x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Swing alteration key to a Harrington renaissance

Padraig Harrington is hoping that a change will help him re-find his form.

Padraig Harrington has had a poor 2011, with his best result in a major being 45th in the US Open.
Padraig Harrington has had a poor 2011, with his best result in a major being 45th in the US Open.

Pete Cowen, one of golf's leading swing coaches, said this year that he would not take on any more pupils.

But it seems that the Englishman, a long-time affiliate of Dubai's Emirates Golf Club, was unable to resist the temptation of trying to put together the game of a man who has won three major titles but has looked lost on the course for the past few years.

Padraig Harrington, now ranked 78th in the world, has been working with Cowen in recent weeks, trying to get back to a competitive level.

There was a time when Harrington was seen as the only player who could beat Tiger Woods, having won back-to-back British Opens in 2007 and 2008, plus the US PGA title in 2008 .

In that golden period, Harrington rose to third in the world, behind Woods and Phil Mickelson.

The slump by Woods has been golf's biggest story for 18 months, but Harrington's loss of form has been equally dramatic, though it has not attracted quite as many headlines

And yet Cowen, whose golf academy in Dubai is one of the most popular in the region, believes he can help the Irishman win again on the big stage.

"With time, Padraig is capable of getting back to being the best short-game player in the world," Cowen told the BBC.

"Padraig came and asked me at the Bridgestone [tournament] if I would give an opinion on his swing and what I thought might improve it.

"He thought he was spending far too much time on his long game, to the detriment of his short game.

"Padraig won two majors in 2008 with the best short game in the world. He felt as though he'd neglected that and when you looked at the stats it proved it. He'd become almost non-competitive."

Cowen, who works with Lee Westwood and this summer's British Open champion, Darren Clarke, has a job on his hands.

Harrington's recent results and form have been dire. This year, he missed the cut in the Masters, the British Open and was a lowly 45th and 64th, respectively, in the other two majors, the US Open and PGA Championship.

He even missed the cut at the Irish Open, his home event.

In July, Harrington parted company with his coach of 13 years, Bob Torrance, and went looking for help.

"He's good at bashing himself on the range and he couldn't understand why he wasn't getting any better," Cowen said. "I just tried to simplify his action.

"It was complicated and required massive amounts of time. He is getting there. Padraig will be competing again soon enough."

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