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June 26, 2012

Padraig Harrington


Q.テつ Thoughts on the course?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ The new tee box at 17 is great and 18 has certainly grown into itself.テつ Last two holes might have been the ones that stood out but now they are fitting in nicely to a golf course that really is as good as I remember.テつ That's basically what I'm saying.

Q.テつ Any tiredness at all from your recent run?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ I'm sure there is, yeah.テつ I'm sure there will be plenty.テつ I don't know how it's going to‑‑ I struggled last week early on in the week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday after the U.S. Open.テつ I don't seem as bad this Tuesday as last Tuesday, which is interesting.
I travelled‑‑ I have to understand that I'm not going to be able to do my preparation as I would like to this week.テつ I'm just going to have to accept that fact.テつ There are certain things that I can't get done that time frustrates; it's just a busy week.テつ I played nine holes on a Tuesday and 18 on a Wednesday, and do a number of different things on Tuesday practise‑wise, not knowing the golf course sufficiently well, you have to play a full 36 holes practise and I won't even do that at the majors now.
So in terms of preparation, yeah, I'd love to spend more time practising my putting and getting the pace of the greens and maybe doing some more time chipping and pitching and things, but I just have to accept that I'm tired and that I'll be better off having a fresh mind rather than say I knew every nuance of the golf course.テつ Just accept that I will make some mistakes and short‑side myself a couple of times with pin positions out there.
You want to be as fresh as you can, especially if you get into contention, because if you start halfway in a tournament like this, again being at home, there's obviously expectations and pressures.
But when you get to Sunday, you feel like you've had two weeks of tournaments.テつ The key is maybe to sacrifice a little bit early on and hopefully be ready for Sunday.

Q.テつ It's 1953 since the old Irish Open was last played in the North.テつ Did you have any role to play or were you approached about coming back here, and what were your thoughts?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ I had no role whatsoever.テつ Big a surprise to me as anybody else.テつ I'm sure it wasn't to some of the other guys.テつ It was nothing to do with me.テつ But absolutely thrilled that it's here.テつ Thrilled I was coming to Portrush.テつ Thrilled I was coming to Northern Ireland.テつ I think they have exceeded all expectations so far.
As I say, the atmosphere and the crowds are turning out.テつ It seems like it was an inspired decision.テつ Obviously it will lead to other Irish Opens and more things down the road.

Q.テつ Playing a practise round today; is it the course set up to your liking?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ Yeah, I think the golf course is set up perfectly.テつ It's different, the way we play as professional golfers, the style of golf is different to what I would have played when I played here 17 years ago.
The greens are reasonably receptive, which is a godsend for us, because we are just not used to the ball moving around inside the green complexes and trying to cut the ball into a right‑to‑left green, and you have to trust that, yes, the wind will move it and things like that.テつ When you are playing in warm weather, the ball doesn't do anything like it does here.
I think having had the rain over the last couple of weeks, it's going to help us out a little bit that the greens are not too firm.テつ It would certainly‑‑ it's not that the golf course wouldn't play well if the greens were firm or the course was firm but it's further away from what we play in professional golf, so we would be less accustomed to it.
At least now the way the course is set up, like I said, if you miss a shot, especially off the tee, actually around some of the greens, there's some bushes, things like, that even out‑of‑bounds close to greens and stuff like that, so there are shots you're going to find trouble, but you definitely can hit good shots out there and I think it would be a question of trying to make as many birdies as you can and accepting a couple of mistakes here and there.

Q.テつ Can you sort of compare the 64 prior rounds you've had here?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ I shot 65 here and had the course record for a long number of years.テつ I would certainly take that now.

Q.テつ Can you translate into how many shots harder the course might be this year from the prior 64 rounds?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ Completely different.テつ The way I play golf is totally different to the way I played golf back then.テつ I couldn't even begin to tell you how I would have tracked my way around the golf course compared to nowadays.
Really, it's not comparable.テつ My whole game back then was never missing on the wrong side of the green.テつ Now I miss on the wrong side far more often.テつ You're chasing birdies now.テつ Back then I was happy to miss on the right side and just get up‑and‑down all the time.テつ Just a different game.テつ I couldn't compare the golf course.
To be honest, who knows, I can remember hitting driver into Calamity on 14 there.テつ I don't think it's going to happen this week, but you never know.テつ I suppose it could happen.テつ That's the great thing about links golf course and this weather, especially the weather forecast that we have.
It would be ideal if we got days like this where you have little squalls coming in and little showers.テつ I want to be tested and I want everyone to be tested in the worst of the weather but nobody wants to play 18 holes in that sort of weather or 72 holes.テつ It doesn't matter who you are, it's going to watch up with you if you continue to play in the wind and rain.テつ But a few holes of it every day, just keep us all in our place.

Q.テつ Do you see any reason why it couldn't stage a British Open?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ Can I see a reason?テつ No, the golf course is close to being, challenge‑wise, of being an Open Championship golf course.テつ I don't know about the other side of it.テつ The golf course itself‑‑ I have no idea infrastructure‑wise.テつ I haven't got into event management at this stage, so I have no idea how the flow of people‑‑ I was joking with Keegan Bradley coming up 18 that the wings on the left‑hand side are very tight on the 18th, six, seven yards from the left edge of the fairway.
But I did point out to Keegan Bradley that when he's coming down the 18th, I think he's playing with Rory, there will probably be 20,000 people trying to walk through that six yards of area, so it would be amazing for his golf ball to bounce; so it's actually a little wider than he thinks.
So I just have no idea how the flow of people around the golf course, how any of that stuff is going to go this week.テつ I'm sure they are trying their hardest, and you need to host a big event like this so you can prove yourself.テつ This, as I said, if ever there was a good fore‑runner; like anything else, the R&A would be quite impressed that it's sold out here.テつ They would not be disappointed to have The Open here; they would be guaranteed to sell out.テつ Maybe there would be a limit on numbers.テつ Maybe that would be issue.
Basically we are spending all of our first time talking about infrastructure, when really the golf course, what I can talk about would be well to play The Open and people would love the atmosphere that's created around the event and the town here.

Q.テつ And you hope it would happen during your playing career?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ Yeah, I would love to play an Irish Open here‑‑ a British Open here or The Open here, as it is, to be honest, would be just unbelievable.テつ I suppose The Open can be played anywhere in the world, and it would be great to play it here, yeah, especially on a golf course like this.
I don't know, when is the next available date?テつ Maybe I have an inside; maybe I can just go and talk to them and just say‑‑

Q.テつ It's ready.
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ It is ready.テつ There's no doubt the golf course is ready and hopefully they are watching and as I said, a lot comes down to ‑‑ I don't think I've said that before.テつ It all comes down to whether they can stage event or not.テつ

Q. テつThe fact that you just brought up the R&A, you know Peter Dawson more than most; have you ever discussed it with him?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ I've had plenty of discussions with him.テつ I think as a policy, the R&A would be thrilled if they could bring The Open Championship to Northern Ireland or Portrush.テつ But I think there's bigger questions than that when it comes to infrastructure and stuff like that.
So, you know, it's just a different issue than I would be capable of really understanding to the extent‑‑ I don't know what goes into the back room of a tournament.テつ I only see the front office.テつ So the golf course is well capable, and as I said, they would love to bring it here, but there's bigger issues than that.

Q.テつ Bringing the Irish Open here, do you think that lengthening, obviously a necessary evil, but is it a good thing that it's longer than the course you played when you were growing up?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ Yeah, I think every golf course, as part of natural development, every golf course has changed over the years.テつ St. Andrews used to play from the greens to the tee boxes.テつ We now play from the tee boxes to the greens.テつ Every course is bunkered‑‑ there used to be a bunker on the first and 18th at St. Andrews at one stage; every golf course evolves.
Putting new tee boxes in and lengthening, the strategy done the right way, is no problem.テつ I think that you necessarily‑‑ when you put in a new tee box, you have to understand that weather conditions play a big part in it.
So when you're hitting the drive into a rainy squall out there, it's going 232, 240 yards at times, if you're hitting it downwind‑‑ I'm sure if you get sunny weather, you're hitting it 340 yards.
You have to understand how the course is going to play and what conditions.テつ Just because some guy hits a wedge into a par 5 doesn't mean the par5 is a bad hole or too short, because, you know, turn the wind around and all of a sudden it's unreachable.
I think issue I have with people lengthening the golf course, it should only really be done for the pros, because when they move the pros to a new back tee, the members' tees goes to the old pro tee and the members have not gained anything on the pros.テつ I often see tee boxes at golf courses that are far too far back.テつ Especially I see that all happening in Ireland.テつ You turn up at most golf courses in Ireland‑‑ I'm going to have a look around here.テつ You turn up to most golf courses in Ireland and the fairways are 18 yards wide.テつ You know, the members are playing off the old back tee boxes as they built new pro tees.
The fairways we play on, especially in the U.S., are 30 yards wide.テつ They might look 20 yards wide on TV, but 30 yards wide.テつ The ball goes, in, Dallas we are hitting the ball 340 yards on fairways, with the heat, you're carrying 350 yards.テつ So you hit an 8‑iron‑‑ last week I hit an 8‑iron into 170, something like that.テつ I'm hitting 5‑iron 170 yards when it's a little bit cool out here in Ireland.
So you don't necessarily need that length for the members and you don't necessarily need to move the tee boxes back and you certainly don't need to have the fairways‑‑ narrowing your fairways to 18 yards only encourages people to hit it wider, because you can't hit the fairway, you might as well slash it and hit it 30 yards ahead in the rough.テつ Having wider fairways encourages the penalty to miss them.
Every time I look at a members's golf course here, I think, boy, those fairways are narrow.テつ In the States, they are nowhere near that.テつ It's just an image that is out there from watching on TV, and as I said, the ball goes a long way in the heat.テつ And unfortunately, we don't see that too often in this country, the heat.テつ So not necessarily‑‑ it's definitely necessary for a pro tournament.
And by the way, the end doesn't scare us.テつ As they did at the U.S. Open, put as many 500‑yard par 4s in, doesn't bother us at all.テつ Like the first hole at Olympic Club was 520.テつ Hit 8‑iron into it most days.テつ But that's what happens in a tournament when it's warm and you hit a good drive and the fairways are firmer every day and they cut the fairways tight.テつ We start hitting the ball with 40, 50 yards of run.テつ That's just the way it is.
Turn up there and play that golf course in the winter, and it would be‑‑ you probably wouldn't get home in two.テつ Would be probably a wood in there.テつ So when you see on TV and what you see professional golfers do is not reality.テつ That's all I'm saying.テつ It's not.
But we do need it for professional tournaments.テつ Additions like on 17, that's a great tee box for us, puts us under pressure and can't leave anything right in that bunker.テつ It's good for professional tournaments, but not necessarily for amateur tournaments or at least members.

Q.テつ Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're the first to admit you've had a rough time recovering from last year, yet things seem to have picked up, certainly true at the U.S. Open.テつ How comfortable are you with the putter now and how significant is that going to be for you getting back?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ Like I said, I feel like I played well for a long time.テつ I'm continually walking off the golf course with the feeling of‑‑ obviously walking off the golf course feeling like I played like I shot 70 and walking off with a 72; whereas, when things are going well for you, it seemed like you played that 70 and you walk off with 68, and it really does come down to holing a few putts, keep the momentum in your round, holding a 10‑footer for par, something like that.テつ You can hit three bad golf shots onto a par 4 and if you hold a 10‑footer for par, you forget about the three bad shots.テつ If you hit two good shots and you 3‑putt it, all of a sudden, you lose your confidence in your swing for some reason.
It can happen like that.テつ So, yeah, I definitely have been putting better through from Dallas, the last four or five tournaments.テつ Actually I putted well at Wentworth even though I didn't get the ball in the hole.テつ Strange, that.テつ (Laughter).
So basically, yes, Karl, I am putting better.テつ I'm not going to putt well every week, that's not going to happen, but I'm definitely holing more putts and it's helping with the score.

Q.テつ After some Top‑10 finishes in the U.S., how much would a victory mean?
Pテδ.RAIG HARRINGTON:テつ If I had not won before, I would say it's ironic that I spent all of these years trying to win the Irish Open, and I come in when I kind of most need it, under pressure, to have a win and get one; but the fact that I've won one, I'm quite relaxed.
I know certainly pre me winning in 2007, the stress of coming to an Irish Open, the expectations; it's manic this week.テつ But I've won one.テつ It's not so bad now.テつ I think also with experience, as I said earlier, I can't do more preparation.テつ I can't go about my business this week like I would at a normal event.
But I'm okay with that.テつ I've won one already, so it's not so bad.テつ I ticked that box.テつ It would be brilliant to win again, but to be honest, I'd settle for winning anything at this stage (laughter).テつ Doesn't have to be as big as the Irish Open.テつ A win is a win.
But yes, it would be special to win.テつ And I think what would be more special to win is winning the Irish Open in Portrush.テつ I think in front of the crowds that are going to be here and expected to be here, I think that makes it a bigger deal. テつIt's not normal, the Irish Open this year, it really isn't.テつ Like I said, the last time was 1953‑‑ where was it in 1953?テつ I think it was Belvoir Park.
So it is special that it's here.テつ You know, it would certainly nostalgically go down in history that it came up here and won this one.テつ I think the atmosphere, anybody is going to be proud to win the tournament this week on this golf course with the people that are coming out.
Whether it's some guy who has never played golf in Ireland, his first time here and the Irish Open has no significance to him bar a paycheck at the end of the week would be excited to win this tournament because of the atmosphere created.テつ It's not like there's going to be a dozen people watching on the last day; there's 27,000 people, and they are all going to try to cram into that 18th hole on Sunday and it will be like‑‑ I don't think you could surpass the atmosphere that's going to be here during the week.
As I said, if you go to an Open Championship, you have 35,000 people or so here, yes.テつ But to be honest, I think the atmosphere here will be just as good.テつ It's quite a tight golf course that way.テつ It's quite enclosed.テつ It's already feeling‑‑ you can already feel a nice vibe about the place.
So it's just going to be one of those weeks that anybody playing here is going to feel the pressure and it's going to be an exciting week, and to be in contention, even more so if you win it.
NEIL AHERN:テつテつ On a positive note, thank you very much, Pテδ。draig, and good luck this week.

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