Harmon Opens Up About Phil
The first priority is to get Phil to drive the ball in the fairway more consistently and to control the ball through the air, Harmon said. You will definitely see a different-looking swing from Phil Mickelson in Dallas this week.
Harmon was back at his home base of Las Vegas Tuesday after a series of productive practice sessions with Mickelson. Mickelson, who will tee it up this week at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, announced Monday he had switched instructors from Rick Smith to Harmon. Harmon had declined public comment about the change prior to the announcement.
Obviously this process is going to take time, Harmon added. But the practice sessions have been good. Now its time to put it to use in tournaments.
Mickelson, No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, sits at No. 131 in driving accuracy on the latest PGA TOUR stats.
Two of Harmons former players, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods, ascended to No. 1 while on Harmons watch. The question in everybodys mind at the moment is can Harmon take Mickelson to that level?
Its going to be very difficult to challenge Tiger Woods this year for No. 1 because Tiger has such a big lead in the points, Harmon said. But Phil has the talent and the desire and he has finally realized that he had to make changes. I think he has a very good chance of catching Tiger in the next couple of years.
When former U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin began working with Harmon several years ago he talked about the totem pole effect that came with being a member of Harmons stable. In short, Pavin quickly learned there was a pecking order on the practice range at events when more than one Harmon pupil was present. And, Pavin found out, he wasnt at the top of it.
Where, Harmon was asked Tuesday, will Mickelsons place be on that totem pole?
I have already called Fred Couples, Adam Scott and Stewart Cink and assured them this wont change my relationship with them, Harmon said. Im not Rick Smith. Im not going to spend 24/7 time with Phil. When he needs help Ill be there with him. ...But if youre asking me whos at the top of the totem pole, Adam Scott is my main client. And Ive explained that to Phil.
One thing Harmon will not be talking about in public is the specific nature of the changes he and Mickelson are implementing. Mickelson has always been very private that way. And he already has asked Harmon to respect that privacy when talking with others. Harmon has told Mickelson he has no problem with that.
The bottom line is Mickelson needs to fit his golf ball into the fairway more often. Crooked driving is the primary reason he didnt win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot last June. The last time Mickelson finished in the top 100 in driving accuracy on the PGA TOUR was 2001. Not coincidentally, he wound up No. 2 on the money list that year and No. 1 in the TOURs telling par-4 birdie statistic.
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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same
AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.
According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.
The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.
The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Webb granted U.S. Women's Open special exemption
Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.
The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.
"As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."
Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.
Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.
Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern
Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.
But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.
Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.
That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.
A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.
“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.
“Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.
“And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.
“So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”
McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds
After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.
McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.
Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:
8/1: Tiger Woods
10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas
14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose
16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm
18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson
25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman
50/1: Alex Noren
60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters
80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay
100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner