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January 25, 2011
KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN
SCOTT CROCKETT: Pﾃ｡draig, thanks, as always, for coming in and joining us. Obviously, let's start a bit of reflecting on last week, an excellent first day, not such a great second day. Just give us your reflection on how you thought about all that went on there.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It's interesting. Now I'm thinking about this week.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Have you just put it behind you and moved on?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously I stayed there and did some practise, got some few extra sessions in the range, few extra sessions in the gym. Kind of met all of the players last week, sort of talked it through with everybody, and that's probably a good thing.
If you turn up at a tournament, you never want to be sort of talking about other sort of things and be distracted. So very much this week has been getting into this tournament and last week was last week.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Final thing I'll say on it: It has ignited a debate which has probably pleased you.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I know interesting thing, they are talking and there is a lot of -- that The European Tour had already instigated something. It's going to be a difficult rule to change. I don't think it's as clear-cut as people think to make a change of a rule like that. I think it would be a tough subcommittee to sit onto figure out what the right rule change. There's a lot of things, the cut on the Friday evening, and you have to know positions then, and Saturday you have to know your position based on the fact that you're attacking or defending a lead.
There's a lot of things that signing your card, there is a good reason to have it. You know, whether the ball moves a millimeter today, is an inch next week, is five inches. So it's going to be a tough rule to change. It's been there for -- that rule's probably been there for a hundred years now. It's there for good reason, so I think it's going to be not as -- it's easier to talk about it than to actually change it.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Give us your thoughts on this week; new event, new tournament. Sense of excitement going into this week?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, every time we come to a new country, it's very exciting to see somewhere new, experience a different place, different culture. And you know, that's one of the great things about The European Tour is we do get to go to so many fascinating places. So that's a big bonus this week.
Obviously an entirely new golf course. Everybody is going to play it. Nobody has got an advantage starting out here. We are all new to this this week. Still no idea what the scoring is going to be like. I think it's one of those that really is a blank canvas this week. It's not like last week where you're playing thinking, well, I've got to get to 20-under par this week.
Here, who knows? It definitely is a new experience.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Does the designer have a slight edge?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, the golf course, on the face of it, is signed with him in mind. You know, you tend to have to place your tee shots. Everybody would hit more or less to the same areas and then from there, you have to hit your iron shots into big areas, but small targets. And obviously Monty's career is based on his iron play and if there was ever a golf course that he would be competitive on, it would be a course like this.
Q. Getting back to last week, I don't want to harp on it too much, but do you take any sort of comfort that there has been sort of so much talk about it, and also the fact that you've been widely acclaimed at the way you handled it, too?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Any instance is going to be talked about, so that's neither here nor there. Yes, there's been a very positive response to it.
Yeah, it's one of those situations that, yeah, I suppose there is a bit of positive to take out of it that most players have felt sympathetic towards it, and you know, there's been a good side to it. In the end of the day, yeah, I would take that out of it, yeah, I would. I have no problem with that. It's been well received by the other players and what has happened. They felt it was unfortunate.
And this would be the general -- well, not a general, but certainly a reasonable one. Phil Mickelson in the locker room that afternoon came in, he said he thought it was very unfortunate and thought it was -- the whole incident was a terrible thing to happen. And he felt really bad for bringing in the phone call. (Laughter).
Q. What was your reaction to that?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: That was perfect. He got everything across, and as I said, the end of the day, as most people, you know, there's a bit of -- the only way to deal with it is to laugh at it in the end of the day whether it is a serious enough subject at times, with my emotions, we're up and down, so it was nice when the odd jokes that were made eased the sort of distress of it all.
Q. You said last week going into a new season, you get that lovely feeling of butterflies stepping up on to the tee. Having gone through that process and posted such a good round, how difficult is it going to be to start again and to start at the same level?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I think I'll even be a bit more anxious about this week, based on the fact that you always want to get a good start to the year, and last week, your first tournament of the year, even four rounds is not a bad start. But you're working things in, and obviously I didn't get that last week. So it's starting afresh, and there's a little bit of focus and a little bit of expectations, people see 65 last week and you know, maybe they are thinking I've solved all the problems in the world of my game or whatever, and I'm going to shoot 65 every day.
But that's not the reality. So the expectations are higher, but we are still starting from zero at the start of the week, so it does bring a little bit more pressure.
Q. Do you welcome that?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I don't necessarily welcome it at this time of the year. I certainly welcome pressure. You know, if you're under pressure, it means you're in a place you want to be. You're doing well. But obviously last week brings attention that necessarily -- a little bit more attention; I would rather have that attention when I'm trying to win a Major rather than necessarily on Thursday morning.
So there will be -- it definitely adds to the stress of this week. And as I said, higher expectations. I've been cut a notch or two with the bookies and things like that. I am allowed to say that on The European Tour, am I?
SCOTT CROCKETT: Yes, don't go any further than that.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: (Laughing) I've been cut a notch or two with the bookies.
Q. What does that mean, cut a notch or two?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: My odds won't be as high. As in expectations, people will look on, after shooting 65 last week, people think you're going to play well again this week sort of thing and so that brings expectations. Not having the backing of four rounds of golf last week, just having one-off, it's obviously a little bit tougher to go out there.
I look forward to playing this week. I'm excited to be out there. But I'd like to -- I would have liked to have the backing of four rounds last week, that's all I'm saying.
Q. This question is not to look back, but what time did you actually hear there was an inquiry, and then I'll ask the question.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: My manager heard late on Thursday night.
Q. And let you know?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: He let me know -- I had set my alarm for 8.30 on Friday morning. He knocked at the door at 8.25 and he was very lucky that was my manager knocked at the door and woke me up. That five minutes of sleep as I walked to the door, somebody was -- yeah, I wasn't happy about getting an early wake-up call. I'm not a great person in the morning.
Q. I know the feeling. I'm not a great person any time. The point, the question I wanted to ask was, you shot 65 and you've had the hours after it, and you must have had a feeling about how you played. Can you recreate that this week, based on your confidence from that 65?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I always -- maybe this is me, but I looked at the 65 and a couple of people were, "Great 65."
I'm thinking, I played more like a 69, I holed a 20-footer on the last and chipped one in on the 8 that should have gone ten feet by and I'd have missed and that would be 68 and nobody would be writing home about that.
I was happy with the nature of the game, but I didn't -- basically, I didn't read too much into the actual figure. You know, it was nice to shoot a good score, yes. It's nice to score a little bit better than I played which at times last year, I didn't do that very often.
So that was -- yeah, I'm positive about that, and yeah, I suppose I do take some confidence out of it. As I said, I have a good idea over the last number of years what makes me play well and I've probably been in a mind-set to use that to my -- use best endeavors, anyway, to keep that going this year.
Q. And you saw some elements in that 65?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, definitely. I did some good preparation. While I didn't play perfect golf, the mental side was strong and that will give me some confidence, yes.
Q. You were saying before Abu Dhabi that for something like 1 1/2 weeks or two weeks before, you had to put all the changes out of your head and get back into the game or playing mode as such. Was there a temptation in the last week with the extra time you had over the weekend to go back to the development?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: That's what I did for the three days. I went to the range and worked on the stuff that I would have been working on during the winter.
Again, it's easier -- well, it's a little easier when you turn up at a tournament, because the tournament is starting in a couple of days, that you do get back into your playing mode. You go out and play rounds of golf on the golf course. So you do get back into your competitive mind-set.
But yeah, the three days I had off, there was nothing but technical work done in those three days. I think you're dead right, I was right back to breaking it all down and had a lot of different thoughts in my head during those days working on different things. But now, starting yesterday, obviously getting through the Thursdays to eliminate those and getting back more into the competitive mind-set.
Q. Were those days useful?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I enjoyed them.
Q. An indulgence, then?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, indeed it was.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Plus you also gave a lovely clinic for the children, as well.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, did a couple of things. Did the clinic. I did some commentary. It was nice. Normally you'd be going straightaway like that after something happened, but obviously coming here to Bahrain, and HSBC did such a good job last week, it was nice to be able to give something back on Saturday. I did a half-an-hour clinic that lasted an hour and ten minutes, an hour and 20 minutes, just like me. But, yeah, it was nice to do something good.
And in many ways after getting disqualified, it's nice to do something like that, because any time you get disqualified, you kind of -- it's not great for your, I suppose yourself confidence, so it's nice to do something nice and it makes you feel better about yourself.
SCOTT CROCKETT: We all couldn't help seeing a delicious irony in your eyes as you started it with how to mark a all.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Maybe I didn't want to quite go there but the suggestion was -- you'd be amazed that there actually is a way to mark a golf ball. Might be quite -- I would like to use the best method to mark a golf ball like everything else.
One of the reasons I didn't actually went out, when I moved my ball golf, was the marker I was using that day was too small. It was a one-cent coin, and obviously if you use something a little bit bigger, your fingers don't have to get so close to the ball. So that was half the issue. I used a coin that was too small, and there you go it.
Q. Who would you blame, Ronan or --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Jokingly, I would have a bit of fun with him over it, no. But obviously I had managed to mark a golf ball with a penny for a long time and not nudge my golf ball forward. So it was a little bit -- I'm taking full blame, but I'm trying to pass on some of it.
Q. What are you going to use this week, a room key for it the Emirates Palace?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: A small, flat object is what you have to use. It's part of The European Tour Guidelines. Small, flat, round object. So a 50-cent piece probably wouldn't qualify.
Q. What do you use?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Last week's coins were perfect, the one Dirham, I don't know what the locals are calling -- what a Dinar breaks down to. That could be the lucky ball marker, I will use that (receiving coins from media).
SCOTT CROCKETT: Now that the charity drive is over, we do have another question.
Q. First time in Bahrain?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, first time. Like I said, it's a start. It's nice to come to a new country, experience different places, different culture, and it's been very good so far. Been very happy here, everything's gone excellent so far.
Q. What's your thoughts on a European Tour Tournament of Champions which this is going to be from the start of 2012?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously that's interesting, we are trying to discuss it. There's an extraction for coming here this week, because it's a new venue and a new country to come to. I always want to, as I said, that is one of the best things about The European Tour is we do get to experience these things.
Next year, obviously we are coming back to -- we've been here, so that attraction isn't necessarily here next year.
But if it's a shortened field only for tournament winners, it could be one to be here. I think it's the first event next year, as well.
I don't know if that's going to be as easier to come here because we have been in HSBC last week, but I definitely think it could be -- I have no idea what the plans are. Is it the same prize fund next year? Is it the same? I don't know.
But yeah, definitely it could be a good forerunner for The European Tour going forward. This is definitely the place for The European Tour to be at this time of the year. These events are great, ideal for the players, superb golf courses, superb condition. Definitely The European Tour's big future is in the Middle East at the start and the end of the year; whereas they have proved with a field like last week and the fields this week and the next couple of weeks, they can attract the best players in the world and thus it, have the best events in the world at this time of the year. And similarly, towards the end of the year.
It's where Europe could be very strong is in the Middle East and they are doing a good job.
Q. And is it a viable option compared to the West Coast Swing in the States, not just in terms of prize money, but in terms of travelling and logistics?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I think conditions-wise, this is the place to be. The golf courses are in superb condition. The weather is ideal. Every player at this time of the year is mindful of the fact that their game is a little bit raw, and if they don't play well and make the cut, where else would you try to be to practise. But down here, it's ideal.
So, yeah, I think these are excellent, and as I said, the proof is in the pudding; the World Ranking points that are on offer shows how strong these events are, and it's where you want to be in world golf at this time of the year.
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