Padraig Harrington British Open champ Padraig Harrington talks up U.S. Open chances

Coming off his thrilling British Open victory over Sergio Garcia in 2007, Padraig Harrington sat down with the European PGA Tour and discussed his game and his chances at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Padraig Harrington

Q. Will you go to the U.S. Open, even though your form isn't great at the moment, thinking you are a contender?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, in that I've worked on my swing and the work that I've been doing with Bob Torrance has all been about the U.S. Open, certainly the first eight years and that is why I changed after the Olympic Club in San Francisco, I felt I needed to hit the ball better tee to green than I did. There I felt my short game was as good as it could be and I finished 32nd. At Winged Foot my short game was very average yet I had three pars to win it, so that showed how far I had come in terms of my own game. So yes, I believe I am a contender. The interesting thing for me as regards my form is that, right from about 16 years of age, I've never been able to string any results or form together in May and early June, never. I've won one tournament in 20 years in that period. I won the Irish Open in that period and came close in the U.S. Open at the tail end of that period but I haven't been able to string any performances together in that period. It used to be the time I did exams when I was an amateur so it was a case of shut down the clubs and get down to some studying but once May hits, through to the start of June, it would be interesting to go back through my records. It's Wentworth, tournaments like that, I always struggle. I won the Spanish Open right at the very start of May and I seem to be okay right at the very start of May but it is probably only the Irish Open in that period since that I've done half well in. I think it is because it is the middle of the year. At the start of the year you're keen and then you get into this period of time in the year when you get all mixed up in what you are trying to do and you don't have the same clarity of focus. But hopefully the U.S. Open, I'm building up for it, I don't feel like there is anything particularly out of shape, I just need to be a bit more trusting with myself and work on my concentration and focus.

Q. In the first three days of a major is it all about your overall position?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It is all about jockeying for position. But I've got to say it is easier at a major than in a regular tournament.

Q. Why?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Because you don't feel that anybody is going to run away from you. You can be so patient at a major. You just trundle along there and you know that nobody is going to get away from you. Even if somebody gets off to a good start or whatever, they will always slow up or if not come back. It is always nice at a major because you feel like you have all the time in the world. I double bogeyed the 36th hole at the Open last year and I walked off the green and said that won't make a single bit of difference to whether I win the Open this year. It may make a difference as to whether I finish tenth or ninth but as regards winning, it wouldn't make that much of a difference. In a major we all look at a figure and if we are ahead we'll drop back and if we are behind we'll chase on and whether or not I made a double bogey or not, it didn't make a huge deal of significance, I was always going to try and move towards that figure and you do get that feeling in a major that it is a long week and you have to try and be patient. You are only looking to be there with nine holes to go.

Q. The last person from these Isles to win a major two years running was Tony Jacklin going back 40-odd years. How much would you like to double up in a year?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know about doubling up, but it is certainly about when you have got one, trying to get two. You could argue that the sooner the better but my own principles would be to make sure I get myself into position enough times and then the second one will follow. It would be silly to say I have got to go and win the next major, or I have to go and win a major this year, it is only adding pressure. I think it is reasonable to say I want to do X, Y and Z to get myself into position and have a chance of winning some of the majors left this year, working on the principle that if I do that this year and the next few years, that I will win more majors.

Q: Interesting that you used the phrase under the radar - you can no longer do anything under the radar. How much has that changed for you in the past 10 months?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think in many ways it has changed in terms of how often it happens but there were plenty of times in the past when I said I couldn't go under the radar like the Irish Open for the past 10 years and certain other events all the way through. It is perhaps more often now and more significant in terms it is every week now whereas it was maybe half the weeks before and maybe a quarter of the weeks two or three years ago and maybe only one or two weeks ten years ago. It brings an extra bit with it but you get used to that.

Q. Do you think you adapt well to a U.S. Open set-up better than any other major?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I would suggest I have spent my last 10 years trying to adapt my swing to play U.S. Open golf. I'd say the last two years, that and the Masters have attracted my attention more than anything else. Every time I go to the practice ground, those are the two events I am probably thinking about, definitely. Interesting that I won the Open in that period but my ball flight was probably better to play Open golf 10 years ago in the fact that I get much more spin on the ball now than I ever did, but now is much more built for hitting it straight and controlling my irons. Every time I hit the range, those type of courses are in my mind.

Q. The more majors which go by without Tiger winning one, does the fear factor diminish?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I am totally focused on what I do in a major. I do not look around me at other guys or anybody else. The battle very much is with me. You just can't. If you start worrying about Tiger Woods, if somebody else has a good week then they might be the best player in the world that week so you can't. A guy playing well versus Tiger playing average is going to win as it has been proved. So you can't worry about one player, you'd start worrying about every player in the field if you start going down that line. Do worry about one player - yourself.

June 10, 2008

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