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February 6, 2013

Padraig Harrington


MARK STEVENS:  We'd like to welcome Padraig Harrington.  Padraig, if you want to talk about your thoughts coming into this week.  I don't know if you played the courses, a little bit about the course conditions, and then we'll have some questions.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Well, obviously my amateur partner won here last year.  We tied, so I always look forward coming back to AT&T:  Pebble Beach, Monterrey, and Spyglass.  It's one of the more enjoyable weeks of the year.  No matter how the golf goes, it's always a bit of fun here.
The golf courses are obviously drier and firmer than we have seen in the past.  I believe the forecast is for some rain tomorrow, so all those practice rounds may be to no avail.
Just in general looking forward to it.
MARK STEVENS:  Questions.

Q.  Do you look at Monterrey Peninsula as the course you need to shoot a low number at when you approach this tournament?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  I think we played it two years now, and it has given up some scores at times.  I played it yesterday and the greens were very, very difficult.  The golf course is obviously quite fast, the fastest of the three courses.  Greens are very, very fast.
So I wasn't necessarily looking at the best‑ easy would be the wrong word‑ but as the most advantageous one of the three.¬† I think Pebble sometimes because they said it can be easy for the first three days can be a good golf course to get a score on.
I know in the amateur competition Spyglass is very difficult for us.  A lot uphill second shot, so on a tough day Spyglass can be hard.  In the winds you're judging a lot of uphill and downhill shots.  Probably not the one to play on a windy day, to be honest.
But they all have their own character and things like that.¬† At the end of the day, certainly team‑wise, yeah, Monterrey will be the one to have a score on, but, you know, pro‑wise I think you got to play well on all three golf courses and see where you're at after 64 holes.

Q.  Any example come to mind, a hole or a green that you hit in the practice round that was much firmer than you remember in the past?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  All of them.  Monterrey the greens were very firm and fast.  I'm going up to Spyglass now.  And Pebble, where the greens are firmer and faster, nearly if you hit a good wedge shot you would spin back because of the slopes in the greens.
So Pebble is quite interesting because you have to fire it up past the flags.  If you're getting any spin in your wedge shots you can get a little hop forward as well.  If they used back pins it would be very awkward.  You would struggle to get back to the pins, let's say.
It's different.  We're not exactly sure we're going to meet those same conditions tomorrow anyway.  If they do change tomorrow, I think the weekend is to be better.  Probably have softened up a little bit anyway.  Might be a little bit more like what we're used to here.

Q.  And the fairways also?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Yeah, the ball is running out.  Yeah, they're very nice here and Pebble and very quick in Monterrey.  You get a drive moving in Monterrey and it's going 60, 70 yards now.  Certainly with a little bit of help it's certainly moving out there.

Q.  What is your takeaway from the way you played last week?  You seemed awfully enthused about...
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† I'm always enthusiastic at the start of the year.¬† I'm an optimistic person.¬† Yeah, you know what?¬† I played very well last year hitting the golf ball‑wise.¬† I saw more of that last week, so that's nice.
I had putted well my first two tournaments in Europe.  I putted well throughout start of the last week's tournament; lost my way a little bit on Sunday.
But I'm optimistic that I've seen some good things in my putting, and if that comes back, on top of hitting the ball well, you know, good days ahead.
As I said last week, it's easier to be patient when you're playing well.  I kind of feel like it's going to happen so I don't have to force it at the moment.

Q.  Lee is here for the first time in a while.  Do players come to a guy like you and ask for your opinion on tournaments?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Lee is hardly a rookie, so he certainly didn't ask me.  You know, in general it comes up in conversation, yeah, at different times.  Sometimes specific players will come to me and ask me about an event, no doubt about it.
But in general, it would be just general conversation.  Every player will get a feel for a tournament.  Like me going to Phoenix last week.  I don't think I asked any individual player, but I knew exactly what it was like because I must've been in conversations where people were talking about it and I was listening.
So that's how you kind of learn about it.¬† It is word of mouth, but not necessarily asking.¬† Sometimes you'll ask directly, but I can't think of any specific occasion.¬† If I was certainly traveling‑‑ I would be more likely to ask if I was going out to ‑‑ I would ask over here, too, but I tend to ask him more about a venue if I haven't been there.
Could be down to where to stay, what type of golf course, the grass.  Usually I've seen a little bit on TV as well, and that sometimes attracts me to an venue.
So there's lots of things that go into how you pick the golf courses you want to go and play, and one of them is to talking fellow pros.

Q.¬† Speaking to Lee, he obviously moved to Florida for the winter and is kind of enjoying living in the United States.¬† He's excited about playing year‑round and playing with his dad.¬† Seems like he's in a good place.¬† I know you're not the him, but maybe comment about how the challenges would be for a European player to come over here and back and over and back; whereas living here would make a difference, I would think.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  It's a difference, there's no doubt, about the living.  But that doesn't mean it's any better or worse.  Everybody is different in their take on these things.  Some people have no problem traveling.
Some people want to spend much more time in their own bed, home.  We're all different, and that's a good thing.
I do say for Europeans coming across here, it's quite a significant change at an event.  A lot of times in the States especially, players are more spread out at the events, different hotels.
Most weeks you could stay in the same brand of hotel and stay in the exact same looking room of the year.  You can eat in the same restaurants every day if you want.  There is always a chain restaurant.
So things are easy, and because they're easy, sometimes for the Europeans, because we're not into the U.S. sport and it's not as easy for us to get into conversations about U.S. sport, you can get isolated because of that.
As I often say, you can come over here and have room service in your hotel and finish your dinner at 6:00 and you're sitting there staring at the four walls.  Then you start thinking about your golf and analyzing your golf.  It's not a good place to be.
I have definitely seen Europeans come across individually, and because the culture is different it's hard to break out.  As I said, the last place you want to spend any time on TOUR is in your hotel room.
That's sticking a nail in your coffin.  You'll overanalyze your game when you're there.  You have to get out and about and break the barriers.
It's tough enough.  Like I'd be into the NFL.  I've watched some of the other sports, but I certainly couldn't discuss college sports with any of the guys over here.  I wouldn't have a clue.  You know, unless you went to one of them, you really that passion about it.
But in Europe, the difference would be all the players stay at the same hotel; we share cars to and from the golf course; when you come back to your hotel, there is always guys you want to catch up with.  And if you don't know people, you have to ask where there is a decent restaurant.
You know, you're not going to have room service in a European hotel.  I shouldn't have said that, should I?  (Laughter.)  So you're going to ask somebody.  You end up if you ask somebody, Well, have you found anywhere go to eat?  Eventually you end up going out to dinner with them and things like that.
So there is a bit more‑‑ as I said, there is a bit more socializing in Europe.¬† Often times there will be a soccer match‑‑ and obviously this happens differently for United States guys.¬† Everybody is asking, Where can we watch the soccer match tonight?¬† If you're on your own and you pitch up there, there's, people you know in there watching the game.
So there's an atmosphere, and obviously that doesn't happen in the States for a European player.  He's not looking to go down and watch the basketball game.
Even if he did, you've been there on your own anyway.¬† Good players have come over here and the lifestyle has knocked them back and they haven't performed on the golf course.¬† So Lee moving and living here‑‑ there are a bunch of European guys down there now in Orlando.¬† He's going to be able to talk about soccer any time he likes really.
It's so important to have that aspect, as I said.¬† I think it could be‑‑ I don't know‑‑ like I practice all year round in Ireland.¬† I will say it's nice to practice in warm weather.¬† It's easier to get into it.
Yeah, put it like this:  We'll be watching to see how he gets on.  Time will tell.  In two, three years' time he could tell us, This is the best move ever and he regrets he didn't do it 10 years earlier.  Or maybe he's heading back.  I enjoy my lifestyle, home lifestyle.
Nobody can for sure say that there is a perfect thing to do and a perfect formula.  Absolutely different people the lifestyle suits.  There are no doubts about it.  I've seen guys coming over and I've said, They'll do well.  They'll like the lifestyle and fit in nicely.  I've seen others coming over and said, They're going to struggle so much.  They're going to get isolated.
If you're in the Southern Europe you're used to going to dinner at 10:30 at night, so it's just a different culture.  For those guys it's always been hard for them.  But I'm sure it's not a big change for Lee.  I asked him this week, and probably the most pertinent question is was his wife and kids enjoying it.
He said they were.  That's going to decide a lot more about where Lee is living.  You better believe it.  It's much more to do with your family than anything else.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Yeah, but we talk about everything.  You going to sit down and have a conversation with me about Irish politics or economics in Ireland, it's just different.  Sport is obviously a very quick common ground.
Well, I can have a cursory conversation about some of the sports.¬† Usually conversation tends to be me asking questions.¬† You've got to remember, I was there three years ago.¬† I went to the no‑hitter in Fenway park.¬† I left after the seventh inning.
So that sums up‑‑ I'm watching the game of all‑time and I didn't realize.¬† I actually left at the start of the seventh inning.¬† My kids were hungry.¬† No idea what was happening.¬† As far as I could see, why isn't the guy hitting it?¬† (Laughter.)
So you got to understand it is a different thing.¬† And like as I said, the NFL I like and follow.¬† It's a lot easier.¬† Basketball is‑‑ you just have to have a passion about a team for some reason.
I see the guys, especially the college guys, it's amazing how much the guys are into their colleges.  Sometimes the guys never even went to those colleges, and the passion that they have for college sport here is phenomenal.
You know, there are other conversations, and as I said, I have a friend on the bag, and that's a lifesaver for me.  That means when I finish at 6:00 in the evening, there is no more golf.  That's it.  I'm back to normal Joe out there and we're discussing whatever is happening in the world that day and not sitting there or sitting in my room thinking about golf.
There is nothing worse.  I've seen many guys thinking they're being dedicated or whatever, but the last place you want to spend any time is your hotel room.

Q.  What did Dave Allred have to say about your kicking form?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† He hasn't commented yet, but I know he wouldn't be happy‑‑ at this stage I think I could teach kicking at this stage.¬† I didn't land on my kicking leg, which would be a no‑no.
I kind of was halfway between the side, and for him you got to kick with the quad.  I was kind of half and half.  I was afraid of missing the ball so wasn't thinking too much about my technique that stage.

Q.  You were talking earlier about which tournament to go to and venues.  Is the vibe any different this year?  Last year was Tiger's first year back here.  He's obviously not here, but obviously there are more and more top 30, top 40 players.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  I think what you're finding is that the good players are building relationships with amateur partners and are seeing this as a week to come and enjoy more than just playing golf.  There is more about it.
I've played with my same amateur partner for 13 years now.¬† Not all the time here, but 13 years in Europe‑‑ no, ten years and six years here, I think.
So there is no doubt this is a regular stop for me because of the fact I enjoy the social aspect to the week.  I enjoy the team camaraderie on the golf course.
Last year I got a bad start, but my amateur, he was unbelievable the first seven holes.  What got me back into the tournament was playing for the team.
I think I was three over par after five holes or something like that in Monterrey.  What really kept me focused was I could dig deep for the team.  I like that.  I like the extra.
I think more and more players are coming‑‑ like you see Lee with his dad‑‑ coming with the same partner they've played within the past and they're looking forward to it, because we play a lot of regular events on tour.
As good as they are, it's nice to play something that's different.¬† Last week was completely different; this pro‑am is also a breath of fresh air.
It's good for us.  It's not always the same.  I think AT&T do a good job here.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  I think Monterrey is a very popular golf course with the players.  The fact that people didn't like Poppy Hill suited me nicely.  It's a tricky course.  I would think my way around and worked well for me.  But I think Monterrey is definitely very, very popular with the players.
It's an easier golf course to play when you don't‑‑ when you haven't played a practice round.¬† Poppy Hills you have to know it really well.¬† You have to go up there and do a lot of the work on the golf course in preparation.
There's a lot doglegs and funky holes; whereas Monterrey has much bigger fairways and you can play with a yardage book.  Monterrey takes the stress off that tournament immensely.  You can definitely reduce your workload leading up to it because you don't feel like you have to go up there and measure every blade of grass.
It's a good, solid golf course and don't throw in too much‑‑ the yardage book, you can play from that.

Q.  You trained in accounting.  Do you analyze your game?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  I would look at the regulation stuff couple times during the year, but tends to be towards the end of the year.  I find that those stats can get in your head in a strange sort of way.  I don't even want to talk about it now, but I remember about two years ago I hadn't missed a putt from inside three feet.
I saw that in August and I couldn't hit a three‑footer until I missed one.¬† Once I missed one I was okay.¬† I was back in normality.
As it's been proven, the guy who hits the most fairways and greens isn't best player out here.  So I do my own stuff every week.  The ones I think are relevant, I keep track of those, and I have a good idea what numbers I need to hit in those stats in order to win a tournament and play well.  I concentrate on what I see as weaknesses.
Wouldn't be‑‑ as I said, I would rather miss a green ‑‑¬† you know, one will say I missed a green, but I would rather have the 15‑footer from the fringe.¬† You can definitely get caught up in the stats.¬† I remember one year I was No. 1 from the right rough and 150 from the left rough.¬† Made so sense whatsoever.
Some are important.  A late run in the year when there are more numbers it's more important.  Certainly wouldn't be analyzing my stats during a tournament.

Q.  And which ones are relevant?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† I keep a‑‑ well, they're all relevant.¬† I keep a record of my wedge play, putting, and chipping and bunkers play really.¬† Those are the ones.
MARK STEVENS:  Thanks for your time, Padraig.  Good luck this week.

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