The Phil Mickelson Butch Harmon experiment has finally worked. Phil Mickelson was able to shoot two amazingly low rounds and then hung on through the final round to repeat as Northern Trust Open champion. Mickelson has not played well so far this season, but he has been convinced that he was close. He finally found enough of his game to hold off Steve Stricker.
After Phil’s second round he called his coach, Butch Harmon, to tell him he sensed something wrong with his swing. Butch flew in and the two of them worked out Phil’s flaws as Phil warmed up before the third round. Whatever Butch told Phil, it worked. He shot a 62 with seven birdies and one eagle, an amazing result after a quick lesson on the range. The timing could not be better. Now it is time to put that game to work and hunt down Tiger Woods.
If Phil has truly found his game he needs to step forward and reclaim his place in the world of golf. He has slipped in the rankings and his last major victory was the 2006 Masters. Tiger Woods has won four majors in that timeframe. Phil’s widow for major victories may be closing. Woods has not had one consistent opponent challenge him during his career. Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and lately Padraig Harrington have all had a period during which they challenged Tiger, but none has had the staying power to be the contender to Woods. Phil is in danger of squandering opportunities to win major tournaments and that is how players like Phil and Tiger measure their success. These guys are the major players in golf and they are both back. We have to hope that there are some head to head battles in the future.
Arnold Palmer won is last major in 1964 at the Masters. He was shut out by a younger Jack Nicklaus and other players like Lee Trevino and Gary Player. Mickelson is in a similar situation. Woods is a favorite in every major. Now, another wave of younger players appears ready to contend for every major championship. Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and Geoff Ogilvy have joined Els, Harrington and Singh as players capable of winning majors and thereby shutting Phil out.
The landscape of golf today is dominated by Tiger Woods. In his day, Jack Nicklaus dominated also, but he had a handful of great players that consistently contended and won major championships. We have been waiting for Phil to be Trevino to Tiger’s Nicklaus. We have longed for a head to head battle reminiscent of Nicklaus and Watson’s “Duel in the Son” in the 1977 British Open. Lately, we have seen many players rise up and win one major and then not win or contend in any other. If Phil has actually found his new Butch Harmon swing, now he needs to put it to use and be the player that faces off against Tiger every time they tee it up. Phil has a chance here to steal the game and the headlines from Tiger and propel himself into the company of legends like Player, Palmer, Watson and Trevino. All those players played second fiddle to Nicklaus on many days, but all of them were able to beat Jack head to head and secure multiple majors. Phil can not waste another opportunity to win a major. To watch Phil and Tiger battle it out face to face in the majors this year would be amazing. It would be great for golf and even better for Phil. If Phil wins a couple more majors with him and Tiger dueling each other his legacy will be more then just a great player who played in the “Tiger Era”.
He will solidify is place in golf history as one of the all time greats. Now, is the time Phil. It is simple; beat Tiger and become a golfing legend.
Note to Phil Mickelson and his tailor. We all understand how Tiger Woods has changed the way golfers prepare themselves. Woods has made everyone else aware of the advantages of being physically fit. Most golfers have increased their work out routines. It is not unusual to see many slimmed down or pumped up players on the course. Phil is one of the guys who aggressively changed his work out routine and drastically changed his body. He is fitter and stronger and obviously in better shape then he was two years ago. However, it looks like Phil has the sleeves on his golf shirts tailored to try and showcase his biceps. The sleeves look taken in and fit tightly around Phil’s arms and look horrible. Some one in Phil’s camp needs to tell him to give it up. We can see you are in better shape. There is no need to alter the sleeves on your shirts. It cheapens the way Phil looks. Forget trying to look like the Hulk, leave the shirts alone. Phil needs to just play golf, win majors and enjoy his wonderful life.