your game.

Q. And it does good towards maybe the Masters?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, everything at the moment is about building up for the Masters. So, yeah, everything at this time of the year, as I said, most players would have done some work on their game during the winter and they need to get out here and iron out the kinks they put in by doing that work in the winter.

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