September 28, 2009–Earlier this year, Las Vegas' Butch Harmon was the first to be thanked by Stewart Cink when Cink won the British Open. Now Phil Mickelson, who began working with Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club, is the one thanking Harmon after collecting the Tour Championship trophy. Earlier this year, some pundits had questioned if Harmon was helping–or harming–Mickelson's swing, but now there is no doubt that the Harmon experiment is a success.
Mickelson has said several times recently that he has never hit it better, but that the putter was letting him down. However, Mickelson received some putting advice from Dave Stockton prior to the Tour Championship, and finally had a great week with the flatstick, thus allowing the work with Harmon to blossom. "The thing is I've been working so hard with Butch and I've hit the ball so well, and yet my scores haven't reflected that," said Mickelson during the week of the Tour Championship. "And now you're starting to see the distance that I've increased, the accuracy, not so far off fairways, the iron shots, all the stuff that Butch and I have worked on, you'll start to see the results because the putter is now where it should be."
The Butch Harmon School of Golf in Las Vegas has become a historic golf landmark for the area. You just never know who will show up at the school, and that includes Mickelson, in addition to other Tour Championship competitors such as Nick Watney and Ernie Els. Harmon and his staff also offer schools that are open to the public, with the practice and clinics taking place at the school plus on the fairways of the Rees Jones-designed Rio Secco, home of the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge later this year. Click now for the official website of Rio Secco Golf Club to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times.
As for Mickelson, the stories have already started about how 2010 might be the year that he breaks out and challenges Tiger as the best player in the world. If his putter continues to work like it did during the Tour Championship, who knows what the ceiling is for Mickelson. Mickelson plans to continue to work with Harmon, who has been voted by his peers as the World's Top Golf Instructor in a Golf Digest poll, Stockton and short-game guru Dave Pelz.
"I'm excited about where my golf game is headed in that I know where my long game is headed with Butch's guidance, and I know where my short game is headed with both Daves' guidance, and I'm excited about what 2010 brings," said Mickelson following the Tour Championship victory. The Harmon School is also operated, at times, at Cascata, another Rees Jones Las Vegas golf course.