Team Europe > News

An interview with Padraig Harrington

Padraig discusses his practice round with the press.
September 14, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Padraig Harrington, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at Oakland Hills Country Club. Padraig, some opening comments and we'll go to Q & A, please.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Don't know what to say. I'm happy to be here. Looking forward to the week. It will be interesting to see what's in store for us.

Q. Congratulations on your great win on Sunday.


Q. It came on the back of a few dodgy weeks which had people worrying about your form and even your captain a bit; that he was a bit concerned about your form coming into the match. Was it a relief for you to win the tournament or did you always have the believe in yourself that there was no problem with your game?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I went to the German Masters looking for some form undoubtedly. Didn't expect obviously to turn it around so quickly and win. I would have been quite happy just showing some form and maybe finishing Top-10. But it was nice to play well. And then really nice, when I got myself in that position, to really focus in and to win a tournament that perhaps wasn't mine for the winning.

Q. There was a lot of controversy early in the year when you sacked your caddie, Dave, in May and put Ronan Flood on the bag, it must be a great delight and maybe a relief for Roland as well to have proved the critics wrong and to have come out at the end of a great result?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, obviously it was a very interesting -- when I parted company with my caddie, it got a lot of attention, a lot of undue attention that it had not been done the right way. Whereas, actual fact, I gave him plenty of notice and things like that, but it tended to be ignored what I said at the time.

My new caddie came in for a lot of static, and even though I pointed out that he was there temporarily until I found the caddie that I wanted to get, which I knew was going to take time because I wasn't going to poach a caddie off anybody else. It did put him a under lot of pressure and it put me under a lot of pressure throughout the summer. Definitely, we were trying too hard at times because of that.

And it was very nice to win and I have to say, he did a tremendous job on Sunday. As I joked to somebody, it was like having Bob Rotella on the bag all day, he just kept coming at me and saying the right things. I always had faith and trust in him, but it was hard. It's amazing how when you lose any sort of form, it's amazing how everybody scrapes to look for anything to blame but the player himself. So it was good. It was very pleasing for both of us.

Q. We understand you were just visiting with some members of the Harrington family, your cousin Joey, of course, quarterback for the Lions. Talk about your relationship with him and how much you are going to see him this week and whatnot?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Both myself and Joey are very busy this week. We both have some small games sort of towards the end of the week and so we are probably not going to see a hell of a lot of each other. He did walk four holes with me which was great because we could have a chat and just talk about things. It's amazing when we do talk, we spend so much time trying to figure out what the other guy is doing, trying to catch up, basically. But it was good. There's going to be a time in the future obviously where we're going to meet up where we're not exactly competing or performing in that week. So up until that, we have to just make do with sort of short periods of talk. We were on the phone there a couple of weeks ago, too. It's hard to meet up when we both have very busy schedules.

Q. Does he give you golf tips and do you give him quarterbacking tips?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That's exactly it, yeah. I'd be learning how to throw -- we have a slight, I don't know if it would be a bet, but certainly a sort slight of competition. He's wondering if he can hit a wedge better than I can throw an American football. And the idea is we never show each other how we do it, so that means we never really know the answer.

Q. Since he's been in the League, have you followed his career more or gotten more into American football?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Definitely. It's interesting, American football was very popular in Ireland, in the early 90s it was heavily covered on television and now you don't get it on TV at all at home. If it is on, it's after midnight so nobody really watches it.

But since Joey has started playing NFL, I tend to follow how it's going on and I look for the results and I look for his expectations, other people's expectations. I ask a lot more questions about it. Yeah, it's given me a renewed interest in American football.

Q. Wonder if you could talk about some of your early Ryder Cup recollections on television obviously there's a clear Irish history here with Darcy, with O'Connor, McGinley, down the line here.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I've got to think my Ryder Cup recollections mainly stem around the Irish. Obviously I remember Sam Torrance's putt in '85 and the win. But I would not have been that much into golf in '85. I was more into Gaelic football and Irish sports. It wasn't such a big sport for me then.

I remember I would have been well into golf in '87, I would have remembered Eamonn Darcy holing that putt at Muirfield which today I still think is one of the best putts I've ever seen holed, knowing that Eamonn it would not be his favorite putt, to hole that 4- or 5-footer downhill that was going to go off the green if it missed. That was one of the earliest and biggest memories I can have.

I can remember the rest of the Irish golfers, Christy O'Connor, Phillip holing the winning putt, Paul McGinley obviously there was another Irish guy, all of them have performed. Even David Feherty, he did well. The Irish guys have done exceptionally well. Christy O'Connor, Senior held the record and to be honest that's another memory. I used to play a lot of golf in Royal Dublin and the Spike Bar has ten photographs of Christy O'Connor, Senior up on the walls. Nick Faldo has taken that record at this stage, but Christy O'Connor had the record for the most Ryder Cups. That was some heritage that was always there and I was very conscious of it when I was growing up playing golf.

Q. Do you wonder if you're the next in line?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was delighted that Paul holed the winning putt last time around. And somebody asked me this time would I like to have the putt on the last green. I couldn't care less. It would not be in my thing at all, I would be just happy for anybody to hole it. I don't see it like that at all. I see this as very much a team event and it wouldn't interest me at all to be that guy or not to be that guy. I'd like to have the opportunity but just for the sake of Europe having the opportunity to win. I was thrilled in 2002 because as Paul McGinley took that putt and I went through these thoughts, I was thinking, of all the guys could have picked on the European Team, this guy is the most likely to hit a good putt and missed, whereas you could have hit other guys who were likely to hit a bad putt and it will go in. McGinley is the unluckiest putter out there and it's fascinating that he is now known as being a great putter. (Laughter.) Ever since then, it's unbelievable because now everybody thinks he's a great putter and he is the unluckiest. I play with him in the World Cup every year, I know he's unlucky. He hits so many good putts that don't go in. I'm watching him hitting this 10-footer and he's going to hit this great putt and it's going to go up to the hole and horseshoe out, or a mole is going to come out of the hole and knock it out or something. (Laughter.) He is the last guy I picked because he'd hit a good putt and miss and yet he was the guy that holed it.

So there is some great memories for the Ryder Cup. It was superb that he did it. And for him to be known as a great putter, just tops it off.

Q. Just a follow-up to your cousin, did he let you know who he is cheering for, his cousin or his country?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I read or somebody told me a couple of weeks ago that he said he would be hoping that I play well and win my match but the U.S. Team wins, which is pretty fair. I would expect that of anybody who was born the U.S. to be supporting the U.S. Team but obviously he knows me and he's hoping that I play well, too.

Q. You're the highest-ranked player in the world on the European side; correct?


Q. Do you view yourself as the leader of this team?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Not at all. It's my third Ryder Cup. I just about feel like I'm not a rookie. I feel like I'm right in the middle. I don't feel in any sense that I'm the leader going out on this team. I think Monty is very much going to be that sort of person. I don't feel I've sort of reached that stage yet. I don't see the other rookies -- they are all my age, or I feel their age, though they are a bit younger than me. I don't feel they are looking up to me in that sense, no. Give me another ten years.

Q. Is the course set up a little less severe than you might have expected and can you talk about that finishing stretch from 15 in, is it as fearsome as you expected?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The course is set up very fairly. I've got to say that they set it up as fair as could be. There's no trickery out there. The golf course is exactly like you would expect to find a U.S. Open style golf course, U.S. tournament style golf course. So I think as Europeans, there is some advantage for the U.S. because they play it every week-in and week-out. But we very happy with how it's set up. We don't feel in any sense they have tried to take advantage. They have put a fair test up to us. But it will be a fair test, though it will be difficult.

I played a practice round today and I wasn't that focused in on it. It was just a get through it kind of day, after traveling yesterday.

15 is 3-wood or 5-wood off the tee, just carry the bunker, wedge second shot. Depends on the wind obviously. 16, actually -- I'll probably put a 2-iron in. It's sort of 2-iron, 3-iron, 5-iron off the tee to lay up over the water. You're looking at wedge, 9-iron, probably wedge.

17, interesting hole 17. It's only 200-something yards, but it looks ever so long standing in the tee box. It looked like we were going to hit 3-wood up there. It's a 4-iron. Big hump in the middle of that green. Looking at the greens, actually 16 is a much smaller green when you get up to it than you see on the fairway. 17 has a large mound in the middle of the green and it's going to be very difficult to get in the right side of that mound with the pin.

18 is probably, I don't know, it was slightly downwind today so it was 3-wood off the tee, sort of 3-wood, 5-iron. Again, the difficulty is that you need -- you need to keep the ball below the flags, so with the greens firming up a little, a little bit downwind you have to land right at the front edge of the green. So club selection will be very important. You know, hitting the fairway on 18 will be very important, too. But overall, I think they were a little bit downwind today so maybe not quite as intimidating as we might see later on in the week.

Q. On No. 6, they said you drove the green there today. Is there any fear about not going for it every time there? Is there any penalty to pay for missing?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, we drove -- there's two tee boxes being used there. So obviously off the very back tee you're going to lay up. Off the forward tee, yes you can drive it on the green. It will depend on the pin position whether you want to do that. I think it could, if they put the pin at the very back, sort of two thirds of the way back just over the tier, if you miss the green with your tee shot, you could have like a 40-yard bunker shot which you're not going to get close so you're better off laying up. I think there's a pin position on the right-hand side. That was one of the few holes actually today that I did the most studying of. There's a pin on the right that you may be better off hitting a wedge than chipping or hitting a bunker shot from the front of the green. So it will depend on the pin position whether I try and drive the green or not.

Q. What is it about Colin that makes him a leader of this team?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think he likes it. I think he feels it's his calling. He's that sort of personality. He loves to lead, he loves to be that person out there. You can see he's got an air of confidence about him in the team room. He carries himself, his confidence runs off on the rest of the players.

It's something like I'm sure he feels that's what he was destined to be. It feels very natural for him to be that sort of leader. He's very comfortable in that position.

Q. Tiger Woods question. Even though we all knew that Vijay was playing better than him all year, finally it's official, Vijay is No. 1, Tiger is No. 2. Do you think over the course of the year and the final certification of the rankings that he is less intimidating now than he was at other Ryder Cups and when you guys look him in the eye he doesn't bring the same force he once did?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I would actually -- I would actually go and point out that Tiger at this stage, his record has not been as good as he would like. He is out to prove something. So there's definitely going to be a backlash from Tiger at some Ryder Cup it's going to happen. So I would think it's more of the wounded Tiger at the moment and would be very dangerous to play against. I think he would be quite an intimidating opponent at the moment where obviously guys have beaten him in the last couple of years. But obviously he's going to have something to prove and I would see him as quite intimidating. But, you know, you're so -- the whole Ryder Cup is intimidating and you're so concerned about what you're doing that sometimes you don't even -- you don't pay too much attention to your opposition. You're much more focused on yourself in a tournament like this.

Q. It seems as if all has been forgiven for 1999 in Brookline but is that still maybe a sense of motivation for the European Team, being that this is the first Ryder Cup played on American soil since then?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, I don't think it's any sort of motivation. I don't think -- you know, as I said at the time, it showed to the Europeans how hard, how much the U.S. Team wanted to win. You know, the U.S. Team, they celebrated like they couldn't have imagined how much they were celebrating on 17 before the tournament. If you remember, there was talk about, you know, wanting to be paid and it was a poor run-up or build-up to that Ryder Cup. But they showed on the 17th green how much it meant to them to win. And that's a good sign for the Europeans. Eventually we got the Ryder Cup to a situation where the U.S. Team wants to win every bit as much as the European Team. You know, if anything, when you reflect on that, you've got to think that was a great situation for us; that it showed, yeah, they wanted it so much, they celebrated so hard that it shows that they are -- it's a sign of respect to us; that they thought we were a worthy opposition whereas I'm sure in past years, it was hard for them to motivate themselves, but they were motivated that day. It's a great sign for us, and you've got to hand it to the Europeans who had gone in '85, '87, '89, '91, '93, '95, those years, they made the Ryder Cup what it is, and they brought it to the level it is in '99 where both sides probably could be -- at this stage Europe could be considered equal in the Ryder Cup. If you look at the numbers we have won more Ryder Cups and it's a situation like what happened at 17, it didn't make any difference to the results. If you think about, when you look at it, you know, it was -- they got overexcited. Isn't that great? Isn't it great to say that the U.S. Team got every excited because coming into that Ryder Cup and previous Ryder Cups, that's exactly what they would have been not doing, getting excited about the Ryder Cup. The 17th hole proved they were as interested in winning the Ryder Cup as the Europeans, which is good for the Ryder Cup.

JULIUS MASON: Well done, by the way. Questions?

Q. How is your shoulder?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Excellent. Absolutely great. Very stable. I had a slight shoulder injury last week but it's fine now. I won't be pulling out. (Laughter.)

Q. What is patriotism to the European Team? For you guys that come from France and Germany and Ireland, Scotland what is patriotism to you guys?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think we are playing for our tour. You know, we are maybe going back to what we just talked about there, obviously in Europe, we are the poor country cousins and trying to prove ourselves every time we turn up at a Ryder Cup. With little bit of a chip on our shoulders and something we are trying to prove. That's why we get so inspired.

Q. Just to follow-up on that, each year it seems that you're already the underdogs coming in, but it can't really be said this year given the form that a lot of you guys are in, and all players within the Top-70 in the World Rankings for the first time.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I think we are the underdogs. You can argue any situation and stats, use any stats maybe to try and level it out or develop it in a certain direction. But the U.S. players are ahead of us in the World Ranking. They have major winners. I think Europe is lacking in major winners, which is a significant factor. We do have a more balanced team in Europe for the first time. I think Europe, in past years, have tried to play six or eight players or five players against 12 U.S. players, whereas this time around, I think we are going to try and play 12 against 12, which is a new experience for Europe. Obviously we were quite successful when we put five guys up or six guys, being the core of the team up against the 12 Americans. But this time around, we are going to have to go head-to-head, 12 guys against 12 and that's got to be a different situation. Hopefully we'll be up to it. But it's not like we're carrying the major firepower that we would have had in the early 90s, late 80s. At that stage, we did have the best players in the world, in the Langers, the Seves, the Woosies, the Sandy Lyles, they were winning the majors at the time, the Faldos, they were the guys winning the majors, the No. 1s in the world, that sort of thing. You take Greg Norman, who really wasn't in this competition, they were the best players in the world. This time around we have more of a level team and we have to put 12 guys up against 12.

JULIUS MASON: Padraig Harrington, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

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