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PORTUGAL MASTERS


October 10, 2012


Padraig Harrington


VILAMOURA, PORTUGAL

PAUL SYMES:ツ Thoughts on the week ahead?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツツ Yeah, you know, it's always an interesting tournament this.ツ Obviously it's always fascinating to come down from Ireland or I suppose Great Britain and Ireland, whatever way you want to look at it; it's not so far away and the weather is so much better, like it really is awesome to come down to such beautiful weather at this time of the year, October, and it's probably until.ツ So that's nice obviously.
Interesting about the golf course, 20‑under par is going to win this week, but the golf course always feels like a stern test.ツツ There's plenty of shots on it, but for whatever reason, the scoring is all red hot and you have to get your head around it, you're going to have to shoot 20‑under par and take on the shots because it doesn't feel like it's an easy golf course but it certainly over the years, maybe because the greens are good for holing putts on, but over the years the scoring has certainly been very low.
PAUL SYMES:ツツ Does that bring a pressure of its own knowing you're perhaps losing ground on the field?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, sort of, I think most pros, it's a little bit more comfortable where 68 is a good score and level par is not such a bad score.ツ Obviously you don't have to shoot 20‑under par, in one, two or three rounds, and you have four rounds to do it.ツ So you can't afford to have a couple of slow nine holes.ツ You just don't want to have too many of them.
You do need to have a run at some stage during the week where you probably need to play nine holes twice this week at 5‑under par, and then play steadily for another nine holes and then two average nine holes or something like that will get you to 20‑under par.ツ It's windy enough out there, doesn't feel like it, but it always is, 20‑under par.
PAUL SYMES:ツツ Looking to push on to the top ten in The Race to Dubai?ツ
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, you know, I think obviously I'd like to win before the end of the season; if I do win before the end of the season, it puts me in that position.ツ You know, if I can get a win before the final Race to Dubai, the events are substantial, so the win would push me up close and up in The Race to Dubai, besides winning the tournament, would be meaningful, as well.

Q.ツ You were talking about sorting out the putting, is that the only thing left that's being sorted out?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ You've always got plenty of stuff that you're tinkering with.ツ The one with the highest priority is the putting.ツ It's the one that has not been as good as it's been in the past.ツ I'm sure there's players that would enjoy putting like I'm putting at the moment but for me it's letting me down a little bit.ツ I see a lot of good stuff in my putting, and I see a lot of good stuff in my short game and I see a lot of good stuff in my long game.
I'm kind of just trying to stay patient and let it happen and I'm sure I'll go on a run where good things happen and it all becomes easy and you'll be wondering where‑‑ you'll have forgotten how hard it was for a period.ツ When it gets easy, just think it's like this every week.
The game is always, as if all sports, it's peaks and troughs.ツ You can't peak all the time.ツ I'm just trying to stay patient and wait for the next peak.

Q.ツ You stayed patient long enough with all those second places for years, and then you came up; do you feel the same way now?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I'd love a second place now‑‑ by the way, if I finish second this week, I'll be cursing I said it.ツ .
Everything has its place at different times.ツ You know, the second places were part of me growing as a player.ツ I was learning gym game.ツ I did plenty of things wrong and I did plenty of things right for those second places.
It's all about developing, learning, and I'm certainly in a different type of phase now and I hope that when I come out of this, that I'll be a better player than I ever was.ツ And you know, a lot of the motivation is trying to get better.ツ It's very hard to stay still.ツ It's virtually impossible.ツ You go backwards very quickly.ツ You know, you're always trying to push yourself to get better.
It's hard when you're being solely judged by results all the time, because sometimes those are not a fair reflection of things.ツ You can get a lucky break to win a tournament and you can get a bad break to lose a tournament; that can be outside your control.
But the key would be to get yourself in contention.ツ Like, you know, when it comes to say‑‑ well, any tournament, really, the key is the more often you're there on a Sunday, the more you're going to win.ツ You're trying to develop a consistent game that week‑in, week‑out, unless something goes wrong, you're going to be there or thereabouts.ツ It's impossible to win every week, but it's possible to get yourself pretty close a lot of weeks; and if the right things happen over the last nine holes, you will be the guy lifting the trophy.

Q.ツ When you talk about always trying to get better, has anyone ever said to you‑‑
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, if it wasn't broke, I'd agree with it if it was perfect.ツ Can't have perfection.ツ You can strive for excellence but you can't have perfection.
So you know, people would look at me and say, oh, well, you won three majors.ツ That wasn't perfect.ツ You know, some good results, that's for sure, and there's parts of my game that, you know, in those winning, that I was distraught about.
Just because you're getting a good result doesn't mean that it's going to last or there's anything like that.ツ No matter what I'd done after winning three majors, that was a peak.ツ Can't peak all the time.ツ Just can't.
So you have to step back from it and hopefully you'll come back and peak again, and hopefully the mean gets better over time so that those peaks come around more often and the troughs are not as deep and you're generally improving.ツ But winning three majors was a peak for me, I do believe I'll do that again and there's no doubt about that in my mind but it's foolish of anybody to believe that because I won three majors in 2002, one in 2007, and two in 2008, you're not going to extrapolate and say you're going to win three in 2009.
You just have to look at anybody who has won majors over their career.ツ Perfect example is Ernie.ツ It's taken him 20 years to win four majors.ツ You know, Jack Nicklaus‑‑ most guys win majors over a 20‑year period.ツ Nick Faldo took a long number of years.ツ Nobody sort of wins them all together.
People think that once you're winning them that you should continue, but it doesn't work like that in major golf because there's a lot of things that go into it, and it is about being pair and continually working to get better so that when you get your next opportunity, you ride that out and you might get another couple.ツ And then you'll go, you know, you'll go back to normality for a little while and then hopefully you'll come back and win another few.ツ Wouldn't that be great.ツ That's the only way it works.ツ Even Tiger Woods, he won 14 majors in 14 years.ツ He didn't win one a year, though.ツ It wasn't consistent.
And there is no consistency‑‑ you're looking at me with three majors, and every year I'll name three players that are having their bumper year and they will go back to normality.ツ It lasts about 15 months and they will go back to normality and they will be themselves and if they are patient, they will have another bumper year in two or three years' time.ツ But it doesn't last.ツ There's nobody that's on a string for all the time.ツ There's peaks and troughs in all sports, and it's a question of making sure that you wait around for the next peak.ツ That's very deep.

Q.ツ You look at guys like Jimテゥnez and Thomas Bjテカrn in their 40s, they are still very competitive and even Tom Watson almost winning The Open.ツ Is there a sense that maybe the best could be to come?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Well, I'm fitter and stronger.ツ I hit the ball further than at any stage of my professional career.ツ So I don't have any‑‑ there's nothing in my head that says I'm not going to be a better player next year than I was last year.ツ I don't feel in any shape or form; I continually improve my physical side.ツ I'm still keen.
There's no doubt about it, when you're out here a long time, I certainly don't believe I'm burnt out or anything like that, but you do change as a person relative to your golf.ツ I've seen a lot out here, and you know, your opinions change or your enthusiasm changes about certain things, but I'm pretty motivated about my own game and that.ツ But yeah, definitely you know, as you get on, life changes, your priorities can change, too.ツ Your young kids‑‑ mine are certainly becoming boys, and they get more involved in sports and things like that, and you're missing out more.
So, yeah, your priorities definitely change.ツ I am very motivated for my golf, but certainly you definitely have a different outlook on things.

Q.ツ And secondly, if you had a choice, which you probably don't, but if you had a choice of Olympic Gold medal in Rio or win a major along the way, which would it be?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I can't believe that there's a person who plays golf that wouldn't pick a major.ツ I do believe an Olympic Gold medal is a very, very big thing, though, and in time, who knows, in a hundred years' time, Olympic Gold may be bigger than a major.ツ But at this very moment in golf, you are judged by‑‑ well, at certain levels you're judged by major championships, so I really, really think the Olympic Gold medal, like to be an Olympian full stop, to win a Gold Medal is an incredible thing.ツ That's why I spoke at the, do you call it, the Congress or conference, to get golf into the Olympics.ツ I really believed that it's the way forward for golf.ツ It's a big deal for golf.ツ I particularly, personally, would love to be an Olympian.ツ I would love to win that medal.ツ But in relation to the other things, it will take time to grow; as the four majors did.ツ They were not always majors.ツ It will take time before, as it has in tennis.ツ When tennis got into the Olympics, it certainly wasn't as big a deal as it was this year.ツ I think everybody looked at it‑‑ they definitely are ranking the Olympic Gold medal in tennis as a big deal now.

Q.ツ Murray's U.S. Open will probably be more significant than his Gold Medal but maybe the two were linked together?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ They are getting close, aren't they.ツ Really look at tennis as a great way of comparing golf.ツ When tennis went first into it, I'm not even sure if everybody turned up.ツ There was certainly a lot of talk about it.ツ But now, you know, they make a big deal about the tennis and the Olympics, and golf will go like that.ツ It might take 20 years; it might take 40 years, but in time golf will be‑‑ an Olympic Gold medal in golf could surpass a major.ツ It doesn't at the moment.ツ But that's the reality; it can change.

Q.ツ Just going back, we were talking about 2007, 2008, you were the total focus of golf in Ireland.ツ Now, obviously there are a couple of other Irish men who seem to have more focus than you.ツ Are you happier being in the background or in the front?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Was as I often, always say, the worst thing in the word is not being asked for an autograph or not being asked for an interview.ツ All of those things that you think that golfers think are burdensome; the more you're asked, better you're doing.
I'm always keen to be out there in front because it says I'm doing really well on the golf course.ツ The interesting thing in an Irish context is I could be doing unbelievably well on the golf course, and now, you know, there's massive competition for the media attention, considering there's two more Irish pros in that sort of ‑‑ and you can throw Darren in there, as well, who recently won a major, three more Irish pros that we're all vying for the public's attention.
But it's very important to have it, because the day you don't have it, that means you ain't playing very well.ツ So it's good.ツ It's good for us all, and as I said, we all want it.ツ I can guarantee you‑‑ you won't be in professional golf‑‑ if you don't want it, you won't be very successful in professional golf because you'll find a way to sabotage your career if you don't like the limelight, because you need it.ツ The only way to be successful is‑‑ it comes hand in hand.ツ But yeah, it's good to see the other guys there, and it's unbelievable what Rory has done in particular.
But there's plenty of room for us all.ツ That's the way I look at it.ツ So we can all have our piece of the pie.

Q.ツ You've been pretty out spoken about the issue of long‑handled putters and broom handles and stuff.ツ Am I right in saying that you are the only guy that wears the R&A logo in your golf kit?ツ Have your opinions been sought by St. Andrews at all in terms of their decision‑making process?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ No.ツ No, I have asked them, but they‑‑ I have done some work with them in testing and things like that, and I've asked questions, trying to get a feel for what their opinion is.ツ But, no, they are not seeking out my advice on that particular thing.ツ I suppose I'm involved, so I'm not the best person to seek advice on.ツ But considering I've worked through the R&A for a number of years, and they banned the grooves, which were a massive help to me; if I had any say, I would have persuaded them not to ban the grooves.ツ But you know, I won three majors with those grooves.ツ Nobody seems to worry about that.

Q.ツ The fact the three majors this year have been won with non‑conventional putters, is that a worry?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ I think everybody in the game, if we turned around tomorrow and somebody invented a putter that was attached to the body, like a belly putter or a chest putter or a chin putter or an under the armpit putter or an elbow putter or whatever it is, it would be banned.ツ There is no way it would pass the rules tomorrow, if it was brand new tomorrow, somebody came up with that idea, not a chance would it get by.
And that's basically what they did with the groove rule.ツ They said, hang on a second, this has gone too far, we need to take this back, and they decided that they would, which is‑‑ you know, they have done it before, it's just a question of, you know, finding the right process and wording to cover all the bases.ツ But I don't think there's a single‑‑ surely there's nobody believes that it wouldn't be banned if somebody invented it tomorrow.

Q.ツ Like tobacco and alcohol?
Pテ.RAIG HARRINGTON:ツ Yeah, it's a different thing.ツ We are not allowed to have a tobacco sponsor in golf.ツ It's a very lucrative sponsorship but not a very appropriate sponsorship.ツ So there's tough decisions made all the time for the right reasons.ツ Banning the grooves was‑‑ was a big blow to myself, and I would say Phil Mickelson, two players, we miss more greens than others but made massive advantage of having the grooves.ツ It no doubt helped my golf.
You know, I'd love to have them back.ツ It definitely made the game easier for me.ツ It's the exact same situation with the putter.ツ It makes the game easier for some guys, and they may contend; oh, well, you can't take it away.ツ Well, they took the grooves away.ツ It mightn't be such a bigger deal to a lot of people, but the grooves were a big deal.ツ I used to carry two sets of golf clubs to every golf tournament, one with boxed grooves and one with normal grooves and I switched them out.ツ I might have half and half, depending on the rough.ツ I took it to another level and that's why it was a big deal to me.
You'll probably find that when I won my three majors, I used a mixed bag of irons with different levels of grooves depending on the rough so that I could get a flyer when I needed it or get spin when I needed it.
So it was a massive advantage, and they took that away and it's pretty similar to the putting thing.ツ The key with the putting thing is, if they started it off tomorrow, they would say, hang on a second, we are not letting that through.
One thing about the putting thing is, I hope they don't wait till I'm 50.ツ If they are going to do it, do it.ツ (Laughter).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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