March 14, 2009 (UPDATED MAR 15) –Sometimes, you just have to let the star of the show tell it like it is. So, without farther ado, here's what Las Vegas golfer and PGA Tour champion Nick Watney said about his putting and Las Vegas' Butch Harmon, following the second round of the PGA Tour's World Golf Championships-CA Championship. "I hit the ball fairly well last year, but my putting really let my down," said Watney, who was leading the event after 45 holes at -15. "So I worked real hard in the off-season with my coach, Butch Harmon, and it's really been paying off so far this year." Harmon operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club. Watney and Phil Mickelson, another Harmon golfer, entered the final round tied at -16 and playing in the same group during the final round. Mickelson won the bragging rights of the Harmon pros by one shot over Watney. Click here for the tournament recap and quotes from Watney and Mickelson. LIVE SCORING/RESULTS.
Harmon is at the CA Championship juggling announcing duties for Sky Sports in addition to working with Watney, Phil Mickelson (who is battling with Watney for the lead), Adam Scott, Stewart Cink and Ernie Els. A member of the media asked Watney if there is ever any conflict with Harmon and his busy schedule. "Well, that's not for me to answer; that's for Butch to answer," said Watney, who lives near the Rio Secco Golf Club course in Las Vegas. "He does a good job of, he sees — he has five students here. So he sees us all, and I don't think anybody feels slighted or anything."
Watney also is comfortable going head to head against Mickelson. "I would say I've played with Phil five or six times, and I definitely like the pairing," said Watney. "I mean, he's one of the best players of our generation, and you know, I'm looking forward to what I can learn and see if I can hang with him for a couple of days." Charley Hoffman, another Las Vegas resident who works with Shawn Callahan at the Harmon School of Golf, is also playing well at the CA Championship.
The featured golf course for this article is Rio Secco Golf Club, home of the Butch Harmon School of Golf and 18 holes of terrific Rees Jones-designed golf. Rio Secco is one of three Las Vegas golf courses operated by Harrah's Golf. Cascata is another Rees Jones design while Las Vegas National Golf Club is one of Las Vegas' most historic golf courses. Rio Secco is also home of the beautiful T-Mates female caddies. Click now for video of the T-Mates. Or click now for official Las Vegas golf tee times at Rio Secco Golf Club or official Las Vegas golf packages for any of these three Las Vegas golf courses.
Also, the neat thing about the Butch Harmon School of Golf is that it is open to the public and Harmon and his staff are available for schools and lessons. Obviously, Harmon is more difficult to reserve but he spends much time at the facility and has helped each of the instructors learn the game and how to properly teach it to others. Other pros on the staff also work with PGA Tour and LPGA Tour pros in addition to assisting Harmon with his golfers.
Watney has worked with Harmon a bit during the week because he was a little concerned with how he was putting. Apparently, the sessions have worked. Through two rounds, Watney had a total of 50 putts for 36 holes, ranking second in that category. "I kind of mentioned to him that I didn't like how I was rolling my ball," said Watney. "It just didn't feel right. So we did a little quick fix session. I had the putter just a touch hooded coming back. Yeah, so it was a little bit closed. So I would have to correct it somehow, which I either push it too much or if I didn't correct it, I would pull it. It was just creating all kind of havoc. We worked for maybe, just 15 or 20 minutes, and then he had to go out with Phil. But I stayed on the green for a little bit, and so far, it's really paid off.
"I've been working with a putting track that he gave me that kind of helps get the putter to stay square going back. So I worked on there. And then he said to just hit a few putts without the putter on the track and said that it was looking better. So I worked on that after he left, and I'm putting very well … Butch's knowledge of the game is incredible, if you guys have had the opportunity to talk to him, about who he's worked with and who he's seen play the game in his life. It's pretty amazing.
I played a practice round with Adam this week. Phil came to Vegas early January and I played a couple of holes with him. Yeah, I mean, I think part of the reason why I love the game is I love trying to improve. So learning from players who are better than me and more proven is vital to that. I'm lucky enough to have a really good position to be in and learn from some pretty good guys."