Harrington looks for edge with FootJoy deal

Major hero Padraig Harrington has started 2009 on the right foot by signing a new shoe sponsorship deal believed to be worth over €1.5m

The Dubliner, 37, has given Hi Tec the boot after 12 seasons and signed up with the golf shoe giants FootJoy in a multi-year deal he hopes will give him an edge over his rivals.

After claiming for years that Hi-Tec shoes added nearly 20 yards to his drives, Harrington believes he has found something even better and he wants to lace into the competition when he returns to action in Abu Dhabi in a fortnight.

He insisted: "FootJoy is a brand that just about every golfer is brought up wearing, and I’m no different. The belief is, and you’ve got to have this, that you are playing the very best shoes you can get, and that gives you an edge over the field.

"This game is played from the ground up. The great teachers have always taught from the ground up. What your feet are doing hugely determine the power output in the swing and how you swing the club in terms of planes.

"If your shoes aren't helping with that, you have got the wrong shoes. I'd love my shoes to be stylish and all  that but the No 1 thing is that the shoe does the job. 

"It has to support the left foot on the through swing and the more you can keep that foot in contact with the ground and not spinning out, the more likely you are going to hit solid, powerful shots.

"How long those spikes stay in the ground determine how much push and effort you can get into the swing."

Harrington added: "I was impressed. They've done all the testing and - I don't know if I am allowed say this but they tested everybody else's shoe and after all the testing they did, it was a better shoe. I am really looking forward to working with the development of the shoes.

"The belief is that you are playing the very best piece of equipment you can get and have an edge over the field. How are you going to stand up in a two-man play-off and feel you are better than the guy beside you, unless you feel there is a little thing you have an edge on."

Harrington won three Majors using HiTec and worked with the company to design a shoe that he swore added yards to his tee shots.

Nearly four years ago, he said: "I reckon they are worth 20 yards to me. The shoes help your feet move in the right direction during the golf swing. When you make your turn you move like Elvis Presley, in towards the ball.

"We have created resistance to help you get into the left side and put a bar down the middle of the shoe so it doesn't roll over, it twists back on itself creating more torque.

"We have also deepened the heel and put in special soft spikes that are directional because they allow you to grip harder and hit more powerfully."

Unfortunately for Hi-Tec,  they didn't put enough cash in his pocket and a move to FootJoy will see him on TV screens all over the world through their popular advertising campaigns.

The shoe deal is tied into Harrington's ball and glove contract with Titleist, which is part of the Acushnet Company that also owns the Scotty Cameron, Cobra and Pinnacle brands.

Harrington has now changed almost all the sponsors that backed him early in his career with Dublin-based clothing company Kartel the only name to remain a constant since he joined the tour.

The world No 4's move to FootjJoy - which also sponsors Irish aces Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy - will sit nicely with his $12m cap deal with FTI Consulting.

The American financial trouble-shooters plan to use Harrington's image in a high-profile TV and print campaign to boost their profile worldwide and FootJoy's TV ads will make him an even better-known face.

FTI's Declan Kelly confessed: "We have already negotiated rates with CBS, specifically during the Masters and the US PGA and about nine other of the golf tournaments he will play next year about 180 commercials inside the programmes themselves.

"In addition to that, we will be investing heavily in print advertising around the world, in all of the markets where he plays golf because we are present in those markets as well."

Harrington's early season schedule will see him play most of his golf in the US with appearances in the Buick Invitational, Pebble Beach Pro-Am and LA Open planned for February and March.

Still undecided about the Accenture World Match Play in Tucson, he will then get ready to battle for the third leg of the Paddy Slam in the Masters by playing Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill and the Shell Houston Open.

FootJoy are delighted to sign the Irish ace with Rob Kelley, Director of Brand Marketing explaining: “We are thrilled to welcome Padraig Harrington to Team FJ. Padraig not only brings an unparalleled record of worldwide success but also an intimate knowledge of the research and technology behind footwear development.”

Harrington will wear the new SYNR-G shoe for the first time in competition when he tees it up in the Abu Dhabi from January 15-18.

He is already one of the longest hitters on tour with average drive of 296.3 yards on the PGA Tour in 2008.

Padraig Harrington's early 2009 schedule

Jan 15- 18 Abu Dhabi Championship

Feb 5-8 Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines

Feb 12-15 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

Feb 19-22 Northern Trust Open, Riviera, LA

Feb 25 - March 1 - WGC Accenture Matchplay - provisional

March 26 - 29 Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill

April 2 - 5 Shell Houston Open, Redstone Golf Club

April 9 -12 The Masters Tournament, Augusta National

April 30 - May 3 Wachovia Championship, Quail Hollow

May 7 -10 The Players, TPC Sawgrass

May 14- 17 The Irish Open

June 4 - 7 Memorial Tournament, Muirfield Village, Ohio

June 11 - 14 Stanford St Jude Classic, TPC Southwind, Memphis

June 18 - 21 US Open, Bethpage Black, NY

July 2 - 5 French Open

July 8 -12 Irish PGA

July 16 - 19 The Open