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April 7, 2012

Padraig Harrington


BILLY MORRIS:ツ It's our pleasure to have Pテ。draig Harrington.ツ He, as you know, has three major championships to his record.ツ He has played here 13 times, and his best finish was fifth.ツ We are just delighted to have him back with us this year and to have him back playing so well.
Would you like to say a few words to start with, or just go directly to questions?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Let's go for questions.ツ (Smiling).

Q.ツ You birdied 18.ツ There's a perception that hole is playing really, really tough this week, maybe a little tougher than normal.ツ Is that the case, and can you tell us about the birdie there?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think 18 has played long this week.ツ You know, with no run on the ball, you're driving up a hill.ツ It's played into the wind a couple of times, so it's played long.ツ I've hit 4‑iron‑‑ I hit 5‑iron, 6‑iron today.ツ It was a little shorter the first day.ツ I think I might have hit 7‑iron.ツ It's played long up that hill.ツ It's a tough shot.ツ You're hitting off an upslope uphill.ツ So, yeah, it's certainly played tougher than other years.

Q.ツ Some people might not expect to see you where you are now, but obviously you came here thinking you would be where you are right now.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Not really.ツ I know my form, I've been happy with it in terms of how I've been playing, but I haven't been putting well.ツ So I didn't have any expectations of where I would be or anything like that, and I didn't read anything into it.
Again, I won't be doing that tomorrow, either.ツ I'm going to let it happen rather than try and force anything.ツ So I'm not too worried about‑‑ I'm trying to play down my own expectations, so I'm not worried about other people's expectations of me.

Q.ツ How exciting or satisfying is it to be in the position, be in the mix going into Sunday?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Well, hoping to hang in there at the moment.ツ I have no control over what the guys are doing on the golf course.ツ But I would be very happy if we could call it an end to the round now and start tomorrow; I would be quite comfortable with that.
But we don't get those choices, so we'll have to wait and see.ツ You know, I'm in a good position going into tomorrow.ツ If it stays like this, the likelihood when it comes to the Tournament committee, they generally set up the golf course on a Sunday that somebody is going to have to go and make birdies.ツ This is not a golf course or a tournament that you generally can play to the middle of the green and try to 2‑putt, no matter what your lead is.ツ You're going to have to play good golf shots and putt well on Sunday.
So it gives a great chance to somebody who is chasing here.ツ It really is a tough golf course to hold a lead on.ツ It's got to be‑‑ any time a hole can have‑‑ a guy can make an eagle and another guy can make a double‑bogey on the same hole and not a huge discrepancy on how they play it, that's a tough golf course to hold the lead on.
I'm in a nice position, reasonably relaxed position.ツ Obviously I'm chasing; it's not going to be the end of the world.ツ It's not like I've got a big lead going out there and I have to hold on to it tomorrow.ツ If it goes well, it goes well; if it doesn't, it doesn't.ツ It's not a big deal.
So I'm in a good position in that sense, as long as I'm not too far behind.

Q.ツ How good does it feel to do that in a major since it's been a little while for you?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, it's been a couple of years, as I said, I've won more majors than anybody else in the last five years, so in terms of, it's been a while; not really, when it comes to majors.ツ If you want to look at any multiple Major winner, look at the time frame over when they won their majors.
People have it in their head that they all won one a year or something like that.ツ Some guys, winning them over 20 years, and certainly most guys 10, 12 years.ツ So I have no problem that I have not won a major in the last couple of years.ツ I'm quite happy to be sitting on three.
When you think about it, there's only two guys playing the game who have won more majors than me.ツ So it's hard to be disappointed that I didn't win after winning three that I haven't won one a year since then.ツ It just doesn't work like that in golf.ツ It's all about cycles.

Q.ツ You said this is a tough course to hold a lead on; so would you rather be at the very top going into Sunday?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ No.ツ I'd rather be ahead trying to do it, but it's tough to do it.ツ You always want‑‑ you never want to give up a shot on this golf course.ツ You always want to be‑‑ I'd be very happy to have a one‑shot lead or a six‑shot lead.ツ I'd take my chances with it.ツ I'm just saying that it's easier to hold a lead on a difficult golf course.ツ What I mean by difficult, a golf course that par is a good score.
Par is not a good score all the time at Augusta.ツ You've got to make some birdies out there.ツ You know, you've got to make the odd eagle in this tournament.ツ So it's not like some tournaments where you just‑‑ the player who plays‑‑ it's not the player that plays the most consistent that wins at the Masters.ツ The player who plays probably some of the most exciting golf wins at the Masters.ツ It's not really a contest of fairways and greens.ツ It's a bit more flamboyancy in it.ツ There's a bit more‑‑ you only have to look at the way Phil has won some of his majors.ツ You've got to take on golf shots.
Fortune favors the brave at times here, and it can catch up with you, as well.ツ When you are leading a tournament, that's not the type of golf course you want to be on.ツ You want to be on probably a boring golf course, which this ain't.

Q.ツ Talking about exciting, how exciting was it to get those string of birdies together?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ It felt very comfortable at the time.ツ Just felt reasonably normal.ツ I have been‑‑ if you look at my scoring this year, I've had much more runs like that where‑‑ I can pick three or four tournaments this year where I've had four or five in a row in six holes in terms of birdies, so I made hay when it was going well.ツ I took on the pin on 17, I hit a great shot there.ツ When things are going well, you have to make birdies.
That's very much what Augusta is like.ツ When things are going, take your chances, because you'll get a few which go against you, and you've got to make up for those dropped shots at times.

Q.ツ Hunter Mahan was in here just before you, very articulate about his quest to get better and improve and not stand still; that's been your M.O.ツ Does getting in the hunt at majors make all your hard work seem worth it?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, well, I try and get away from trying to justify anything.ツ I am who I am.ツ I've spent my whole life trying to get better; changing to get better and continually working to get better.ツ That's my makeup.ツ If I wasn't in contention here this week, I'd be the same person.ツ Come Monday, you can guarantee I'll be working on something no matter what happens tomorrow.ツ That's the nature of the game.ツ You have to be trying to go forward in order to try not to go backwards.
It's virtually impossible to stay still in this game for anything more than‑‑ you might get away with a year or two, but you know, the history books are littered with guys who played well for a year or two and disappeared.ツ It's very, very hard to keep it going forward, and you know, my nature is to keep working at it to do that.

Q.ツ Luke Donald apparently shot himself out of the tournament, or felt like he did today, and said there's nothing worse than waking up on a Sunday that knowing whatever you do is not good enough, is not going to be good enough.ツ What will it be like for you tomorrow waking up knowing‑‑ what will your‑‑
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ That is a statement of a man who has had a lot of Sundays where he's either won or nearly won tournaments (laughing).
I've had a lot of Sundays where I've woken up trying to shoot a good score for momentum.ツ Depends on your outlook for these things.ツ If I'm 60th in the event and have no chance of winning, I'm going out there to try to shoot a good number‑‑

Q.ツ He said he would do that, too.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ It's a bit of a letdown for Luke because he's won nearly every tournament he's played for 18 months.ツ It's a strange position.ツ The rest of us have that position reasonably regularly, so we have to find other motivations on a Sunday.
In terms of my own motivation tomorrow, I'm just going to go out there and play.ツ I'm not‑‑ I'm happy with where my game is at and where it's going.ツ I don't need to go out there and prove anything tomorrow.ツ I'm in a great position in that sense.ツ I've won three majors.ツ I'm going to win more majors, so I don't have to do it tomorrow.ツ That's not my one and only chance; that's not my one and only chance going forward.
There are players out there who have not won a major who feel like, I have to take this chance because they have not come around.ツ Having won three, I realize that they do actually come around and they will come around.ツ And I don't need to panic tomorrow.ツ I don't have to‑‑ really, it's not‑‑ I have nothing to prove.ツ And that's a nice position to be in.ツ I think that you have to‑‑ I said it outside.ツ You have to be very careful.
Once you've won at majors, and certainly when I've discussed this with other Major winners, you have to be very careful.ツ You've hit such a high in your career that you want it all the time.ツ I've seen guys who have won multiple majors and all they want to do is win the next one.ツ And that want sometimes can get in you.ツ I think it has with me at times.
So the key for me is to let it happen rather than going out there desperately wanting to win.

Q.ツ Phil has talked about the golf course being a little bit softer and therefore taking away a little bit of an edge for experience for people like you.ツ Besides the obvious experience you just talked about, with this golf course the way it is, is it firming up enough that you guys that know it better are going to have some advantage?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think that you have to know the golf course full stop on Sunday.ツ You've got to know the feelings coming down the stretch in a major.ツ You've got to know the feelings coming down the stretch at the Masters, because the Masters is different.ツ That back nine is different than any other major tournament, purely because of the risk/reward all the way home.
There's so many shots that you can take on, and if you hit a good shot‑‑ like you can take on the corner on 13; if you hit it around the corner, you can be left with 6‑iron into the green and great chance of making eagle; and you hit it a little bit left, you're teeing it up again.ツ There's so many risk rewards.ツ There's a lot more intimidation through the last nine holes and that really does take a lot of experience.
What Phil is saying, certainly Phil has a great imagination and he really does like it when the golf course gets‑‑ the more imagination needed, let's say.ツ He loves to see, in some ways, a trickier golf course, because he really does have an impressive imagination, and over the years, I've seen him play some shots that even I think I would be pretty good, but at times I wouldn't have thought of what he's thought of.
So yeah, he likes it when it gets like that.ツ I like it when it's‑‑ I really don't mind which way it is, but I'll take it being fair as it probably will be tomorrow.

Q.ツ With a fantastic round to finish, Justin Rose did the complete opposite.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I didn't say to him‑‑ I asked him in the locker room how he finished and he said level.ツ I was 4 and I was thinking, wow, we put the two halves together, it would have been really good.ツ But actually I kept that to myself.ツ (Laughter).

Q.ツ Till now.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Well, hopefully he's not going to read the newspaper.

Q.ツ I'm glad you mentioned you spoke to Justin.ツ Does it feel like you're walking a tightrope all the time on the back nine, and you can do what you did or Justin can do what he did.
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ This is the beauty of the golf course.ツ It becomes so much harder when you're defending something.ツ It really is a tough golf course when you've got a bit of fear in you and you don't want to make a mistake.
Yet when you've got no fear in you, and you've nothing to lose, all of a sudden, you come whipping around the corner on 13 and it's no problem hitting it onto the 15th green and you can go at the pin on 11 even.
But when you're defending something, it really does‑‑ it's tough out there.ツ You're being a little bit cautious and all of a sudden, you know, it's a two‑shot swing against a guy who is free‑wheeling it.ツ And that's why I think this golf course, it really is the ultimate golf course to win on, and the toughest golf course in the game probably to maintain a lead.
You know, we have seen leads disappear out there, and it's so easy.ツ In a matter of holes, you can have, you know, four‑shot swings and more.
BILLY MORRIS:ツ Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much.ツ Pテ。draig, good luck to you tomorrow.

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