May 2, 2007–Las Vegas' own Butch Harmon has added another stallion to the stable to go along with PGA Tour stars Fred Couples, Corey Pavin and Adam Scott, and LPGA star Natalie Gulbis, among others. As has long been discussed in the national media, Phil Mickelson sought out Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at the Rees Jones-designed Rio Secco Golf Club, to help straighten out his woes off the tee. Mickelson, who originally tried to keep the news quiet, finally went public, saying in a statement: "Butch is one of the very best teachers in the world. He's helped two players rise to number one in the game, and I'm fortunate that he has agreed to spend time working with me on my game, particularly on my driving." Harmon famously worked with Tiger Woods for many years, much of that time spent in and around his Las Vegas school and the holes of Rio Secco, and helped Tiger hone the swing that has produced golf's most spectacular individual decade.
Nothing is for sure, but it isn't a stretch to assume that Mickelson will be spending some time at the Butch Harmon School. Mickelson is a fan of Las Vegas–he has been known to wager on sports, especially football–and has played in several of Las Vegas' PGA Tour events over the years that have been played at Las Vegas golf courses TPC Summerlin, TPC Canyons, Southern Highlands Golf Club and other notable Las Vegas golf courses.
Mickelson, who is very close personally with his other instructor, Rick Smith, will stay involved with him on several business and friendship levels, but it appears Harmon is taking the lead on Mickelson's overall swing. Harmon has been qouted as saying that you will see evident swing changes in the near future. Mickelson consults with Dave Pelz on his short game.
"I feel that now is the time to go in a new direction with Butch Harmon on my long game," said Mickelson. "I went to Rick Smith as a friend and asked for his understanding of this decision and he's been very supportive of it."
Several media outlets have devoted much space to this story, including Golfworld and The Golf Channel, who have written very compelling stories about the move.
Harmon told The Golf Channel's Brian Hewitt the following when asked if Mickelson was ready to challenge Woods for the top spot in the world.
"It's going to be very difficult to challenge Tiger Woods this year for No. 1 because TIger has such a big lead in points. 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."
Harmon also told Hewitt that Adam Scott would remain his number one priority.
Harmon didn't return phone calls seeking comment about how he and Mickelson's sessions were progressing, but has been quoted publicly as stating that he won't share specific details, and that he will only discuss generalities about Phil's swing.