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March 31, 2010

Padraig Harrington


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Padraig Harrinton into the interview room here at the Shell Houston Open. Padraig, your fifth straight start here. You've never missed a cut. If we can get your comments --
JOHN BUSH: Get your comments on being back at the Shell Houston Open.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. You know, I really did like coming here. Obviously, the conditions, the golf course is in superb conditions, the weather is superb. It's the kind of place you like to come and play golf all the time.
I got to say that, you know, as a buildup for next week, yes, it's a good buildup. There's a lot of testing shots out there, lot of similarities. It's not Augusta, you know, at the end of the day. There are similarities. You got reasonably-sized fairways with trouble down one side and, you know, like tee shots on 18. There's a lot of tee shots out there you got to focus on and concentrate.
The pace of the greens are firmer this year than they've ever been. Chipping onto these greens is going to be very similar to chipping on the greens next week. So, I think it is a good preparation.
Now, a lot of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is about preparing for the Masters, but once this tournament starts tomorrow, it's all about the Shell Houston Open and trying to win this event. And obviously once you feel you're out of contention, then it reverts back to all about -- being all about The Masters.
JOHN BUSH: Last two starts, you finished T3 at the CA Championship, T8 at Transitions Championship. Talk a little bit about the state of your game.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. You know, I was -- I'm get -- doing some good things. You know, those couple of weeks, the mental game was quite good, the things like that. Being off for a week, a few things coming into this week. Hopefully, I put that all to bed during this tournament and be ready to go next week and have -- you know, be strong mentally, which is obviously very important at Augusta, and be comfortable with my golf swing as well.
JOHN BUSH: Questions?

Q. How was PTI?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Pardon the Interruption. I had to think about that for a second. Yes. It's always fun doing those things. They ask some interesting questions and some challenging questions at times. So it keeps you on your toes.

Q. Padraig, why do foreign players do so well here at Redstone, do you think?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You've got quite a lot of them coming out and playing here (laughter). Yeah. There's nothing -- it does get windy, but there's nothing per se about the golf course that -- there's nothing out there that reminds me of Ireland. I was going to say there was 18 greens and 18 tees, but there's actually 200 tee boxes on this golf course. Have you looked at it? There's at least, must be at least -- I'd say there could be -- I might be exaggerating at that. Probably six or seven a hole. Lot of tee boxes.
So it's not like Ireland. I have no idea why the foreigners would do well except for the fact there is a large amount of them playing and coming up to the Masters, they're obviously here to -- maybe a bit more relaxed. Coming into an event like this, getting ready for next week, their focus might be just a little bit down this week and allows them to get the best out of our game.

Q. Your swing, you made some swing changes that were pretty well-documented. You certainly were confident with them at the end of the year. Did you make any additional or other changes?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm continuing to do the same things and trying to get through the swing changes, get to it bed. I haven't as of yet, but I'm more comfortable with what I'm doing. And I know I don't need them to play good golf. I would like them to play better golf all the time. But I'm happy that they're -- it's a work in progress without being the priority like it was maybe the first six months of last year.

Q. As a guy who travels all over the world a lot and playing both tours, how have you changed your routine, if at all, over the years and especially with the FedExCup?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You'll see from my schedule, I've played more and more events in the U.S. over the last couple of years. Essentially, you got your three Majors in the States, and you build up for those, and then you've got the Open as well. Those would be the four priorities during the year. You build your game for them.
Ryder Cup will follow that, and then you have the FedExCup and the race to Dubai. You've got seven periods in the year that you're trying to peak for. FedExCup is definitely at the end. If the FedExCup wasn't there -- that's probably an extra four events; maybe I would play two of those four.
It definitely gets you playing a little bit more at that time of the year. The race to Dubai, you know, keeps you competitive at the end of the year, and I suppose the only change in my sort of routine is I probably play a couple more early on in the year here, whereas years ago, I might have gone to Asia and played those events.

Q. So last year you played the most here that you ever had, is that why?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: With the -- as I said, my priority are the Majors, and then with the FedExCup, it does throw in an extra few events. Yes, I've always enjoyed playing here. I would like the play every week, I would like to play twice a week if possible. I like playing the game of golf. So if it was up to me, but I obviously know that I can't.
There's always -- you got to take time off and got to rest. There's always lots of good tournaments played every week. I wish I could give to them all, but obviously I can't do that.
So I try and keep -- I'd love to tell you I was going to play 25 events a year, but it always ends you up getting 30 somehow. That's the nature of the game. I do like playing it.

Q. Certain aspects of this course started to gain a little bit of a reputation among players you've talked to?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I absolutely try not to discuss a golf course with -- so much with other players, no. I don't want to have -- I have enough baggage of my own to know anybody else's baggage. You know, I know which holes that are tough for me and that's enough.
I know like -- there's four, five holes out there that they really require you to play them well, or you can be standing on the tee hitting 3 off the tee, trying not to make double bogey. And there's a good few like that. So it's a good, strong test.
The greens are so good, people tend to hole lots of putts on it. It actually gives up a bit in that sense. There's some reachable par-5s that guys can make birdies on. Besides that, this course would be very difficult if it didn't give you so many opportunities.

Q. Padraig, what's playing in America done for you, for your game, for the player you are today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think we have enough time. That's very in-depth. I think the reason I'm doing it, I don't know -- the reason you've got to be very comfortable when you tee it up in the Majors over here. I don't mean comfortable that you believe you belong, but actually when -- early on when I come across here, you get to the range and be like -- be similar to having won an event the week before. Everybody will stop and talk to you and will just -- you'd end up feeling a little bit -- there's a lot to do, let's say, whereas if you're playing over here and here every week, you know, you're familiar with everybody and, you know, if you're busy and you say hello, that's enough. If you haven't seen somebody for six months and you're busy and you say hello, that might not be enough.
You want to be not just comfortable that you feel like you belong but very comfortable that everything is covered. You know the places to go, you know everybody that's there, and there's not new.
The last thing you ever wanted to turn up at a Mayor and feel like it's new. You want it to feel like this feels good and comfortable. And I think by playing more over here, I'm playing more in an environment that's going to be like the Majors with some of those players at times but more with the people who are involved, you know, whether it be caddies or players or staff or whatever.
You know, there's a lot of familiarity. When I turn up at a Major, it just feels like another week. It's not quite the same, but the last thing you want is it to feel as I would early on in my career as if this is something different.
So I think that's the key for playing here in the buildup. Again, be the same coming into The Open and that. You want to be familiar again with things and be comfortable in that environment that when you get there, you know, you don't have much to do.

Q. Have you changed just -- your vocabulary, the way you speak or the words you use or the food you eat or whatever, to fit in either more?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. No. I do have more of an interest in American sports, certainly follow -- I couldn't say the football. I say the NFL. (Laughter). I follow the NFL and things like that. But diet? No. I wouldn't have changed my diet at all.
You do -- if you wanted to have a conversation in the locker room, if you don't know much about hunting or college basketball, especially as I don't want to talk about golf, yeah, you probably do need to catch up.
The one thing you miss, not having a college affiliation over here is tough. All the lads have, you know they support their colleges. It's great to see. It's something when you're on the outside looking in.
I know it's similar to supporting a soccer club at home, but it's nice to see and that's one thing that will always be different. Then you have the Aussies and New Zealanders to talk about the rugby. There's probably plenty of internationals now that it's not quite that way as it would have been maybe ten, 15 years ago.

Q. Your relative, Joey, wouldn't be any reason to follow the NFL, huh?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The reason I actually follow it is I like it. That would have started giving me a team to support. So, yeah, I think that would have been it. There has to be some sort of connection before you can get into something and follow it, and that definitely was a big thing.

Q. Being a Major winner, are you a bigger fan of playing the week before as opposed to taking that off and going to the venue and playing that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I know if I took the week off, I would find something to work on that wouldn't do me any good the following week. So I need to be competitive. And I find out a lot more about how I'm playing and my game and the golf course where I'm tested, and there's no doubt I would be -- I would play two weeks into a Major only that I don't want to tire myself out. But definitely the more competition I have on the golf course with a the carrot in my hand, the better I play.
I have to spend some time working on my technique, yes, but it's not a good thing for me to do that too close to an event.
JOHN BUSH: Padraig, thanks for coming by. Play well this week.

End of FastScripts

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