Harmon Opens Up About Phil


Contacted Tuesday by GOLF CHANNEL, world-renowned golf instructor Butch Harmon spoke openly and confidently about the prospects of his newest client, Phil Mickelson.
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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