Mickelson and Butch Harmon Relax Its OK

By Brian HewittMarch 3, 2003, 5:00 pm
There it was. Right in front of God and the affirming eyes of the network television cameras. Phil Mickelson and Butch Harmon. Working together on the range at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The No. 3 ranked player in the world getting a lesson from the man who helped sculpt Tiger Woods' game into the best on the planet.
 
What would Tiger think? For that matter, what would Rick Smith, Mickelson's longtime and internationally-known teacher, think? Surely this was delicious scandal. Surely tongues would be wagging in golf's busy halls of gossip for months and months.
 
Wouldn't they?
 
The answers, in order, were: 'No,' and 'Not really.'
 
It turned out that Mickelson/HarmonGate was more visually titillating for the rumor mongers than it was substantive for the fact finders.
 
It all started when Mickelson, incessantly curious, wanted another set of eyes on his swing. He had been having trouble finding fairways off the tee. And during the week of Buick Invitational Smith had shown up and told him the same thing he had many times before: His swing was too long and his lower body was too unstable. Mickelson wanted distance. Smith told him for the umpteenth time that he must sacrifice a small amount of his prodigious length for a large measure of much needed accuracy.
 
'I told him he needed to tighten it up,' Smith said Sunday night.
 
Mickelson politely told Smith he wanted a second opinion. He explained it was similar to the way a medical patient would seek advice from another doctor to confirm or dispute an original diagnosis.
 
Mickelson went to Harmon. Harmon's immediate reaction was to tell Mickelson he would look at him only if Woods' okayed it, and Mickelson got similar approval from Smith. At the highest level of the game the relationships between players and instructors are extremely proprietary. Harmon knows the unwritten protocol better than most.
 
Woods told Harmon, who doesn't work as often with Tiger as he once did, he had no problem. Mickelson ran it past Smith.
 
But the story started to spin out of control was when the cameras caught Mickelson and Harmon together. Too many people jumped too swiftly to too many conclusions.
 
As it happened, Harmon ended up telling Mickelson most of the same things Smith had been pounding home. 'Sometimes,' Harmon said Sunday, 'a player will respond to the same thing if he hears it put in different words.'
 
Smith suspected as much and said he welcomed Harmon's input. 'I don't own Phil Mickelson,' he said.
 
But the genie was out of the bottle on the story and Mickelson, who has struggled this year on a variety of public relations fronts, was frantically trying to find the cap. He apologized to Smith and, according to Smith, admitted that he was 'hard-headed' sometimes.
 
Smith said no apology was necessary and the two forged plans for Smith to visit Mickelson at his California home for more work on his swing just as soon as Mickelson's wife Amy delivers the couple's third child. This is a delivery, by the way, that is ahead of schedule and due any day now.
 
For his part Harmon, scotched the notion, budding in certain circles, that he is now Mickelson's full-time teacher. 'I don't need any new students,' Harmon said, taking special delight in updating the progress he is making these days with Darren Clarke and Fred Couples, both of whom have re-dedicated themselves to their games. Harmon is also tickled at the development of young Adam Scott, who took eventual winner Woods to the 19th hole in the match play semi-finals.
 
Mickelson, Smith said, promises he will now listen to Smith with renewed fervor. Smith can't wait. Meanwhile don't be shocked if you see Mickelson and Harmon together again for brief tune-ups this year. Woods won't be. Neither will Smith.
 
'Butch and I have a good relationship,' Smith said.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: