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July 27, 2010
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Pﾃ｡draig, many thanks, as always, for coming in to see us. The 3 Irish Open, a big week for you, give us your thoughts on the National Open.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it's very nice to be here. It's nice to be here in what seems like it's going to be nice weather for the week. Obviously, as I've been saying to anybody, we couldn't find a nicer spot in the world in terms of scenery. It's right up there with the very best. So there's really not much left to chance this week. It's all set up for a great event.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: And hopefully get the weather in for the Irish Open.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It's looking like that. It's lovely out there at the moment. It's very, very pleasant. It's great golfing conditions. Yeah, it's looking like it could be a really good, exciting week.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: And how is your own game, before we go into questions?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Same as it has been. Could do with a good result, but the rest of it is very good.
Q. Is the scoring going to be very low this week?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It's certainly a possibility. I think, you know, it depends on how the pin positions are set. Obviously a huge amount the difficulty is around the greens. If they put in really difficult pin positions, the scoring will not be so good. Obviously the players won't be happy with that. If they put in easy pin conditions, the scoring will be very good.
So there will be lots to do with trying to balance up producing a golf course that's fair and the players enjoy playing, or you could have a tricky course that, you know, will limit some of the scoring, but will certainly mean players wouldn't enjoy it as much.
I assume they are going to go for a pretty fair setup. The greens are tough out there, so the greens will protect the course somewhat and the pin positions, but there is a fine line between having a good, tough pin and obviously one that players find very tricky.
So it's a tough balancing act for the tournament director this week to get the right balance there and to make sure that it's -- I know the members are keen that they don't have their golf course torn apart; but usually the better condition the golf course, the lower the scoring.
So it's normally a compliment to see good scoring.
Q. Do you think 60 or even better is possible?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: No. It's not that sort of course at all. It's not like there's a lot of really -- eagle chances out there. Yes, you can have some wedge shots, but with the pin positions set, those wedge shots become distinctly different. No, I do not think that at all. I do think that -- like at the moment, I do think there will be good scoring, but I don't think that -- I think guys will play consistently well rather than a course like you would see a low score on sometimes can be erratic.
There's no drivable par 4s or anything like that. It's not that sort of golf course. It's not like -- there's very few risk rewards out there. Everybody would play the course more or less the same, so you won't have a player -- the strategy doesn't change so much. So you will see some good scoring. As I said, those greens are difficult. There's a lot of undulations and a lot of pin positions, and a lot of -- and obviously, let's face it, they have got the greens firm, which obviously has not been the goal so far. The course would actually be quite difficult.
Q. Is your patience being tested waiting for that good result?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: A little bit, yes (smiling). There's no doubt. Yeah, a little bit.
You know, I was asked a question the other day in Loch Erne, and I didn't quite get the meaning of it, but the more I thought about it afterwards, I finally got the drift; I was asked if I got selected for The Ryder Cup, would I actually pull out. I assumed when I asked somebody else, the inference was would you pull out because you're not playing well.
I don't normally use as a guideline how many Top-10s, because I actually think it's not a great thing to focus on. But I've had more Top-10s in the last year than I've ever had in my career. So going on a guideline that most people use, I've actually had the best year of my career. So it's been very interesting; glaringly obvious, I haven't won and that's certainly below my own expectations and everybody else's expectations.
But my form has actually been solid enough. As I said, I've been in contention quite a bit, and it is frustrating that I haven't got across the line, because you know, winning once -- and certainly I've used it in the past; you win once and you can have a lull for three months, and nobody notices sort of thing. But the fact that I haven't won in seven majors or something like that, it's kind of standing out, which is a good thing I suppose.
But as I said, I am losing a bit of patience with myself and trying not to get frustrated about it. But you know, the game is solid and I just have to -- I just have to wait and let it happen.
Q. Are you happy with your schedule in that by my estimation, you've only played two competitive rounds in the last four weeks. You didn't play France. You didn't play Scotland. You played two rounds in The Open and didn't play Scandinavia.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't mean to play two rounds at The Open. I played two competitive rounds obviously at the JP McManus Pro-Am.
There's nothing you can do. That time frame is very tight. Traditionally, you would see my schedule, I try and keep a very disciplined, professional approach to tournament play up and through the PGA Championship. So I don't try and overdo it. I try and prepare. Are.
Yeah, I do go overboard at the end of the year and play a lot. You know, I'm going to play 30 events this year. I would love if I was only playing 20 but I'm going to play 30. So it's hard to squeeze anymore in there.
Sorry, you said from The Open -- I played after The Open. Remember, I did reasonably well at the travelers the week after the U.S. Open.
Q. France, Scotland, The Open, Scandinavia, that's four weeks.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I played one tournament obviously the JP, the run-up to Open and I took the week off after The Open. If I didn't play the week -- if I played the week after The Open, I wouldn't get a break for, you know, I think I've got two weeks off between now and December. So the last thing I need to do is add more tournaments in. I'm trying to find a way to take them out.
So I am happy. I do feel competitive, yes, very competitive.
Q. It would be free if you pull out of The Ryder Cup. (Laughter).
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yes.
Q. How did you answer that, by the way?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't get it at all at the time. Somebody put it to me because I'm obviously not clued in as much in terms of other things, and just said that that's where the gist of it was going.
As I said, it's an area or thing you don't want to be trying to -- the last thing, I'm obviously biting a bit if I'm coming up with that stat. I'm obviously trying to point out, hey, it's not so bad sort of thing, which I should be ignoring it all together rather than actually answering it sort of thing.
But, you know, as I say, that's the nature of the thing and stuff, I do try and be very disciplined in doing my own thing, and not being influenced on outside factors, but clearly, that one got to me.
Q. One of the reasons it's being brought up is because, I think, anyway, because your Ryder Cup position is now in a very perilous situation?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Absolutely very perilous.
Q. How much would it hurt you not to play in The Ryder Cup?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, it would be -- you know, people have asked me because obviously I've played in a number; I would be gutted if I don't play, absolutely. I would be devastated if I didn't play.
But it's still not -- you know, you've got to approach all of these things in a very disciplined, orderly, professional fashion. Tiring myself out by playing more tournaments than I should do, by overdoing it, is not going to help me play well when it comes around to September and October.
So, you know, there's no point in doing that sacrifice. I've got to be assured that when I tee it up, it's the old story, the better a player you are, the more you try and turn up and play well. Whereas, you know, guys that are struggling for their card turn up every week hoping to play well. As you move up in your general ability, you actually take more time off and you say, well, if I play less, when I play, I'll actually play better, rather than being hit and miss and just hoping that it goes right.
So I've taken a very professional attitude that, you know, I know I needed the break. I played three weeks into -- you know, I can only imagine that you obviously just don't get to see much of me, because I played the week before the U.S. Open, the U.S. Open, the week after, and probably had my only second two-week break of the year at that stage and then played The Open. Obviously I can't play four in a row, would have been five in a row, so I had to take last week off.
Like that would be -- by playing last week, I would end up, I might play poorly this week, next week and the following week. It would be a big sacrifice and that would be -- in my mind, that would actually be a failing, that would be; by going out there and overdoing things and not costing me the tail end of the year and costing me preparing properly for the PGA, I would be disappointed in myself if I stooped to that level that I didn't prepare properly for every event and wasn't professional about my preparation and wasn't disciplined about taking my time off.
I would love to play every week, there's always good tournaments around the world, but you just can't always play, you have to take some time off.
Q. I know you like to do your own thing, but there is genuine concern among your many admirers here and elsewhere, as to your current forth; and these are people, as I say, who admire you greatly who watch your results and wonder what's happening. What do you say to these people?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It is a startling situation, because I nearly won two weeks ago. Two tournaments ago, I nearly won. Like, it's amazing how just because I haven't won, there's so much focus on it. Like I was right there in the hunt, finished two shots back at Travelers two tournaments ago. I was there, nearly every -- as I said, probably 14 of my last 30 events.
Q. Can you understand?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, I can understand the expectations. I'm playing below my own expectations and people have great expectations for me. But as a professional sportsman, you have to be disciplined and do the right thing over and over and over, knowing that you will have periods that you can't get it right, it just doesn't turn -- you just don't get that win, and, yet, you have periods where you'll go through a stage where you don't feel like you're playing your very best golf and you'll come down the stretch and some guy will throw a tournament at you; and you can win a number of tournaments in a spell and it almost comes easy to you.
But as a player, you have to do the same thing time and time again. But it is fascinating that going on that stat, you know, as I said, going into The Open Championship, I was third in the stroke average in the States. Those are the things that a player has to look at and knowing that the wins will come along.
But, yeah, there's no doubt that there's a huge -- I get the feeling, as I said continuously from around people, I try and avoid it, but there's a huge, what's wrong with your game. And yet, you know, my game is actually pretty darned good. I'm obviously not getting across the line which would be nice if I did, but you know, such is life.
Another way of looking at it, as well, you only have to look at -- you can look at other people going on. As I said, one win -- this is a good question: Would you rather have one win in the last year and two or three Top-10s, or would you rather have, as I said, 14 in the last year and no wins?
Q. I think the public generally would prefer to see you winning.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Absolutely. But which is the better player?
Q. Well, I don't think the public are concerned --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Who is playing better, though, that's the question. As a professional golfer, and again, obviously having this conversation means that I am obviously affected by it, because a good discipline would be to totally ignore it and do my own thing.
But a professional golfer can only play his own game. So if I go out there this week and I shoot 25-under par, and I lose by a shot, am I going to be, you know -- am I going to be disappointed with my performance? You know, in the end of the day, I can only do my game. I've done that reasonably well in a lot of events this year, consistency-wise, stroke average, Top-10s, those sort of things, and most of those Top 10's, I was in contention. I had a chance of winning.
Obviously, you know, in the end of the day, a win would make life a lot easier, but as I said, it is one of those things, you can play well week-in and week-out without a win, and it seems worse than the guy who hasn't played very well and then wins one event. It's a strange way of doing it, but I can tell you, certainly, as much as I need a win, I'm quite happy that the form is there, as well, on top of it. I've been consistently, you know, certainly every second week as it is last year, I've played where I got myself in contention.
Q. In the past you've said that outside of the four majors, this was the tournament that you ranked as the one that you really want to win. Do you still feel that?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Whereas I still put it up there as one of the most important tournaments in my schedule for the year, the fact that I have won it, it ticks a box. There's no question, having won it once, it ticks a box, and you know, while I still think it's right at the top of those tournaments, obviously by winning it once, gives me that little bit of leeway that for the last ten years before I won it, it was pretty similar; you would come and be asked, well, why hasn't an Irishman won it and it puts a bit more expectations on it.
Now that I've won it, it's a nice event to come to, and I really would love to play well. But I think I would prefer to win it this week for the sake of winning a tournament than for winning the Irish Open. If it was any tournament, I think I would be happy to win it this week.
Q. You were striking the ball very well and seemed very pleased, and yet you get to that first hole and that happens; what happened to you there at The Open? Have you had a chance -- you spend five hours a day working on the range, have you had a chance to work out for yourself as an analytical individual what actually happened at the British Open?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: At the first hole or the whole thing? In the end of the day, I did all of the superfluous things very well. I hit the ball great. I hit my driver, my irons well. I had practised significantly with my wedges before the tournament. But I hit lob-wedge into the water on the first hole, and I was really confident about hitting the shot and maybe I should have backed off that one a little and gone with the sand wedge, and, who knows. Hey, I hit a bad shot and hit it in the water and hit in a divot on the third and maybe another bogey with a lob-wedge.
Basically, I would love to tell you that I was a big enough and good enough player that that momentum didn't hurt me. But it did hurt me; I was always chasing. I got back somewhat late in the round, but when you have guys shooting 62 on that day, I really hadn't.
My short game was poor that week. I had prepared for it and I had practised for it. But you are right, I did play my very best golf tee-to-green-wise, and I have done that a number of times this year, so I'm very comfortable in that area of the game.
But, yeah, that week, it wasn't on.
Q. Is this Padraig Harrington under pressure, do you think?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: No, not at all. That was just part of Harrington making a decision on the first hole that, if I execute it right, yeah, it would be great. I can tell you exactly what went through my head if you needed to know that. You know, I went to hit a hard lob-wedge and the turf was maybe a little softer than maybe you should be hitting a hard lob-wedge off, and maybe that was an error of judgment; a costly error of judgment. Sometimes it wouldn't cost you and you can get away with it. There are times you can make a mistake like that and nobody would notice. But unfortunately there's the Swilcan Burn on the first, and I wasn't playing safe. I was certainly going after it. And maybe there, that could be your answer. Maybe I was going after it too much on the first hole of a 72-hole event.
But, you know, we'll never really know. That's just the way it is. These things will happen, and, you know what, I'll do it again in the future, that's for sure.
Q. What do you need to do to qualify for The Ryder Cup? Do you need to win here? Do you need to win next week?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I assume winning the PGA Championship or Akron will qualify me for the team.
Q. Do you need to do it?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Winning here, I haven't -- I wouldn't be assured of the points, but winning here would obviously push me close; a good performance in the next two events will qualify me and that's what I'm focussed on doing is just playing good golf, rather than trying to count the points. Because ultimately, I could go out here and win this week, and you know, everybody else, other guys may have a good run and not qualify automatically.
It's outside of my control -- well, it's not, if I go and win all three, I'll qualify automatically. In the end of the day, I have to go and play my best golf and see what comes of it.
Q. Is your schedule set in stone for the next couple of months?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I'm hoping my golf takes care of that, yeah, definitely. So I would hope that I'll certainly show, as I said, the same form that I've shown over the last year over the next three weeks and that would be good.
Q. But you would not come back for Gleneagles?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I hope that my form shows it over the next three tournaments that -- my schedule is set to play in Barclays at the moment, so I'm really hoping that I play well enough in the next three weeks that I don't have to think about not playing in Barclays.
Q. But you would think about it?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I obviously am thinking about it, if I said that I have to concentrate on the next three tournaments to make sure that I don't have to think about it. (Laughter).
So it's a question of focusing on what's in hand. But it is -- yeah, as I said, it's been a tough thing to qualify for, there's no doubt about that. There's plenty of good players. Other years, players have got a pick with two Top-10s in the year sort of thing. That's not happening this year. There's a lot of good players who are outside the team, which is very good for Europe.
It shows that Europe is very strong at the moment. We are all fighting for that position, and those positions, we are all jockeying to make sure our shout is heard the loudest when it comes to The Ryder Cup team; if we do need a pick. The key is maybe not to be in that group.
Q. If you do need a pick, do you think you'll get one?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I'm not even going to go down that road. I have to totally focus on playing my way into the team, totally focus on it. No, that's -- no, not even going to cross my mind until it comes down to that, and hopefully, as I said, the best thing I can do for Monty is play my way on to the team so he has a pick for somebody else. That would be the way I look at it rather than having him for a pick.
And I think, as I said, six or seven players there are who are very good, solid candidates, really good players, and the team is strong, as well. So whatever way it happens, it's going to be a very strong team.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Pﾃ｡draig, thanks for joining us.
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