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August 7, 2009

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, thank you very much for coming in and joining us, as always. Congratulations on another good day. Just give us your thoughts on your position in the tournament at the halfway stage.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm obviously pleased. I shot a good score yesterday, put me up there, and it's nice to shoot a reasonable score to back it up. Break 70 on the weekend a few more times and I should doing okay.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Anything that particularly pleased you today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was a bit cautious at times, I suppose only to be expected when you're leading the tournament. But besides that, I worked it around the golf course well, my short game was sharp. And yeah, I'm happy. I need to do a few things a bit better on the weekend, but I'm mostly happy with it.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And also happy with the position that you're in in the tournament?

Q. You said you played the first round cautiously.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I normally play the first rounds cautiously. I was a bit cautious today. I was more worried about my misses rather than having that sort of confident attitude and just a bit more free flowing and going after a few more pins.

Q. And how about going forward?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know, I'll wait and see what tomorrow brings me. I'll try and be a bit more -- you know, it's tough. You know that if you short side yourself you're going to have difficulty getting up-and-down. But you've got to make some birdies. My short game has been good enough, so I probably should be a little bit more aggressive over the weekend. So I would think, yeah, I'll be a little bit more aggressive than I was today.

Q. Padraig, when you say you're worrying less about form and more about function, what does that mean exactly if you're not -- you're worried more about the score and less about the technique, and how do you flip the switch, if you could find a way to verbalize that, if I'm characterizing it correctly.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, you're right. I suppose that the best way of putting it is, you know, over the last -- when you're working on your technique, you hit a good shot on the golf course and you look at it and you say, right, yeah, that was a good shot. And the first thing you think about is did you make a good golf swing, and you analyze the golf swing. Whereas when you're into your competitive side, you hit a good shot, you don't really care about how you got it there, you just care about how close it is.
So when you're into your technique, you want to hit good golf shots and make good golf swings. When you're not into your technique, you just want to make good golf shots, you're not interested in how you do it. There's a subtle difference in that. As I said, I was wholeheartedly into my technique for a while, and the last couple of weeks I've been much more into trying to get a bit more balance in my game.

Q. Tiger was just saying how difficult it is, he's done it twice, to not so much to rebuild his swing or to try and get better at a golf swing, but to endure six, seven, eight, nine months of everyone telling you you're doing the wrong thing.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Thankfully nobody told me that (laughter), or if they were saying that, I wasn't listening. (Laughter).

Q. Can you just speak -- let's just say you heard a few whispers, but if you did --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: If I did, I'd fight against it. That's my nature. I'd be the very stubborn one who if I was told to do something, I'd want to do it my way. Ultimately, that's part of it. That's part of my nature. I want to do it my way. That's what's got me here, that's what will keep me going forward.
You know, I'm not interested in standing still. I want to get better as a player. I'm only comfortable being into my game when I feel like I'm improving. I get -- if I thought I was standing still, you know, there's no incentive for me to get out there. I know that sounds stupid, but the improvement is what I enjoy in the game, is trying to get better and better at this game, feeling like I'm going to be a better player tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and that's held me back many times in my career. I don't have an issue with that. But I'm aware of it, and I know how to work with it at times, that wanting to get better.
You know, many of my -- I think the best example that I remember, I used to have a reputation for finishing second on the TOUR just about everywhere. It didn't bother me too much, but obviously it's coming up time and time again. I think back on it, and there was many a time I'd be leading the tournament on a Saturday evening, and I'd go to the range and work on my golf swing to make it better for the following week or the following month or the following year, with total disregard for the next day.
I'm not as bad as that now. I can manage myself a little bit better now. But often there was tournaments I was in contention, and all I was thinking about how was I going to play in two weeks' time or three weeks' time or next year. So I was more interested in the overall development rather than the short-term results.
There's no doubt that's been the case for the last six, seven months, but because I've found what I'm looking for -- it's not that I have what I was looking for, I've found what I was looking for. That's freed up my mind to go back to working on the important things, the scoring, the short game, and my mental game.

Q. Just quickly following up, how many times do you think that you may have -- if you look back on the second places, if you would have been more focused on the tournament, that you might have won?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You can't say it like that. That's inexperience. Or it was part of my experience. All those, I think I have 29 of them or something like that, they all helped me win three majors. So I wouldn't give up any of those second places for that experience, because I might have won some of those events and I might not have won the three majors that I won because of it. They shape who you are, and you learn a lot more in those situations, and I certainly learned a lot about my game over the years.
You know, I look back and say, you know, why was there so many. And to be honest, this is pure replica of my amateur career at times, of my professional career. I always go into these periods of time where I get very reflective on how I'm doing, and then I have other periods that I'm more concerned about the end result.
You know, sometimes results are important, sometimes the process is more important.

Q. Is it somewhat, though, of an indication of your rise in stature that so many people have cared about this for the last eight months?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think what the difference is, though, I've done this from very high profile. Nobody would have known when I was 19 years of age that I was working on my swing as an amateur. Several times as a pro I've done this.
This isn't even close to the change I made in year three on the Tour. You guys wouldn't be aware of this, but I came out my first two years. I think I finished 11th and 8th in the Order of Merit, and then I changed coaches in my third year and dropped outside the Top 30 sort of thing, purely because I was working on my game and then came back again. All the way through my career you have these little things, probably not as evident, as I said, over the last eight months, because I was on quite a high at that stage, and also at times I've worked on my short game -- when I'm changing my swing, my short game tends to be sharp. It wasn't for the first eight months, so it showed up, magnified it a little bit.
But it is a process, and as I said, that's where I was focused for the last eight months, and I know that there's times to be into that and there's times to be into results.

Q. You touched just a few minutes ago about practicing on Saturday nights. To look forward down the road, is there something specific that you want to work on like this afternoon or this evening for tomorrow that you thought maybe you left out there today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, there's always things. You know, any time I finish a round of golf I analyze what I did during the day and what was weak and what needs improvement. Today I -- what I would be more thinking about after today was just a little bit more commitment, a little bit more confidence in my shots and not to be as cautious. So it's not -- I'm not thinking of going out there -- it's more working on my mental side than on the technical side, which is a good thing.

Q. Could you please give a couple examples today of good shots that you didn't hit particularly good swings on?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I have no idea. I wasn't thinking about my swing at all today, so I can't tell you. I didn't analyze my swing whatsoever, so that was a good point.
You know, and to be honest, I was into the result and not into how I was doing it, which is a good thing. So I couldn't tell you, certainly not now, unless I sat down and thought about it, particularly how I swung the club on any particular shot. I was just getting the job done.

Q. Why were you cautious today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You're always cautious when you don't want to make mistakes. When you're leading a tournament you don't want to make mistakes.

Q. And given that you know that two more 69s will probably win you the event, how do you stop yourself from feeling cautious?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: At the end of the day I would take breaking 70 two more times. Who knows who's going to win the event. It's just not as simple as that. So I will wait and see tomorrow. As I said, I need to be a little bit more positive about my shots. That would be what I walk away from today. I just need to trust myself a little bit more, be a little bit more positive and hit the shots -- you know, accept a little bit more. As I said, there was just an element of don't miss here, don't miss there, don't short-side yourself a little bit too much.

Q. You went from winning regular tournaments to winning majors, skipped the World Golf Championship stage. Is this less of a big deal in your head?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I did win the Irish Open, which would be my fifth major (laughter). That was very important.

Q. That's the major category again. This tournament, is it --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would like to win a World Golf event, yes. I think I would like to have that on my CV. I think what you're alluding to there, let's be honest, you know, if it comes to comparing World Golf events to majors, it's how many. So I'd rather win another major than any World Golf event. But a World Golf event in itself is a big event. You've got all the best players playing. So yes, I think it would be very important to win one or some of them throughout my career, yes.

Q. If the weather is okay, conditions are benign, which holes here would you go after to try to get birdies on?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, that depends on the pin positions, depends on the shots you hit. You know, you can have a situation like -- interestingly enough, I'm going to give you 10 as an example. Yesterday it was a very difficult pin position. I did birdie it actually; I did go after it. And today was a very easy pin, and I didn't birdie it. But definitely today's pin position, everybody in the field who hit the 10th fairway would have had a reasonable chance at birdie there because it was a very simple pin.
So you kind of have to wait for the hole -- you've got to see where the pins are, where the wind is on that particular hole. It wouldn't -- you wouldn't be able to set it out now. You wouldn't be able to say that this hole is a birdie chance and this is a par or bogey hole. You just have to wait for the conditions and see how you play the hole.
It could just come down to whether you've got the right number. If you're right on the right number, you can go after a very tight pin. Well, if you haven't got the right number, you probably have to play a bit safe.
I would think you couldn't judge that before you go out, no.

Q. Your wife had mentioned that you guys are going to be here for a couple weeks and then heading home and then possibly coming back for New York. It hadn't really dawned on me that you're really on the outside looking in on this FedExCup thing. I'm wondering whether it matters much to you. Are you at all embarrassed by the fact that you don't have a foot in the door there? Can you take care of that this week, too?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I wouldn't say -- there's no place for embarrassment on the golf course. I would never, ever, no matter what. I know I'm trying 100 percent, so whatever my results are I can hold my head high and would never let that feeling -- there was once I had it on the golf course, and it's not a very nice feeling. At the end of the day it is only a game. But no, I'm not in any shape or form embarrassed, but I'd be unhappy not to be in it.
I never like missing out on things. It's a lot worse to miss out on something than it is -- I always like to qualify for everything and be in there. So yeah, I do want to play in the Barclays, there's no doubt about it.
It's going to be difficult, too, because with competing events, like I moved quite substantially back during the Open. I made the cut there, didn't have a great week, but I moved back a half a dozen spots, so it's not easy. The biggest the events, these two events, it's actually harder to move forward than in regular weeks.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.

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