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May 14, 2013

Padraig Harrington


THE MODERATOR:¬† We would like to welcome Padraig Harrington.¬† You made your first start here last year at a top‑15 finish.¬† Talk about playing this course and your thoughts coming into the week.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Obviously I enjoyed my week here last year.  What position did I finish?
THE MODERATOR:¬† I think it was T‑15.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  I knew I enjoyed the week here last year.  I enjoyed the golf course, I found it a pleasant week to stay at the facilities, the golf course is good.  I wanted to fit it back into my schedule.  Of last year I didn't play Wachovia, service my son's first communion, so I came here, and as often happens, if you like a tournament you come back the next year and I'm delighted to be back.

Q.  Talk about your success on the TOUR and how you're doing this year?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† Yeah, I've had a couple of tough weeks.¬† You don't want to be going into a golf course that you're not comfortable on. ¬†I certainly, the BMW next week is a course I struggle on and certainly I'm glad I'm not facing that this week because as I said, when you're slightly out of form you don't want to go to a golf course that you don't have an eye for.¬† This particular golf course, I enjoyed playing it last year.¬† As much as professional sports people try and go through the processes and concentrate on doing things that create self‑confidence, we always like results to give us a little bit of confidence and as I said, you're looking for good performances, on familiar ground, to build up that confidence.

Q.  Could you comment on the reemergence of Tiger Woods and how that changes the dynamic of your sport when he's playing well?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  You know, he's obviously been great for the sport.  Him coming back again, you know, certainly it creates that buzz around that event.  It will be interesting to see.
There is no doubt golf is a bigger sport when he's playing well.  Everybody going up against him it is a story.  Tiger Woods and the one against him is going to be the story if Tiger is playing well, which is exciting stuff.
Ideally for TV ratings it would be Tiger and Phil but Tiger is good enough for any TV ratings and it's good to see him back from that point of view.¬† From an individual's point of view, I'm going to compete against anybody on Sunday so it's a big enough battle trying to beat myself on a Sunday so whether it's Tiger or Phil Mickelson there, it's the same task for me, so I would take it reasonably positive that he's back in the game, obviously playing very, very well.¬† I don't think he has‑‑ he could be playing better than he was playing in 2001, but he doesn't have as much as of a margin over the field as he had in 2001.
There are players who are certainly capable of matching him on his A game.  Definitely there are players, plenty of players matching him on his B game.  Maybe in 2001 when he was able to win with his B game, I'm sure he still can win with his B game but the margin between him and the rest has narrowed in that time even if he has improved as a player, everybody else, due to him, has jumped substantially.

Q.  Are you still using the belly putter?

Q.  How is that going?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† Well, I had no 3‑putt last week.¬† In my own stats, I only missed two putts under 8 feet which would be an all‑time record, so it's still in the bag.
On tough greens last week that was.  I would be happy if I putted like that all the time.  So it's still in the bag and I'm gettin' morecomfortable, I nearly dropped it on the ball at one stage last week because I'm not used to handling the putter and things like that.  You're still not quite sure when you go to tap in a putt even from 18 inches when you're leaning in you just go and do it normally or as a belly putter, the familiarity is an issue.
But you know what?  I'm certainly gettin' used to it and as I said, the one thing that most people cry about a belly putter is pace and my pace was excellent.

Q.  Did you have any philosophical issues with it?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  I am againstit.  I fully believe it should be taken out within the rules of golf because it's a controversial issue and it was never meant to be that way.  Just like we're discussing it now we will continue to discuss it because it's within the controversial issues of the rules of golf.  Similar to thegroove rule, as soon as it's band, there will be nobody talking about it.  It will be a footnote in history just like the groove rule is.  I do believe it's better for the game to be banned.
Just like the grooves, I feel it's not for the betterment of some individuals, no doubt about it.  The groove rule hurt me deeply, losing box grooves, but I knew it was better for the game.  It's similar with the putter.  Anything that's within the rules, I'm there, I'm a firm believer in the rules of golf and as I always say if I at this time it in the threes and I can figure out how I can get a free drop I'm taking that free drop.  It's to my advantage that I know the rules and this is a perfect example of something that's within the rules and you've got to use everything within your power, you know, because the rules will hurt you as much at times as they will help you.

Q.  You've played well on TPC courses.  Is there any connection between that and a links course?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† No, I'd like to put that down to, I just play well on golf courses.¬† TPC has good practice facilities and I like that, and they are generally prepared for professional golfers.¬† I like the facilities around it and is just always a good chipping area and practice facilities, so I could see that as a positive, but I play well on links golf courses as well, which can be ‑‑ they can be what they are.¬† They might be‑‑ hardly any facilities, sometimes, so hopefully I just play well because I'm a professional golfer and not just because of the golf course.¬† But I do‑‑ you have to make every golf course suit you, you have to be the Gary Player, "This is my favorite type of grass, the best golf course I ever played of this type," you have to have that attitude.

Q.¬† Padraig, you had a good opening round last week and then‑‑
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Yeah, I drifted away.

Q.  Do you have anyidea what happened?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† I would say, you know, if I was going to pick out anything in my game, my expectations are very high and I'm trying too hard.¬† Not dealing very well with‑‑ I'm going out there thinking I'm going to hit‑‑ I am hitin'‑‑ I'm comfortable with how I'm hitting it, so I go out there thinking I'm going to play great, so I'm just trying hard and not letin' it happen.¬† I'm expecting to hit great shots all the time and not dealing very well with my misses at the moment.
It's a difficult situation because as I said, you want to go out there and perform but I have to let go a little bit in order to perform.  So expectations are set a little too high and then really, really trying so hard.  Which is part of my nature.  It's hard to get away, but that's just who I am.  I've just got to level it off a little better and try and take it down a notch or two, relax a little bit.  These are all the things I struggle with but that would certainly be what I need to be focusing on at the moment.

Q.  What do you have to do on this golf course to play well?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:  Certainly there are two types of holes on the golf course for sure.  There are birdie holes out there and then there are certain holes that if you can get through the week without finding disaster on, you're going to do nicely.  There are certain par 4s, you want to hit those fairways, get away nicely on it.  So there is definitely a course of two halves in that sense, there are holes that are nicely open, you open the shoulders, you're thinking of making birdie and there are other holes that you batten down the hatches and try and get through it nicely during the week without creating too much drama.
A good example, No. 9.  If you hit the fairway four days, you probably played the hole in under par, but it's a narrow tee shot, an awkward tee shot.  Do you lay it up?  There are quite a few things going on in that green, but if you hit four good drives down there it becomes a good birdie hole, and you hit a couple of bad drives you're bringing bogey and double bogey quickly into the mix.

Q.  Is there anything about this course that you find unique that you look forward to playing or even the number of players?  It's a diverse field this year with international players.  Anything you find interesting?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† You're correct there is plenty of international players so there is nice familiarity around the event even though I play a lot in the U.S. now so I would be familiar with everybody in the U.S. What's unique about it?¬† You know, it's a very easy week.¬† I think that's probably‑‑ it's probably‑‑ it could go down as the easiest week of the year considering that you stay on site, literally I'm‑‑ like I walk out of my hotel room I'm out the door and on the putting green, I'm the on the practice range, you drive to the other tournaments.¬† This has got to be the least stress of any event you could have during the year, all the way through it.¬† It really it as a regular tournament out there this is as easy as could be for a player.

Q.  In a few years this tournament could be moving to a course it hasn't even built yet, how much can that change the dynamic?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† You'd have to wait and see the golf course.¬† It could change it, there is no doubt about it, it could make it better, who knows.¬† At the moment I can only judge what this is and it really is‑‑ this is a very easy week on the PLAYERS.¬† And maybe some of that comes from the fact that you've just come off the TPC, there is a lot of hype, stress, and you come here it's very pleasant, enjoyable, comfortable week for the players.¬† It's one of those weeks that‑‑ if every tournament week was like this you could probably play 50% more tournaments.¬† This is not going to take much out of you this week.

Q.  It's difficult for you guys to make schedules, having a designer who built something you respect, are you tempted to go there or is it your schedule?  What takes precedence?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON:¬† Schedule‑‑ we're incredibly lucky as professional golfers that we have choice.¬† We have a lot of great events and every event‑‑ there are a couple of events most weeks, two or three to choose from and you would like to play everything, but obviously you can't.¬† So schedule is‑‑ everybody is slightly different, if you're a rookie coming out hear you play every week you can, whatever choice, if you're a more secure pro out hear you start choosing I like to play‑‑ a secure pro might like to play three events, take two weeks off and if you're a pro like me, you look at the priorities for the year, how do you build up and peak four weeks, the warm‑ups for the big events goes in next and then you put in the next biggest events in the schedule so the likes of TPC, Sawgrass would be in there, BMW Wentworth, FedExCup, things like that.
After that you're trying to play the golf course you played on in the past well.¬† So you're looking for golf courses that you enjoy playing and played well on in the past.¬† On top of all of that then you have to look at the physical side of, you know, how many events can I play where I need to take a break.¬† For me, I generally like to go three events and take a week off, three events take two weeks off, that sort of thing.¬† I like to get one three‑week break during the year and six weeks off during the winter.
So those are kind of parameters but they all change very quickly, when you're playing well, and you, "Oh, I'll play one more."  We're so lucky when it comes to golf.  We're in this day and age doing very nicely.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks for your time, Padraig.  Good luck this week.

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