What's up with your fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy? Is he in a slump?
He has hot and cold spells. Remember, last summer he had a spell where he missed three or four cuts, then won three times late in the year. That's who Rory is.
Rory is compared to Tiger a lot, but maybe he's more like Phil Mickelson: very talented, very streaky.
And as Rory accepts that that's his style -- and he's starting to -- he'll start to peak more every week, because he won't push to make things happen. He'll relax, press less, let his game come to him. When he pushes for those results every week, he gets frustrated and it knocks his confidence back. And those weeks when he's on? He laps the field.
McIlroy lost his No. 1 ranking to Tiger earlier this year. Did Rory ever confide in you that the pressure of being No. 1 weighed on him?
Confide? No. But all pro golfers -- and it's magnified when you're No. 1 -- feel the world looking at them, focused on them, thinking about them. It's amazing how much we Tour players think everything revolves around us. Every small issue -- let's say you tweeted something -- just seems so massive. But it's not. I went through the same kind of thing with my recent swing changes. All of a sudden, everyone was talking about my changes, or at least I think they were, so it becomes a bigger deal to me, and I spend all my time explaining or defending. We live in our own little worlds, and we think everything revolves around us, and that's more intense at the top of the World Rankings. And I'm sure that's been true with Rory.
On the topic of running hot and cold, you're winless in the U.S. and Europe since 2008. Do you believe you'll win more majors, and how many would you be happy with?
My feeling isn't, "I've got my three majors. I'm done." I have a number in my head. I won't say what it is, but it's a number that I treat as inevitable. It's a Bob Rotella concept: You walk around knowing and feeling like your number is inevitable, and that makes you press less. Winning majors takes time. Look at Ernie Els. It took him 20 years to win his four. Only three guys playing have won more than me: Phil, Ernie and Tiger.
Is your number greater than or less than six?
Well, I'll just say that six is a pivotal number. Six has meaning. It's the most any [modern] European player has ever won. [Nick Faldo]
Do you fear that your fourth major will never come? You're 41, and you've changed your swing several times.
I've always been changing my swing. I changed before I won my majors. After I won one in 2007, I made a big swing change for 2008 -- and won two more. I've made massive changes to my swing. The only thing I know is change. That's all I can do. The minute you ask me to stay still, I'll retire.
The average golf fan might think, "Harrington wins three majors and changes his swing? He's nuts!" What do you say to that guy?
I change to get better. I'm motivated to get better. I've made substantial swing changes at 10 points in my career. Changing and improving gets me up in the morning.
But if your swing ain't broke, why fix it?
People see my three major wins in 13 months and think that's who I am. That was a peak! That's not my average. That's not who I am every day. That's who I can be. Okay, I won one major in 2007, two in 2008. Does that mean I should win three in 2009? Winning majors doesn't go smoothly. Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors, but he didn't win one per year. Tiger didn't win one per year on his way to 14. There's no consistency in winning majors. If you want to be consistent, you can be consistently mediocre.
It sounds like you don't regret your recent swing-tinkering.
The media misinforms people. I made big changes in 1996 and 1999 and before 2008. The changes I made after 2008 are much less than those, but it gets talked about more because I'm under the magnifying glass because I'm a major winner.