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August 13, 2009

Padraig Harrington


KELLY ELBIN: Defending PGA champion, Padraig Harrington joining us at the 91st PGA Championship. Padraig is in with a 4-under par 68 to trail by one to his playing companion Tiger Woods after the first round. Padraig, your comments on the opening round and your position at midway point of the first round.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously I'm very happy. First day of a major it's always good to keep yourself in there. I think probably did a little bit more than that. Anytime you break 70 you've got to be very pleased.
So I'm happy with the score. It's obviously a little bit tough when you're coming back to defend the tournament. There's a little bit more spotlight and focus. So, yeah, shooting 68's a good start.
KELLY ELBIN: If you would, the length of the putts, the five birdie putts starting with the birdie at 12.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Wow, I'll be struggling to remember that. I had a nice 5-iron to about 8 feet and 12. And I hit an 8-iron to about eight feet on 16. I hit a sand wedge to about -- out of a bunker to about four feet on 2.
I had a chip shot to about six feet on 3. And I hit a sand wedge to about 12 feet on 6.
KELLY ELBIN: The 68 today matches Padraig's best first round score in the PGA in 2004.

Q. Can you speak about the mind-set you had today given the catastrophe of the 16 on Sunday and you come straight back and shot a tremendous round of golf today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: For starters it wasn't a catastrophe. It wasn't great, but it wasn't a catastrophe. I did -- how would I put it? I did think about it a lot on Sunday evening and even some on Sunday morning. I struggled to sleep Sunday night. Struggled to get to sleep and woke up early.
But the minute I got to the practice round here and started hitting a few shots, my mind-set moved on to this week. And that's the great thing about golf. The minute, certainly for me, the minute I hit the practice round I become a real optimist and I start looking forward.
That period of time between finishing the tournament and starting the next one sometimes can be quite a tough period. But you gotta get back out there. When you do, it's pretty easy to focus on going forward.

Q. I was just wondering, you have to play the golf course obviously. But with Tiger in such good form, is it hard not to kind of watch what he's doing and get a little lost in that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I definitely think, you know, there was a big difference between today and let's say last Sunday. Last Sunday both of us were very much into our own games and working very hard. And I think both of us were in the zone.
Today was a lot more relaxed, a lot more talking and chatting. And, yeah, I watched a lot of his shots. It's amazing. I was watching a few of his shots today and a few of his swings. And I was thinking to myself how I was noticing things today that I didn't see on Sunday as in I was so much into my own game on Sunday I didn't see a thing at all.
Today I was definitely a lot more aware of it. But you can do that on a Thursday. You can be a bit more relaxed and it is only Thursday. Sunday's the business day. And the first three days are about building up to that.
And today was a nice pleasant round of golf. And it's better to keep it that way. That gets the best results as it showed today for all of us. Even Rich Beem played lovely golf today.

Q. In an ideal world, would you want to be Thursday relaxed on Sunday at a major?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. No. It's strange. I like to get into the zone. I need more nerves and more hype and that. Yeah, there's a combination. I'm not saying that either isn't perfect. But maybe a little bit of combination of the two. But definitely Sunday brings its own. There are more nerves involved. There is more adrenalin.
And if they're used properly it can help you perform even to a greater standard.

Q. You've been grinding on your game all year, it seems like, and working really hard. What's happened the last few weeks maybe to add a little more comfort or allowed you to play the way you're playing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously for a long period of time -- for a good two and a half years I've had a fault in my swing that I've been trying to get to the bottom of. The last eight months I've been fully immersed in trying to figure out what it was. About six weeks ago I finally got some clarity on what I need to do to sort it out. And once I got that clarity, it's not that I have sorted it out and it's not that I still need to do the work, but my mind-set is now a lot more at ease. I know what I need to do and I'm comfortable now to spend more time on the likes of my short game and things like that.
And that's obviously paying dividends on the golf course.

Q. The setup especially at the majors seem to be getting longer and longer but the scores don't seem to have been affected adversely. Do you have an explanation for that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, obviously it goes to probably one of the first to change to a substantially longer golf course. And all it means is that with a longer golf course it gives the tournament committee more options. And they generally end up setting up a much fairer golf course. In terms of pin positions, they don't have to tuck them as tight. The bunkers are slopes.
It means the players are happier. Okay. The golf ball goes a long way when it's warm. You wouldn't want to play this golf course in Ireland. At 7,000, 8,000 yards, it would be a long day out there. In this heat the ball is traveling and we're all hitting it with a bit of run out there. We're getting out well over the 300 yards. So the length isn't an issue as long as the weather is good.
As I said, the tournament committee just gives them a little bit more room that they don't have to in any way trick the golf course up.

Q. What were your thoughts when Alvaro snuck that ball into the front of the 11th green?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I first thought that somebody must have chipped out and hit the third shot up there. And when I inquired who was playing behind and it was Alvaro, I said that's got to be two of the biggest hits ever in golf.
Like, there couldn't be anybody playing the game competitively who could have knocked it up there on 2 today. It was phenomenal. To hit it on that green -- it wasn't warm at that stage and the wind was ended. It carried -- it was a serious hit. We were all greatly amused by the fact that there was a player out there who can actually hit a ball like that.
We were joking between ourselves that we actually have it in the bag and we don't take it out. But I don't think that's true. (Laughter).

Q. Could you give us your explanation or just something understandable what you've been working on, your swing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I can. Straightforward at impact I tend to be moved quite lateral through the ball and cup my left wrist. Over the years, if you go back and you see.
So trying to stop doing one of them. I actually had to try and stop doing the two at the same time. When I -- I could get to do it, but it never seemed to stay there. And eventually came down to the -- in my golf swing, with my coach, Bob Torrance, one of the keys would be to lag the golf club in your down swing as Alvaro does it unbelievably well. I wish I did it like he did.
For some reason I got it into my head as well as lagging the golf swing I need to lag my arms. No, it's the golf clubs that lags and not my arms and the golf club. It's as simple as that. And that was stopping me from stopping and going lateral and stopping me from bowing my left wrist down. I was lagging my arms in my golf swing, leaving them late, way behind me.

Q. You talked the other day about the Olympics. And today, they said today they've taken the step toward getting it approved. What do you think -- the format they're talking about is a four-day stroke play event. Is that what you like, or would you like it to be more like a TOUR event?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, I do believe that they should -- the event in the Olympics should be more like a major tournament. I think in 100 years' time the Olympics could be the fifth major. Obviously it has to grow into that. It's not going to happen overnight.
It's only once every four years. So in time it could become the premiere event in golf. And I do believe that means it needs to be a 72-hole stroke. The best players turn up. And I believe the best players will turn up. It's not too many players are going to get opportunities to play more than -- even a player who is dominant is not going to play more than once or twice in the Olympics because of the time frame.
So it's something -- 72-hole stroke is going to bring out a true winner and that would be the one going forward for me.

Q. Did you make any special effort today to play quicker than you did?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. No. I played my own game today, as I would do every day.

Q. A lot of everyday players can feel sympathy for being rushed. Do you have any advice for everyday players on how to handle being rushed?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the key is -- and as I said, I would, over the years I would have issues with pace of play because I've never been a particularly hitting it down the fairways on the greens type of guy. If you struggle a little bit and you're in the rough and all that, it does take a little bit more time to hit more shots. The key is to actually realize when it's your turn to play and be ready to play.
As I said, with the rules of golf they allow you 40 seconds and sometimes up to 60 seconds to hit a shot. If you sat there with a stopwatch, it's forever. It's a long time, 40 seconds. So as long as you're ready to play you could never take that much time to hit a shot. The key is always to be ready. That's the biggest key for pace of play. The guy who stands behind and stands and looks at his shot, you know, visualizing it for a second or two, he ain't taking the time. It's the guy who is still putting on the glove or getting the yardage or that sort of distracter, he's the guy who tends to have an issue, let's say.

Q. Going back to the swing question. This week what was more critical to you in preparing for this championship, the time on the practice tee or the time on the course on the practice rounds, and how would that be different from a year ago when you were coming off the Open Championship and a winner?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: This week, to be honest, my preparation for this week has been because of last week. I had to leave the golf course on Tuesday because I was so tired. I was feeling awful. After I did my press conference, I felt like I was going to faint.
So my preparation has been poor. So most of my preparation this week has been about just getting my mind-set right and I played nine holes on Monday and 18 holes on Wednesday, which is probably less than I would normally.
I hardly spent any time hitting bunker shots and putts, which it cost me today. I hit two good bunker shots today. But both of them, obviously the ball doesn't spin much out of the sand here. And I hadn't realized that.
So I was cut out a little bit with that. But we played tournament golf every week. And it's not always possible to prepare exactly how you would want every single tournament. So we have to be able to adapt. And we have to know where to pull in the reins on certain things and what's the priority.

Q. Tom Watson comes to mind. Over the years he used to wish for the wind to howl, because he thought it gave him a chance to separate himself. Given that tomorrow it's supposed to blow pretty good, what is your feeling about that? Do you like it when it blows?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That's the first I've heard about the wind blowing pretty strong tomorrow. I like -- if you ask me the ideal conditions, if you ask me the ideal tournament, I'd like at least one day of difficult conditions for everybody.
Four days of it is very difficult for everybody. If you get out there and it's windy for four days, it becomes a little bit of a lottery. But one day, you know, is enough to test the mind-set of everybody. And I like that.
I like one day, but it's hard to put up with it for four days but I would handle it for one day.

Q. After sort of the intensity of last week, the intensity of the battle, a lot of players might come into the next event a little drained. How important is it to sort of be on the front right from the outset playing with Woods through the main or thereabouts?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I am drained. No question about that. That's something I have to be aware of all week this week. Last week took an awful out of me. To lead from the very start is a difficult thing.
This week, coming in today, normally I would say in a major it's not that important to shoot a low one the first day. That you just want to stay in there. The only issue I would have this week is if we are going to experience tougher conditions, this might have been a day for an opportunity to shoot a good score. So it would be important to push on today and get some 4-under par is always a good return in a major. I think there's a factor about the fact that Tiger is 5-under par and looks like he's playing well and looks like he could move away and the key will be obviously if he's moving away to make sure I'm moving away with him. You don't want to -- the last thing -- it was tough on Sunday. But me getting a three-shot start I don't want to give him a three-shot start on Sunday.

Q. You had a great battle with Tiger last week. You're playing with him again this week. You sit 1 and 2. Do you like that, playing that competition with the world's No. 1?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, the great thing is if you're playing with Tiger Woods you're doing well. That's always going to be the case. If you're playing with him, first couple of rounds you're a marquee draw. If you're playing with him at the end of the week you're always going to be in contention. If you don't want to be in that spot, you shouldn't be playing golf. So it's always a good sign if you're matched up with Tiger it means you're in the right place.
And every time you're playing there, it's an opportunity, as I said. And I definitely would look forward to being paired up with him. As I said, he's an easy guy to play golf with. He plays nice golf. He's a perfect gentleman out on the golf course in terms of he says good shot when it needs to be said. He does his thing. It's very simple playing golf with him. Once you get used to -- the crowds are easy playing with him because they're so big, it's always easy.
Once you get used to maybe the extra cameras and things like that, you know it's where you want to be.
KELLY ELBIN: Padraig Harrington, thank you very much.

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