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August 23, 2011

Padraig Harrington


LAURA HILL: A little later in the day but I know you had an event we finished up, as Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics, and then we'll get into the heart of the matter, The Barclays, this week.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Obviously just as a Global Ambassador, Barclays this week has a number of facilities facilitates doing clinics I suppose to highlight and bring some of the special athletes in, you know, to give a few tips, but also to sort of bring awareness to the Special Olympics. They are going to have the Special Olympics National Championship here in 2014 and obviously they have to raise budget for that and things like that.
It's always a good thing to bring a bit of awareness. It's always great for me, I had seven of the athletes down, and as always, I get more out of the time I spend with them than they do around me.
So it's a well worthwhile thing to do. And you guys should come along sometime. It's an interesting one all right. They are just some of the most enthusiastic guys and girls in the world.
LAURA HILL: So happy to be here so you can do your clinic, but also just happy to be here at The Barclays.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: That's the interesting thing because obviously we have to arrange these things in advance, and Barclays and the tournament director have been very good about arranging, because obviously people have to get in here to organize it and there has to be somewhere to do it.
We have to do that all in advance, and then it was kind of up in the air whether I was going to be here. Obviously that made it a little bit awkward but thankfully I'm here and I can fulfill that commitment.

Q. What inspired you do get involved with Special Olympics?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Just that in 2003, the Special Olympic World Games came to Ireland. It's the biggest sporting event that ever has happened in Ireland. It's probably the biggest events that's ever happened in Ireland. The whole country got behind it. Everybody was talking about it, everybody was involved in it. It just brought a lot to the country. There was a big buzz with it and probably since then, it has always been on my consciousness and you know, I got an opportunity a few years ago to get involved and then I jumped at it. It's such a great cause.

Q. Did you participate in 2003 --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I didn't participate myself in 2003. I was travelling but I think everybody in the country participated, as in it genuinely -- we had the Ryder Cup in Ireland, and that comfortably surpassed The Ryder Cup. It was miles and miles bigger than that. It's the biggest sporting occasion ever in our country. If you were there at any time around it, you would have seen a whole country get behind one event.

Q. Is it a realistic goal for a guy to win Money List titles on both tours? Luke Donald has got a shot. I think he's playing eight of the next ten weeks, or he's in the midst of playing eight of the next ten weeks. Is that reasonable, given that you have to split your attention?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: It's hard to do but it's possible. Luke's the No. 1 player in the world and it probably would take the No. 1 player in the world to do it.
So if anybody is going to do it, Luke's in that position. He's the best player for a period of time now, so it's very difficult, but I suppose that's what it takes. You know, the hard thing is obviously it would have been easier under the old system where you win money throughout the year. But with a playoff system, Luke has to be the best player for four weeks, as well, as the No. 1 player, and then he has to be the best player for, I suppose, close to 50 weeks it goes in Europe.
It would have been easier in the old system, but he really does have to have a good four weeks. The winner of the FedExCup has to play very well for four weeks. Anybody who qualifies for the FedExCup, if you win one of the first three and win the last one, they win the FedExCup. So.
Luke has got -- it's a much harder job to win the FedExCup than it was to win the old Order of Merit sort of thing. For the best player I would say it's hard.

Q. What was that like last week when you finished, having to wait and see?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, thankfully I have not had many periods in my career like that where I suppose I'm waiting to qualify for something. You know, I can only go back to like -- it wasn't as nerve-wracking as TOUR School or anything like, that but that was probably the last time where you're kind of on the bubble waiting to get into something.
It's awkward because you're watching things, and you are really out of control. Because a lot -- it's interesting, some guys playing well helped me and other guys not playing well helped me. And necessarily, it wasn't -- you know, certain guys needn't play well for me but not too well, and other guys needed to play okay but not too bad. There was a lot of combinations, and trying to work it all out which obviously I tried to do (laughter) it was one of those impossible conundrums.
The interesting thing -- conundrums -- I don't know what to call it, working out maths. But I flew up here, it was interesting, because I'm with my family, and I think it was three said wasn't making it and three said I was making it. I was sitting in the middle. All I know is I sat on the plane because we were out of coverage for an hour or so, and I sat on the plane and obviously occupied myself doing things, working things out.
My caddie slept for the whole hour. He thought I was going to make it. So I was surprised how relaxed he was, but I certainly wasn't.

Q. You studied accounting in college; right?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I did five years of accounting; try and work out all the different scenarios. There was an awful lot of scenarios.

Q. There are four tournaments who will host this Barclays, Ridgewood, this place, Liberty and Bethpage next year. Would you tell me what your personal favorite is of those and handicap the other ones?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, my personal favorite is Westchester and it's not one of the four; I won there. (Laughter).
You know what, honestly, Liberty National, purely based on the fact that Barclays would get to hold an event where we stay in New York. How many golf tournaments do we play where we actually stay in Manhattan.
From a player's perspective, we play a lot of golf course during the year and we play a lot good golf courses during the year. But we don't get to stay in like major cities, downtown major cities too often, and I really enjoyed Liberty National. I enjoyed the whole week. You know, the golf course obviously needs to mature and they are going about that. But as an event, as a location, it was phenomenal.
I'm not saying the other golf courses are great golf courses, there are better golf courses, there's all sorts. I'm just saying, what a unique event for a bank, Barclays, to be able to go downtown New York, Manhattan and host an event. What more could you ask for like the whole view, the views. The whole events was a very, very special event.
I do understand that the golf course, any golf course played for the first time, there will always be changes, there will always be maturity. You don't have the history of Bethpage Black. You know, that takes time, takes a long time. And yes, going there next year would be fantastic. Playing Plainfield this year is great. Playing Ridgewood is great. All of those golf courses are all brilliant.
But if I was edging for a home, I think that they would have a unique home in Liberty National purely based on the fact that the players and the event is essentially staged in downtown Manhattan.

Q. The media had to stay in New Jersey.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: (Chuckling, shaking head).

Q. Can you speak us up to speed on your coaching conundrum, if that's the right word. Do you have a coach now?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I think we have to get the English dictionary and tell us what -- it's only letters --

Q. Is just means confusion I guess.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: We're confused by conundrum, anyway.
Okay. At the moment, as I said, I have spoken to Pete Cowen for 45 minutes at Akron, probably 15, maybe 30 minutes at the PGA. And that's where I stand. I haven't had a chance to go do anything about it.
So I'm working away on stuff, and trying to work on some of the things he said to me and generally, you know, putting it all together at the moment but I actually need a break, which hopefully I won't get, in order to figure out where I stand.

Q. Kind of a paradox.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: It is. We're coming out with all the words today, yes. It kind of is a paradox. I don't want to take time off but yes, some time off in terms of going to see Pete and seeing what he has to say on a more in-depth basis would be the next step.

Q. You were talking bottle calculations last week. Have you looked at the scenarios at all this week and where you might need to finish?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Of course I have. (Smiling).

Q. What are they telling you?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I'm putting my head on the line now by actually putting it out there. You know what, I would feel -- obviously five times the points, so probably 30th place and I wouldn't have to think about it. Anything from down to 37th place it would depend on other players.
So maybe 32nd to 37th I think would depend on other players. 30th would be -- I wouldn't have to worry about what anybody else is doing, or better than that. I need something around 37th or 38 would pass the 85th guy ranked at the moment but I think that's kind of a threshold mark sort of thing. That's how I sit. I want to finish Top-30 this week.

Q. Just to follow up, two years ago --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Actually I don't want to finish Top-30 this week. I know I need to finish Top-30 to go forward but actual fact, I kind of am of the opinion that I'm in a great position going into this, that I'm just like every other guy: In order to win the FedExCup, you're going to have to win one of the first three events, and the last event.
So you know, I'm in not as golf a position, but I've got nearly the same chance as anybody else of winning this outright. So I just need to perform a little bit quicker than other guys.

Q. That's what I was going to ask, Slocum came from 124th and win. That gives you hope obviously.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, you know, I totally believe that, as I said, the system is very transparent. Essentially, if you're outside the top couple or top three or four or five, you need to win one of the first three; get into that Top-5 and obviously you've got to win when you get there.
If you've had a good season, yes, a good couple of weeks will do going into the last event. You don't necessarily have to win. You can get away with maybe the win one. But players outside of -- I would say anybody outside of the Top-20, they essentially need to win twice to win this out right.

Q. We saw a rookie win the PGA.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: An Irish rookie (in proud tone).

Q. Six out of seven end of the last majors have been won by younger players. Where is the game at right now? Are we in a transitional phase with the younger players? And how do veterans like yourself compete with these players? Are you 40 yet?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: No, I'm not 40 yet -- how dare you; I look at least 20 something (smiling).
We were all young ones and rookies at some stage. I'm sure when Tiger Woods won his first major that's what they were saying. Rookies have to start somewhere and they have to win their first major and in general people only win -- the amount of people that have won more than one major is very, very few.
So most people when they win a major, it is the first time win. You can count out 125 people here, I'm sure you can count on one hand, or can you count on one hand, you probably could, how many have won more than one: Me, Mickelson, Els, Vijay -- Goosen. We have got five names who have won more than one, so it is a rare occasion for a guy to win his second major, much rarer than it is for a rookie to win the first one. So as much as the media is focused on rookies winning, they probably should -- the other one that's rare is the guy winning his second.
There's probably -- there's definitely more people with one major here than there are with two. Now there's another bit of homework for you. So I think when people focus on there's been six rookies winning majors, I think they are probably going down the wrong line. Normally guys winning a major, it's pretty much the first time. We were spoiled with Tiger for a number of years but even he didn't win one a year so far in his career.
So they don't come around that often, essentially, majors, and it is getting tougher nowadays. There's a lot more quality players with depth. There was a time where you go into a major, and you might have ten -- no more than 20 players who you thought could win that major, and it would be very fair for anybody outside that 20. I think what you're finding now is, you know, there's a good bunch of guys outside of the Top-10, 15 names that will come straight up.
There's a good bunch of guys that are capable of winning and they are winning. We will see more unheralded players win, but it's not for their lack of ability; they are really talented and you can see that happening going forward. Maybe not household names but these guys -- like Keegan Bradley is a great player. There's no question he had the ability to win a major. He mightn't have been a household name going into it, but he had the game to win a major and he proved it.

Q. Continuing the majors theme there, would it surprise you if Tiger comes back and wins another four or five to catch up with Jack?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I still put my money on him doing it, yeah. I still believe he turns up and plays well in a given week, I think he's well capable of winning any major he plays in. He still has -- he still has a good ball flight. He still hits it well. Once he puts it together in a given week, he can win and will going forward.
Will he be as dominant as before? I think players have improved in general, so maybe not. But I still believe when it comes to the majors, they suit his ball flight, they suit his game. I played with him at the PGA and he still hit plenty of good golf shots. There's plenty of things I saw there. Okay, it wasn't his week that week, but when it is his week, he will win again.

Q. Do you think he's fighting more of a mental barrier than a technical barrier?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, in the end of the day, I was having this discussion a bit with other players with Bob Rotella around the PGA and I should actually know the names, but he mentioned two of the best players in the late 70s and early sate tees and they were the two guys that everybody wanted to copy their golf swings. And both of those players came up to Bob Rotella on different occasions and said, they wouldn't like my golf swing so much if they had to swing with it; as in both players didn't like their own swings.
And you see that a lot with players. You know, everybody looking in thinks, hey, I could work with that, I'd like that. But the person themselves obviously feel a little differently about it. So yeah, you know, I'm sure if there's a little bit of that in Tiger, that he's not as happy with his swing as, you know, if you turn around and gave that swing to somebody else, they would be thrilled sort of thing. But that's the nature of the game. He hits shots that he's not happy with and that's why he works on things like that.
Yeah, there is an element of he's not as -- he's getting certainly -- and this is what I would have seen at the PGA. Certainly he played better, much better than his score; whereas when he was on top of his game, he always scored really well. It was very rare that you would ever see Tiger Woods walking off a golf course where he had not got the most out of his round, where he certainly didn't at the PGA. He got the minimum out of his rounds, and that usually is down to more frustration with the technical side and not necessarily that there's so much wrong with it.
You know, he hit plenty of good golf shots. But he certainly -- you know, he's not -- when you're kind of happy with your game, you tend to get the most out of it, and you feel like you played like you shot 70 and you end up shooting 68. And when you're not happy with your game, you feel like you played like you shot 70 and you end up shooting 72. I experience that myself a lot. That's kind of what I see in Tiger's game.

Q. What would be your definition of a dominant player?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: It's hard to be dominant. My own idea, what I would be looking for, in myself, in my game and what I would inspire, is to be in contention more or less every week I play; to have that dependability that when you turn up, you're going to get yourself into -- with nine holes to go, you might have to have a big nine holes. You might have to have a normal, an average nine holes and you might have to hold onto it; but with nine holes to go you have got a chance of winning.
And if you look at Tiger, four of the last 14 years, every major championship with nine holes to go, okay, some he might need to come back with 4- or 5-under par, but he had a chance of winning that's what dominating is to me. It's not the guy shooting 66 on a Sunday to finish fourth or third or something like that. It's the guy who has a genuine chance going out there on Sunday to win on demand.
So the ability to peak and I think Tiger had that; so I would think the dominant player is somebody who understands the game, knows his game, and can say, okay, these are the important events during the year, and he more or less 75, 80 percent of those event, his game peaks right there and is right in contention. Not necessarily win because it's very hard to win a tournament when you're coming up against a guy who having a hot week, it's his week; but it's not that hard to be in control of your own game when you are right there in position.
When you look at Tiger, a lot of times he got himself in position and put a lot of pressure on the guy that he was coming down the stretch against and actually if he didn't do something the other guy let slip and let him win sort of thing. So that would be dominant, being there all the time, hanging around in the winning position.

Q. Is there such a player right now?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I would certainly look at world No. 1 and world No. 2, the two players to me who are the most in contention. Lee and Luke without a shadow of a doubt, every week have -- even like at the PGA, both of them made a run, somewhat of a run. I know when you look back you might think they were well out of contention but when they got to 5- or 6-under par through ten or 11 holes of the last round, it was not for sure the other guys were going to finish 8- or 9-under par. That could have been the winning total. I think those two have been pretty dominant, Lee and Luke, for close to 18 months now, two years. And it shows up in the World Rankings.

Q. Curious what your thoughts are on the belly putter, and if you had the ear of your boys at the R&A, you being an ambassador and all, what you would advise them to do or not do in that regard.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: You know what, I may go down that road one day myself. What can I say? I would be of the belief that the Rule of Golf says you can't attach the putter to your body. That's what the rules say. So is it attached or is it not, is the next it question.

Q. Apparently not.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, obviously, you have to understand, as well, the USGA and the R&A rule on the Rules of Golf.
So they can make any ruling they like. The TOUR doesn't have to go with it. The TOUR can always allow them or whatever, but I actually don't know where -- what way to go with it. You know, certainly it's been probably -- they probably got away from it with Bernhard Langer first attaching it to his arm. What difference is it attaching it to your arm or holding it in your hands. I think that was probably -- was there anything before that? Did anybody have a belly putter before Bernhard attached it to his forearm and would have walked up to Bernhard Langer and said: "You're going to have to finish your career because you've got the yips, you've worked so hard on your game, you're a great ambassador, you're a great player but we are going to stop you playing the game forever because we don't want you to attach it to your hand." So there would have been a certain amount of sympathy to let that slide at the time.
You know, same with the belly putter. If the first guy who used a belly putter came out and won a major, we are all going to be -- it's more of an issue now because somebody has won a major using it. But, you know, the fact is, the first guy to use a belly putter was so chronic at putting that nobody really cared, did they, and he's still chronic. (Laughter).
Who was the first? I'm not blaming that guy but that's how it got by. When nobody got the rule on it because it didn't matter at the first instance, now it's becoming putter of choice. It's interesting, you will see young kids, and as some of the guys on TOUR, have never putted with anything but a belly putter.
As I said, once it's within the rules, I wouldn't use it for myself. But who knows what I'll need to do in years to come. But it's a tough one for the government bodies.
But as I said, it's a tougher one for the TOUR than it is for the government bodies, but the government bodies that make the rules -- the TOUR doesn't have to -- the TOUR plays on its own decisions.
So I don't know where; as I said, it's just not clear where it stands, as I said. But certainly it's hard to go back. But they have gone back on other rules. I would say to you, the groove change rule has made a massive change to my game. Like incredibly big change. Like massive change. I would say I'm definitely, you know, game is a lot easier with the other grooves for me. So they have gone back on the rules and made the game tougher for certain people. But if I was making the rules up, I would be the only guy allowed to win every week. Sounds like good rules to me! (Laughter).
It's not up to me individually to decide what suits me and what doesn't. It is up to the government bodies to figure that out and rule on it for the greater good of the game, and you know, is the belly putter doing that much harm? Are they gaining advantage? As I said I think over the years, it's been easy to let it slide because of the fact that, you know, guys use a belly putter were just bad putters so nobody really worried about it. Now good putters are using belly putters.

Q. Two weeks in a row kids out of college have used it since they were teenagers. And now they are lining up?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I would think so, yeah. I think it's becoming much more common because there are good putters winning with belly putters, whereas years ago, they were never good putters, and even if they had a good week, they were chronic putters the follow week, so it never came on the radar as much.
But who knows what the answer is? I just don't know. But if they want to I think chat rules, only let me win every week, that sounds good to me. (Laughter).

Q. Already got your rules changed for this year?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, if I had a choice, the groove rule would be the one that suits me the most. But you know, that would be a perfect example. I'm sure going down that road, if I had one rule -- if I had a choice, I would much rather have the groove rule back for me and leave them with the belly putter. So there you go.

Q. It's a conundrum.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I think conundrum is to do with spelling.

Q. Like to ask you about a couple of holes on the back nine, the par 314, it's about 238. What's your strategy? How do you approach that?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Try and hit the green, 2-putt, leave happy.
It's obviously a big hole over water. There's a bit of wind down there. You know, it's a 5-wood. There's a water hazard in the front. You know, especially with a 5-wood and a strong wind, there's out-of-bounds only five yards right of the green. It's not like you want to get one up in the air there. And then you find the green is a real tough green. It's got two knolls in the green.
Yeah, any time you make three on that hole, you'll be very happy this week. I see that they only have one tee backed out, and it doesn't look like they are going to go forward so it seems like a difficult golf hole, yes.

Q. And the par 5 16th, a little bit bigger. And also, the weather -- the greens can affect those holes one way are or another?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: 16 is a nice par 5. Again, bunker off the tee at 285, you hit 3-wood and you can reach the green. There is out-of-bounds all the way down the right-hand side so it's not like you can get wild off the tee. Once you -- if you can hit two good shots to the front of the green, the difficulty is at the green. There's a severe slope from front to back and a big tier on the green.
I would assume they are going to put -- the pin positions on the green are very limited with the speed the greens are at. I would suggest if they had a choice, they would not use the front or the back of that green. If they don't have a choice, they are going to have to use the front and the back at different times.
Really, there's a lot of slope on the green. When I was out there, one of the guys with me just for a bit of fun hit one up on to the tee box behind the green and spun it off the front of the green. So he hit it over the green on to the tee box, back down, down the tier and off the front. He's trying to do it on purpose; so it is a difficult green, and you will need -- any player playing this week will need to figure a way of taking the spin off his approach shots, being able to control from 70 yards to 130 yards hitting shots that do not spin back because the greens have a severe slope and they are quite fast.
LAURA HILL: Pテ。draig thanks for coming in. Good luck this week.

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