Padraig Harrington Interview: Harrington on Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and anchoring

So why are you winless since 2008?

You know what's been a complete nightmare? Changing grooves. The box grooves were easier for me to use out of rough and with chipping and pitching. I had a lower flight with more spin. It was a massive advantage on links courses to know how your ball was reacting. The grooves change [that went into effect in 2010] has cost me one shot a round. That's massive. I'm still adjusting, especially around the greens. I'm an aggressive player; I don't hit as many fairways and greens as the next guy, so box grooves suited me.

Were you against that rule change?

Not at all. It was a good change for golf. It was a terrible change for me. But some things that are good for the collective are bad for individuals.

The proposed ban on anchored putting would take effect in 2016. You have an unusual stance. You believe anchoring is against the spirit of the game, yet you made the switch in May. Why?

It's better for my putting. I saw all these long putters and thought, "Well, there must be something in it." I have a machine that monitors all this putting data, and I'm technically better with an anchored putter. I don't decelerate, and my [clubface] rotation is better. It helped give me confidence on short ones [at the Players Championship], so when I have a 20-footer, I'm not worried about knocking it three feet past.

You might not be able to use it for long.

Well, three years is a long time in pro golf.

Do you see it as cheating?

Look, it's not cheating. On one hand, I disagree with the anchored method. I really do. It's against the spirit of the game. It's not good for golf. It's controversial. It's a distraction. On the other hand, I'm a professional, and I've got to do everything I can within the rules to compete today. Sure, it will be banned in 2016, but by then I'll be 45 -- and how many guys win majors after 45? I feel a sense of urgency.

Interesting. So it's not cheating until the rules say that it's cheating?

Absolutely. I don't see any problem with it so long as it's within the rules. I'm a great believer of the rules. You live and die by the rules, and the rules say it's okay for now. It's no different than getting a legal drop that gets me away from the cart path and also away from a tree. I'm delighted! Am I gonna say, "No thanks, I don't want the drop -- I'll accept that I'm behind a tree." No way. The rules penalize me some days and help me on others.

Will we see you with your belly putter at Muirfield?

We'll see how it goes. With the guys who use anchored putters, it seems that the longer they use it, the better they get. It will take time to get a feel for it. It's a big step. I'd been working hard on my [conventional] putting, but the areas where I struggle seem to fall in place using a longer [anchored] putter.

Are you worried what fans or your peers are saying about your switch?

I'm not worried about them or what the media says. But there is my mother, Breda, to think about. She knows that I've been considering this switch.

She's old school?

Yes, and she's absolutely horrified. If I was an amateur, I wouldn't make the switch. But we're out here putting and playing for money, playing for history. [Laughs] So, sorry, Mom.

This interview appears in the July issue of Golf Magazine. To read Golf Magazine on your tablet -- free for subscribers -- visit golf.com/allaccess.

 

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