Harrington’s average drive this season is 10 yards ahead of the second longest hitter on the circuit, Scott McCarron, and nearly 30 yards more than the PGA TOUR Champions average. When Harrington visited Jacobs in September, he was at a ball speed of 195 mph, which is elite even on the PGA TOUR.
“I couldn’t believe how much he improved,” Jacobs said. “He said, ‘I’m a professional.’
Harrington is nerdy at this sort of thing in the same way that, say, Tom Cruise became obsessed with G-forces in “Top Gun: Maverick,” which Harrington saw three times. Tough questions, hard work, assimilating and testing new data in the field – this is the wind in your sails.
On the PGA TOUR, Harrington said, he spent 90% of his time on his long game. Now he spends 90% of his time on his wedges, chipping and placing. He thinks of winning, not making the cut, and is grateful for the six months he took during the worst of the Covid crisis.
“I suppose since May I’ve gotten really good shape, pretty much in contention every week,” he said. “It’s a good place to play golf when you go on Sundays with a chance to win. You know the pressure is high, you know you’re alive and it’s exciting.”
Back in Ireland, his and Caroline’s eldest son Paddy is in his first year at University College-Dublin. Ciaron, the youngest, is 15 years old. Wilson the dog, named after the Harrington club owner, is no longer a puppy but still a handful. It’s a good, balanced life.
“I’ve never seen a credit card bill in my life; my wife totally runs the show,” said Harrington. “If something comes into the house, something breaks, she fixes it. She has nothing to do with me.”
Being a big fish in a smaller pond has boosted his confidence, he added, noting that his swing has also improved thanks to his coaches doing their job. And while he may not be as monomaniacal as he used to be, he doesn’t want to be.
“The only way to keep playing is to try to enjoy my life,” he said.
Having won the US Senior Open in June, he will enter the US Open next year, one of three majors he is already in, and has said he intends to play more among “the juniors”. But first things first; for Harrington, that means trying to win in Phoenix.
A Schwab Cup title on your first try? Not unheard of, but another win among the boys, or even another major, his fourth? If he does all that, they might even make a movie about it.