Harrington and the box of tricks that helped him win the 2008 Open
The odds are that Henrik Stenson won’t leave Royal Birkdale with the Claret Jug still in his possession as it’s a stiff task to defend the Open Championhip.
Only Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington have managed it in the past 45 years.
The Dubliner achieved it by four shots the last time the Championship was staged at Birkdale nine years ago.
His week began with the possibility of having to withdraw with a wrist injury and finished with a four-shot victory. When Ian Poulter holed a nervy par putt at the 72nd hole it seemed that that might be enough for a play-off, then Harrington hit one of the shots of the decade with his favourite 5-wood at the redesigned 17th and tapped in the eagle putt.
And that was pretty much that.
Phil Bonham manages, drives and runs the Wilson Staff tour truck and had a huge hand in helping Harrington to the middle of his three Major wins. Here he looks back on that week in 2008..
“Padraig was pumped up big time, he was really fit and doing a lot of fitness at the time. We fitted him into a 2-iron which was a 1-iron length, he just wanted to get the ball very low and running but then he had the Fybrid 5-wood which was his favourite club – he always has a favourite – and he was just ripping that.
“Technology has changed so much these days – Padraig was still using the old Grafalloy ProLite 35X shaft, that was just a standard shaft that he loved so it was more about the fitness of him rather than the material. Now it is more the other way round and you have high and low kick points and all these other options.
“He had 272 yards to the pin at the 17th and it was the shot of the year. I made a back-up of the club, when Padraig is hitting a club a lot I will always make up a second. The club broke on the face a few years later, and there is one hanging up at Birkdale. Padraig’s got another at his home and I’ve got one hanging up on the tour truck.
“Padraig seems to play with clubs that Wilson don’t always focus on, people will look in his bag and wonder why he has this or that club in the bag.
“At the moment he has this South Side putter in the bag which is one of Wilson’s cheaper putters. I made it three years ago, he came on the van, asked what it was and I ended up spraying it black. It looks like it’s something that someone has done in their back garden. But he’s won twice with it.
“The most amount of clubs Padraig has turned up to a tournament with is 29. And then he will decide which 14 make it depending on how the course is playing.
“It’s fun working with him these days, we used to be on hot coals as he was so pernickety. He used to come to me and ask why a pitching wedge was going a yard to the right. Now he is totally relaxed and I think he’s having more fun with it now.
“He’s got a lot left in him and once he gets a taste of a few birdies and maybe a win then anything can happen. If he’s putting well he’ll hole out from all over the place, that’s his secret.”
The 146th Open Championship will be staged at Royal Birkdale from Thursday, July 20 to Sunday, July 23.
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