Phil and Butch Go Back to Work

By Brian HewittJanuary 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
Conspicuous by his Kapalua absence once again, world No. 2 Phil Mickelson will begin his 2008 preparations in earnest next week when instructor Butch Harmon pays a house call to Mickelson at his San Diego area home base.
And before we jump all over Phil for skipping this weeks season-opener at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, lets not forget that three other players in the top 10 -- Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington and Adam Scott -- also declined their invitations.
Harmon told me the top priority will be improving Mickelsons accuracy from the 160-yard range. The key, Harmon said, will be getting Mickelson to lower his ball flight which will produce more consistency and more control of his golf ball.
Not coincidentally, Shotlinks season-ending numbers showed Mickelson ranked 184th in proximity of approaches from the 150 to 175 yard range.
Perhaps even more interesting will be watching how Mickelson readies himself for the majors in 2008. He admittedly over-prepared for last years U.S. Open at Oakmont and damaged his left (trailing) wrist in the process. Harmon said the injury threw a monkey wrench into Phils year and, Harmon added, we should not be surprised if Mickelson changes his pre-major modus operandi this season.
Reading between the lines, less may mean more for Phil Mickelson in 2008 when it comes to on-course preparation for the seasons four biggest events.
As for the full-swing changes implemented by Harmon for Mickelson when the two first teamed up last year, Harmon said he was very pleased with the progress made in that area.
As of right now, both Woods and Mickelson plan to begin their 2008 campaigns at the Buick Invitational at the end of this month at San Diegos Torrey Pines, also the site of this years U.S. Open.
Scotts people are saying he probably wont play in the States until Riviera in mid-February. The reason, they say, for his Kapalua no-show is a heavy dose of international starts in January and February. His camp says the published report that attributed his withdrawal to exhaustion was incorrect.
The 27-year-old Scott recently hired a new agent, a new PR person and a new personal trainer, who will follow him to most of his events. All work for Scott under the umbrella of his management corporation -- The Adam Scott Company -- ASC, for short.
Harmon said Scott and Mickelson already have set their sights on the seasons first major, the Masters in April. And, he says, Scott continues to be aware that he needs to play better in the major championships.
Recently Winged Foot Golf Clubs membership voted to remove its name from consideration for the 2015 U.S. Open. Winged last hosted the championship in 2006 when Geoff Ogilvy outlasted Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie for the title.
USGA executive director David B. Fay Wednesday called Winged Foots decision, a very understandable postponement, given the impact that preparing for and hosting an Open can have on the ordinary routines of the membership, staff and, indeed, the neighborhood.
Added Fay, All along, it has been our expectation to select the 2015 Open site sometime in 2008. As always, this will be a very tough decision, given the very attractive group of clubs and courses from which well choose.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Mercedes-Benz Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.