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August 15, 2009

Padraig Harrington


KELLY ELBIN: Defending PGA Champion Padraig Harrington joining us after the third round of the 91st PGA Championship. Padraig shot 3-under par 69 today.
Padraig, four birdies, only bogey was at 18, 27 putts for the day. Looked like a very good round of golf out there.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I was obviously pretty pleased with how it went up till 15. I hit a curler second shot on 15 and kind of just was trying to get to the clubhouse after that, and disappointed that I bogeyed the last.
KELLY ELBIN: Questions for Padraig Harrington, 6-under par, two shots behind Tiger Woods.

Q. Can you address the issue, the bogey at 18 prevented you the chance of playing with Tiger; would you have preferred to play with him again or was there a thought to going out earlier and posting a score?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I don't have a choice. (Laughter) So it doesn't really matter.
I know if you're playing with him, it's kind of a bit like match play and if you're not playing with him you've got to play your own game. So I'm not going to be playing with him so I have to stick to my own game and see what happens there. I don't think ten minutes of a tee time is going to affect; it's not like I'm going to be posting or getting different weather than him or anything. I don't think that's going to have any effect on it. Obviously the effect is obviously being there and watching him hit shots and get a feel for how it's all going. Obviously I'm not going to be in that group and so I'm just going to have to do my own thing.

Q. If you had a choice, would you rather play with Tiger?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I would. I would rather -- I think it would suit me better to have that sort of match-play style. I think I will get into it and hopefully raise my game.

Q. Speaking of match play, what are your recollections of 1995 when you and a mortician beat Tiger and John Harris over there, and did you think he was going to turn out what he has become?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: My friend would not be happy with being called the mortician. (Laughing).
You know, obviously I played against Tiger in the Walker Cup in '95, and in distinctly different conditions. We were very familiar to that. Yeah, myself and a friend of mine, Jody Flanagan to beat Tiger and John Harris in the foursomes, but that's a long time ago. It's a new game, it's a new game tomorrow, so I don't think that's going to be playing in his mind, anyway, tomorrow. (Laughter).

Q. As a 19-year-old, were you aware of his reputation and all that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think everybody was aware of Tiger's reputation when he was two. (Laughter).
So, yeah, as an amateur golfer, he was the man. He was the man to beat. I suppose he still is the man to beat as a pro. But yeah, definitely in the Walker Cup, he was the big dog and he was there, his reputation was good, which is good because it gives you something to shoot at obviously. I suppose a little like tomorrow; that he could have it looks like maybe a three-shot lead and I suppose it's easy for us in that situation, because we have nothing to lose. Everybody expects it's going to be him, so we get a free run at it.

Q. I know you've played a lot with him, obviously, in the last week or so. You didn't play with him today; was that better for you? Did it give you a bit of a break? And historically when he has these leads, extends them every day and today he missed the putt on 18 and came back so he's only got a two-shot lead.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm trying not to smile. (Laughter) I'm only kidding.
What was the question? Actually, I don't know. What was the question? (Chuckling)

Q. You didn't play with him today. Was it good to have a break from him in that sense? And secondly, historically when he's had the lead in the first, the second round, and then the third round usually gets bigger.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was aware today that I had tremendous support. Every green I walked up onto, I got a tremendous clap, cheer. I assume everybody was getting it in the last groups, but obviously when you're playing with Tiger, it's mainly for Tiger and you know that.
But today, I seemed to get the lead cheer walking up on to the greens, and it was very nice. So in that sense, yeah, it was a nice day. It certainly kept me going. There was a nice boost to that. There was a lot of support out there, which is always nice.

Q. Just to follow that up, does it give you more heart that -- you know, it's obvious six strokes would be worse than four, but he's back to two; does it give you more heart for tomorrow?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, as I said, the narrower the gap, the better. If I have to take four shots over four days and I've taken two the first day, I suppose we're halfway there. Obviously to get a win, you've got to beat him by three tomorrow; that's a tall order, but as I said, everybody in the situation who is behind is going to think, well, you know, we have nothing to lose. You've got to have that attitude.
I need to have that attitude tomorrow. I've got to stand there on every shot and think to myself, well, so what if I hit a bad shot. As in, I already hit a good shot, an average shot doesn't matter sort of thing. I've got to have that attitude to just fire it up and go for those shots, and just be concerned about my good shots, and I'm going to catch three shots, that's the way to do it; not to be -- certainly not to be in any shape or form cautious.

Q. Whether you're using the crowd support as an indicator or some other measure, how eager do you think people are for someone to step up and challenge him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I get that impression, yes. I get the impression that there's a lot of people who are cheering me on wanting me to push him along, but they still want Tiger to win. (Laughter).
You know, they would like the idea of, let's support the underdog until he catches up and then we'll support Tiger again sort of thing. (Laughter).
So be it. That's fine with me. I'll serve my time.

Q. Why is the sentiment there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think because everybody wants to see a battle. Everybody hopes the underdog catches up, but when he catches up, ultimately, they want the hero to win, as usual. So that's the way all the storybooks are written and all that sort of stuff, and so that's why it is. It's part of our human nature that we support the underdog, up until a certain point, but we want to -- like if I'm watching a neutral soccer match, I want to see four or five goals and somebody to score in the last couple of minutes and that's it. Even if I'm watching my own team, I want four or five goals and for it to be close up until the end. I think it's natural, people, they want Tiger to win, but they don't want him to win by three or four shots. They want him to be pushed and tested and to show his skills, and I'm happy to fill that role, and you never know what happens over the last nine holes.

Q. Yesterday you said you struggled with focus from time to time. There seemed to be a difference today, and was the support of the crowd part of that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think it could have been. I was definitely -- I was very good from about the fourth hole onwards. I was very, very focused in my round, and well into it up on to the 15th. I just hit a curler second shot on 15 and just after that, it really set me back. You know, I have to avoid any of those errors tomorrow, and I just have to definitely keep the focus going.
But the crowds are a definite bonus. You know, they were really good. Every green we walked onto, there was a big cheer. Every green we walked off to the tee, there was a big cheer; that's nice.

Q. Do you know much of anything about Y.E. Yang and what advice do you have for him being paired with Tiger on Sunday?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: When he won the HSBC Champions two years ago down the stretch, he went all the way against big-name players, and he totally outplayed everybody. He's a fine player when he's in front. That guy is -- you know, he knows what he's doing. So I wouldn't be -- I wouldn't be too worried about him tomorrow.

Q. You talked earlier in the week about being a little worn out and having to manage that during this week. Have you sort of gotten a second wind at this point?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes. I think the fact that I'm going well in the tournament; the fact that there's adrenaline there, yes, it helps.
Yesterday was pretty late, but by the time I had finished some practice, I didn't get back to the house until nine. But today I actually woke up pretty good. I slept well and I think just the fact that things went my way early on in the round keeps me in it. I think that's the important thing for me.
I'm doing okay as long as it's going with me. I wouldn't want to get into the slippery slope the other way. But I feel good, yes.
KELLY ELBIN: Two shots back with one round to go, Padraig Harrington, thanks very much.

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