What they said: Padraig Harrington

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March 15, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

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PHIL STAMBAUGH: I guess the week got started off yesterday on the right foot with a hole-in-one and a special meeting with a special Olympian, and then you followed it up today by a personal best 10-under par 61, including birdieing the Snake Pit. Just a few general thoughts about the round and maybe talk about yesterday, as well.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, where do I start; I've been playing nicely in practice. I shot 64 yesterday. I've been for a long time now, I play better on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday than I do on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I'm trying to stay patient. I know my game is good. One of the hardest things is to wait with confidence. I haven't putted very well, certainly very inconsistent for the last year and it's been showing up in my results.

A lot of my good weeks are struggling just to get inside the Top-10 and that's kind of just showing up in my World Rankings, because unless you're finishing first, second or third you are not getting substantial points in that sense. So, yeah, it's been a strange last year, but as I said, I'm very comfortable where my game is at. I've made a lot of-- I feel like good improvements and I feel like things for a long time, I'm feeling like things are ready to happen.

Obviously today it showed the potential. Obviously today is a peak. But we'll wait and see what happens over the next number of weeks. I've certainly been-- I have a good understanding of my game, let's say, at the moment. So I've been quite comfortable going into nearly every tournament this year.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: You just want to take us through the highlights of the round? We see the birdies there on the sheet. But any highlights or any good saves that kept you going.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Going through the round, I hit it to about five feet on the first with a sand wedge. Hit it to about five feet on the second with a wedge. Chipped and putt at the third. I holed like a 4- or 5-footer at the third for par, which was a little break; those are the sort of things you need to do.

Hit it to 12 feet for birdie at the 4th. That's the same club I holed the day before on the fourth. So I played it in three shots in two days; that's okay.

5, disappointing I missed about a 10-footer for birdie there. Uphill, pretty straightforward putt. Straightforward 2-putt on 6. Holed a 9-footer for birdie on 7. Got up-and-down out of the bunker on 8.

Q. What did you hit on 7??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Gap wedge to nine feet.

9, I hit 9-iron from the left right-hand rough to about five feet.

10, I hit an 8-iron-- the back nine, I certainly holed more putts. 10, I hit an 8-iron to about 18 feet, I would have said. Rolled that in.

11 I choked like a dog on. I had an 8-footer up the hill, as easy a putt as you could get and I got over it and started thinking, if I hole this, I'm 7-under par, seven holes to go, I only need to make five more birdies and was nearly playing the hole. I just got totally out of where I should have been, hit a bad putt and missed.

But if anything, it kind of got the 59 out of my head. So as much as I did choke on is that correct it made it easier for the rest of the holes because I didn't think-- I didn't really think 59 was on after that.

I holed some nice putts coming in. I holed about a 20-footer on 12. 2-putt at 13.

Q. What did you hit on 12??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 12, I hit 9-iron. Made a bit of a mess at 14, the par5. Interesting, shoot 61, three downwind par 5s I didn't birdie.

Hit a nice shot on 15 just short but chipped it up stone dead. So a couple of times missed greens, like on 15 and 8, I came out stone dead, because it's nice, keeps the momentum going.

On 16, I hit a lovely 6-iron in there. Every round, you're waiting to get through your tee shot. 16, I hit a nice tee shot and hit a 6-iron to about six feet, right on top of the ridge there.

You know it's your day when you're putting down very much a crown there. You're really guessing at which way it's going to go, but on your day it goes the right way. I guarantee you there will be a lot of players having a frustrating day, telling you they hit it exactly where they wanted and it missed. I squeezed mine down the right-hand side and it just hung in there nicely. That's your day.

17, I hit it a 4-iron, I hit it high in the clubface, a hybrid, well short, 75 feet and holed it.

Q. 74 feet, 11 inches.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Must be the longest putt I've holed on TOUR. I would like to tell it you was funneling right up the green and couldn't go anywhere else, but certainly the last 15 feet it was right in the middle of the hole. That's a bonus obviously.

But then I hit a nice drive down the middle at the last. Hit pitching wedge to, I suppose it was 15 feet. When it's your day, I could have turned my back on the hole and I would have holed the putt on the last. That's just the way it is when things are going for you.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: I know you had a special moment yesterday with a special Olympian. Before we go to question, let's talk about that and you have a new charitable initiative, as well.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, at any event, I do something, organized through the event, as well, for the Special Olympics. There's a young man, actually they have a program here at Copperhead where they employ people, train them up and this young lad, he's in the Special Olympics. He's the national champion, I believe, and he came out and met me on the 10th tee. He was, as always, these guys are great. He was just full of it, really just a real nice guy to be around. Perfect guy to send you off in your round of golf, plus he was just happy with life and it's infectious.

So it was nice to meet him. Tyler is his name and he works here at Copperhead. So fair play to Copperhead, they are doing their part, too.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: And you have something new, as well.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Getting it all out now. For the three week as the Masters, Houston, the Masters and the week after, I'm auctioning every bit of branding I have on me for my wife's cousin who was paralyzed in a car accident so we are trying to raise some money for a trust.

So basically, any branding, it's all available, but you've got to get in quick because we are closing the door pretty much in the next couple of days. Next week, the hat is gone but everything else is still available.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Is there a website?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Go to www.PadraigHarrington.com. That will do it.

Q. You mentioned 59 entered your head. When did it enter your head??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: As I was going through my routine to hit, what, a 7-, 8-footer up the hill on 11, which is exactly when it shouldn't go through your head, but that's when it did, yeah. (Laughter).

I'd love to tell you I was so good that bad thoughts didn't get into my head, but unfortunately they do. It cost me there. But you know, as I said, I think I gained; it certainly went out of my head after that.

But it's something, as far as I'm concerned, shooting 59 would be a career highlight. So I'm sure I put so much emphasis on it, I'll probably never be able to do it because it really is something that any player who has ever done, that I put them right up there on a pedestal; it's something else to be able to shoot 59. As many birdies as I made today, you still have to make more. It's tough going.

Q. Kind of a twofold question. How long do you feel as though you've been playing well; that you've felt capable of something like this??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I felt I've played better than I've performed for the last 18 months.

Q. That long??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah. I played better than I performed. But I'm playing better again now.

So even though, like my performances were distinctly average over the last, say, 18 months, I was playing okay; performed average. Now I'm playing good, so I'm actually playing better than I was over the last 18 months, as well as I just need to take that to the golf course still.

Q. And you talked about patience, because you knew you were playing well. But at what point does frustration kind of crowd into the patience circle??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I'm pretty good on that side of things. I pride myself on being very strong mentally, but you know, it's frustrating, as I said, when your World Ranking is slipping and I wasn't playing Doral this year, I didn't play in the Match Play; since they started, that's the first time I've missed them.

It's not a wake-up call because it's not like I could be working any harder or trying any harder. Just have to take it on the chin really. You feel like you're good enough, but if your performances are not good enough-- you have no one else to blame, as I said, with my World Ranking position. I'm just not gathering enough points. You know, like two Top-10 this is year, probably got me five points and six points or something like that, which just doesn't cut it. You've got to be winning tournaments, winning the big points.

So I have no one else to blame but myself. It is a little frustrating, but I'm working, like everybody else, working to keep a good attitude and be patient and let it happen and look at the positives.

Q. You ever snap at anybody??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. No. That wouldn't be my-- no. Wouldn't be my nature.

Q. That would be a sign, wouldn't it, if you did??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I'm sure it would, but no. I'm sure I'd be more likely to go quiet than aggressive if I got frustrated.

Q. There were a lot of shouts on the course for happy St. Paddy's day; what did you think about the irony of that coming up this week and everybody shouting it out on the course for you??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would consider that a coincidence. (Laughter) But it is nice that they named the day after me. (Laughter).

And if you take the words of the people out there, it actually seems to be a whole week (smiling). Yeah, it's good. As I said, I get great support. I think there's 60 million people in the U.S. who claim Irish heritage. So every single event I go to, I get great support and gives them a little to shout this week. But if you came and watched my groups every week, there would be somebody out there, an Irish American, who would be there supporting.

So it's just a little bit, I suppose it's just a little bit more highlighted this week because of the week it's in.

Q. A take off on Doug's question, what was the lowest point you had these last couple--

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: To be honest, I'm a professional golfer. There isn't a low point in being a professional golfer. I mean, let's be realistic. (Laughter).

Q. In terms of your swing and your performances on the golf course. And was there a turning point where you really understood--

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I played great at the Irish Open last year. Just hit it great and missed the cut.

I really hit the ball well in practice and I hit it well on the course; and the frustrating thing is then trying to explain yourself. You know, people ask the question, how come you're playing badly and you're trying to go, well, actually I'm not playing badly.

I'm trying to-- you know, if you were left in your own little world-- well it, would be a lot easier in some ways but when you're trying to explain things, it's difficult to explain it when you go, I hit the ball well. I couldn't ask for any more than that. I'm doing the right stuff. I'm working on the right stuff. I'm putting in the effort. And just kind of go, you don't have the answers. That's probably the hardest part is you've been asked questions that you don't have the answer to. And you try and explain it, and maybe explaining it puts you-- digs you into a deeper hole that you're still trying to explain your way out.

I wouldn't say that I had a low point, but certainly that was the time I decided toyed make some changes was after that. I split up with my coach. I started working with-- well, didn't start working, but instigated starting working with a practice coach, Dave Alred.

Q. Was there a point where you didn't know where the ball was going to go at certain points??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. I haven't played any different. How you can explain golf, for me, was when things are going for you, you walk off the golf course you walk off the golf course thinking you played like you shot 70 and you shot 68. When things are not going well for you, you walk off the golf course feeling you played like you shot 70 and shot 72.

You can do a small poll with every player walking off the golf course today, and the guys who have shot good scores will say yeah, yeah, yeah, I played nicely and they felt they got one or two shots out of it extra.

And the guys who didn't shoot good scores; I played nicely, I just left a couple of shots out there. So both sides are out there telling you they played nicely, but one guy shot 68, the other guy shot 72. I was just on the 72 bandwagon for a long time.

It's only frustrating because maybe for me, and this is what you'll find with any guy; I won three majors, but any of the guys who have won single majors or have had a peak year, peak performance, it's very frustrating afterwards, because if you've had a peak, you have to go back to the normality. That's because the reality is not peal; it would be average if it wasn't a peak. If you have a peak, you have to go back down. But trying to explain that all the time, it's quite tough.

I won three majors in 2007, 2008. It's not like I was going to win two a year after that. At the end of the day, I may go on and win more major, but if you look at any, like the likes of, say, Faldo who, has won the most majors of any European, six major, he didn't win them over a space of two or three years. He won them over a 20-year space, or 15, anyway.

Sports, we have this thing, especially in golf, that somebody who plays well, a lot of people think, oh, they are just going to continue to play well; they may improve, but it's going to be little up-and-downs as they go along. I think that's the greatest thing I've learned over 16 years of golf. I watch everybody's game and I have a greater understanding when I see somebody playing great, I understand how it ebbs and flows, and I don't necessarily go, right, he's won a major, so that means he's going to win one every year. But even Tiger, he hasn't won one every year. We get sucked into thinking that somebody playing well can maintain that. But you know, they will over their career but not year-to-year.

Q. Where else do you hold course records? Do you know off the top of your head?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. No. I couldn't even begin to tell you where I hold course records that stand. The one thing I would have done in my game over the last seven or eight years is I've knocked a lot of edges off it.

So when I was a young pro and naïve and innocent, I used to go out there and shoot more course records than now as a seasoned pro with a lot of fear and damage in my system. (Laughter). So I tend to open up not so much as I would as a kid. A lot of the course records I've shot I'm sure are gone at this stage.

I think the best one I ever shot, I shot 63 in The Vines in Perth in Australia, and it stood for a long time; may even still stand, and I had to be told what I was shooting coming down the 18th. I had no idea. So I don't get those blissful days anymore.

Q. Did you ever shoot 60 as an amateur??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No.

Q. 61 would be the lowest??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 61 is the lowest of I've shot of my life, as a pro, as an amateur.

Q. I know what Rotella does. What does Dave Alred do that's different, and can you perhaps give us an example??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Somebody asked me how many hole-in-ones I've had in my career after I had a hole-in-one yesterday. I got it wrong by six. (Laughter).

Q. Were you high or low??

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I said, oh, I had ten, maybe 12. I've only had six. And the fact that I can remember the clubs and the shots and everything about them suggests that there really isn't a seventh one. I've asked my wife, my caddie, I said, do you remember any other hole-in-ones. I just assumed I'd had more. (Laughter) So don't believe whatever a professional golfer says.

Q. I know what Rotella does. Can you give me an example of what Dave Alred does? Seems like he's got a little thing going over there where he's assembled a nice little stable.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, myself and Luke and Paul McGinley. So essentially he is about discipline in your practice.

So I'm a guy who practices an awful lot, and he's about making sure-- he's not trying to tell me not to practice. He's not trying to tell me to do practice on anything more or less. It's just about creating discipline when I'm out there so that I don't-- I try and create, when I'm on the range, I try and hit every shot like it means something.

So I'm not allowed-- like a good example of that is I can't walk on to the range and warm up by hitting a shot. I have to be warmed up and hit the first shot like it's a tournament shot. So everything is just about discipline and how you go about your practice. So nothing more than that. Trying to pigeon hole, you would just call him a practice coach. He comes out and works with you at a tournament and stands there and watches you; that you don't get lazy.

My Pro-Am partner at AT&T used to always say and it was a great piece of advice, never hit a shot unless you're trying and that's exactly what Dave Alred does. So there will be no-- if I was out playing a practice round and I hit a putt up to three feet, I would pick the ball up, rather than just walk up and tap it in.

So it's either you try, or you don't. That's it. It's a little bit more about discipline in your practice. And obviously I was struggling. As I was saying, I was not converting my practice to my tournament play.

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