'Harrington's a master tactician – he'll have them putting from 30 feet off the green'January 9, 2019 The Scoop
Phil Bonham has worked closely with Padraig Harrington for 20 years. He tells James Savage tales from the glory days and what sort of Ryder Cup captain he will be
Was he doing anything funky when he won back to back Opens?
Carnoustie was very windy. I built him a 3-iron that was bent to a 2-iron and was the length of a 1-iron.
He won and he used that quite a lot.
I had to shave some off the back too to make the sole a bit narrower. It was a fantastic club and it drilled like a torpedo. He kept it in the bag for quite a long time after that.
Wedges in those days were a big thing because we used to have really sharp, box-grooves.
The commentators were wondering how Padraig was able to stop the ball from 15 yards out of three feet of rough when no one else can.
There weren’t the same rules with the wedges then so everyone had sharper grooves. We had a really sharp face where we had to get every wedge tested at the tournament. I had to go to the R&A before every event to make sure the wedges were legal.
But they were still very sharp and receptive. Nowadays, everyone’s pretty much got the same volume in the grooves, so there’s not a huge amount to do with the wedges now.
Was the Wilson tour truck team very much part of Harrington’s Open victories?
Very much so. I think it was after his second win where we went on a private jet to Dublin and I carried the Claret Jug in the back of my rucksack to smuggle it through security.
We were supposed to land at a small airport outside Dublin and no one was really supposed to know we were coming.
When we got there, there were about 600 people waiting on the runway so we had to fight our way through that.
And then it was an all-night celebration in a casino in Dublin which was fantastic.
The year prior to that we had a big party after the tournament at the IMG house. Everybody had that Claret Jug in their hands at some point and drunk some beer or some other liquid out of it.
It’s like a notch on your belt. It was an amazing time, truly fantastic. To be part of winning a major was amazing, the whole atmosphere was really special. Everyone was so happy.
It’s a long time ago now but I’ve still got all the photos and fond memories of those days. It will stay with me forever.
Will Padraig make a good Ryder Cup captain?
Definitely. I knew it was something he’d jump at given the opportunity.
He’s been part of it for so long and played in so many that it’s been in the back of his mind for a while. And he’s ready for something like that now.
It’s a big thing because you’ve got to jump into the shoes of someone who has been very successful. And no one want to lose the Ryder Cup. So it’s a big risk for him at the same time to take that burden on.
But I’m sure he’ll make a great captain.
Look at the standards of the teams now, look at the players Thomas Bjorn had available – it was such a strong team. With the players he had it was hard to look at it and see how he could lose, but it did get a little bit tight during the singles.
If Europe carry on bringing players through at that standard, which I’m sure they are going to do, I think they are going to be great teams for the next few events.
What sort of captain will he be? Is he a good man-manager?
He’ll be a captain that is very close with the players but there will be a big focus on tactics. He’s a master tactician. He always uses his tactics to plot his way around the golf course.
His course management it impeccable. If anyone want to learn and improve their course management then watch Padraig.
He’ll get you putting from 30 feet off the green with a Texas wedge. He’ll be questioning people when they aren’t putting from off the green.
His management around the course will probably come out in his Ryder Cup captaincy and it will only benefit the players in the European Team.