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August 6, 2009

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, thanks for coming in and joining us, and many congratulations on a fantastic start to the Bridgestone Invitational. You said the other day that you were working on things in your swing that you had found, and it obviously would suggest that that has worked. You must be delighted with the start.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, it would be more a question of I have found what I was looking for in my swing, so I've now put more attention onto the other parts of my game, the short game and things like that, that provide scores like this.
It's not necessarily that the thing I've worked on is in my swing. I certainly can go to the range and hit the ball better than necessarily what I bring to the golf course, but it's the question that it clears up your mind to go focus on the important stuff.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Six birdies and no dropped shots maybe was as pleasing perhaps.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know what, I played the first -- I played the first 11 holes particularly well, gave myself a lot of chances. I missed a short birdie putt on the 11th hole of the golf course. You know, at that stage I suppose I'm still wondering which way it's going to go. On the 13th I missed the green and made a very good up-and-down, and I think that was important in my round. I felt like I was going forward from there, felt like I was looking to make birdies on every hole. If I hadn't have got up-and-down there, I might have gotten back in the track I've been on the last six months of being very defensive and always very cautious about missing greens because I wasn't getting up-and-down.
So that was probably the most important thing I did all day.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And then just to birdie 7 and 8 and then a strong finish.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, it put me in position that holing a couple of putts at the end of the round made a big difference. A lot of my rounds this year I haven't holed those putts, and if I did hole them it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Today I was going nicely, 4-under par, probably what I deserved at that stage. But to make those two birdies coming home, two good putts, three good putts in a row was a big bonus.

Q. Talk about the up-and-down on 13. Was it particularly difficult, or it was just a matter of doing it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It was a difficult up-and-down, but it was possible to get up-and-down. But I just haven't been doing that this year. That's obviously the strength of my game is having a good short game. I hit an average second shot, we were sort of looking at it, thinking it's going to catch the edge of the green and maybe just run off. It pitches on -- just off the green, kicks a good ten yards left, so it ends up like 16, 17 yards from the pin and not that much room to work with. So it was important.
I chipped a good chip to about five feet and holed the putt. I think that sort of thing I haven't been doing. As I said, I felt good after that. Most holes I think after that I was trying to make birdie all day. I didn't hit very many shots at the middle of the green because I felt reasonably comfortable that I wasn't too afraid if I missed that I wouldn't get up-and-down.

Q. When you're going through a tough period, do the first five or six holes of a tournament take on more significance than when you're firing on all cylinders?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think as every player out there we would love to tell you that how we play the first couple of holes of any tournament has no bearing on the 72-hole result because we're so professional and we treat every shot the same, whether it's the first one we hit or the last one. But it does have an effect. I've seen many players start off, get a couple good breaks in the first couple of holes and play well for 72 holes. And vice versa, I've seen many players miss the cut after two or three shots. If we were all very professional, it wouldn't make a difference.
But certainly for me when you come off a bad period, it is important that you get some momentum early in the tournament and you get a couple of good things going for you. You feel better about your game.

Q. Is this your best round since Birkdale last year?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would think -- well, obviously, playing-wise, obviously the two 66s at the PGA Oakland Hills. I'm sure I've played some nice rounds. I know I came very close to winning the Barclays Singapore Open at the end of the year. I'm not quite sure which was the best round. I know that definitely once I won the PGA my focus went very much into trying to fix the flaw in my swing.
So yeah, probably this is the round that I can remember probably back to the PGA that I think I got the most out of a round. I walked off the golf course feeling like I got a couple more shots. And I feel good about the fact that I got one or two more than I probably -- if I shot 66, I would have said, well, that was about right. 64 is a little bonus.

Q. Is it possible to say how big this round might be in the overall scheme of things, and in that regard how big was that par save on 6?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Has no relevance in the overall scheme of things. It's just one round of golf. That's all it is. It doesn't affect how -- it shouldn't affect, anyway, how I feel about my game at any stage going forward. It's just a round of golf. It doesn't change the last six months, it won't change the next six months. It is only a game of golf, one particular round. I wouldn't put too much significance into it because what if I went out there and shot 76? Would I feel that or let it affect tomorrow? I think I would not put much emphasis on the fact that I shot 64. I'm comfortable with it.

Q. And the par save at 6?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Par save at 6, yeah, it was a bonus. Again, I haven't had too many of those sort of things happen this year. What I like about the fact is that the par save on 6 and the two birdie putts on 7 and 8, I was in a good position that they meant something when it happened. I think I haven't been there this year. I haven't played well enough that holing a putt has really made that much difference to my rounds. I played lovely golf early on and had plenty of chances, holed a few, missed a few, but kept myself really stress-free up until the 13th, my fourth hole, and then the 6th hole were the only ones I was in too much stress on. It was important, but -- it was important in shooting 64, but it wasn't really going to change much if I shot 67 or 66. 64 or 66 doesn't really increase my chances of winning this tournament. They'd be both the same when it comes to 72 holes.

Q. How did the course play out there today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It played very nice. There wasn't too much wind early on, which made a lot of opportunities for birdies, ideal scoring conditions. The greens are receptive. So yeah, it was a very pleasant day on the golf course.
I think it got a little windier towards the end. No, it was as playable as we've seen it in a long time.

Q. Can't a round like this increase your confidence, though?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, I would say it can, but as a professional golfer, I will say that I shouldn't get influenced by the highs and lows of a particular round of golf. As I said, if I shot a poor score, I shouldn't lose confidence by that, so I'm not going to -- one score isn't going to make me feel great about my game, either. I'm more disciplined and more professional than to let it affect me like that. If it did every day, you'd be -- you see this often where guys are craving -- they have to hit a driver down the fairway to gain confidence. Which comes first, the good shot or the confidence? And to be honest, shooting a score like this, it would be wrong for me to make too much of it, because going forward there will be other days that I'll be looking for confidence, and if I have to wait for a good score, that's not a good idea. You've got to have internal confidence rather than wait for scores like that.
So I'm happy to have shot it, I feel good about it, but I don't think it's -- I don't believe that this is -- I don't believe I'm not going to use it as a cutoff for the last six months to the next six months. Maybe it is, but I believe that change was made maybe three or four weeks ago when I started focusing more on my playing side of my game rather than the swinging side of my game.

Q. You have to stay on an even keel, and we've spoken about that, but do you feel a little buzz, a little adrenaline rush when you have a round like that? Can you pat yourself on the back for at least two minutes?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm definitely happy with the score, and it feels good to have shot the score, and what even feels better and which is quite important for next week is coming down the last couple of holes I'm thinking about the shots. It's not like what I've been thinking about like I don't want to mess up sort of thing, which is exactly the feelings. I'm a great believer in if you want to win tournaments, you've got to have that feeling as often as possible and get used to it. I obviously haven't been in a situation the last six months that that has made a big difference whether I make bogey or par coming down the stretch. Usually it makes very little difference, whereas today I'm trying coming down the stretch and I don't want to mess up, I'm in a good position, and that's the sort of experience you want when you're trying to win tournaments. You've got to be there all the time in order to win any tournaments and especially going into majors.

Q. What was the most satisfying shot you hit today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hit a lot of shots. I haven't really thought about it. I think I hit a nice pitch on my fourth hole, the 13th, which was very important at the time, so I will say that chip shot.

Q. Curiously, when is the last time you've had the lead after any round of a tournament?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't -- I very, very, very rarely have led after the first round of a tournament.

Q. Will you be able to sleep okay tonight?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I'll manage to sleep fine. I'm well aware that it only matters to hold the lead on Saturday and then really matters on Sunday. But yeah, I'm always a very cautious person in the first round. I don't generally -- I'm a great believer that you don't win the tournament on Thursday, you just keep yourself in it. And very rarely do I go out there in an aggressive manner. I generally am quite conservative to start out. I would say you could go through my career and you'll only find a handful of times I've led after the first round.

Q. This discipline of being so even keel, is that something you had to learn? Did it come naturally to you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think you have to work at that all the time. You always have to learn these things. So I would say, yeah, I think I've learnt it over many years. I've never been too bad in that sense, but it's foolish to get too much of a high about anything and it's foolish to get in too much of a low about anything because then your scores and how things are happening on the course are -- how would I put it? What's happening out there, your results are dictating how you feel about yourself, whereas you should dictate how you feel about yourself to change your results. I believe in self-confidence rather than confidence.

Q. This evening have you any plans to eat or go to the cinema or something?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I'm up early in the morning, so eat as quick as possible and get some physio and things like that, play with the kids before they go to bed and go to bed myself. That will be the evening. Nothing much.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, good luck with that, and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts

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