Phil and Butch Go Back to Work


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.
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