Phil Mickelson Wins, But It’s Back to Practice With Las Vegas’ Butch Harmon

Image February 23, 2009–Phil Mickelson won the Northern Trust Open, but immediately upon capturing the title, he was already focused on spending time with Butch Harmon. Harmon, who many regard as the world's best golf instructor, operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club. "I certainly have some work to do, but at least I'm on the right path … and I'm having some success now even without maybe my best stuff," said Mickelson. "But I'll work with Butch on Tuesday and see if I can continue to build on this and carry some momentum into Augusta." 

Mickelson narrowly defeated another Harmon student, Fred Couples, to win. "He fought hard the whole day," Mickelson said about Couples. "(He) played some phenomenal golf, especially early in the round. Had a couple of putts that caught the lip fallen, it would have been a different story … I'm pleased to be sitting here as the champion, and it was not easy," said Mickelson, who has been working with Harmon for about two years and spends time at the school and also works with Harmon at PGA Tour events. "The bad of it came in that I needed to become a better frontrunner when I get a lead. I had a five shot lead and I let it slide. The good thing was that I was able to fight hard. And fight through the round. When I didn't have my best stuff and come out with birdies there on 16 and 17 when I needed it, and a tough par on 18. That meant a lot to me."

Mickelson fired a 1-over par 72 during the final round, and beat Steve Stricker by a single shot. "I wasn't swinging well and wasn't hitting well, and I needed to make some birdies and make something happen," said Mickelson. "I just blocked everything out, looked at the pin and swung to it. Didn't think about anything swing-wise, just looked at my target and swung and forgot about all the technical stuff that I had been working on. Tuesday morning when I get together with Butch we'll get back to the technical side. But it's difficult to play at a high level thinking about mechanics. So those last four holes just kind of looked at the target and swung."

Mickelson is playing the WGC-Accenture Match Play event in Arizona where Tiger Woods, a former Harmon student, is making his return from major surgery. "We need (Tiger) back," Mickelson said. "We're all excited to have him back. And we're excited he's going to be 100%. From a player's point of view it's going to be harder to win tournaments. But we love the challenge. I love the challenge of trying to win a golf tournament with Tiger in the field. Next week's no different. And I hope that he stays healthy, because it's evident the game of golf needs him, especially at this time right now. The economy has been struggling, the sponsors have been struggling, to have him back is so critical for the sport." 

 

 

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