home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 5, 2009

Padraig Harrington


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Padraig, thank you for joining us here, playing in your ninth PLAYERS Championship, two runner-up finishes. Start with some opening comments about coming back to Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach to play the Championship.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously I like coming back here. The golf course is great. The facilities are great. The facilities are probably too good. We tend to practice a little bit too much this week. I have finished 2nd twice, on a different golf course, really, when you look at the conditions, and the type of greens that were there. Strangely enough I would have said that the golf course that is here now suits more my style of play, but so far I haven't performed as well as I did on the wetter, lusher golf course that was here maybe four years ago.
And golf is a strange game that way. You would think -- the golf course itself, I like it, I like the test. I like the challenge. I look forward to coming back here every year.

Q. If you could describe this course in one word, what would it be and why?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The "why" means that there's more than one word at the end. "Exciting." I think it's an exciting golf course. What I mean by that is it's not a big brute of a course with long, boring par-4s. There's quite a lot of short, tricky par-4s out there. And there's a lot of intimidating shots, a lot of water. So it's a golf course that's exciting at all times. Plenty of birdies can be made. The likes of 16, you can make an eagle, you can make a double bogey on it. So it's that sort of golf course.

Q. It almost seems at times that this is one of those weeks where the course is the star, has equal billing to any player here. Is that true, do you think, and are there other places like that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think the golf course, it is a big part of this event. I think it is. I think it's because of the way things can happen down the stretch here. I think the golf course is an equal billing, yes. I think even without the players this week it would be an exciting event. The winner here will have to go through a lot of emotions coming down the stretch until he -- probably until he hits his tee shot on 18, actually even the second shot, as we've seen, you're not going to be comfortable on this golf course. Especially if there's a couple of shots in it, somebody can make birdies to catch you.
17 is a perfect example. It's not good enough to make 3, because the opposition could make birdie on the hole. It's not a hard birdie, it's a difficult par. And that probably sums up the golf course. 17 is perfect. It's not a difficult birdie, but it's a very difficult par.
So it's a strange game out on this course that there's a lot of holes that if you play them well you really get rewarded and if you play them badly you get punished. Whereas another golf course you either make a par or bogey on the hole, this course it's bogey or double bogey at times.

Q. What do you have to do well here in order to have a chance?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, like all golf courses, first and foremost, you want to putt well. And the greens out there are difficult. They're very fast. They don't get as fast as they did four or five years ago. The type of grass that was there four or five years ago on a Sunday afternoon, it could burn off and get glazed around the holes and get exceptionally quick. These greens are quicker at the start of the week, quicker through most of the week, but they stay at the same pace. They're must more consistent, they're much more dependable during the week. The putts you have today and tomorrow will be similar to the putts you have on Sunday. Whereas four years ago they got -- some of the Sunday pin positions, the greens were easily stimping, they might have been stimping at 11 or 12. The ones around the holes could get up to 16 or something. It was just incredibly quick.
I think putting is always important. You don't have to hit your driver that much on the golf course. There's a lot of par-4s, like 18. It's a long enough hole, but you're still not going to hit driver off the tee. It's a 5-wood or 3-wood off the tee and a long grind in.
There's a number of holes like that where it's -- I think really it's probably the second shots, a lot of emphasis is put on your approach shots to get yourself in a good position. I would always go with putting, but after that it's an iron players' golf course.

Q. I was going to ask you about the way the course has changed and the way that you said just now that it doesn't suit you as much -- sorry, it suits you more now.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It suits me more than it did back then. The rough was very heavy and very lush four years ago. So if you hit it in the rough, you tended to have to chip it out. The greens were softer. That might have suited me, softer greens, but real heavier rough around the greens. Now it's harder and faster. So if you hit it in the rough off the tee, you've got a chance to get it up around the green, and that should suit somebody who is better around the greens than say maybe hitting fairways.
So I would have assumed that a golf course -- it's not playing like a links golf course, but it's more like what I would have grown up with. If you miss the fairway, it's difficult, you get a flier coming off the rough. But you can always play a shot to run it up on the green and get it up around it and get it up-and-down, whereas the course four or five years ago you missed fairways, you were a lot of times just hitting it forward 100 yards.

Q. There have been a number of un-Harrington-like scores this year. We don't think of men winning major championships playing holes like that. Can you put your finger on what's happened, and how do you explain that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, obviously I haven't been -- results-wise haven't been exactly what I wanted so far this year. But a lot of that comes down to the fact -- how will I explain this -- and my mindset, I've done this many times throughout my career, if you look back, when you win something, especially when you have success, I see that as a reason to stop and start changing things to get better. I'm not trying to play as well as I played last year to win the two majors. I'm trying to play better than that.
So when you win something -- a lot of players will do this, and I've seen it. You take stock and all of a sudden you use it as a platform to get better, to move forward. And sometimes to get better and move forward, you work on your weaknesses. When you're working on your weaknesses, sometimes your strengths get a little weak, and that's what's happened to me at the moment. Because I've been so focused on working on things, my good strengths have definitely not been as good.
So like a lot of things, if you're trying to move forward you often have to take a step back. So I'm still in the middle of that process and I'll still be there this week. As I said, I certainly stopped for the three weeks rolling up to the Masters, and hopefully after this run going into the U.S. Open, hopefully I'll be able to get back to working on my strengths and be ready to go for the U.S. Open.
But I'm just that mindset that I'm always, always trying to change things and always trying to improve, I'm never trying to stay the same. And if you do try to improve, oftentimes you have to step back for a while. So that's where it's all coming from.

Q. Just wondering, what are some of those things you're trying to change, if you can kind of talk specifically about that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm just working on my swing, just working away, getting very bogged down in the technique and being concerned about that and trying to work through things. And when you're doing that you lose the art of scoring a bit. I've done it several times throughout my 12 years out on TOUR where -- and usually it comes -- I see it with other players, the more success you have, the more likely you're going to go and do it. A lot of players, I've seen it -- thankfully I can see it myself and realize it, but I've seen a lot of players who after they have success they see it as a reason to stop and maybe change their swing, pull their swing apart and rebuild a new swing because it gives them that time to do it.
In some ways, I'm not saying I'm pulling my swing apart, but in some ways that's what I'm doing. I'm more focused on the technical side of things than the scoring side of things, and that's probably where some of these blips are coming on. I'm playing plenty of good golf at times but not keeping it going all the time, because as I said maybe mentally and my short game is not quite as sharp as it has been other times.

Q. If we could step away from THE PLAYERS for a minute, I want to ask you a question as a world-class player that plays both the European and PGA TOUR, would you address what you and your peers think needs to be done to validate sponsorships and bring value to the corporate partners that put up the money that you guys play for? Secondly, in your opinion going forward the next couple of years, do you see that that's an issue, and how can players help to keep things the way they are?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Big question. I think that in the times that we're in it's always easier to get things done. So if the corporate sponsors need to change things, they have a greater ability to get things done and to demand more.
As regards to players and what they will give back, yes, players are definitely more willing, and some players more than others, but it's very easy to see if you wanted to take a quick parallel to -- if you went to the Asian Tour and the corporate sponsor puts on a buffet dinner, most players will turn up to that. They're very happy to turn up and -- very happy to turn up -- how would I put this without -- they're very happy to turn up and be there in the evening time and join the festivities.
In Europe we're halfway between that and over here, say, in the States. So it depends on how much -- how successful the players are, how much they need the sponsors. Obviously the players who are over here are doing very well and probably need -- have in the past felt like they might need the sponsors less because they can earn enough revenue on the golf course that they don't feel like they have to need the sponsors off the course.
But in times like this they probably feel like they do, so they would naturally move to working more with sponsors, working harder for sponsors and giving back more to sponsors.
So I think it's a natural thing that would happen as we go forward, as in it would be easier for the sponsors to ask for more. It would be easier for the TOUR to ask the players to do more and the players would be more willing to do it because they see this -- if you want to go back 40 years ago -- no, more. If you wanted to go back 60 years ago, most of the players supplemented their income by playing with the members, playing cards in the locker room with the members, and generally being in the clubhouse and socializing. The on-course earnings was nearly only a small part of their actual earnings, that their real earnings were in matches and playing with members and things like that.
As the prize money has gone up, that balance has changed. We're not allowed to play cards anymore in the locker room. So you can see how things change. It depends on -- if players are very happy with what they're making on the golf course they obviously don't need or don't work as hard -- they don't feel like they want to do ten corporate outings a year or something like that with sponsors. And some players don't want to do that, they just want to concentrate on playing golf. But as I said, if you went to -- like if you went down to a mini-Tour and you asked the guys, well, I'll give you a $25,000 sponsorship this year, you have to do 20 company days, he'd say yes. I don't think you'd find anybody on the TOUR who's going to do that.
So it all has to do with circumstances, and in times like this, the balance is moving toward the sponsors being able to command more, and the players will give a little bit more, yes.

Q. As a follow-up, here in Jacksonville, the Jaguars in the NFL, when a player signs a contract with a team, one of the caveats of their contract is they have to make certain appearances for charity. They're obligated to do that. Do you ever see a day when a player coming on to the TOUR that gets his card would be required to make certain appearances on behalf of charities or sponsors as part of the requirement of them becoming a TOUR player?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: If I was running it, yes. But you have 156 players, and I think the Golden Rule on the TOUR over here, 156 players every week all have to be treated the same. Asking a rookie to do something that you're not asking the top guy to do is considered unfair and unbalanced.
So if it was me, yeah, you know what, I would -- if I was a sponsor, I'd be looking for more. But because everybody has to do the same rule, it means it's difficult to get -- it's easy to get the rookies to do it, because they're delighted to have the TOUR card. It's tougher to get the guy at the top to do it. It's tougher to get the guy who is on the TOUR 20 years and has a lot of other things going on in his life at that stage. So it's a difficult balance to get right, but it's certainly a balance that can be addressed in these times. It's easier to work through these things. If we're all in good times, it's hard to get things going. In bad times it's much easier to get things changed and moved forward. So it is possible that any good ideas could be put forward and worked on.
But the unfortunate thing, like you could turnaround and say, well, everybody has to turn up to the Pro-Am dinner on Wednesday evening. But the sponsor doesn't want everybody to turn out for a Pro-Am dinner on Wednesday evening; he wants one person, maybe two. Might go down as far as ten people. So it's hard to draw the line, especially if you're looking at fairness and that. If you said the top 10 players in the field, well, the 10th fellow is going to worry, how come the 11th fellow doesn't have to turn up? And like I said, he doesn't want 156 players turned up at the dinner, he probably wants the guy at the very top.
It's a difficult situation to find that equitable balance. But it is times that things can get done. And definitely if things are going to change, it will be a lot easier to change things this year than it would have been two years ago.

Q. I'm curious what your schedule is through The Open.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I play Irish Open next week, two weeks off. I play Muirfield, Memphis, U.S. Open.

Q. I'm just curious, there's much focus over here, Tiger-Phil-specific, over various events they do or do not support. Do you catch any criticism on Wentworth as a flagship?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think there is an understanding with that one that I have tried to make my effort there and miserably failed. And it's a golf course -- it's actually one of my favorite golf courses. It's certainly -- it's an absolutely fantastic golf course, and they're addressing things that will bring me back there for sure. They're relaying the greens, I believe. As soon as I get my head around them, I'll be back.
But it's a super golf course, super event; everything about it is great. BMW is a great sponsor. I would love to go. I kind of intended to go this year, but then I said -- I give myself a chance to play well at the Irish Open, a better chance of playing well at the Irish Open, rather than turning up at a golf course where if I played great that week I might finish 7th.
We've got such a limited choice of events to play -- not limited, a great choice, but we can only play a limited number that we've got to pick the ones when we turn up we feel we can play well and win on. As I said, I tried but miserably failed there. Obviously as a European player, next after winning the Open, the Irish Open, the PGA Championship is probably the next biggest event for me. And certainly I would play it a number of times in the future and would look to want to get that one on my CV.

Q. Just going back to the swing changes for a minute, have there been times when you've had to fight the urge to revert back to things that you --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I thankfully am more closeted than anybody else around. I'm quite dogged in just going ahead and doing these things. The odd time I hear back from I suppose people that would be in my inner circle, you know, a little bit of questioning, let's say, because they're hearing it more than me. Like I'm sure people close to me at home, other people would be coming up and saying, well, he's not playing -- like I get the postman -- not the postman, because he's a big fan, but I get the delivery man turning up and saying, what happened to you last week, you're not playing very well sort of thing. And that's valid, because that's what I would do if I was looking at a soccer player. I would be exactly like that.
But I have to understand what I'm doing and I have to -- I think I'm not trying to play like I played last year. I'm trying to play better than that. And I know the way I played was good enough to win major golf, but I don't think I could play unless I was trying to get better. I always have to have that. There's periods in my career where I put it on the back boiler for a while, and it usually comes after periods of a poor performance that you kind of get out there and go, well, to hell with becoming a better player, let's go for the short-term results. But when you have the short-term results you look at the very long-term results and you start working on things and changing things.
Barring results, I'm fully convinced that I'm going on the right track, and everything is on track and going well. And I think I'm going to be physically better as a player and then I have to put my strengths, which are the mental side of the game, on top of that, and overall I should be a better player going forward. But it takes a little bit of time. I'm not expecting -- I'm not writing off this year or anything like that. I'm still very hopeful that I'll be in top form for the U.S. Open.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Padraig, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297