Padraig Harrington repeated at the British Open thanks to a straightforward swing based on four key moves. After last year's Open victory, Golf.com talked with him about his swing.
By David DeNunzio
Sergio might think he lost it, but the 2007 British Open was won fair and square by hard-hitting Irishman Padraig Harrington. Only a wild drive by Harrington on the 72nd hole gave Garcia a fighting chance, but he missed a putt Harrington made moments earlier.
After doing his best Jean Van de Velde impression by amassing two penalty strokes on the final hole, Harrington surprised no one when he got up and down after his second drop. He's the 10th best scrambler on Tour, and when his driving game is on like it was for the 71 holes that preceded his near-disaster he can pound it out there with the best of them.
"I don't think about my swing during a round," says Harrington. "If it's off, I'll find the problem on the range, and then try to fix it at home or in my hotel room. When I'm playing, I simply rely on a few simple moves that I know are going to produce a good strike."
Win the Claret Jug with just four moves? "Yes. There's a lot more going on, of course, but these four will make it difficult for anyone to hit the ball poorly, even high-handicappers."
2 of 11David Bergman
2. Leave a mark
"I like to raise my left heel in my backswing. This isn't a fashionable move, but I'd rather copy the likes of Hogan and Nicklaus than follow the swing fad du jour. On my downswing, I replant my heel and dig it in to establish a firm left side that I can turn hard against. When I'm hitting it good, I'll leave a single, noticeable footprint in the ground."
3 of 11David Bergman
Use Padraig Harrington's four keys to hit shots worthy of a major trophy
1. Hinge briskly
"If you swing back too slow, you'll have to consciously hinge your wrists, and that's difficult to time. I look for a crease in the top part of my left wrist. Then I know I've set the club correctly."
4 of 11David Bergman
"I think of my downswing as a corkscrew I turn my body to the left as fast as I can, but do so against a very firm left side. You get a lot of power this way. Grip the turf with the toes on your left foot. The more spikes you have in the ground through impact, the better."
5 of 11David Bergman
"There's not a lot you can control once your downswing begins, so I simply try to get the feeling that I'm turning my left forearm to the left. I may not actually do this, but it's a feeling that allows me to square the clubface so I can hit the ball exactly where I want to."
6 of 11David Bergman
"I lift my left heel on my backswing to make sure I'm really behind the ball, so my first move on the way down is to replant it. It's like Tiger when he squats start with your lower body and keep your arms and club back so you can create lag power."
7 of 11David Bergman
"If I keep my right knee flexed and in place, and allow the momentum of the club to break my wrists on the way up, I know I'll be loaded and on plane when I end my backswing. Stretch your left side, not your right."
8 of 11David Bergman
3. Turn your left forearm toward the target
"I keep my arms quiet and use my lower body to start my downswing so I don't release the club early. But I will think about rotating my left forearm toward the target so I don't leave the clubface open. Use this swing key and my left-foot plant as a drill. Tee up a 5-iron, and once you reach the top of your swing, lift your left heel up and step toward the target and hit the ball. I can get a great strike this way. In fact, I hit most of my shots from the rough by lifting and stepping out with my left foot."
9 of 11David Bergman
"I try to feel like I'm playing in a straight jacket. This helps me turn everything away in one piece. Stick gloves under your armpits and hold them there as you make swings with a teed 9-iron to practice staying connected like this."
10 of 11David Bergman
"I like to feel like I can move in any direction," says Harrington. "Sometimes I'll bounce up and down to give me the feeling that I'm athletic and balanced. I keep a good amount of space between my chin and my chest so there's room for my arms to swing down from the top."
11 of 11David Bergman
4. Trust your gear
"Swing thoughts are great, but not as good as feeling comfortable with the club in your hand and, basically, trusting it to do all the work. I've just switched to Wilson's new Spine driver. It really works for me. I take gear changes seriously. Any good driver will help you hit the ball farther and straighter, but the great ones make even your mis-hits turn out OK. With the Spine, I can swing without fear of losing it badly to the left or right. Your should find this level of confidence in any club you play."
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