"Would you rather win another major or sink the Ryder Cup-winning putt?": JOE meets Padraig Harrington
Padraig talks about stealing a major, his worst moment on a golf course, his opinion of Shane Lowry, his advice for Irish amateur golfers and his plans for the future.
The three-time major winner stopped by the recent Web Summit in Dublin to speak about ORRECO, the expert sports' software company, which helps pro-athletes and sports teams keep their stars injury-free and performing for longer.
JOE and Padraig met up afterwards in what turned out to be a very candid and informative interview.
On his light bulb, career changing moment:
The US Open in 2006 was the first time I walked off the course thinking, 'this is well within me' - I only needed three pars to win.
It was in my control, there were a couple of times before that I got lucky and nearly won, whereas I didn't get lucky at the 2006 Open and I nearly won.
I realised afterwards that my game was good enough, it was the preparation that I needed to improve.
His analysis of his three majors:
The Open (2007)
I played fantastically during the week, but messing up the 72nd hole always left a longing.
I take great pride in winning it in the play-off (against Sergio Garcia) because the 72nd hole was the lowest I ever felt on a golf course - they were two of the worst shots I ever hit and it was the only time that I was embarrassed on the golf course.
Basically, I choked, but I recovered in the end and it was very exciting to win my first major, obviously.
The Open (2008)
I won that tournament in Birkdale like you dream you would as a kid.
I played great, hit the ball great, was the favourite, and did everything right.
It was very satisfying and, in some ways, it made up for the year before on the 72nd hole.
PGA Championship (2008)
I stole it! I was sick that week, I got badly dehydrated after all the tension of The Open a few weeks before, so my regular preparation just wasn't enough.
I won it because there was a rain delay, I just about made the cut as I was dying a death on the golf course.
The rain delay on the Saturday gave me an extra 24 hours, essentially, and I stole it, which in itself is a really great feeling!
There's nothing like winning ugly, those are the ones you remember.
All my three major wins were very different feelings, actually.
I wonder what the fourth will be like!
On his much publicised swing change and future:
People love to talk about that. I made several swing changes before my major wins, and in 2007 I won with a draw, while I won the 2008 Open with a fade... people forget that.
No doubt though, I peaked in 2008 and it was the mental game that won me those majors. Afterwards, I became too critical and impatient with my mental game - I sought too much perfection with that side of things.
At the elite level, the difference between the physical side of the game is minimal, my swing is actually better now. It's much more of a mental thing.
I enjoy the challenge of trying to win another major, but it won't change my legacy.
His advice to gym-goers:
A lot of people hit the gym at the start of January and by the end of the month, they quit. It's almost always because they push themselves too hard.
A good method to follow is to leave when you're still buzzing. So, if you're feeling good after a half an hour, stop then.
Don't continue until you have nothing left to give because you'll start looking at the gym like it's a chore, instead of fun and rewarding exercise.
On Shane Lowry:
I think he can go all the way. The thing with Shane is that he's a good golfer and he's got a great attitude, one of the best out there.
He's not afraid of breaking out and doing things big, which I like.
He's capable of winning a major, maybe he needs to be in contention a bit more, but he doesn't seem to play by the rules.
On the biggest mistakes that amateur golfers make in their game:
A lot of amateur players think that they need to keep the body still when swinging, but that's not the case, you gotta move loosely to hit the golf ball.
Another common mistake is that people lift their arms in their back swing, that's a terrible habit to get into.
Think of it this way, if you've ever swung a hurl, hit it like that; a good grip and loosen up your body.
Don't be rigid.
On the impact that ORRECO has on his game:
It gives me information that's indisputable, ORRECO has given me the answer, I can't dispute it.
The system won't lie to you, it tells you where you are in your training and what you have to do from there. It tells you whether to push on or hold back.
Because of my nature, I need the indisputable and I've been working with this team since early 2007 (before any of my majors).
— JOE.ie (@JOEdotie) November 4, 2015
Finally, on the choice between sinking the Ryder Cup-winning putt or winning another major:
(Long pause)... I'm sorry to say, I'd win another major (laughs).