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September 30, 2009

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, Padraig, as always for joining us. Welcome to the Alfred Dunhill Championship 2009, a tournament you know well. Maybe start last week and reflect on America, it was another good week for you there. Just reflect on the events over there.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously I had a reasonable run of form. No wins, though. That's not great. The makeup of the season is pretty good now that you have your four majors and then you have a FedExCup and then you have a Race to Dubai. So I'm fully in The Race to Dubai now. I've got five events left to give myself a chance of winning that. I probably need to win two of those five events, and a few other things to go right, but that would be the goal at the moment is the Race to Dubai, and it's a good system.
I've come here and it would be very easy, you know, for me to be tired and disinterested, but with The Race to Dubai, I'm motivated and ready to go.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And a tournament you know well, having won it twice in the past. Looking forward to trying for the hat trick this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, this would be one of my favourite tournaments of the year. Obviously it's one of my best opportunities of winning an event; not too often do we get to play links golf, and this is, well, two Open venues and Kingsbarns, which is a great course, as well. I think the setup this week really suits me well.
Yeah, it's definitely a week that I look forward to and I feel like I have a great opportunity.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And your trusty steed, Mr. McManus, by your side again.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, that helps. He has the ability to say and do the right thing in the four days. He has definitely added to my performances over the years and certainly helped me with my wins.

Q. As you say, a little bit of the season to go, what's the report card going to say for Padraig Harrington as things stand just now for 2009?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, as things stand, right now at this moment, it would be easy to say, oh, well, I had a productive first seven months of the year without performing on the golf course, and then I had a reasonable bit of form over the last six weeks. But to be honest of that, when we get into 2010, the only thing that will be looked back on is how many wins you had in 2009.
So looking back, even though I can be comfortable with what's happened, I think in years to come, I've got to make some wins in my last half-dozen events in order to make this in any way a good year.

Q. Given how the first seven months went, if you were doing it all over again, would you do it differently?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. It's not that I planned to do it like that and I certainly didn't. I've done these things before, and the plan is always to do it in the off-season and come in and usually after a bit of problems, you get going after a month or two into the season, but I dragged it well into the season.
That's not to say, I didn't plan for it and it wasn't great in itself, but I probably learned more in that period of time and got to the bottom of what was annoying me, anyway. So it was very, very productive. You know, it's made -- I would think that seven months will make me a better player.
So, yeah, there is some sacrifices in it. You wouldn't plan for those sacrifices, but looking back, I would definitely think it's been worth it.

Q. Could you elaborate on getting to the bottom of something which was annoying you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, for about 2 1/2 years, I am aware that as I came into impact, I had slightly more of a lateral movement than needed and added loft to the clubface to compensate. Basically, I cut my left wrist, and I was trying to figure out how to stop doing that, and I struggled to stop doing it. It came down to a perception problem I had that one of the things that Bob would teach is you lag the golf club and for some reason, I assumed that lagging the golf club was the same as lagging my arms and that wasn't the case.
It was just something that I thought that was when you were meant to do. So it took a while and a little bit of pain to figure out. It's not that nobody had told me that or it's not that anybody had -- actually I had been told to do the opposite many times, but it just hadn't registered. It just took a while to figure it out.
It's not that I've changed it but I have clarity on what I want to change. I'm trying to not look forward to the winter where I can do some more work on it because I have The Race to Dubai to think about. I've got Alfred Dunhill Championship to think about. I've got to try and stay focused and wait until I have that two-month period in the winter to do some serious work on it.

Q. You've had a wonderful run sort of in the last six weeks, and perhaps a couple of the tournaments only spoiled by one hole. How far off are you from where you think you want to be?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think there's substantial improvement in me, yes. How much it would take to make that substantial improvement, I'm hopeful that, you know, I can get it done, I hope that I can get the technical stuff done during the winter and I hope that I will continue to improve mentally.
The technical stuff, as I said, hopefully it will be done starting next year and the mental stuff is always improving. So that's a continual battle, I would say. But there's certainly room for improvement.

Q. How much of an eye do you have on next year's Open Championship as you play two rounds here this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, the golf course will play so different in The Open to how it will play this week.
I don't think these two rounds will make as big a difference to next year as playing St. Andrews as often as possible over the years, and having played the Dunhill Championship so many times, and now this tournament, you just get -- it's amazing how the condition throw different scenarios, different pin positions, make golf holes play substantially different. You just have to get an overall feeling for St. Andrews. It won't be these two rounds this week but it will be all the rounds I've played that will help you get around the golf course.
Because in midsummer as the links is dry, the golf ball, the course will be fiery and I think the toughest thing on this course is how firm -- like the greens will be firm this week; how firm they get in the summer. So it will be an overall impression but these two days won't be the main part.

Q. Do you remember the first time you played St. Andrews and what your first impressions were of it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: First time I played it was in the St. Andrews Trophy as an amateur. Yeah, standing on the first tee, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It was one of the spine-tingling moments. That and Augusta are the two that did it for me, let's say. There's no golf -- and to be honest, they still do, both of them have a magic feeling when you get on the first tee.
So, yeah, I've got to say, it was definitely one of those moments. I suppose I would be waiting -- I probably didn't play until I was about 22 or 23 before I got a chance to play St. Andrews. It wasn't like I had done it too early. It was something that I had been waiting for, as well.

Q. I was going to ask you, do you know how many times you have been to the States this year, separate trips?

Q. Because I was going to ask you, because you talk about --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I thought you would know.

Q. Maybe eight or nine times. But I was going to ask you in that regard, you talk about being mentally focused for tournaments, but how do you sort of keep yourself up physically, all of the demands of the travel you have been doing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think one of the big things for me to keep the motivation, is I haven't won. I think things could change -- whether I like it or not, I often times when I win tournaments, I see that as a point of resting afterwards in some way or working on my game in some way, of stepping back a little bit.
Obviously because of the poor form of the first seven months, I've been exceptionally motivated over the last number of weeks. I have been very diligent with my gym work and things like that, which as it's coming to the end of the year, you would actually expect that to be tapering off a little bit. I'm very keen at the moment, which is purely down to the fact that I'm desperate to get out there and win.

Q. You obviously had other things on your mind at the weekend, but the Vivendi Trophy, have you talked to any of the players yet, and is there a buzz amongst the British guys about what happened?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know if I talked to -- obviously I was talking to Paul during the tournament by text. I talked to -- actually besides saying well done to a couple of the guy, I haven't actually had time to have a conversation about it.
Actually the only one I had a conversation about it with was Peter Hanson. I met him on the golf course; I just asked him briefly how it went. Not really sure. I'm sure I'll get filled in much better when I get time to talk with Paul.
Delighted for Paul. From all accounts and from what I've built up, he's done a very good job, and that's the general word I've been getting back from the small amounts, that Paul did an excellent job and was possibly the difference.

Q. Do you make the same differentiation in your mind between St. Andrews in July and now as you did, say, with Wentworth between the spring and the fall?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I wouldn't to the extent that they are just different golf courses. Yeah, I would say Wentworth is substantially different than I would say here is slightly different. I think the difference is, obviously the courses, the temperature is different and the course is set up slightly different and the greens are a little bit softer and the pin positions are probably not quite as Open pin positions.
Yeah, there's a difference in the tournament this time around where Wentworth, a substantial difference in the golf course.

Q. Going back to Paul McGinley, I know it's a wee bit away, but The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, could you see Paul being a strong contender for the captaincy at Gleneagles?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't looked at the order. The guys will tell you that the order is set in stone but I would think he's done nothing but improve his chances of captaincy of The Ryder Cup. You know, and a lot depends on if Paul is showing that he's a winning captain, and we haven't won The Ryder Cup, you know, we are going to have to put our best man in there, and that could be Paul in that case.
He's putting his name in, not as regards, let's say sometimes at times The Ryder Cup Captain is given to the person who has supported the Tour and deserves it the most, and sometimes The Ryder Cup Captaincy is given to the guy that has done the job the best, and Paul is putting his hat in both rings now, and that's a help for him.

Q. Monty last week was talking about Rory, being a potential first-out on Friday of The Ryder Cup. Rory has had quite an extraordinary year. Are you amazed by Monty saying that, and having been No. 1 yourself at The Ryder Cup, going out on the Friday, and what can Rory expect next year?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would say he would love it, and I think that's what Monty is seeing. We all know Rory is a super player, but the guy you put out number one is the guy who is going to embrace it and relish it the most, and anything, play better because of it. You know, Monty always did a great job. I think Rory could be in the same vein. He's a young guy who loves golf and would love the opportunity to be out there and show his game, really, and really showcase it.
I think it could be ideal for him. You know, the last thing you want to do with him is hide him down the pack. I don't think he would play as well in that, he would play much better at the forefront and getting out there and playing his golf. You know, that's hardly anybody that you could pick out that kind of embraces the game the way he does at the moment, so it would be ideal.

Q. (Or Sunday in the singles).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think that's slightly different. I think that the singles is a different event than maybe the foursomes, or is it fourballs now first, I'm not sure. I certainly was very proud to do that in Ireland where I was first off with Monty. Maybe that position is a little bit sort of more for the elder statesmen to kind of get out there and get things rolling and moving a bit more. I'd hate to use the word boring and staid type thing, but kind of a little bit like that, where the first off in the singles is a bit more of a -- I don't know, somebody who gets out there and sort of a bit more exciting, let's say.

Q. Rory has made so many headlines this year and here we are talking about him again. Is there a danger that next year could be a bit flat for him, because he's got to do even better next year, hasn't he.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think he can. I think he would expect it. I think he -- you know, the main thing with Rory, even though you guys are talking about it, he's not getting distracted by this. He knows he has to go out there and keep improving. That's the path he's on and he will do it.
I think sensibly enough, and he is, he's pretty mature in this sense; I'm sure he understands that short-term performance, if he went out next year and didn't win and then won six times the following year, that's better than winning twice next year and twice the year after and three times, if you know what I mean.
We shouldn't, even though sometimes we do, worry about a certain period of time in our career where we should be more concerned about the overall period of many years and how many tournaments you are winning and how much you are improving. I think he's on the right track. He works hard at his game, and I think he's looking at that general improvement over the years of being a major winner in the future.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, many thanks, as always, good luck this week.

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