It’s been nearly four years since the great coach passed away but Padraig Harrington will play the 147th Open Championship as defending Carnoustie champion with the “legacy of Bob Torrance” in his swing.
The Irishman was working with Torrance, the legendary Largs-based coach, when he beat Sergio Garcia in a play-off to get his hands on the Claret Jug at the Angus venue in 2007 and also when he defended the title at Royal Birkdale then won the US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
Torrance, the father of Sam, died at the age of 82 during the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool but, although he now works with other people on his swing, Harrington still thinks about his old coach on a daily basis.
“Howard Bennett was my first coach, but he was more on psychology and performance. How you get around the golf course,” said the Dubliner. “My first swing coach was Bob Torrance and I still think in Bob Torrance language, no doubt about that.
“I work with Pete Cowen now and I have done some work with George Gankas, but it was Paul McGinley who described it well when it comes to Bob. I remember him saying that he was one of the few people ever that had made a distinguished change in his golf swing.
“The way I swung it club pre-Bob Torrance to the way I swung it with Bob, it physically changed. Players will come and tell you they had changed something. But, if you looked at them swinging the golf club, you couldn’t tell the difference.
“With Bob, I made a substantial change and that is never going to go away. Every person I work with from now on I still have the legacy of Bob Torrance in my golf swing. I also still relate a lot of my own coaching to Bob Torrance.
“When somebody says something to me, I find myself saying, ‘Bob used to teach this’. In terms of my golf swing, my base is Bob Torrance and everything is related to Bob Torrance. It is like how you learn a language. I think in Bob Torrance speak even if I am doing something different.”
Along with McGinley, Stephen Gallacher and others, Harrington worked a lot with Torrance at the Inverclyde centre in Largs, where the Bob Torrance School of Golf was created following his death. “He’d say, ‘come on we’ll go up to the salt mines’,” said Harrington, smiling, as he was asked about some of Torrance’s favourite sayings. “That was going up to the practice range. To most people, going to the salt mines, of course, would be a miserable thing.
“There’s a million sayings he’d come out with. ‘Night and day’. The difference between a good and bad swing was one he used all the time. There isn’t a day that goes by that there wouldn’t be a Bob Torrance phrase or a story used as we go around the golf course. His stories were so good. Someone should have written a book.”
Having thrown his hat into the ring for the 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy, Harrington looks set to be named by Thomas Bjorn as a vice captain for this year’s event in France. “We’ve been in discussion and whether that leads to… well, it remains to be seen, But, certainly, we have been chatting away,” said the 46-year-old.