Thursday, June 22, 2006

Paddy backs Lefty

Padraig Harrington, who had his own troubles at the U.S. Open, finishing with a string to three straight bogeys to fall to 5th place, thinks Phil Mickelson was right to hit driver on the fateful 18th.

But Paddy doesn't feel all that much sympathy for Mickelson or Colin Montgomerie, another victim of a sad meltdown. Here's excerpts from Harrington's pre-tournament interview at this week's Booz Allen Classic.

Q. As badly as you feel, what you think Monty and Phil must be thinking at this point.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't take any comfort from anybody else's pain. I've got my own pain to worry about. I'm not going to worry about them. Phil Mickelson has won the last two majors before that. I wouldn't second guess anything he did. Actually, if I was going to comment on that, I would say he hit the right club off the tee on 18.

Q. Tell me why.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, the bunker is perfect. Not perfect, but it's not far off perfect. Once you hit it in the bunker or the first cut of rough on either side of the fairway, you can advance it up to the green. It was a pretty easy pin position on 18. You know, driver, get it down there, even if he misses the fairway, would mean he should get it around the green, on the green. I definitely think he played the right club for him. I don't think he carried the 3 wood. I would have hit 3 wood, but that would have been the right club for me. Looking back, I think he made the right choice in terms of his club selection offer the tee. I don't know what the second shot was like. He did win the last two majors before that. I wouldn't be judging him, let's say.

Q. How about Monty?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: He probably got a little bit caught like me, that he wanted to make probably trying to make birdie down the last. When he missed the green, thinking that he needed to make at least four, running the putt by, you know, it's strange how often in a major you think you got to do things at the end. To be honest, sometimes you do. This is the problem. Nobody is a soothsayer or can tell what the winner's score is going to be. If Monty turned around at the last, he chipped it by 30 feet by the hole, he was a bit unlucky it didn't come back down, say he left it short and 2 putted, Phil finished four over, he would have been sick about it. You just can't tell what's going to happen. So many times, it does happen that guys like myself, Monty, Phil, make mistakes at the end. At other times, somebody does good things like Geoff Ogilvy chips in. You have to play every shot you think you need to play at the time. I'm sure Monty did that.

Paddy on the set-up at Winged Foot...

Q. Was last week the toughest setup that you faced in your career?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I actually thought last week was as straightforward a golf course as I've ever, ever played. That's one of the reasons why I feel so gutted. I think that's why so many of the Europeans did well. Like everything was in front of you. There wasn't a golf shot on that golf course that couldn't be hit, that couldn't be played. Maybe besides the pin on the back left of 18 and the pin on the front left of 18 were typical U.S. Open pins that I've seen in many years, you're looking at it saying, How am I going to get there? Certainly the front left pin in 18. You're playing I'm hitting my third shot in there Saturday. I'm trying to hit it to 60 feet away from the hole as my good shot. That's a tough mental thing to do, to try to hit a shot to 60 feet, and that's being your good shot. I pulled it toward the flag. I'm trying to hit a good shot that's going nowhere near it. That's usually what happens at the U.S. Open. This time everything was very straightforward, very fair. I've got to say, it was I say it was easy in terms of how the course played. Hit the fairway, hit the middle of the green. There was no shot there. I think, as well, with all the greens sloping back to front, I hit the ball low. There was no issue with me flying a ball in, trying to stop or hit it high. Most of the time there was plenty of room, you could hit it in and it would stop because of the slope of the green or you wanted to release up the green. Haven't come across a U.S. Open golf course that suited me as much as last week's course did.

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