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September 29, 2010

Padraig Harrington


GORDON SIMPSON: Pleased to be joined by Pádraig Harrington, and Pádraig, you're a wild card this year, an unfamiliar experience, but I get the impression the way you played certainly the last round on Sunday, you've got all of the drive and determination to have a good week this time.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think I've ever been described as wild before, a wild card. (Laughter).
It obviously puts you under a little bit more focus during the week, and brings certain expectations and certain pressure. So it's certainly different. It definitely makes you more enthusiastic and keen to play your part and do everything you can amongst the team.
So you know, so far so good. It's been a good couple of days, and really now, it is really winding down now to get ready for the tournament on Friday.
GORDON SIMPSON: Monty said you had all of the enthusiasm of a rookie and it showed on the golf course.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I managed to make two team meetings on time, which is quite good for me.
Yeah, it definitely is that way. There's no doubt about it, especially my last Ryder Cup, just won the two majors, I was tired that week. I was on a little bit of a downer and it was a much tougher week. You tended to want to do your own thing, whereas this week I'm very much amongst the team and I want to help out as much as I can.

Q. Colin was full of praise for your play yesterday. Could you speak to that, and also, how did you play today, as well, please?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yesterday was Tuesday and today was Wednesday. As Lee Trevino said, the worst score he ever shot was 65 on Wednesday.
Yesterday I played well. Today I started poorly and played well after that. It doesn't really count for much. Got to be Friday onwards, Friday morning, or whenever it is, you've got to start good and keep going.
So I suppose it's better to play well than bad, but I wouldn't read too much into it. Well, maybe there could be a little bit to it, as well. I think -- I know in '99 as a rookie, I played my way into that starting morning foursomes with Miguel, and, you know, the intention wasn't to play me. I probably wasn't even due to be played until late Thursday afternoon was kind of when I got into the team. Yeah, as a wild card, you want to play well in practise; as a rookie, you want to play well in practise to make sure you get into that starting lineup.
Yeah, I'm probably paying a little more attention to how I play in the practise rounds than normally how I would be in The Ryder Cup.

Q. Colin spoke earlier in the week about your stature within the team room, and how you can be an on-course leader for him. Is that a role you're happy to take on? Do you feel your seniority is being that type of guy that perhaps he was when he was on the team?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, it is interesting, I'm definitely trying to do as much as I can. I'm trying to talk to the rookies, especially the rookies, and try and give them as much advice as I can and give them as much confidence as I can. I'm definitely much more proactive about what I'm doing maybe than I would have in past years. And then it's just one of those things, I want to make sure I give as much back as I can this week, both off the golf course and on the golf course.
I think being a leader on the golf course, you know, that really requires your golf clubs to do the talking. That's where Monty was obviously fantastic at going head-to-head and controlling the situation. Like I said the other day, his win against Scott Hoch was worth easily more than a point to the team. I was on the range watching and everybody got such a buzz on The European Team about how he started that match and carried on.
It would be nice to play like that on the golf course, but it's definitely more about tournament play. I'm definitely an effort off the golf course and the team room just to give a little bit more.

Q. I'm assuming you still haven't read any press clippings about yourself or TMZ or anything like that?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I did look TMZ up at one stage in the last couple of months. I am aware of that website now, yes.

Q. Sure you must be aware from questions you've gotten the last couple of weeks about the buzz this pick has made; have you felt like you had to defend yourself or almost apologise for being on the team?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I'm aware. Defend myself, yes. Apologise, certainly not.
There's no doubt Paul Casey and Justin Rose are good enough to be on our Ryder Cup Team. They are good players. But unfortunately for the five of us that didn't make the team, it was always going to come down to that. In other years, these picks would have gone to -- like Robert Karlsson, is a fine player and really that's who the picks would have gone to.
This year we had a lot of players who didn't make the team, and as I said, all five of us could give you a list as long as our arm about why we should have been picked. It really just comes down to personal preference, the team captain, how he sees it. Thankfully, maybe with the balance of the team, the six rookies and with the age profile of the team, it certainly swung in my favour.
But as I said, I'm sure every one of us could sit there, like Justin Rose has won twice this year and going into the FedExCup final, he had a genuine chance of being Player of the Year in the States, which is incredible to have the Player of the Year and not make our team. And he really had that chance going into the final.
It was the nature of the thing. But certainly, I do have to defend my position, but you know, things like apologising and those sort of things, they don't have a place in golf here. You're putting your neck on the line every time. You have to take responsibility for that.
So it's the same as playing foursomes or fourball this week. You're going to try every time, so there's no point in apologising to your partner if you hit a bad shot. As long as you are giving 100%, there's nothing more you can do.

Q. Corey Pavin was in earlier suggesting that it probably is not a good idea for a player to call out Tiger as Rory did. Do you feel that Rory was wise in doing so? And secondly, do you think Tiger maybe is looking at this and making something more of it, because he needs to get a bit of motivation going?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You're going to have to fill me in.

Q. After Akron, Rory said that Tiger was not quite the player that he was, and anyone on The European Team would be looking forward to -- would not have a problem playing against him, and Tiger yesterday said that he would enjoy the challenge if he played Rory, and then Pavin said this morning that it's not a good idea to give extra motivation in the past to Tiger.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: And what are you asking me? (Laughter).

Q. I'm too tired now. (Laughter).
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: All I know, you know, speaking of Tiger, I assume he's coming in here in a similar frame of mind to me, as in, he's played his way into the teams over the years and has struggled with the team element, him knowing the way he performs to do his individual thing and he plays his practise rounds very early in the morning; having to play Ryder Cup and all of these things organised and having to play five-hour practise rounds at 11 o'clock in the day has been tough on him over the years.
I'm sure this time, having been a pick, he will be a lot more enthusiastic about The Ryder Cup. I think in previous years, every single one of The European Team would have loved to step up against Tiger Woods, because as everybody always feels, he's expected to win. So in many ways, it will be a tougher match this time around.
So I'd be -- you know, when he's on top of the world, which he still is No. 1, but certainly in previous years, it was a shot at nothing when you got to play Tiger. This year, it will be a tougher match. He'll be more enthusiastic, more motivated, so I would be very wary of him myself.

Q. You referenced Monty playing The Ryder Cup earlier, and you partnered with him several times. What made him so good at this?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: He loves to be in control. He loves the one-on-one. He loves being able to affect the other guy's play by hitting good shots. He loves that element of it. You know, I think you can see every time he was selected No. 1, he would put up his chest and he would be two inches taller. He loves being the leader, but definitely, in an actual match-play format, he likes to control that; he hits it close, he puts pressure on the competition. It's tougher in stroke play because you can't control 156 guys. But I think in match play, just like coming down the stretch, there's less people involved, but certainly in the match-play format, he really got to really put direct pressure on his competition, and I think he revels in that.

Q. With that in mind, Monty can't be in control of what goes on on the golf course this week. What's the adjustment that you see him have to make to go from being a player to being a captain?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would think this week the teams are so evenly balanced that a lot is going to come down to the quality of the decisions from the captain. So I do hope he's in control.
The decisions he makes in regard to partnerships, who to play, who to drop, when to rest guys, that's going to be crucial to how the team performs. I think he has a lot of control and it's very important that he exercises that. I think he is the man to make the hard decisions and make the right choices.
But between himself and Corey Pavin, all Ryder Cup Captains have proven during the last number of years that they have a lasting effect on the results. Over the years, these things are too tightly-matched that the captain really does now have a significant influence over the result.

Q. Have you seen him have to make any adjustments to his personality now that he's captain?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't think he has to make any adjustments in his personality. I think one thing you will always find out about Monty, if you walked into a players' lounge anywhere in the world, and Monty is sitting at a table, that table will always be full. It will be full of players. He attracts people in that sense in that he's always good company and he's always got something to say and he's got an opinion.
I don't think his personality needs to change at all for being a captain. It's ideal in the sense that he does have the ability to, you know, as a captain should, to build up somebody's confidence or say a kind word to somebody. But I also believe that he has the ability to make the tough decisions that need to be made.

Q. You talked about trying to do your own thing too much at the last Ryder Cup?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I was tired. Sometimes when you're coming off the highs of the summer, you're kind of -- to go and do press and this or a couple of hours and this when you want to chill out and things like that, you're fighting against it. I can only describe that was my feeling at the last one. Everything, it was tough. I wanted to get up for it, but it was just, you know, being there early -- like the difference is, you know, you were there early last time; oh, this is very early. This week, I'm here, I was meant to come on Monday, I came on Sunday. Couldn't wait to get here.
There is a difference between coming off highs, coming off a big summer, and, you know, having a pick and wanting to get out there and do as much as you can both on and off the course.

Q. And the one before wasn't what you had hoped either?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The one before wasn't, but we won. And I would gladly have the same results as I personally had in 2006 for a winning week. That's all that counts is whether the team wins. A person can influence his teammates so much in the back room that it affects the result; individual scores, yeah, they can be nice, but I know I won my singles match in '99, and was on the greatest high ever, for about two minutes. And then it was as disappointing as I'd ever been.
I realised, as I probably learned a little bit as an amateur, I certainly realised in that moment it is all about the team. If we can get a win this week, everybody will have an effect on it, regardless of the points they get and when they do it.
The classic is Seve in his last Ryder Cup against Tom Lehman, he drew out that match so long, he still lost his match, but the momentum that he gave to the rest of his team, because of the way he fought that out, was tremendous. So you can't always judge it just on pure results. But certainly, results are always nice, as well.

Q. Two-part question. Do you know who you're playing with on Friday, and if not, can you give us a clear indication of how that situation is developing?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think the indication we have for Friday is that, you know, as Monty has said, is that he intends, assuming everything goes to plan, that everybody will get a run out on Friday. And I think that's, whereas we do have a little bit more information ourselves, I think that's as far as I would be.

Q. And what is that information, Pádraig?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: We have a good idea at this stage who we are going to be paired up with. Whether we are going to go for fourball or foursomes; we have an idea.
I certainly can say I have an idea within three or four people; is that enough? (Laughter) No? I have to narrow it down to one?
The best way to do it is pair me with 11 people and the one that I don't deny -- I'll agree with ten of them and the 11th, I'll deny it and that's probably the guy I'll play with.

Q. Two years ago, did Nick Faldo notice the tiredness?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. Tired, yes, there was tiredness, but it's hard in any given year -- you know, the majors and the Ryder Cup -- I've won three majors, and '99 was the most exciting experience, most nerve-wracking experience I've had ever had on a golf course. But when you come in off highs, it is just hard. Physically, your body is not ready for it. The end of the day, the majors take too much out of you in the summer.
I would love to put my hand to heart and say, you know, it's a Ryder Cup, and I expect that it's a Ryder Cup and all that, but you know what, I have to look back on it and say, I just couldn't -- I was just flagging.
Now, what's Faldo meant to do? He's got to play the guy that won two majors. There was no question about that. And it's a different way of doing it. As I said, if you had won two majors in the previous couple of months, you're not too worried about your form Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before The Ryder Cup. Whereas if you get a pick like I am, I make sure that I go out there and try very hard on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday to show that my form is there. So he wouldn't have noticed, no. There would be nothing to show up and no reason why he would have seen anything that would have made him wary.
But, I think in hindsight, you've got to watch out, as I said, one of the hardest things for a professional golfer now, you have four majors, Race to Dubai, FedExCup and Ryder Cup in some years and you're trying to peak for every one. Any athlete will tell you, or now that we are going to be Olympians, we can call ourselves athletes, you can't compete that many times a year.
GORDON SIMPSON: We'll cut you off in your prime so to speak. Thank you very much.

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