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April 9, 2009

Padraig Harrington


ROB JOHNSTON: Good afternoon, everyone, we are delighted to have Padraig Harrington, the holder of three major titles and today had a very sparkling 69. We would appreciate it, sir, if you would walk us through your card.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That was obviously the Sunday evening introduction; I've only got two at the moment, current.
I'm happy with the score in the Tournament. It was a day for scoring. There was a little bit of urgency out there when I was level par, 1-under par. I could have shot a couple better at the end of the round, but that kind of is irrelevant when it comes to 72 holes. We all know that things will get a little tighter towards the end of the week. Whether you shoot 3-under or 6-under the first day or whether a putt drops or it doesn't, we wait till Sunday if the putts drop; it's more important then.
It is impressive the way the golf course was obviously set up for scoring and they have the Tournament Committee, they have full control over that during the week. They can set the course up any way they feel to get the score they want. Today was definitely one of the more generous days ever around Augusta, and you've got to feel that it's going to get a little bit tougher as we go on the next three days.

Q. What did they do to the golf course to make it more accessible?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: They got a nice, sunny day with no wind. Do they have control over that? (Laughter).
No, the greens were reasonably receptive and the pins were generous, generous in terms of good birdie positions. The likes of 16, if you hit a good shot in there pin-high, it's going to come down close, and 14 the same. Nice weather. Even 13; and nice weather, without too much wind, obviously that can be managed around the golf course.

Q. So how satisfied are you with a 69?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would have taken it going out, so I am satisfied, yes. Thursday is all about staying in the Tournament.
You know, yeah, it would be nice, if my putt dropped on the last, but really, does it make any difference whether you're 3- or 4-under par the first day, or even three or 5-under par? Leader is at 6, obviously putting pressure on themselves for the next three days.
It all depends how you play the next three days, not necessarily what you've done okay the first day.

Q. Out there, did it sound, with the accessible pins and the scoring, did it sound a bit more like the Masters you might have remembered from years ago?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, yeah, there was plenty cheering and plenty of birdies being made, plenty of shots being hit close, and plenty of balls running at the hole. A lot of times, you saw a lot of shots spinning back towards the hole, which obviously gives great momentum to the crowd. And you can tell -- sometimes those shots are blind and you can tell exactly where your ball is, depending on how the pitch of the crowd goes up as it gets closer.
So it is interesting for us and it is exciting for us when there is a buzz like that out there. But definitely, when you hear a lot of cheers around, it makes you a little bit more anxious to be part of that and make sure you're -- just a little more urgency to make sure you are making birdies, too.

Q. What part was not the best from your point of view?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I stuck in there well but I was not overly thrilled with any part. It's not like -- I struggled on the front nine on times, and I was getting distracted by the little wind that was there, because it did change direction quite a bit. And I was better on the back nine. I committed more on the back nine.
So like I'm going now after I finish, I'm going to go hit a few drives, I'm going to hit a few chips and a few putts. That kind of does cover the whole of the game, but that's what I felt was weak. That's what I felt I needed a little bit of tidying up on.

Q. Given the way you've started of the last few Majors you've come out so well in, how much more confidence does it give you knowing that you've actually put yourself right in the mix here, as opposed to having to play from behind a bit?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, what gives me confidence is that I have a good idea how to get myself ready for tournaments, and it seems to be working.
But I know it's going to be a long week,72 holes, and the whole idea is to be there with nine holes to go. So far, so good. So the confidence is whatever I'm doing, for me, seems to work; playing a couple of events into a major seems to be getting me ready.
You know, obviously I'm on top of things, which is nice.

Q. If you were setting it up, would you be as generous or would you want it as tough as possible from day one?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Last year I think they went tough day one and eased off every day afterwards. This year maybe -- you know, it's irrelevant. I don't have a choice in it. I play the golf course that's presented in front of me.
Yeah, I think I was expecting maybe tougher conditions going out, but in fairness, these are the fastest the greens have ever been, since maybe 2000 when I first came here. But I think the greens are as quick this year as they have ever, ever been.
Given a little bit of a receptiveness is probably okay, considering how fast they are. And if you do -- like I hit it long on 16, and I think I was walking up thinking I had a reasonable angle and I had to chip the ball to the right of the pin because of the speed of the green. The further left I went, the more it was going to come back out to the right. There are a lot of pins, if you hit it good, you get close on. But if you hit a bad approach shot, you are being left in awful difficult shots because of the speed of the greens.
It's a really good setup. As I said, but we do expect -- at some stage during the week, I would expect to play a golf course that's very difficult, really difficult, because we are playing a Major Championship. So at some stage, you really expect to be tested right to the end of your limits, and obviously today was a nice day. And sometimes the last nine holes, they set the golf course up easy. But it's somewhere between now and then, and I think you'll find that there will be maybe a tougher wind and a tougher day.

Q. You talked a lot this year about trying to get your game ready for this Tournament this week, and you had some ups and downs in the early part. Having been through all of that, are you happy with where you got your game, leading into today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, if I was happy, I would not be going to do a little bit more practice this afternoon. (Laughter).
So I am not quite there, no. But I am happy in the position. I've done reasonably well to get it where it is, but there's always an anxiousness to get a little bit more out of it, so I'll be hitting the range anyway.

Q. I know you're practicing on your own game, but playing with Mike Weir, can his performance be a yardstick to how you are playing, or not?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know if it would, I thought Mike, Mike and Ryuji, Ryuji was the unluckiest of the three of us. It was good playing with Mike. He was playing nice golf, and Mike is a good putter. It's very helpful to be around other guys who are getting out and around what they should be. You don't want to see -- the last thing you want in the first three rounds of your golf, or probably the first 53 holes of the Tournament is to see your playing partner holing putts and playing well; you want your playing partner to be playing well and keep you going. That can change the last nine holes. (Laughter).
ROB JOHNSTON: Thank you very much and best of luck.

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