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October 12, 2011

Padraig Harrington


SCOTT CROCKETT: Pテ。draig thanks as always for coming in and joining us and welcome to the Algarve and welcome to the Portugal Masters. Third here in 2009. Give us your thoughts looking back on that and also looking ahead to this week.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, obviously had a nice run at it in 2009. It was a slight chance. I think it was Lee Westwood and myself to win there and it was kind of his tournament but I was somewhat in the mix coming down the stretch.
The best thing about the golf course is -- it's a good golf course, there's lots of shots you have to hit, but you're going to have to shoot 20-under par here which puts you under a little pressure. The greens are soft, the fairways are soft, but there's plenty of water out there and you've got to take your shot on and hit them if you're going to shoot the scores.
On the other hand, 20-under par definitely puts a bit of intimidation into it and it's a pretty solid course. The par 3s are long enough. Obviously depends a lot on pin positions, the greens are soft which does make the course easier, but there's plenty of water holes on the par 5s that you still have to hit good shots if you're going to make birdies.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Your own game, we know you've been working on changes in your swing. How are they coming along?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I'm always working on changes. Yeah, good. Last 20 years of my life I've been doing that. I'm a lot more focussed on my scoring at the moment which is a good sign and trying to tidy a lot of parts up on my game. I'm not so focussed on the swing side. That seems to be working quite nicely.

Q. From the Dunhill -- to last week?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: As I said, I drove the ball very well. Austria, as well; Dunhill. Short game has been pretty decent which often happens when you're working on things. Because if you actually stand up there and hit a flat-out 7-iron, I would be better at doing that than hitting a smooth 7-iron.
When your mind is on your technique you find it very hard to hit the in between shots and soft shots and things like that. I could see that at Dunhill, and I made mistakes at times like that. The routine, when you hit a lot of balls on the range, your routines are not that strong and you don't pick your shots as well. So I'll been trying to get more into that this week and not worry too much about the swing.

Q. Just to follow up, you've been using that word automatic --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I don't think you ever get automatic. But I'm not thinking about it as much, no. Certainly not. I'm much more into the finer elements than sort of those -- the gross motor passes let's say.

Q. When you talk about other elements of the game, a couple of years back, your short game was so sharp. Have you been concentrating -- working as hard as you would like?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: No, not necessarily so. Actually believe it or not my short game has been sharp all the way through. You know, I think when you work on your long game, your long game actually suffers. It wasn't so much -- my short game actually has been solid.
It was more to do with, you know, you're trying to hit a cut 7-iron and you doubt and you get a pull draw or something like that. It's not swing related. It's much more mental sort of thing. Yeah, that would be more like that.
But you know, as I said I've always been that type of player who has tried to manage both the technical side and the mental side, and, you know, it's a juggling act. You're trying to keep all of the balls in the air, and not always that easy. I certainly didn't let my short game -- if anything, I kept it up to a pretty high standard because I needed it.

Q. (Inaudible.)
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: You'll have to tell me that statistic, because I saw the ones that I keep, and it didn't. So what one was that? Where?

Q. On the short game.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Not the ones I looked at it was. I know from 50 yards or something, there was one year or 50 to 75 yards or something I wasn't as good.
To be honest, that's the distance you want to put the boxed grooves on. If that's the case, that is exactly -- the boxed grooves from 50 to 75 yards, you can't generate the spin, and that's where I would have excelled, because I had the sharpest legal grooves you could get basically during that period of time. Wilson used to produce them right on the edge, and I was a demon around the greens with those grooves because of that.
So I certainly would not think it's from a lack of, you know, practise or whatever. You know, stats are interesting. I could give you a very good quote on stats. It's not my quote, now. I'll give you a great quote on stats. Stats, you could accuse a man of using stats like a drunk for support rather than illumination. Read that recently -- I didn't look at anybody (laughter) It was up and down.

Q. It was a good quote --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: No, I used that, but for an example now, from 2005 to the middle of this year, actually about March, I would have said, in my mind, I had the yips in the bunkers. So this year, actually, I got it sorted out. But my stats were better last year than they are this year out of bunkers.
So sometimes stats don't always -- I obviously had harder bunker shots this year or didn't hole the putts, one or the other. But stats can be misleading and a player has to pay attention and be very careful on what ones he relies on. There's no doubt as I said to somebody else once, I said, oh, I would love to be Top-10 in driving accuracy and Top-10 in greens in regulation, and they started naming a few players who were there and said, well, would you like to play golf like them. And the fact was, no, because really, realistically, those stats don't count for anything.
So you know, as I said, it's an interesting situation, and generally a player who is focussed on a stat is not playing as well. When you start focusing on your stats on the golf course, it's not great analysis to go through.
But yeah, I would be -- my short game has had to be sharp over the last period of time. And the interesting thing is, what I'm working on more on my putting, the interesting thing is, I'm trying to hole more putts from a long distance than short ones and that's not really a stat issue, either. That's kind of a different sort.
But mind you, it does come from the stats. Like I would be right up there, Top-20 in short putts, no problem. But I'm outside a hundred from ten, 15 feet, 15 to 20 feet and right backup at the top of the lead from 20 feet and out. I'm using the stats to concentrate on that area but not necessarily the one you would be talking about. The stat I would be talking about at the Dunhill, I had 15 chip shots and bunker shots in total. Took me 31 shots to play those holes. So out of 15, I averaged, well, just 95 per cent up-and-down or so, a little bit more.
So you know, it's sharp, no problem with that. But it's very important, as I said, that's where I do well. But that stat, which I've heard, 50 to 75 yards, I was seven feet and now I'm 14 feet. It's an isolated stat, though. There was a time I remember looking at those stats in the States, there was a time I was No. 1 from the right-hand rough and I was 150th from the left hand rough. (Laughter).
Now, it made no sense. So it is isolated. But if I was going to pick a reason for, that I would pick the sharpness of grooves, because I'm a great believer, if I'm on a par 5 and I can't reach, I'll just hit it as far up as I can, even if it's in the rough and chip it when I had the boxed grooves, obviously that's not as easy to do now, because you do need your grooves.

Q. Have you found that the last couple of years, has it mentally --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: No, never a problem. It's what I've done for the last -- you know somebody was asking me, they said to me, you're changing things. I said, the one thing I haven't changed in the majors is what I do: I keep changing. Before the Majors, during the Majors, between the Majors, after the Majors, I keep changing.
It will be interesting to see if I stop changing, but I do keep changing, and all of my success has come off the back of big changes. When I came on Tour, I'm sure this is very unusual. I went to a putting week the week before I went on Tour, or the month before I went on Tour and went from hitting a cut and never being able to hit a draw in my life and I played the first two years on Tour with a sling hook, I hit it 40 yards right-to-left and I was the happiest man out there because I wasn't able to draw the ball as an amateur and that was a massive change. Then I went to Bob which was a massive chink. I worked with Jos Vanstiphout going into The Ryder Cup in 1999, and I finished second, second, the first two weeks. The next time at a tournament in April, I finished second, first. Those are big changes.
It's kind of a constant thing in my career. I need change in order to bring a spark to it. You know, as I said, Bob Rotella, first year I worked with Bob Rotella, I was never outside of the Top-10 when he was at an event. So change certainly tends to do me a lot of good.

Q. Inaudible.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Illumination or support, which is it?

Q. You have a pretty good record at the WGCs, playing Shanghai --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: I think this is the last chance for me, is it like -- I only play in that one event in China before, I assume, I don't know if that count.
I'm aware of it. It's a good golf course. I like the HSBC event out there. It's an event I look forward to.
You don't expect not to be in them if you know what I mean. Yeah, I would be aware of that this week. I know what I need to do. I need to get inside the Top-50. Obviously a win would do it, but I assume it's a high-enough ranking event for a win, but also World Ranking points, I'm not sure how many I would need.

Q. You have to be inside the top 50 if you haven't won --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: If I haven't won -- got to win, there you go.

Q. Inaudible.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Well, you try not to have expectations. I'm happy with my game but there's no point in having expectations. You go out there and the hardest hole on the golf course, you play well, you make birdie and the easiest hole, you play badly and you can make bogey or double-bogey.
No expectations. Just go and play.

Q. Inaudible.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: 18 greens in regulation in the last round and two par 5s. The only time I've ever done it in my career, what a waste of time that was. I shot 70 by the way. I shot 70. I could hit nine greens and shoot 65 but I shot 18 greens, two par 5s, and I shot 70. And the only thing is, the only nice thing; Phillip Price is a friend of mine, so I was happy for him. But yeah, I don't think I've ever done it again. Not in practise, even hit 18 greens in regulation.
So the question was --

Q. Not winning --
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: That's part of it. That was a perfect example of -- they were telling me, I had 29 second places, or it was probably 28 at the time or something like that. And of course, they weren't counting the third places and fourth places in that and I was pointing out, well, there's an example of going out and doing everything right and not winning. Other times I would do some things wrong and other times other players would do things right.
Then I went on a run and probably ever since then, I've had much less opportunities to win, and yet, when I get the opportunity, I end up winning, whether somebody throws it at me or I do something good. It's reversed itself.
But I can only explain this, when I was an amateur, when I was 18 years of age to -- no, 19 to 21 and a half, I had a period where I had -- I haven't told this stat in a while. I had 24 top four finishes with two wins, and then I went 18 months without ever losing. So you know, it was all of a sudden, I couldn't -- it wasn't always my fault that I didn't get over the line and then it wasn't always my fault when I won.
I know I'm digressing here and telling stories, but my favourite story on this is at the Irish Youths, I'm playing the Under 21 tournament and I had a two-shot lead with four holes to go. I get news of the lead, and I think I've won the tournament because I've got really through all the hard holes. I bogey three of the last four holes and when you're playing junior golf, your fellow competitors don't go easy on you when you mess up. So I was called every name in the book afterwards. And you know, I felt terrible. I cried after that. I was a man at that stage.
And the following six months later, I went back to the same course, played a small event, I had been changing my swing during the winter. I tried to hit a draw actually and got to the 18th hole with a one-shot lead, completely had the biggest choke of my life, hit it straight right off the tee.
Lucky that it only went ten yards into the forest rather than 40 because I hit some of the trees. Had a hack at the trees, hit the tree and was up, and we were all looking for it for 30 seconds, it came down between two bunkers that I could have hit over with my tee shot, in the rough. I got a flyer from the rough with a sand wedge to a foot.
Now if it was two feet I would have missed it. I was dying at this stage. I was struggling. I tap it in and the amount of people that came up to me and said, what courage, and what gumption you showed; people look at results, that's it. They always look at results and determine how a person did based on results.
But results can be misleading. You can play fantastic golf and not win an event and you can play horrible at times and get over the line. Now, it's important to get over the line no matter what way you do it, but, sometimes they can't always -- it's not always in your control.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Anymore for Pテ。draig, stats or not?

Q. (Inaudible.)
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: Tried to keep it short. Normally I'm on the hour, I've got a four o'clock appointment. So that was me trying not to talk.

Q. (Inaudible.)
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: You know, look, I finished second in tournaments and felt I'd done really well, and I finished second in a tournaments and just you couldn't console me. So every second place is different. There's just not -- just because it says No. 2 doesn't mean it's anywhere near the same. Some weeks, you mess up to finish second and you feel horrible. Some weeks you play great and you shoot 65 and the last round you finish second.
You know, you can't say, I'm three shots behind the leader -- like Rory's second in Korea. Yes, it would be used as a label to say, oh, Rory you finished second. But he shot 64 and it was an impossible -- Rickie Fowler won that tournament; Rory didn't lose it.

Q. (Inaudible.)
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON: But we are coming down the stretch being second. There are good second places and there are bad second places. And I can guarantee you, you take every second place of the year to get the one win in the major, that's for sure.
What I know what his career would be defined by, the one major win would be why 2011 is remembered, even if he won another ten events, 2011 would be remembered because of his first major.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, as always, Pテ。draig. Good luck this week.

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