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August 4, 2009

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for coming and joining us.
Padraig, thank you very much for joining us.
Welcome to the Bridgestone Invitational. Just give us your thoughts going into the week. You've had a couple weeks off after the British Open. Just give us your thoughts looking ahead to this week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously I'm looking forward to it. I suppose two important weeks obviously coming up, so this week -- every tournament when you tee it up, you're here to win it. Obviously there's an eye on next week being the PGA.
This is a great week in terms of the golf course itself. It's a good, tough challenge, and in itself it's a great event, it's great preparation for the PGA the following week.

Q. You've been doing a bit of work on your game in the last couple weeks. How has that been shaping up?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: All good. Very happy with the work I've been doing. Obviously it's good to have a few weeks off where you can do that work, but I'm back out here to play.

Q. How is your neck?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously when I do take a couple of weeks off I don't have my physio with me or whatever. Obviously maybe I'm a bit lazy and don't go at home at times and I've been practicing on my neck. It just stiffened up. It's fine now. No, no problems.

Q. What happened yesterday?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was all locked up, and I had some physio, but when I was hitting shots it kind of -- sometimes it locks up. How I would explain it? It sort of had a twinge in it, so it inflamed, so I had to go and ice it and take some anti-inflammatories and get some treatment. Good time for it to happen on a Monday. That's why I come in sometimes early. It wouldn't have been a good thing to happen on Thursday morning or even Wednesday, but on Monday it poses no issue at all.

Q. Silly question. What is your outlook right now compared to where it was a year ago?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, very positive. You know, it's been an interesting year in terms of -- I definitely found what I was looking for, and in that process I probably learned a lot more about my game than I ever could have wished to have learned. Yeah, it's been very, very constructive the last sort of eight months, very positive going forward.

Q. How did that compare with where you were last year, though?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Pretty similar to where I was last year. You know what, up until the Open last year I suppose I hadn't got the results I wanted, either. I won the Open, and obviously this week it was a little bit of a blur going into next week, and to win the two majors so quickly was fantastic.
But this week compared to last year, I was on a high at this time last year, yes. But three weeks earlier at this time last year I wasn't on a high going into the Open. Yeah, I'm very positive about my golf and optimistic, but maybe not as much on a high as I was last year, no.

Q. I'm just curious, all the second-guessing that has gone on about what you've done, have you gotten to the point where you just don't look at any of that anymore?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I never did. It wasn't a question of being at a point of looking. I paid little or no heed. But I suppose of late, a couple of times my coach has come to me and said, everybody is asking me -- they keep saying I'm changing your backswing or shortening your backswing. I find it quite funny.
Obviously I'm not too much into what's happening, but I find it quite funny because I've never tried to tinker at all with my backswing, which seems to be getting most of the attention. I've been trying to tinker with the downswing, which is -- you know, that's the nature.
At the end of the day, as I always say, when I'm looking at another sport I make all sorts of declarations about what they should be doing or what they shouldn't be doing, whether a soccer player should be playing or should be on the bench.
But when it comes to golf, everybody looking and they see something and they establish that must be the point of what I'm focused on. If my backswing changed during the year it was because I wasn't focused on it rather than I was focused on it. As I said, I was trying to change something in my downswing. And to be honest, I've been trying to change it for the last three years, but it became the priority over the last eight months.
As the priority, it actually worked. I've been two and a half or three years trying to sort out the problem. I haven't done very well at sorting it out. But over the last eight months I definitely got to the bottom of it, and I'm happy about that. It sometimes takes full-out focus on something to really get to the end of it. You know, a half-hearted trying to change it over the previous two years didn't work, but certainly I feel like I've figured out not what the problem was, but how to solve the problem for me.

Q. Can you expand a little bit about what makes this golf course such a big challenge and talk about -- they got two inches of rain last Friday. What will it do to change this golf course if it stays soft?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the golf course is definitely easier when it's soft, like all golf courses, but this one in particular. The difficulty in this course starts with the speed of the greens, so softer greens means it's easier to get the ball close, it's easier to chip the ball close, so you're not going to have as many long putts and things like that and the chipping will be easier. It definitely makes the course easier having it wet.
The fairways here, you've got to hit the fairways. The soft fairways, that will be to our advantage. Definitely if the course is firm and fast it may play shorter, but the scoring wouldn't be as good. Certainly most players love a golf course that's soft rather than a course that's playing very firm and fast. The rain will make it easier.
But as I said, it's a good, solid golf course. There's no hole out there that you can ease up on. You must hit the ball straight off the tee is the first priority. You've got to putt well on the course.
The greens are small enough, but I suppose that's an incentive to hit a few more drivers so you're not hitting such long shots into them.
But yeah, it's a really good, solid golf course. It's the sort of golf course you'd like to play every week. It would improve your game.

Q. A few minutes ago you said that you had found what you were looking for. Could you elaborate on that a little bit?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, you know, as I said, for about three years now, I became aware that -- I was always aware that I had a lot of lateral movement, but I also became aware that I was cupping my left wrist through impact. So in order to improve the consistency, I was trying to bow my left wrist down through impact. Over the course of those two years, I found it very difficult -- not just to do it, but to sustain it, to understand the feeling of it because there was probably two or three different compensations that had to be corrected at the time, my lateral movement, the stability of my left leg, the left wrist, and all these things. I worked on them quite a bit, but it came down to really at the end of the day that I had a perception all the years of playing golf that as much as I wanted to lag the golf club I used to lag my arms, as well. Ultimately it took, as I said, three years to figure out that nobody else could tell what I was actually feeling, but I was deliberately trying to lag my arms in my golf swing, which actually made -- even though I was correcting it, I continued to go back to my natural habit of lagging my arms, which encouraged the move to be there.
It wasn't that I wasn't able to correct the original thing; it's just I kept going back to the bad habit because that was what I thought I was meant to be doing. But as it turned out, just the small perception of I should be lagging the club and not the arms.

Q. Based on the results you've had this year, starting all the way back if you want to go to Pebble Beach and then The Masters, et cetera, et cetera, you've pretty much gotten the same questions for probably the last five or six months, either results oriented, swing oriented, work oriented, has that been fatiguing, getting old?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I suppose they're of interest. That's a good thing. I'm interested in the whole process myself. I don't mind explaining myself at any stage. I think sometimes, as I said, it's harder on people around me. I understand what I'm doing. I think the best example of that is, again, if I was looking in at a football player, I'd be commenting on what he was doing and what he should do and why he shouldn't be playing. As a pundit that's what people would do with my golf game. But at the end of the day I'm the only one who has the full information and can make the full decision.
It is right that people ask a question, it is right that I try and explain it, but I have to understand that I'm my own boss and it's up to me to determine how much I want to go into something and what detail I want to -- you know, how much effort, what my goals are, really, at the end of the day. I've always been a person that tries to improve at all costs.
I said it the other day, if somebody told me -- I was trying to explain this to somebody, if somebody told me I had to go to a desert island for the next two years and I would improve my game, the hard part about that would be telling my wife. (Laughter). Because that is what I would do. That's always been my makeup. If I thought that was the way to improve my game, that's what I would be doing. And the hard part for my wife would be telling the kids that we're moving. (Laughter). She'd be kicking me out the door.

Q. Would there be a golf course on this desert island?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I'm just saying if that was what was required, to live on a desert island the next two years, that's what I would do to improve. That's my nature. I want to get better. I've always felt if you try and stay still at this game, you're going to go backwards.
There's different ways of improvements. I've obviously taken my improvement this year to the extreme. The previous two years I was still trying to make the same improvement, but in a different sort of manner. Obviously winning three majors gave me the incentive, gave me a bit of leeway that I said, right, it's time to make the change, actually get right into it and figure it out rather than before I was trying to do two things at once, play golf and change, whereas in the last eight months I've been more focused on the change than anything.

Q. A little off topic, but the Wannamaker Trophy being the largest of the four majors --

Q. I was going to ask you, when you first grabbed it --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You cannot believe how heavy it is. It's phenomenal how heavy the trophy is. You see it there and you have no concept because over the years, especially at home in Ireland, some of our amateur trophies would be 100 years old, and when a trophy is that old, the ability to make it big and -- but nobody has ever put as much into that. That Wannamaker Trophy is -- I don't know how thick it is, but as I said, 44 pounds is pretty heavy. I have a replica that's like 90 percent, and everybody picks it up and says how heavy it is, and I say, it's not as heavy as the real thing. Holding it for ten minutes for pictures -- every time I switch sides, people think you're switching sides because you're showing your sponsor, but no, I'm resting.

Q. Did it surprise you when you first grabbed it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I was genuinely shocked by the weight when I picked up. Over the years -- the only trophy that would compare to that would be the old World Cup trophy, but they don't make them like they used to sort of thing when it comes to trophies, and that is certainly one of the great trophies.
I talked to the guys about it. It is such -- what's the word I'm looking for? The size of it, the weight of it can carry such stature. It's a phenomenal trophy to hold. I kind of suggested that in the future they should -- you don't get a traveling replica, but they should actually have a traveling replica because everybody who picks it up will forever remember it.

Q. Did you almost drop it or --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I didn't, no. Especially on the high that I was on I was capable of lifting 44 pounds. But it was a little bit of a shock.

Q. Have you been to Hazeltine recently?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't been recently, no. I heard a little bit about it, yes. I played it obviously last time. And Hazeltine is a solid golf course. They've obviously lengthened it this time, and they'll be asking for a lot of good, solid play that week. I don't think it's in any way, shape or form tricky. It would be a golf course to hit it well on off the tee, I think. It's going to be a big hitter's course.

Q. There's a lot of really young guys in the field this time, McIlroy, Lee, Kaymer. I'm just wondering, making an elite field like this at that age, I don't know if you have a reaction to that or how impressive that is?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think those guys are impressive anyway. Yeah, they're the future of golf, and it's great to see. I don't think that they'll be thinking that -- they think they're in the middle of the process rather than just starting out. I wouldn't think they think it's as big a deal, but it is a big deal. But the game, you will find over the next number of years, more and more young guys coming out, but also more and more of the older guys sustaining themselves. We must have the greatest spread of people competing age-wise of any sport.
I don't know what sport would you go to, but you're equally able at 18 years of age, your physical capabilities are probably stronger than a guy in his 40s, but the mental side in the 40s is more mature.
So it's great that you have that diversity in the game.

Q. Just on the weight of the trophy, did winning a third major weigh on you in some regard in that you maybe subconsciously took refuge in your golf swing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's no doubt that winning a third major -- as many times in my career, when I get to a certain level, a certain peak, I tend to stop and back off a little bit, change a few things and come back again. That's been my nature. So I do look at the fact that -- I can't say it was a conscious decision, but I do look at the fact that when I do get to a peak like winning my third major, I think when you win your first one you're trying to win the second one quickly to prove it's no fluke. Third one, same sort of thing.
But it would be wrong to use the word comfort at that point. I'd actually say in some ways it's the opposite. But there's a certain amount of -- it allows you to slack, to go and maybe change things up. There's no doubt about that. And that's what I've tended to do at different points of my career. I've tended to go from winning when I needed to win to easing off and changing things to having a bit of a lull and then be pushed back into focusing on winning again. At different points in my career the focus has not been on winning, it's been on improving my game. You tend to win when you're focused on winning and you tend to improve your game when you're focused on improving your game. There has been contrast in my career, and definitely after a good spell is when the tendency is to start changing things to try and improve again.

Q. Just a quick follow-up, how much does the Claret Jug weigh, and how do you know that the Wannamaker weighed 44 pounds?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was told it weighed 44 pounds. It feels like it weighs 44 pounds. It actually feels like it weighs heavier because obviously you're holding the weight of 44 pounds you'd probably have a better grip on it.
I suppose, yeah, it's about the same weight as my son, as well, so that was a good -- I did manage to get my baby son into the trophy, as well, and got a picture of that. We fit him into it. He was about ten months old at the time. He's actually in the trophy.
What was the second question?

Q. Claret Jug.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, the Claret Jug, relatively -- no, it's much -- there's no weight in the Claret Jug, no. There's a huge stature in the Claret Jug, but no weight.

Q. We've had a number of examples of guys in their 40s, be it Vijay or Kenny Perry or even Sam Snead back in the day who have done well, but the number of players in kind of that age group winning majors is remarkably low, maybe 10 percent since The Masters came on board. Any thoughts on that, why guys can do so well in advancing age, but the records will show they just don't win that many majors?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I hadn't realized that was the case. Yeah, it's interesting because I feel like I'm in the -- I obviously feel like I'm in the prime of my career, to such an extent that I don't even feel like there's a rush on the fact that I'm prepared to -- maybe at the outset it wasn't a conscious decision, but it certainly it looks like I'm ready to give up a year in the middle of my prime years to change things, fully of the belief that I would continue to compete in majors well into my 40s.
I don't have a hangup about the fact that you can't win majors in your 40s. If you were to look at the record books, records are there to be broken. So hopefully in my case that 10 percent will change. 10 percent is enough for me, anyway. (Laughter).

Q. Do you think you've learned more about yourself as a golfer this year than you did in your superb season in 2008?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. Well, you don't learn much in those sort of situations. You're learning more when you're working hard and figuring things out and results aren't going your way. Winning is a habit and a very good habit to have, but you learn a lot more when you're losing. I wouldn't have learned very much in 2007 or '08. The big positive result here is it would have affirmed things that I believed.
Probably the most I learned in any major was losing at Winged Foot in 2006. I had three pars to win at Winged Foot. If I parred the last three holes, I'm a winner. And I learnt more there I think from that loss than I learnt from any of the wins.
That loss helped me achieve those wins, and what those wins did is it affirmed that I knew what I was doing and affirmed that my plan of attack was right, and it affirmed all those things. It certainly gave you a great positive feel, and the idea that you could manage it. But the actual learning goes on on the other days, and again, usually at the lowest point do you learn the most such as losing in Winged Foot, such as -- you know, Muirfield a little bit in 2002, but not as much, but certainly Winged Foot and a few others. You learn a lot -- when it hurts, you learn a lot, and when things are at a low point, that's when you learn the most.
As I said, one of the great things about this year is I set out to change things in my swing, but I've actually learnt more about my short game and I thought I could have learnt more about my mental game, as well. That's a massive plus that I couldn't have gotten any other way.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, Padraig. Good luck this week.

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