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July 26, 2011
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome back. Before we good into this, maybe look back to last year, your memories of coming so close in a great event here.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously it was a great event last year. Really good memories. The crowds were great. The atmosphere was great. I'd like to -- you know, Ross Fisher was a clear winner, even though I came reasonably close. Still, I made it somewhat exciting. So yeah, it would be nice to have a similar performance this year, and you know, maybe not for somebody to play as well as Ross played last year. He really did play great golf.
You never really know when it comes to winning a tournament. You just try to look after playing your own game. But yeah, it was good memories to come back to. Be interesting to see how I get on this year. Obviously I did a lot of things right last year. Got plenty of good breaks. I'm not sure, what score did I shoot? 16-under par? 18 won, was it.
Seems like a lot under when you play the course. Not like there's a lot of opportunities for birdies out there; it doesn't seem like that. But obviously when you get into tournament play and things like, that somebody is going to hole the putts, and obviously it was me and Ross Fisher last year.
Q. Nice easy one to start with; how does the course compare to last year? A bit of rough up, is that going to make a difference?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think there's a little bit more rough. Outside of that, okay, they changed the first tee. Did they change anything else?
Q. I don't think so.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: The first, it was a good hole off the front tee. It's certainly a tougher hole now. So you would probably say that was a good change.
The rough, yeah, there's a bit more rough, and certainly in places, if you hit to certain areas that we felt -- one of those courses, the rough is at a level, three or four par 4s that you really don't want to miss the fairway on, because you can't get to the green out of the rough and the rest of them, it's not the end of the world. So you've got to hope -- not that you've got to hope to hit it dead-straight all week, but you have to hope to hit it straight on the important holes.
Outside of that, the golf course seems pretty similar to last year. Everything is good. Yeah, pretty happy with it.
Q. You always talk at the Irish Open about the pressure on the home players. Is the pressure off you now this week considering what's gone on with Rory and Darren?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, I think so, coming into the event, but obviously if I play well, it's not the case. Plus, I'd won it before, so that takes a bit of the pressure off.
Yeah, I would think I'm not -- yeah, I'm not that stressed as I would be coming into my National Open in other years. Probably bringing some other stress in with me but not the stress of having to win this, no.
Q. Other stress?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Just I'd like to win a tournament (laughing). It's been eight months or so. It would be nice to have some good performances. That would be my own personal stress. Besides that, there's not too many external factors worrying me at the moment, no.
Q. Where are you with your game?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Every week I think I'm playing very well, and as I say, I played well in practise. I'm very happy about where my game is at and where it's going and all of those points about it. I'm not quite sure whether it will turn up this week, but I'm very positives, but I generally always am.
No, it feels good. It feels good where I'm going with it. I've had some decent performances this year but I haven't had a good run of performances. And kind of -- you know, hopefully as I said, I'm playing much better in practise than in tournaments and trying to figure out, why is it necessarily breaking it down in tournament play. I do think I'm getting to the bottom of that.
So yeah, I'm ready to play; I'm looking forward to playing golf through the summer, yeah, that's where I'm at. I'm keen to get out there and play. Can't ask for any more than that. Keen to go out there and try a few things and do a few things and see what may come of them.
Q. In the middle of the 1990s, just when you were turning pro, you rated Darren extremely highly at that stage. Can you remember that and your opinion -- sorry, can I just continue. At the weekend, did you deliberately stay on at Royal St. George's to be there on Sunday to see him?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: No. I was doing a corporate day on the Monday. I'd love to tell you -- that's what I was doing. (Laughter).
Yeah, Darren, I would have played against Darren in 1990 in his last year as an amateur, my first year as a senior amateur, and he was the man. His game blew everybody away in the amateur scene that year; he was leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else.
So yeah, he was obviously the star, and you know, through the mid 90s, through the early 90s, his career always was and has been very successful. He obviously had his chance in '98, was it.
Q. '97. You were fifth.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Wow, my second Major was in '97.
Q. You ran into it.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I ran into it. Exactly.
Yeah, like I won't suggest -- as much as winning the major has capped off a great career, I don't believe up to that that his career lacked anything. He had many wins around the Tour, and a very successful career.
Now that he has a Major, yes, it's nice to put it in there in his C.V, but he still had a very successful career up to that, and where a major might have been missing, I don't think you could have held it against him. It was a fine career, anyway.
Q. What do you remember about 1990, South of Ireland?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I lost to him in the South and the Close that year. I remember beating him in the trials in Killeen that year. I would have beaten him in the friendly match and lose to him in the two real matches.
You know, I probably was a bit in awe of his game. I think in the South, I might have been a couple up, too. The Close, definitely it was one of those, I certainly probably didn't play my own game and would have been over-awed in the situation, no doubt about it.
I was definitely -- he had such a reputation, I suppose and a manner, that it was destined for him to win. And he was; he was two steps better than the rest of the players and certainly looked like four steps ahead of me. So it would have been hard to beat him.
Definitely there were probably mistakes made on my own behalf that could have pushed him a little further. Certainly in the South I had the beating of him; not in the Close. I beat McGinley 5 & 4 in the first round, though (laughter) at Baltray on his home course, and he was the defending champion, and did he moan that he got drawn against me in the first round (chuckling enjoyably). Those days were great days. Beat Mark Gannon, too, too. Out-chipped and putted Mark Gannon at Baltray.
Q. When you won the Irish Open, it was a huge stepping stone for you, you went on to do what you did, and obviously gave you a lot of confidence for those Majors. When Darren won in Mallorca recently, it seemed to help him out of a little bit of a slump and give him the confidence maybe going to the Open. What would a big result for you do for you this week? Would you train on from that -- what's missing, what you need?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: This thing, results, they are interesting things, they are very dangerous things. Obviously doing the right thing is more important than getting the result during any stage of your career. Obviously there's times in your career where results become more important than the process at times. Like if you could spread your wings of your career all the way through nice and evenly, you would never worry about results.
But obviously wins do tend to come in clumps and you get a few, and then you go barren for a little period of time. It would be very easy to sit down here and say, well, if Pﾃ｡draig Harrington wins this year, it was the difference of putting right back on track; that's not really the case, is it.
Like if winning here this week takes a bit of pressure off me, and media attention and all that sort of stuff makes life easier on the outside, but you know, I've got to do my thing all the time, and you know, go through the discipline, be a professional, go through the process. I can't -- you have to let the results happen, and that's why I wouldn't put it out there that if I was to win this week, it would make it really -- it would make a difference, because winning is a habit. I don't can disagree with that, but you can't put everything into the result. And would winning this Irish Open have been more important than winning the last Irish Open? I wouldn't know.
But yes, going back to Darren, there's no doubt it's easier to win the next tournament when you've just won one, when there's one fresh in your mind and you have good memories. If I came down the stretch here this year, are I'll be nervous trying to get the job done; whereas if I'd won three times this year, it wouldn't be the same thing.
So winning is important. Results are important. But as an athlete, a professional athlete, I can call myself that; golf is a game, we all ourselves athletes, I have to focus on doing all of the good things. You know, going through all of the routines and processes and letting the results happen. There's no point in putting anymore emphasis on winning in a given week on anything else, just foolish.
Q. You speak about this process, but sometimes from your experience, can't you just get a spark, something that just --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, well, players do that, and why does a player look like the best player in the world one week and win a tournament and miss the cut the previous week and the following week.
You know, that happens and it's great that they can enjoy the win, but it's not -- how would I put it. That's certainly not what I'm about. I would hate to be reliant on a spark. I would hate to be the person who -- I don't like not understanding what's happening.
As much as would I take it, I would not like to fall into it like that. I want to understand why I'm playing well in a given week or why I don't. I'm happy to keep working away at the process to get control of my game rather than leave it to it a lucky bounce or something like that.
Q. When you talk about the process, reading your website, you were saying that Royal St. George and Sandwich, you missed a lot of fairways and that you really didn't trust your reading on greens. How are you from that perspective? Have you found something that's helped you on the greens?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Certainly, if I look at any part of my game this year, I've been erratic on the greens. I've had some good weeks and my results are probably pretty much 100 per cent aligned with how I've performed on the greens. Some I've had some poor weeks and some I've had some decent weeks.
Yeah, I've been a little bit out of trust on the greens. I could tell you that I was great today, but that's Tuesday. So I feel like I might have turned the corner in that, but I'd like to play a few tournaments and turn the corner in competition rather than just in practise. So as I said, I'm optimistic.
Q. How frustrating is that for you considering how well you've putted throughout your career, to lose that --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I haven't really lost.
Q. To lose trust.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It's nice to know what other people go through. Certainly I've seen it in me over the first six months of a few tournaments and go, God, I'd hate to feel like this it all the time. So I'm happy that -- thankfully it's the strongest part of my game.
So it's an area that I do feel like I can -- even when it was at its weakest, it wasn't as bad as some other people. So it's not -- I'm in good form. I'm happy about it. I'm looking forward to it. I think I'm going to have a great week on the greens. But as I said, thinking and doing is another thing. We'll have to wait and see how we get through the four days.
Q. Just the last one. What did you say to Darren on the range there before you went out? What was your last word?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not exactly sure. I couldn't recall it. I didn't have a pearl of wisdom, no. If I had the answer -- my favourite thing about the whole thing is, you know, Bob Rotella obviously was staying with me that week. He had come over and working with me, and we are on the green on Monday working on my putting and Darren is there, so Darren has worked with Bob before, so obviously goes to talk to Darren and Darren has a few questions. Bob tells him a thing or two and obviously Darren plays and putts well during the week. And you know, Bob was part of that.
But it's not like Bob told him anything that he didn't tell Darren a hundred times before. He didn't tell him anything new. And it's not like he didn't tell me the same thing that week. But you've got to love the fact that it worked for one and not for another. That's the nature of the game. But there is no -- as Bob Torrance would say, there's no quick fixes out there. There's no miracles out here. You have to look for sustainable stuff, and you know, that would be my attitude to all of these things, and you've got to stay patient and wait for the results to happen.
And as I said, when they do happen, they tend to roll in, and all of a sudden you win a bunch of tournaments and everything thinks you're never going to lose again sort of thing. But that's not golf. Golf is a game, even the greatest careers, if you look at all of the great careers, they were never that consistent all the way through. There's always periods of winning and not winning.
Q. What did in 2007, 2008, seemed to spur on a lot of other Irish and European players and got into a slipstream; is there a way that you can get into a slipstream of what Darren --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I can certainly use their wins as positive affirmation for me, as well. As much as they would have seen me winning and it helped them, the more Europeans winning, the more players -- just the players who you're familiar with winning. If you play golf with people and you know what they are like, you know what their personalities are like, and they go onto win a major, it's easier then to understand what it takes for to you do that.
Yes, there's no doubt that me winning helped Graeme, and I don't know if we helped Rory, I think that might have happened. (Laughter).
But certainly Martin Kaymer certainly said so, and I'm sure the lot of us winning has helped Darren do it. At the time, Darren would have been -- to say, okay, to use a phrase that maybe it's your phrase, had peaked, he was out there on his own. Even Lee had gone at that stage.
So Darren was probably -- Monty was finishing up, Lee was there for a shorter period and then all of a sudden you had Darren and maybe he was isolated and he didn't have enough other players out there winning, as I said, maybe in the peak of his career to help him cross that barrier.
It seemed to have worked when you look at Woosie and Lyle and Langer and Olazﾃ｡bal winning on the back of Seve and Faldo sort of thing, those wins came first, and then obviously it would have been easier for Darren maybe to win a major from '95 to 2004 if other Europeans were doing it.
Obviously now we are winning Majors, so I expect to see not just more European wins, but probably a few other people from Europe winning, as well.
Q. And obviously you're delighted for these guys winning, but is there any part of you that's envious; I don't know if envy is the right word.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I'm delighted for them. If I'm only of going to win three Majors, it doesn't take away anything from if somebody else goes and wins 20 of them or ten of them or loads of people win them. It's still great to have won them. No, I wouldn't begrudge anybody anything in this game. Especially the guys who have worked hard at it.
No, I'm delighted. I intend to win some more myself, and it would spur me on. But it's not a competition on that front. It's good enough; winning majors is good enough. Winning tournaments is good enough. You don't really need to compete; I've got three and you've got whatever. No, that doesn't worry me. I'm happy with my three and hoping to make a few more.
Q. Just going back to your results there, your whole sport is defined by results, whether it's cuts, tournaments, Race to Dubai, World Rankings --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Instant. Instant results. Instant. If my score was defined by results, there's only two players playing the game at the moment who have won more Majors than me. I'd be ranked No. 3 if we wanted to design it by results.
We are talking instant results. Life is also done by instant results, and as a professional athlete, you have to stay away from the instant results, because it's very fickle. You can play -- I can play the very best golf of my life this week and not win this tournament. It happens. I could play okay and get the right breaks and win this tournament. You know, which are you going to be happier with?
Q. Does there come a time that you go, I have a problem here or I don't have a problem or I'm happy with the way my game is going?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: It depends. In a year's time or five years' time or ten years' time or 20 years' time, I'm going to look back and say, I had a great career, no matter what happens. So regardless of a performance over a three-month or six-month spell, that's kind of irrelevant. It's so short.
Thankfully, if I look at my own career, as an amateur I would have had at least two spells similar to this, and as a pro, I probably had three spells. You know when I came out on Tour, I was hot and I won, then I dropped down the rankings, and when I made The Ryder Cup in '99, I finished second and second in the two tournaments to get in there.
Then I didn't win until like 2002, I won again, and came strong, and then I didn't have so many wins. And then 2005, I started winning again, and then 2007, won two Majors. You know people love to think that this stuff happens in a beautiful graph. It doesn't. There's peaks and troughs in the game, and you know, you can do everything right at times, and you just have to be patient with it.
So is there a time when I -- I never pan I think, anyway. That's just my nature. As I said, put me on the driving range and I'm the happiest guy in the world because I always look forward to tomorrow and I never look back.
As I said, do I stay away from -- this is about the only time I have to sit down and endure people questioning (laughter) why don't you win every week or why haven't you won.
Because the fact, I could tell you some great are stories. Like the fantastic thing, is people come up to you and say, "You haven't won since 2008."
And I go, "Well, I won eight months ago."
"No, you didn't. That's not counting. We don't want to count that one."
Fine, it's only an Asian Tour event, discount that. So everybody comes up with their own way of judging, too. If I win the Irish Open this week, I guarantee it, I'll turn up in the States in three weeks' time and say: Well you haven't won since 2008; well, I won three weeks ago; well, it's not on our tour.
Everybody has a completely different way of judging, and uses statistics to establish their point of view. And a winning result is another statistic.
So, yeah, there's no doubt, hey, if I win, I'll enjoy it, and I'll celebrate and as I said, in many ways it will take a monkey off my back. But that monkey is not put there by me, and I have to -- even if it's there, I have to be as a professional sportsman and athlete, I have to be very careful about it and make sure that I apply myself in the right way and don't get caught up in pushing in the wrong direction, rather than being patient and waiting for it.
It's an interesting thing. It's part of being a sportsman. I could sit here and I could judge every other player, every other golfer out there and tell you exactly what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. I could probably tell you what a lot of people are doing right and wrong. I believe I'm good at judging myself at that situation. But it doesn't mean that as much as you know it, you can do the right things, but you have to wait for things to fall into place and be patient. As I said, it could be as little as getting the right bounce.
I describe it as simple as this. I could hit one down the first this week and neck it down the right-hand side and it just still stays short of the water or the hazard on the right; hit a bit a wedge, hit a flyer, goes 20 feet by, hit my putt hard, hits the back in the hole and goes in. I make birdie and think I'm playing great.
Same guy hits a bit of a necked shot down the first, just creeps into the hazard, has to take a penalty drop out, gets a flyer out of that, to the back of the green, hits the putt too hard, shaves the hole, goes four feet by, and misses one back; he's made six. He's done nothing physically different than the guy who has made three, but the guy who has made three is on the second tee thinking he's playing great golf, and the guy who made six thinks he's playing horrible. That's golf. When you get involved in results, you can get caught up in that.
As a player, you have to be much more disciplined and watch for the highs and the lows. And I can tell you what, if your life or your golf is focussed on results, you are going to have the biggest highs and lows, and a lot of lows, because there's a lot more lows in golf. Even Jack Nicklaus has pointed out, many seconds and thirds that he had in his Major here --
Q. 19 seconds.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Can you imagine how many times he's in contention and didn't finish second, finished third or fourth or eighth or ninth. Like even the best career, like even the most -- like if I was to have a bumper year of all the time, which I never have, but say I won, a good year, three times in a year, well, that means that's one -- I play 30 events; that's one in every ten weeks, so nine weeks I'm disappointed and one week I'm feeling good. You have to be wary of that.
So that's why we try and stay away from results. But, I will not be too dis-happy if I do win this week. (Laughter).
Q. You're wonderfully positive and logical and --
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Optimistic and logical.
Q. Philosophical. Would you be human if you didn't have moments of doubt over the last eight months or dark times?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I won eight months ago. So obviously that carried me a couple of months, anyway. So over the last couple of months, I was very excited coming out this season. At times I showed some nice form.
You know, any time do you something wrong -- you have to understand, any time you play badly, it's like you know, it's like Rory. Rory McIlroy, the Monday after the Masters, was a better player than he was the Monday of the Masters. That's a fact. He was a better golfer the Monday after the Masters than the Monday before it. How many opportunities does Rory McIlroy get to learn how to be a better player? But I guarantee you, he learned really hard that Sunday how to be a better player, and it might win him a number of majors and tournaments down the road.
If he won the tournament, he would have learnt winning can be a habit. That's not a bad thing, I can tell you what, when you don't have any fear of losing. But he lost in a very, very public and a very, very hard way, and you're going to learn from that.
So every time you fail, it really is only an opportunity to learn something from it. So every time I haven't played well, I sit there and try and figure out, well, what happened this week, what went wrong. And you know, I'll tell you, I'm the better player than I ever was. It comes down to me at the end of the day and I do believe that I'm a better player than I ever was.
As I said, it would be nice to have control of it out there on the golf course. We are always looking for control of it. I always believe that's around the corner, the next round of golf, and as I said, when it happens maybe I'll show consistency in my good play over time, rather than just be good every now and again.
Q. Will there be a bit of a competition within the competition this week? Are there any side bets?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: We are not allowed to gamble on The European Tour. We have all signed up to that charter.
I don't think so. I really don't think so. I feel like it was a bigger competition to win the Irish Open, you know, over the last ten years or so, because it was the biggest title -- it was a big title. I'm not saying it's not a big title but, but as I said, the four of us have won major tournaments. As much as the Irish Open is just behind a major for me, it's just behind a major.
So five years ago it was the biggest thing an Irish player could have been outside winning a major was winning Irish Open. So it was a big deal to win it, to get the monkey off the back of all Irish guys. And it was a big achievement to win your National Open.
But, you know, in the end of the day, it's still a big achievement, but it's not going to take top billing on the C.V. so I don't think the competition, as much; it might be more career-defining for a guy, for the Irish guys who haven't won a major. So the other guys in the field, it might be more career-defining to say, I've won my National Open.
But no matter what, if you were going to introduce Graeme, Rory or Darren or myself, you're going to lead off with three-time Major winner and Irish Open champion. Whereas the competition level, if you were introducing -- I know Paul McGinley won it this week, maybe you'd introduce him as future Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley. (Laughter) I don't know, happy about Darren's career being extended though.
Q. If you didn't qualify for the Vivendi Trophy this year, would you like to be captain?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: The which?
Q. Vivendi. Would you take the captaincy if you were offered it, asked by Olazﾃ｡bal?
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: I assume it's Olazﾃ｡bal's --
Q. It's his decision; of the Great Britain and Ireland Team.
Pﾃ．RAIG HARRINGTON: Have not even considered the thought of it. Of course I would be honoured to be captain, absolutely honoured, no doubt about it. Yeah, as I said, I still consider myself a player, but I would be honoured to be captain, yeah.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Pﾃ｡draig, good luck for the week. Thanks for joining us.
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