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August 10, 2010

Padraig Harrington


KELLY ELBIN: 2008 PGA Champion Pádraig Harrington joining us at the The 92nd PGA Championship, this will be Pádraig's 12th appearance in the PGA Championship. Pádraig, you played here in 2004, tied for 45th. Welcome back to Whistling Straits. You played nine holes in a practice round. Any remembrances from 2004?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, the golf course was certainly different yesterday to 2004. It was a beautiful day yesterday, very sunny, warm, hardly any wind; whereas I remember 2004 seemed to have a lot of strong crosswinds. The golf course got quite fiery.
It really in 2004 -- well I expect it to play like this again this week but it played like a different golf course in 2004. Yesterday it was a very manicured golf course, very ordered golf course, and a nice, sunny day, maybe not what I'm going to expect during the four days of the tournament.
KELLY ELBIN: You've had five Top-10s at the PGA TOUR and a Top-10 in the 3 Irish Open; is your game heading into shape as we head into the final major of the year?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, ve had a strange year, more Top-10s than I've had in my life, but no win, and didn't play very well in the majors. It's been an interesting year. I believe the form is there. It could happen any week. Just have to be patient and let it happen.

Q. If there is a mathematical chance of somebody going past you in The Ryder Cup table -- (laughter) -- in the last counting event, Gleneagles, will you play that event?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I am committed to doing a Special Olympics clinic at Barclays, and at this stage, I intend to qualify by right so that I can do that clinic.

Q. So if there's a mathematical chance?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As I said, I'm committed to doing a Special Olympics clinic at The Barclays Classic, and I'm going to try to qualify by right, but I'm going to try and do that clinic, yes.

Q. How much did Tiger's performance last week shock the players?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't notice. You know, I certainly didn't notice any players' reaction. I certainly wasn't paying any attention myself apart from being asked about it after each round.
Players concentrate on their own game and we are out here long enough to realize that, you know, I think one of the first rules you learn when you come on TOUR is the old, if you come off the golf course and you start talking about the round with other guys, they don't want to hear about your round of golf.
So I think most seasoned pros are conditioned to seeing other guys having ups and downs and not getting involved. It's the same with Tiger. We are just used to paying attention to what we are doing, knowing that we can't control what other people are doing, and really, it's the No. 1 rule of being a professional. You don't get in any way involved in anybody else's form, good, bad, or indifferent.
You know, it's tough enough sitting in your own hotel room on a Sunday night when you've 3-putted the last hole to lose a tournament without worrying about other people's games. I think, certainly, with everybody being conditioned to do that, and it's no different when it comes to Tiger.

Q. The winner of the U.S. Open and the British were names that most Americans are not terribly familiar with; are there a couple other Europeans you can talk about, guys who we don't know that much about that could be a major threat this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: There's plenty of Europeans, good Europeans -- young Europeans who are starting to mature. The fact that, you know, they have seen -- well, of course Louis Oosthuizen isn't European, but the fact that they have seen other players who they are familiar with winning will make it easier for them to win. So there is definitely more of a possibility now than there was even three months ago that you'll have some of the other Europeans winning.
So, yeah, there's plenty of chances out there, but there's probably six or seven names that could do it. And even if I say six or seven, there might be another six or seven who are a bit more of a long shot, but, you know, are possible. So there's too many to name any one individually.
KELLY ELBIN: The question is, could you mention one or two?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know. Just go to the bookies and you'll see the list of names and the odds and they will know who is the next most-likely major winner out of the non-major winners. Wow, guys you're not familiar with -- a lot of the guys, even though the Europeans who have a chance of winning do play over here, so you would be familiar with them.
You know, you're not likely to be unfamiliar with Rory McIlroy, are you? So I could say Rory McIlroy; maybe Paul Casey, but you know those guys. They are next on the list. Long shots, I'm not in the business of picking long shots. So guys you don't know the name of, I couldn't -- I could probably name somebody who is good enough to win who is not in the tournament. (Laughter).

Q. You said it's more likely now than three months ago that you might get somebody, a first-timer; why is that? We have seen a lot of first-timers win over the last year or two in the majors?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: In general, you could suggest that the majors are a little bit more open. One a year was being taken by one individual player for the last 14 years, so there's more opportunity.
But the reason why there's more opportunity for the guys who haven't won is the fact that, as I say, they are seeing guys win for the first time. Guys who play practice rounds with Graeme McDowell, and the South African guys who play with Louis Oosthuizen now know what it takes to be Major Champion because they have seen those guys games and they have gone and won. So they have a much better measure of what it takes, rather than looking -- trying to judge what somebody's game is that you don't really know in terms of, say, somebody who doesn't know Tiger Woods could have a particular idea how he plays to win majors, but the guy who knows Graeme McDowell knows how he plays and knows that he won a major, and they know if they can play to that standard, they can win a major. It's more tangible.
Michael Campbell won the U.S. Open and I played a lot of practice rounds with Michael Campbell and that certainly gave me an idea, hey, this is what it takes to win a major.
You need that familiarity. You had that in the '80s when Seve started winning majors and other players followed. Mentally, they could see that it could be done because other guys have done it. It's the old story, once the record is broken, a lot of people can follow, and that's what Michael did for me and maybe I've done for some other guys, but certainly Graeme and Louis will probably do it for a number of European players, or European Tour players, I should say.

Q. This is sort of a two-parter. Graeme said that he would like to have had dinner with you last week and just chat about things that he had discovered about being Major Champion and about how difficult it was to adjust to, and you said, "Welcome to my world." Could you explain exactly what you meant by that? Have you had a chance to sit down and talk to him and what would you advise him?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We couldn't have time to go through what I would advise him. There's a lot in it. But we did have a chat, a little chat on the golf course, where one or two things came up and Graeme pointed out that he was feeling better about things. So we didn't actually end up going for dinner.
You know, I'd have to actually -- it's not as simple as just sitting down, and there's not a one-word answer to that question. There is definitely -- and you only have to look at every guy who has won major championships. There is a large burden placed on your shoulders after you win one, and players do feel that. It doesn't get any easier after two or three.
I will say that, you know, that has to be dealt with, and it's what you want, but certainly, the expectations and the burdens -- you know, it could be exactly like in my own personal context, the fact that I had 15 Top-10s in the previous year, and yet I seemed to be getting a considerable bit of grief about how poor my form is. So you can understand that if I had not won three majors, everybody would be saying I was playing great, having 15 Top-10s. But having three majors, the expectations are so high; the pressure is much higher, and you know, you've got to perform to a higher level in the public's mind, in the media's mind.
Now, in terms of a player, what you have to do is do your own thing, be yourself and play your own game. I can list off the clichés, but at the end of the day, you have to be far more reliant on confidence than self-confidence. If you're driven by confidence, it's a terrible, tough burden to carry, having a major win. If you're driven by self-confidence, it shouldn't make any difference.

Q. Graeme was actually shocked at how quickly it hit him. When you win a major like that, is it like being hit by a train? Is it that much of a shock?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I always remember the comment of -- well, Paul Lawrie, we were playing in the Seve Trophy, he had obviously won the Open in '99, and he miss-hit a long iron shot. And he says, "That's not the shot of an Open Champion."
The fact he'd won an Open and miss-hit an iron shot meant it was the miss-hit shot of Open Champion because he was an Open Champion, but that was a perfect example of somebody believing that because, you know, the expectations of winning a major was putting a lot of pressure on somebody to hit all of of the shots, when, you know, if you looked at it the other way as I just said, he was Open Champion and he hit the shot and so it was the shot of Open Champion. Open Champions do not always play perfect golf, but it tends -- the expectations and the pressure tend to lead to the fact that if you've won a major that you're never going to hit a bad shot again. Well, that ain't going to happen. You're always going to play, you know, up and down, and so it really just is a question of trying to balance, you know, as I said before, the falseness of confidence versus having self-confidence.

Q. Given the priority you place on majors, how do you reflect on the three so far this year, and what can you learn, particularly from the two missed cuts at the Masters and St. Andrews going into this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I will say that my preparation for the U.S. Open and The Open was excellent. I would say that my preparation for the Masters, as always, was as good as could be, but, you know, I always get the feeling at the Masters I could have played a couple more tournaments. I didn't play well at the Masters. That just happens. I played poorly the Sunday before coming into it, and I just didn't get my game back for the tournament.
I played pretty decent, okay at times at the U.S. Open and I played very well at The Open. Hit a couple of insignificant shots poorly, not insignificant, but I hit a couple of shots, you know, shots normally, like a couple of lob-wedges; got a bad start the first day, got the wrong side of the draw, got a bad start the second day and putted badly.
I don't have the ability to control everything. I cannot in any shape or form turn up -- I don't have the ability to turn up and absolutely guarantee that it's going to be there on demand. I can guarantee a certain amount of form, but I haven't quite got it to a stage that, you know, I can guarantee it.
So, obviously, they stand out, and in many ways, again, going back to Karl's question there, my whole year will be judged on those two missed cuts and an average U.S. Open. That's what you get when you're Major Champion. You've got to live with it.
Could turn it all around this week; but, as a player, I have to focus on what I'm doing day-to-day and where my game is at and my long-term performance, and, you know, how I feel about my game and all of those little things that, you know, don't involve results. I do understand and results are very important. They are very important even to a player, but they are more important to the outside world, but, as I said, sometimes the process has to be focused on and concentrated on and that's what leads to those results, not necessarily -- I'm not going to hang myself out on those two missed cuts, no.
I can see myself -- I can definitely do with a win and it would make my life a lot easier in terms of you guys, but in terms of myself, yeah, I would love to win. I would love to win plenty of tournaments, but I'm actually very happy with where my game is at, the progress I'm making and basically the general process.

Q. In 2004, this was the longest course ever to stage a major; do you think it suits any style of player?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think in 2004, the course didn't play long. If you hit the right shape on the wind and you hit the fairways, there was plenty of run on the fairways. It may have been long in terms of yardage, but it wasn't a long golf course.
It did play longer yesterday in terms of the fairways were not as firm as I remember; at least, I don't believe they were. The golf course was kind of a typical Monday golf course. It was very manicured. It was playing lovely yesterday. But I could see it getting firmer and faster, and I think that's what happened in 2004.
So somebody hitting the fairways is getting 30, 40 yards of run, he's going to compete with anybody who is hitting it long and in the rough.

Q. When did you last speak to Monty about The Ryder Cup qualifying situation? And if it was awhile, are you going to seek him out this week?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I spoke to him at The Open. So three, four weeks ago.

Q. And told him The Barclays situation then?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I told him at that stage that I would try and sort out -- well, you know, I said I was trying to sort out his problems, but in the end of the day he has to pick three players no matter what. So even if I qualify, he's still got to find three players and that's not going to be easy.
I don't think anybody that doesn't qualify has a right to be picked, that's for sure. If you don't qualify, you have to ask that question; certainly, there's a number of players, good players, who are not in the qualifying and won't be in the qualifying come the end of the thing. There's not room for everybody.
And so Monty has a tough job no matter what happens. Nobody is -- if you haven't qualified, you don't have a right to say you should be on that team. So it's one of those things, I would like to sort it out myself, have a good run this week, and, you know, put it beyond doubt.

Q. A year ago Saturday night at this championship Tiger had a lead, he had never blown one after 54 holes at a major; 15 majors seem to be a certainty for a lot of people, maybe not for you guys but a lot of us in the press, but we thought we might arrive here, 2010 PGA talking about a chance for Tiger to tie Nicklaus, given the venues that he had had success on, St. Andrews and Pebble. Have you been able to wrap your mind around what has happened in one year's time, given where we were at this point a year ago?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, all I remember about the 2009 PGA is me messing up on the 8th hole and Y.E. Yang hitting that shot to the last hole and lifting up his golf bag. I had no idea that Tiger Woods was leading that event going into the last round. I certainly just in no shape or form get involved in anybody else's game, what they are doing, where they are going with it.
Yeah, I just, you know, it's professional not to get involved in other player's games. I have got plenty of friends out on TOUR who have had far more spectacular highs and lows in their careers who, you know, real good, solid friends who I have grown up playing quite a lot of golf with, played a lot on the TOUR with, started my career with, went head-to-head with for a long time. You know, like they are buddies of mine, and they are people who are very -- how would I put it? Because of the fact we came through the amateur game and we came through the professional game together, there's a connection. And like even those guys, I have to be somewhat detached, even though I do -- I'm concerned about them. I know for my own game, I have to be professional. And you get concerned, you give some advice, but it's tough. You can't emotionally get involved. I'm certainly not going to get emotionally involved like with every professional.
We've seen this so many times. There's a hundred guys out there who are currently competing who have had highs and lows in their careers. Look at Steve Stricker. He went from top of the world to off the world to right back to the top of the world. It happens all the time, all the time. I could probably name -- you know, I don't want to name too many current players, but you know, you go to Ian Baker-Finch, it happens all the time in golf that you get highs and lows. We become immune to it and go on and do our thing and by the grace of God hope it's not us.
The game of golf is an individual game and quite a selfish game at times and you can get hooked in and sucked into getting caught up in other people's games, and it's happening everywhere. You just can't believe -- players drop off of form all the time and go from being world-beaters, and probably the most fascinating thing in the whole game of golf how players, and I'm talking players, guys who might not even hit your radar, who come out in a career and have two or three wins, the game comes easy to them and two or three years later, they are not holding their TOUR card and not making a living out here.
It is not an unusual trait in professional golf to see the form move like that. It's a very fickle game and the difference between success and failure is just a hair's breath at times, and it's probably one of the -- it's certainly the most interesting part of the game of golf, you know, what -- I remember a guy, European Tour player beat me down the stretch in an event in Ireland, and he missed the next 23 cuts, and then beat me down the stretch in another event. So he's gone 24 events, or 23 events not making a cut and he's won on either end of it.
You can easily go down the wrong road. You can be on top of the world for a period of time, and it's tougher over here, because you can get -- well, anywhere you can get lost very quickly, but it is tough for Tiger, when your form goes off at the very top, obviously the spotlight is there. So it's hard. It's a lot easier -- it's never easy when your form goes off, but it is a little easier when the spotlight isn't on you. It's happened many times in the past and some of the great players -- I'd like to have a look, did Jack ever have a dip in form? You have to think that some of those great players back then went through periods of time where they had a little drop-off in form, but it happens all the time in professional golf, that's all I can say.
KELLY ELBIN: PGA Champion, Pádraig Harrington. Thank you very much for your thoughts.

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