|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
April 6, 2010
ROB JOHNSTON: Good morning, everyone. I'm Rob Johnston, and on behalf of the 2010 Masters Media Committee, it is my great pleasure to welcome Padraig Harrington today. He is a three-time major champion, including the PGA Championship, and two British Opens.
He has won 19 times worldwide, with 14 PGA European Tour victories, and five victories on the PGA TOUR. He's a five-time member of the European Ryder Cup Team, and he's making his 11th Masters appearance.
Padraig, we appreciate very much you being with us today and if you would like to make some preliminary comments on the condition of the course or the new practice facility, we would welcome it, sir.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously the golf course, I played it yesterday afternoon. It's in great condition. There's a lot of grass on the course. You can see that there has been plenty of growth and it gives a lot of potential for maneuverability towards the weekend. I think the course, the grass are looking strong, and obviously if they can get the greens firmer and faster, it looks like looks the golf course is going to be firm and fast. Looks like it will be one of those years that there will be a lot of control and in likelihood being a very firm and fast control.
The new range is superb. I used to love the old range. The new one, it is as good a range as you could have, so it supposedly has all of the shots that you would hit on the golf course and certainly for the short game areas, there's a lot of interesting chip shots and bunker shots that will keep your mind occupied out there and will replicate what we will get during the week.
Q. I have a golf swing question and in a technical way as I'm likely to understand, can you explain where stress or lack of confidence manifests itself in the golf swing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: How long have we got? (Laughter).
Well, it manifests itself in numerous ways. Just like everybody is slightly different. One guy will fidget a little more, will grip it a little tighter. Another guy, will ground the club an inch further away from the ball than normal. One guy will swing harder, grip it tighter. You know, certainly I would tend to swing faster and if I'm going to make -- that doesn't do me any harm but if I do make a bad swing in that sense, I do start a bit from the top and get my downswing a little quick and get my body ahead of my arms. That would be my -- what would go wrong but it's different for everybody. Every single person has a different -- usually it's built on what they are trying to avoid doing or something like that or what they are trying to avoid to do the last 20 years of their swinging.
So there is no one key area. Every person, you have to look at them as individual, just like you would look at the golf swing.
Q. Do you have to know them, if you're playing with them, would you have to know them to know something was wrong or could you just see a total stranger swinging a golf club and know?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: If you were looking at a total stranger, you would know there was something odd if you were watching a total stranger you had not seen before, but that could be his mannerism, so you could not pick it up that it was due to pressure or something like that. But if you were familiar with a person's game, just as a commentator on TV will comment on it, usually it's taking a little longer over the ball and things like that. It's more to do in routines and things like that that shows up.
Yeah, it can. Guys, you can see them swinging quicker and things like that but maybe not as easy to see if they changed their routine.
Q. That was a pretty good C.V., Rob introduced this morning, how good would it be if this time next year you added Masters title to that C.V.?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It would be exceptional. A lot has been made at the moment, I haven't been reading the media but people have been saying, who is going to get the fourth major, break out of that pack of three. I won two of the four different majors, obviously the Masters and the U.S. Open I haven't got. If I won a fourth, I would dearly like it to be the Masters or the U.S. Open, as in one of the ones I haven't got. But the Masters is definitely one of the most special ones to win. I think because we come back here, they do everything so well, and just the fact that you come back every year, it's the first major of the year. It's certainly the one you wait the longest for.
There's a lot of things that build up to Augusta, so, yeah, it would be very special to win here.
Q. Seven of the last ten majors have been won by international players, and you've got three of them. You had the all-England final in the Match Play, Europeans have won the last few PLAYERS Championships, and it appears with the combination of Tiger's injury and his current absence from the game up until this point that international players especially Europeans have been stepping into that void and taking advantage of that. Is it just that's where the balance of power is right now in golf?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think European golf is strong. It comes in waves. Obviously in the 80s, European golf, Seve led the charge, became very strong through the 80s. I think we are at a period through the 90s, obviously OlazĂˇbal probably been holding his own, but after that sort of late 90s, nothing was happening.
Now the guys you see coming through now would have been kids watching the Europeans win in the 80s. So it's only that sort of benefit that Seve would have brought to the game and the fellow Europeans is coming through now with a very strong, and pretty young, European contingent. Golf looks very strong in Europe at the moment.
And yeah, you know, any one of those players I think is capable of winning this week. If they play their game, they can do it. It's just a case of numbers.
I think another little aside to that is the fact that many times, the PGA TOUR has become much more of an international tour, so when you see international players win, we tend to get Europeans and other internationals all grouped into the one category for the sake of that. So at times, European performances can be classed as just international performances and it's a bigger pool of players to look at. I think close to 50 percent, somebody be will know the number, but probably 50 percent of the U.S. Tour are international players at this stage. There are more opportunities for European players and worldwide players to play and build their game, and I think, yeah, we are seeing the benefits of that.
I think, also, with the likes of the TPC, ten years ago, there was not that many international players and certainly not that many European players playing in it now. You have a host of them with the Top-50 in the world qualifying, a whole host of Europeans getting in, and the more that play obviously increases the chance of winning.
So we are getting better and we are getting more opportunities.
Q. Do you think Tiger's aura has changed given the fact that he's now been proven to be mortal, and if not just mortal, perhaps one of the more incredibly flawed people that we have all ever known? When his name is on the board on Sunday if it's up there, is the reaction among the peers going to be the same?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would think that most golfers will look at this as two separate events. I think most players would see what went on in Tiger's life as his personal side, personal life, which has no real bearing on his golfing life.
Now, we don't know what sort of bearing it's going to have obviously in the short term. He could be incredibly stressed and have quite an effect, but, long term, you've actually got to think that there was obviously a lot of distraction outside of the golf course and you've got to think that with that going to settle down and go away, you have to think that -- and I heard somebody say he's working on having a better attitude out there on the golf course; you've got to actually think he's going to be a better player on the golf course going forward.
But maybe not that's not short term, I'm talking longer term. I have no idea what's going on in his head this week, if his mind is on the golf or not. You can never quite tell. But definitely long term, I think he'll be a stronger player because of it. Adversity makes you stronger.
Q. You've played with a number of players who might be emotional and some who might be more like a Goosen, very quiet, reserved; if they tried to change, and the quiet ones try to become more emotional and the more emotional ones more quiet, that it would affect the golf?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, that would certainly be the case, but I think -- I'm only looking and you can never tell what's going on in somebody's head, but in Tiger's case, he had changed in the last couple of years and was definitely tougher on himself on the golf course, was getting angrier on the golf course. That wasn't who he was, you know, maybe six, seven years ago. So I think he's taking -- he's going back to where he was, rather than the other way around.
I think he did change and now he's trying to get back to who he was, so I don't think he's changing personality. He's going back to who he is, really, I think. I think, you know, if you had all that going on in your life outside of the golf course, you're going to bring an all of lot of baggage on to the course. And obviously with that not in the short term, but not long term being cleared up, you have to think that he'll be much more at peace on the golf course and not as frustrated and not getting angry out there.
Q. All that being said, would you be surprised if he were contending on Sunday?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I think he's favored to win the tournament, and those guys that set the odds know a lot more than I do. No, I would not be surprised at all.
You know, if in a year's time, I would be greatly surprised if he wasn't contending. At the moment, I wouldn't be surprised if he was contending but I just don't know. You know, no matter what, how he looks or what he comes up and says, you don't know fully how this is affecting him inside and how it's affecting his golf. People react differently.
I would not be surprised at all if he was contending and I would not be surprised if he played better golf than ever, but, there's obviously a doubt to that and we will only be able to find that out on Sunday evening.
Q. If you had taken five months off --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I thought you were going to say if I theoretically -- (laughter).
Q. If you took five months away from not playing the game, how do you think you would be when you did come back?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would be a hopeless wreck, but that's my nature. (Laughter).
You have to remember that Tiger, of all of the competitive players, he has a good ability to bring his game from the practice round to the golf course and I have a very poor ability to do that. That's why it couldn't work for me and it could work for him and it's not ideal and I'm sure he doesn't think it's ideal either. He would have liked to have played a little bit, but he's still capable. If he's managed his practice properly, it's still possible to do that.
Q. 25 years ago or thereabouts, Seve used to come in here saying, par every hole and birdie three of the par 5s, and you'll certainly win the Masters; as a strategy, does that still work with the course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, it sounds very convincing, anyway, and easy to do the way it's said. It's impossible to par every hole. You know, in the end of the day, there are going to be mistakes made and you're going to have to deal with that.
In theory, what he's saying there is it is possible to play conservative on any hole that you don't particularly like or any tough pin position. You don't have to be aggressive on any of the par 4s. You don't have to take it on at particular times and you can wait your chances.
And even being patient on the par 5s will probably -- you don't have to birdie every one of them. I think all Seve was saying there, you just need to be patient on this golf course; that Augusta gives you opportunities, but you don't want to try and force those opportunities at the wrong times. It may come a case in the back nine on Sunday that you're going to have to go after the pin on 12, but at other times, it's always middle of the green.
So I think the conditions of the setup of the golf course dictates where you should be aggressive and not, and then how you're doing in the tournament dictates whether you should be aggressive or not. But if you think you can go all-out at every pin position or play safe -- if you're hitting it 30 feet right of the hole, that's going to come off the green, so you've got to hit it within that 15-foot circle a lot of times in order to guarantee that par. If you can hit it inside 15 feet all the time, you'll make a few more birdies.
Seve was just saying, try and be patient and wait for your opportunities.
Q. I'm curious if you watched Tiger's press conference, if you heard any chatter about it among players; at the start of it, he took time to apologize to fellow professionals for being bombarded with questions, if that ever happened to you, what does it mean to you that he's back? Sorry, that's a lot of questions?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't watch the press conference, a small matter of a golf tournament going on this week and a bit of work to be done.
Yeah, a couple of people commented on it. Most reacted by saying, you know, I think that the overriding comment is how much better Tiger's press conference when he was being asked questions rather than having a prepared sort of statement, how much more natural and how comfortable he was in that situation.
As regards to content, the only one I got was, did I give him a hug; I think he said he got lots of hugs. (Laughter).
Q. Of the players in the field in their 20s, whose games do you feel is suited the best to win here?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: How many players are in the field in their 20s? Besides Rory --
Q. Camilo, Kim, Kaymer, Schwartzel. --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You've named five great players, they are very, very talented. To be honest, the great thing now is we don't -- this game doesn't give you anything for age. It doesn't distinguish for age. If you're 45 years of age and you can hit the golf ball, you can win, and if you're 25 years of age -- there's no quarter given to someone in their 20s. He has to go out and beat everybody else. We don't really categorize people like that. I know it's something you guys want to build for the future, but certainly among the players, age is no barrier here. You just play your golf and you look at another guy like those five names you just mentioned, and you say, well, they are five good players. You don't think about their age. They are here on merit and well capable of playing this game.
Yes, they will build with experience over the years but they are good enough to win now.
Q. When you talk about having to wait the longest for this major, when you wait seven months for this week, make sure you're not overly anxious for Thursday, and how is it different from the other three ?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The other three, you're more into your season and more into your game. You're much more comfortable where you're at. This one, there's still an element of, it's early season and you're not 100 percent sure where your game is. There's always -- and you know, with this golf course, as well, because the setup of the course, if you're always wondering, there's always setup changes to your bag here this week. You always need a little bit more bounce, a little bit less bounce with the wedges and tight fairways, should I be carrying a hybrid or 5-wood; there's always a few little things that throw in a little doubt.
The other majors, you're much more into the run of the season and nothing much is changing. You definitely get here and there's a lot to digest this week. I played nine holes with Mark O'Meara yesterday and I was just saying, wow, it must be difficult if you're here for the first couple of times and you're trying to get everything in.
I know it's tough for me, and obviously I've played it so many times, I know the course well, but it's still tough to not overdo things, not to want to hit every chip shot around every area of the green and every putt. Just there's a lot more to deal with this golf course probably than virtually -- certainly any course I can think of, really. There's an all of lot of golf shots that you want to practice, but the best way of practicing is just keep playing the tournament over the years and just get familiar with them.
You know, it's very hard, certainly my first couple of years, not that you're allowed to run around at Augusta, but I certainly ran around a lot, at least in my head. (Laughter) And this might be going back to your young guys; this is the hardest thing, they haven't played the golf course that many times. It's not overdoing things and not being patient and accepting that you can't cover all of the options at this event. There's just too many.
Q. Following up on that 20-something question, I know you don't categories your peers that way but four guys in the last 25 years have won this, does that surprise you and does this course seize the nerves of the younger players more?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, is four a high number or a low number? When you said four out of 25, is that a lot of guys or too little? How many guys won in their 40s? Like four seems reasonable. As a percentage of players in their 30s playing in the event, four is probably the average. Like four out of how many guys have played in their 20s over 25 years, is probably equal to the amount of guys in their 30s out of the amount of guys that are in their 30s that have won over the years. (Laughter).
It's probably about the right amount of guys have won. Yes, experience is an issue. You have a guy here like Rory, he has to be in his 20s and played this nine times, you know, rather than some guy who probably is playing in his 40s for the first time. It's much more to do with the player's talent and quality of the player. Yeah, experience does help and it helps to play the course a few years. Fuzzy Zoeller won it -- was it Fuzzy who won the first time?
No, it's not an easy course or a straightforward course and the more experienced the competitor, the better and that is an issue for the 20 somethings, but the 20 somethings you are talking about are class players. They have all played before and for some of them, they are starting to rack up two or three or four times, and that's plenty.
Yeah, we just don't know that. It doesn't make any -- I'm not going to -- he's just another competitor. All of them are competitors, whether they are in their 40s or 50s or 20s. Do we have anybody under 20? Ryo?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Is Ryo Ishikawa over 20?
Q. With much speculation about who is being paired with Tiger, would you care if you were paired with Tiger?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I think this is the best event in the world to be paired with anybody. It's like your own little world when you're out there in between the ropes out there. It's definitely the easiest event of all of the events to be paired with Tiger.
It's never easy being paired with Tiger in terms of when your whole tournament -- as I said, I'm sure the stats will show this out, but guys who are paired with Tiger on Thursday and Friday don't have as good -- they may beat him on Thursday and Friday but they don't have as good of a weekend because that's a lot of energy used up on Thursday and Friday. There's more focus and more stress and there will be questions on Thursday, how do you feel about playing with Tiger and questions on Friday about how did you feel about playing with Tiger and they are all questions that are getting off the path and adding a bit more stress to the week. The ideal week is you just coast along on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and come to the back nine on Sunday afternoon, you are fresh and strong and ready to go because that's where the tournament gets going.
It always makes it harder to get a big draw, but then again, you have to accept that if you're going to get up there and want to be contending and getting your name out there, you're going to have to get those draws and deal with it. I'm sure some guy playing with me in the Irish PGA feels the same way. (Laughter).
Q. Just wondering how important form so far this season is, thinking of Rory, Mickelson, who have not done much yet; does that count much against them here?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think players are different. Some players can come in and win cold. I'm not one of those players, that's for sure. I need to be showing form. I need to be in contention and making those mistakes and learning from them, things like that. I'm not great coming out.
So you would have to look at each individual and have a good idea of their mind-set. Some guys, as I said, have no problem missing a cut or a few cuts and then going out and winning. So Phil, yeah, I think Phil and Rory are both capable of turning it around. But then you'd have to look at their past histories and find out whether they have or haven't done that in the past. Obviously Rory doesn't have that long a history to look at.
Yeah, they are well capable of doing it but I would like to see a build up of form in any player, not a peak, but certainly a build up of form so that they can peak this week.
Q. You came here last year with a lot of attention and focus on you, and I just wondered, you're coming in year under the radar, is that a good thing or a bad thing and whether you're enjoying it and second part, what do you think of your record since winning the PGA, is it a disappointment to you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, the way I'm coming in, it feels the same to me as it did last year. I don't feel any different. Maybe you guys feel different about me in terms of my chances of winning. But the way I'm approaching it, I feel the same. I feel under every bit as much stress last year as I do this year, so it's pretty similar.
Yeah, my form since winning the PGA, that's me. That's just my nature. Just the way I play golf. You know, I'm always trying to improve and get better as the player I believe I am and yes at times I do sacrifice results for other things. Results are not always everything.
As I said, in the end of the day, my whole career is now, after winning three majors, is going to be judge on majors. Yeah, I do make some sacrifices for those majors and try and get my game in shape for them. Realistically, I've played four majors since I won in Oakland Hills, and really, only really got myself in contention, good contention, anyway, at the PGA Championship. So one out of four is a little bit below average, but two out of four, we'll be doing pretty good.
I know with the percentages, if I'm in contention twice a year, I'll knock off a few more majors, and I will make all of the sacrifice in the world for those opportunities. So no, I have no problem in the world with my form.
ROB JOHNSTON: Thank you so much for being with us and we thank Padraig Harrington for taking time from his preparation to be with us.
End of FastScripts