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May 18, 2010

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, Padraig. Thanks, as always, for coming in to join us and welcome back to the Wentworth Club for the BMW PGA Championship. It's a pleasure to have you here with us. I know you played here a couple of weeks ago and you played again today. Just give us your thoughts on the course and then looking ahead to this week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I came over, it must be four weeks ago with Wilson. We had a corporate day here and got to see the golf course, and obviously I played another 18 holes today, so, yeah, I like the golf course. I like what I see.
I think Ernie has done a great job over the last number of years in making the golf course, I suppose, a stronger, but fairer challenge. I think the key here is that they know they are holding a championship every year, at least one championship, and it gives the tournament director more control of how he wants to see the golf course and how he wants to see the golf course set up.
With the way the course is now, you could have a setup that's very difficult, and there's also easy pins on some of the greens, so you can have a golf course that's set up quite reasonably easy.
So it gives a lot of control, which is what you really need now for a modern championship. If you have a difficult golf course and you get tough weather for the week, then nobody is going to enjoy it, but then it if you get lovely, sunny weather for the week, you do need to have a really tough test. I think they have got that here now.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks for that. Before we move to questions, your own health, there's been a bit on your own website about your knee, you're going in next week for operation.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I played football at Christmas, as we do these things, and I picked up -- I tore some cartilage in my knee. I had an MRI a couple of months back and I went back and had one last week, as well.
Basically, there's a bit of floating stuff around in there, and they want to take it out before it causes me any problems.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And that will be next Tuesday, the operation?

Q. How long is that going to keep you out for; do you know?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I don't -- ten days to two weeks should be ample, unless there's a complication. But I wouldn't be getting it done if I thought there was going to be a complication for the U.S. Open, which is four weeks' time afterwards. No, I don't see -- it's obviously keyhole surgery and they can get you back out in pretty quick time now. So I'm comfortable having it done.
If I wait till the end of the year, the doctor feels that it could cause some arthritic problems and if I can have it cleared up now, it reduces the chance of arthritis for, you know, for a number of years, anyway. So it's just a precautionary thing. Plus, it's my right knee, so I'm not so dependent on it playing golf.

Q. What were your overall thoughts on the changes they made around here?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As I said, I really do like the changes made. I particularly like that he's widened the fairways and put more trouble on the outside of the fairways. The bunkers are deeper, but you're given a reasonable target to aim for. I prefer that sort of golf when you have, you know, the fairways here are 30, 40 yards wide at times, and then you have some deep bunkers that you want to miss.
I like that. It's a big golf course, as I said, which is needed for weather conditions, changing weather conditions. And obviously the greens are new this year and they are a lot more predictable. You know what you're going to get every time. And obviously that will depend a lot on the tournament director and what pin positions he sets for the week, how he goes about it, how the players will feel about the golf course. There are some very tough pin positions, but there are also some easy pin positions out there. I think you'll see some holes play easier with some more birdies and you'll definitely see some holes play tougher.

Q. What sort of pain or discomfort are you in?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I had a lot of pain for the first number of weeks through Christmas and that inhibited my ability to train. It didn't affect my golf except for I struggle to squat down to read putts. That's it. I have to watch it.
Now, I would actually say, I don't put any pressure on it now, but I probably could if I had to. It's probably four months now, close to four months. It's not giving me any pain. I'm a little worried, as I said, reading putts and maybe if I have to walk on a sidehill lie or something like that, but it doesn't affect swinging the golf club at all.

Q. Have you pulled out of The Wales Open?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I definitely pulled out. No way I could -- from the doctor's advice, he doesn't want me to -- he wants me to rest it for the two weeks. He thinks two weeks is right. He thinks I'll be ready, but he just thinks -- he wants to see me, obviously, the week of The Wales Open. So unless I'm flying back and forth, he wants to keep an eye on it, just to make sure there are no issues.

Q. Have you spoken yet to Monty?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No, when I saw him today -- I don't know. I don't know, I can't really do much about it. I have to have -- this is something that's affecting my career in terms of if I don't get it done, I could have arthritis in the next year or two or couple of years, and if I do get it done, I shouldn't have a problem for 20 years.
So it is a precautionary thing. In fairness to the doctor, he would have done it before the Masters if it was up to him. But I went and had another MRI and he was comfortable. He wants to get it done as soon as possible to clear up, the floating cartilage, so it does no harm.

Q. You say it hasn't affected your golf, but if you can't squat properly --
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I can squat down on my left leg. You'll see me sit on my left -- basically on my left foot, squat all the way down there and keep the right one up. Has not affected my ability to get my head down level to read the putts.

Q. You can do a Villegas.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Does he -- which leg does he bend? I think he keeps the right one straight. I actually probably should learn to do that.
The only problem I have is when I squeeze the -- even though I'm sitting there, you can't see it, but it's pretty, you know, it's fine now at this stage. A couple of times when I'm stretching and things like that I'm wary of it, but at this stage it's more he wants to take out what's in there so it doesn't give me a problem going forward as soon as he can.

Q. The Americans think of the TPC as their fifth major; do you think the class of field we have here this week, that we would think this is ours?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There is a lot of discussion every year when we go into the TPC which is bigger in the minds of, you know, American players or European players, or a World event or the TPC. As I like to point out, if I had won the TPC, I would be saying the TPC was; if I won the World event, I would be saying the World event was; and if I won the BMW was, I would be saying that one was. So it's all to do with which one you win which one you think is the bigger. I haven't won any of the three of them; so I have to wait before I win one before I start giving an opinion on that.
But BMW is our biggest regular event in Europe and they do a fantastic job here. It's on a championship golf course, so what more could you want; if you can win here, you can win anywhere.

Q. I was just going to ask, was there any chance you would have pulled out this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. There's no way -- the injury isn't severe enough that I would have to, you know, pull out of something like this if I want to play or the Masters or the U.S. Open. It's picking a time as soon as I can do it to get it done.
You know, this is the one -- I kind of waited and did a bit of stuff and then we went back and had a second MRI and just checked it all out. So this is the first available slot going forward that you know, I would have to -- the next one would be after the U.S. Open, which would be just as valid a time, but the doctor wants to get it done as soon as possible. He thinks I could do harm arthritic-wise if I leave the cartilage floating out. It seemingly wears the bone or something like that.

Q. Can you talk about your recent form?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I was happy. I've been in contention a number of times this year. Coming into the Masters, good, and didn't play well the week before the Masters and played well at the Masters and then I came back out and played particularly well on the weekend of Wachovia.
There's probably, you know, I was leaving Wachovia as happy as could be; the things I could rate as the weakest part of my game were very strong that week. I was buzzing going to TPC, probably playing the best golf I've played -- probably playing the best golf I ever played on the Tuesday of TPC, but I hurt my neck on the Wednesday and from there on, I really didn't get very much right. I struggled a lot with my alignment. I'm still struggling with my alignment a bit here.
So, you know, you just have to be patient and let these things happen. But yeah, TPC was a little bit disappointing in that sense, because you know, coming off a good bit of good form out of Wachovia, I was trying to ease my way into it. I was trying not to get in my own way on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and I have trouble with one of my neck, C-5. I have a bulge on the disk there in C-5.
So I obviously have to -- it's something I have to mind. And it went again on the Wednesday morning. I was perfectly physically capable of swinging a club on Thursday, but certainly my alignment got all mixed up during it and I didn't trust it and a couple of shots went astray and I spent the rest of it chasing. Just wasn't my week.
It's kind of -- would have been nice if I had done it the other way around at TPC and then played well in Wachovia, I'd be going forward probably a little more confident than I am now, because it's never great when you're coming off the back of a missed the cut. But you know, going into this week, I wouldn't be buzzing with confidence, but going forward for the year I would be and I'm very happy with where my game is at; looking forward to the summer.

Q. Is this the first time you've come to Wentworth in May thinking you can win, and having advocated so long for a change for the greens, does that put you under extra pressure to perform?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It does put me under extra pressure to perform, because I always struggled before trying to find any consistency here. It does put me under a little bit of pressure that I've looked for the greens to be changed. They have been changed, and it would be nice if I could turn up and say, oh, there you go. But golf is not like that. It's not as predictable as that. I will have to manage my attitude probably this week more so than any week because of those reasons.
You know I was explaining to somebody earlier, the 7th hole, the green is nearly a replica of what was there before. And I must have played it a hundred times that 7th green. I couldn't have told you on the old green what way any putt broke at the back of that green. I had no idea. Every time I would look at it and go, does it break to the front of the green or to the back of the green. Never had a clue. Whereas now, it's all there in front of you, it does one thing and that's it.
So the greens are a lot more predictable in that sense. They may be tougher greens, they may be modern, tough greens, but you know what you're getting into. So that's a good thing.
But yeah, there is a bit more pressure, as I said. You know, it's always a lot easier if you're coming into tournaments off the back of good form, wins or things like that, and it makes things a lot -- you're a lot more patient, I would say, and obviously I'm pushing for a win at the moment. But in general, I'm very comfortable with my form.
As I said, when you start getting into trying to justify your form, you've got to worry about that. Somebody told me the other day, they were pointing out, I think I'm over a 50 per cent hit rate of Top-10s in my last 20-something events. So in terms of results, I'm doing fine. Just I need a couple of wins to get over the top.

Q. You were always stressing that there was a difference in this course between the spring and the autumn.

Q. With the changes that have now been made, does that affect how you view it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Definitely affects how I view it. The change before, the greens and the golf course itself was obviously quite soft in autumn and you played very much target golf. You hit a lot more greens in regulation. There were less people on the greens and with it being softer and slower, they were a little bit more predictable. When they got to May, they were firm and fast and difficult to hit all of the greens. You get some funny bounces when you are chipping on the greens and you're struggling to read the greens.
None of that is there anymore. This golf course will play and the greens will stay firmer in the winter, and obviously it's playing a lot -- from spring to autumn, the course will stay pretty much the same.

Q. What are your thoughts on the 18th as a finishing hole, the changes there?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know what, I'm a great believer in you've got to have a real tough hole to finish on 18. I never like to see anybody win a tournament, you know, come down the last with a shot lead and it to be a bit of a coast. I think the 18th hole here will provide the drama.
You will see -- you are forced into hitting a drive and taking on the corner on the right-hand side because you don't want to leave yourself, realistically, you've got to be hitting at least 5-wood and anything longer than that, you'd be really taking a chance going in there with 3-wood.
So you have to be aggressive off the tee, which is a good thing, and you know, if you hit a good second shot, you're not going to be too far away from the pin if you hit that green. You know, the green is very -- it's a nice green for putting on, so you will see guys make some eagles there this week.
But you'll also see some guys hit it in the water and I think you'll see a lot more drama. I think it's a hole that the guy who, you know, as you came down the hole and you were one shot ahead, it's very conceivable that your playing partner could eagle it and jump you or you can make bogey and he makes birdie and passes you.
So I think it's a better finishing hole in that sense. You do need something at the end of a round of golf. You know, when you want to crown a champion at the end of the week, you've got to make sure that he's tested on the last hole.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Padraig, as I said, welcome back and good luck this week.

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