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December 4, 2009

Padraig Harrington


DOUG MILNE: Okay. Padraig Harrington, you're kind of becoming a regular here in the interview room this week. We appreciate you coming back. Congratulations on a solid round 4-under 68. Just a few comments on the round.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I played okay. Probably would take it as a bit of a missed opportunity. I certainly felt I could have been a number of shots better, but I'm still happy enough with the score.
A bit of work to be done on the weekend. But you know, certainly today probably was an opportunity to be a little bit better and have some of my work done, but I obviously have quite a bit to do on the weekend, and two behind.
I'm happy enough with the score in general, but as I said, maybe I should have been a bit better. Really wasn't that exciting, was it?
DOUG MILNE: All right.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: In a bad way, yeah. I don't know what happened. Maybe I hit somebody or something, somebody's leg or -- yeah. Hit somebody's leg. I don't know where he was standing, off the left-hand side and came back down the hill.
And I hit a good shot, and just over burned on the putt. I've done that a few times this week, and it would have been a nice to make it.

Q. What happened on 16?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I made a little bit of an error there, and you know what, I hit a nice chip, but as I drew the club back, the marshall who was closest to me decided to tell the crowd to stand still in mid swing.
Obviously he was paying attention to the job he was doing, which is a good thing. And yeah, you know, so a little bit of lack of discipline in turning around, because my ball ran four feet by the hole. I didn't watch it running four feet by the hole. I was watching the marshall, which was obviously very stupid on my behalf because I had to work very hard then to figure out what the break was.
So it was a careless mistake on my behalf, but thankfully it didn't cost me.

Q. You won here, of course, a few years ago. First time you saw this course did you like it and did it fit your game or was it something you looked and said, whew, how do you play it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm always a little bit intimidated out there on this course. I'm a little bit afraid. There's a lot of -- I don't think there's a shot out there you can relax on, hardly a shot anyway. There's a lot of intimidating shots. You know, a lot of big shots have to be hit.
So I think I tend to do better on those sort of golf courses because it pushes me, and you know, when I have -- you know, I tend to play better with fear, and I certainly fear a lot on a number of the holes out there.
There's a lot of really tough shots, second shot into 2, the tee shot on 3, tee shot on 4. If you miss any of those, you're making doubles. And there's a lot of intimidation out there, and that kind of keeps me going, keeps me focused.

Q. Also, I just wondered, of all the chaos we had earlier in the week and all we were asking the questions about Tiger, has it quieted down, in other words, when you're on the course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I have to say, walking out of my room today, I had the newspaper at the front door. Wasn't even front page today. You know, that just says it all, doesn't it? Wasn't even front page today. Time moves on.

Q. In the locker room or are you guys just sick and tired of it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We obviously would never discuss anything like that or talk about anything like that. We're model citizens and we do not speculate.
Yeah. You know, we're watching like everybody else. I think at this stage there's plenty of information out there now, you know, I suppose there's less speculation now, so it's kind of losing its interest. It's becoming much more of a personal matter for Tiger and Elin now. So I guess the newspapers have moved on.

Q. Part of that may or may not make sense. Do you think we're in a stage now where there's more questions about what happened in the last seven days or in the past or more questions about the future in terms of what happens when he comes back, when he comes back, how everything is, sponsors, all that stuff? Which has more questions do you think?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, you know, that's possibly it, yeah. What's -- the next big thing for Tiger is when he comes back out. You know, he probably has six or seven weeks to sort things out and figure things out and then he'll have a barrage when he comes back out, probably in San Diego.
Yeah, what's it mean for golf? As I said before, it is very much a private matter there. He didn't -- you know, he wasn't driving under -- you know, speeding and D.U.I. and hurt somebody. You know, it really is a family matter, and as I said, hopefully that's the worst that golf could ever do. It would be a bad thing, wouldn't it.
So it is very much now a personal thing. Yes, he's going to have to deal with it, and that's the nature of the fact of being the No. 1 sports man in the world, highly profiled. You have to take it with the territory.
But how it reflects on golf, you know, I suppose things like this have happened before, you know, at times, and you know, we move on. You know, golf is probably -- I would still say golf is constantly -- I know this may be saying it from inside the sport, but it's constantly the No. 1 sport with the moral ethics and things like that. So I think we're in a very strong position going forward.

Q. Switching gears a little bit.

Q. We've only got a couple of weeks left in this decade, and as one who's played throughout, I was wondering about your thoughts on how much the game has changed during the last 10 years or if there's one thing that stands out to you as the biggest difference from when the decade began.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, personally for me, obviously in terms of golf you're talking about maybe the groove change, and it was -- probably kicked it all off in 2000 because I -- when we played at Pebble, I couldn't stop the ball on the greens, and I ended up essentially hacking my grooves out and my irons and handing them to the USGA guys one by one and said, tell me would each one pass.
And as it passed, I hacked a bit more and just kept going with it, and obviously it was an eye opener to me how naive I was to be playing with grooves that were a year old or two years old, as they probably were at the time. And from then Wilson has truly pushed the bow out on the grooves and made sure that they have them on the limits. And I think essentially I'd say we're -- half the reason why they have to bring in the groove rule, you know, change it because all the way through 2000, you know, 2001, 2002 we kept submitting more and more and pushing it more and more, and eventually they had to come up with more of a defined way of measuring the grooves which what they're doing now.
So probably that will be it for me, all the way through the last 10 years is changing the grooves, and now we're back to square one again, or should I say V one again. It shouldn't be square one.
So maybe the groove change, you know, if I'm going to talk about changes, I would go back to 1996 when I started, so 14 years really. I don't really necessarily look at this as being a decade. I think my career speaks 14 years, and physically I'm different. Physically I hit the ball further. You know, maybe choke differently, hit the same bad shots for the same reasons. So that hasn't changed.

Q. (Indiscernible).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I suppose that's happened on the way. Yeah, just speaking of the changes.

Q. Obviously there's only one person who won more majors than you in this decade, and he won 12, and I'm just wondering what you think of that feat. Obviously never been done before in a 10-year span.

Q. No. In fact, I don't think anybody other than Tiger's won 12, except for Jack. But do you envision -- first of all, what do you think of the feat, and also, do you ever see that happening again?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would probably expect it would be more.

Q. Really? Okay.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, yeah. I think most people expected more. How many has he won in total?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: So 12, 13 years he's won 14 majors. The average is over one year. Yeah, I think we were expecting more, yeah. I think most people would have thought when he won at Pebble Beach in 2000, most people would have thought two a year would have been reasonable, not even probably a good year.
Well, he did hold all four at one stage, so I think the rest of us are quite happy with the ones we've managed to grapple away from him.

Q. Speaking of majors, do you look at next year's majors a little -- are you a little more jazzed about next year's majors because of the venues where they're at?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I suppose so. I am more. I'm so jazzed about the majors in the first place. So a little bit more. You know, you can only get -- so, yes, it is unbelievable to go play a major 10 times or Pebble Beach. All three of them are fantastic.
To be honest, I always look at the majors, and you know, what I really care about, do I feel like I have a chance in those courses, that's what gets me more jazzed.

Q. Tell me what makes St. Andrews special for you. What makes that a great venue?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You have to be there. Anybody who's ever stood on that first tee and the 18th green knows what it's all about. It is a very, very special place, and it's all part of -- not just the golf course, but the actual town of St. Andrews, everything lends itself to being for a golfer just a very special place.
The week of the major there, it's all about the golf. There's nowhere that isn't talking it, wondering what's happening in golf, the whole town, it's certainly unique.

Q. (Indiscernible).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I just played the one Open there, yeah.

Q. When was the first time you played?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played the St. Andrews trophy in 1994, or actually briefly late. I didn't get that past the border.

Q. Bobby Jones always said you look out there and see this potato patch. Did you think that? I mean there's so many stories.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. No. You know, the first time I was there, standing on the first tee, the hair stands up on the back of your neck. And from there on, this has gotta be -- very few places do that.
For me only St. Andrews and Augusta have that feeling, where you know, you could go there, no tournament, no nothing and still stand on the first tee and feel special.
So you know, to be honest, that -- the golf course itself, what's brilliant about it is you can have one hole, depending on the pin station, play so easy and then the following day they could change the pin station and the wind changes and then it's so difficult.
That's the sign of a fantastic golf course. It's never -- it's very rarely the same two days. It could be extremely different depending on how they want to set it up. Like a course you'd never tire of playing basically.

Q. Can you give us your schedule for the beginning of the year?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It looks like LA and AT & T -- AT & T, Match Play. Don't know anything after that. I'm absolutely not sold on anything at this stage. I have no idea. Could go to FBR. Might go to FBR. So trying to stick that one into the schedule, but I'm not really sure where I'm at.

Q. First, on the Match Play, what would make your first European Tour event then?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Probably the PGA Championship. Yeah, it might -- you never know, I might go down and play Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai and not go to Accenture. But it looks like what I just said there.

Q. Does the hair stand up on the back of your neck at the PGA?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, they've revamped the golf course, and I like what they've done with the course, and now they're doing the greens. So I assume you're talking about the British PGA.
Yeah, you know what, it's a new course. I can't wait to go and see it, test it out and if I turn up and win, I would be proved right. Who knows? I've got one opportunity.

Q. Do you like Pebble?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I love Pebble. Yeah, Pebble's fantastic. It always has a great atmosphere, feeling, but I think it's more -- U. S. players find Pebble more special than guys across the water.
We've got St. Andrews and have two decent courses in Ireland as well. So yeah, Pebble is fantastic, and I'm sure every U. S. player would get that feeling there. But I do like it there.

Q. What do you like about it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Again, because of the test. There's a lot of shots you gotta hit there. I like golf courses that you look and see that par-3 5th and it could be a tough hole. 7 great par-3s and then you've got 8, 9, 10 spectacular, really spectacular tough shots have to be hit.
And I like golf courses that force you into hitting the shots, and you don't get away with much -- certainly not in the U. S. Open, you don't get away with much at Pebble Beach.

Q. Back on nine for 30 yards?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I think they were telling us that the last time we were there. I'm all for it. Every golf course has evolved over the years.
St. Andrews changed. Used to be played the other way around. So people say, oh, you're changing. But they've been changed so many times. It always evolves. It's not a big deal.
We do hit the golf ball a long way and we're not going to hit it any shorter next year even if they do change the groove rule. We're going to hit it the same distance. Okay. We're going to find a few more problems.
I don't see people coming up next year and thinking I'm going to hit it 20 percent less; I'm just going to crash it out there again and we do need to lessen the golf course.
DOUG MILNE: All right, well, Padraig, thank you very much.

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