Tour Notebook: Mickelson and Butch split and a dicky tummy for Rory
Phil Mickelson and Butch Harmon, probably the game’s best-known player/coach pairing, are going their separate ways.
Mickelson reportedly flew to Vegas last week to break the news in person in a two-hour sit-down. The left-hander, who has won 12 PGA Tour and three European Tour events, including the 2010 Masters and 2013 Open Championship under Harmon’s watch, is now down to 25th in the world and is winless since that success at Muirfield.
In a statement to Golf.com he said: “I’ve learned a great deal from him in our eight years together. It’s just that at the moment I need to hear new ideas from a different perspective.
“Butch is one of the great teachers in the history of the game and I believe he deserves to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame.”
The pair got together in the spring of 2007 and seven weeks later won at Sawgrass, a tournament where Mickelson had always struggled. Three years later the American added a third Green Jacket, at the expense of Lee Westwood, and two years ago finally got to grips with the challenges of links golf. Mickelson, five behind Westwood at the start of the day, played maybe the round of his life, posted four birdies in his last six holes, shot 66 and won by three.
The pair have also been there for each other as their respective wives have battled health issues. Harmon, now 72, still has the likes of Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker to keep him busy, and the split appears to have come on good terms.
The coach added: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Phil and we’ve had great success together. Helping him win the Open Championship in 2013 was one of the pinnacles of my career. I see nothing wrong with him seeking advice from another source. We’re great friends and always will be.”
There have been reports, this time in Golf Digest, that Australian Andrew Getson is in line to take over the reins. The 41-year-old coaches at Grayhawk in Scottsdale where Mickelson played his college golf. Getson coaches Kevin Streelman and none other than Bill Clinton.
McIlroy eats something he shouldn’t have
Upside: you get to miss the Tuesday photoshoot where you have to dress up and perform something embarrassing with your fellow players. Downside: you are in your hotel room throwing your guts up after eating something that wasn’t quite right.
Rory’s McIlroy’s preparations for the WGC-HSBC Champions in China got off to the wrong start when he woke in the middle of the night to be sick and then spent the rest of Tuesday doing much the same.
He then withdrew from the pro-am after a couple of swings on the range hurt too much but, after being given antibiotics and something for the abdominal pain, he was good to go on Thursday.
He eventually tied for 11th after closing with a 66.
Lahiri the unlikely rookie
The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year race is a funny one. Three players – Ben An, Matt Fitzpatrick and India’s Anirban Lahiri – are battling it out, the first two fresh-faced 21 and 24-year-olds who have enjoyed huge wins in the UK this year, the other a 28-year-old who turned pro in 2007.
Lahiri had already played in 37 European Tour events before this season when he then prevailed twice in Malaysia and on home soil.
“I’ve played in a few European events, as well. The co-sanctioned ones, at least. It was a similar thing last year. I was in Q-School in Europe and when I got my card they said, ‘you’ve got to fill out all your forms as a rookie’. I’m looking at the form saying, ‘man, this doesn’t feel right’, because I’ve been around for such a long time already.”
The last two years have been won by Americans, Peter Uihlein in 2013 and Brooks Koepka last year.
“Helping Phil win the Open Championship in 2013 was one of the pinnacles of my career” – Butch Harmon
Solheim handed special award
Last week it was the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Shanghai and Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim was handed the Lifetime Achievement Award.
He began in the business working on early putter designs in the family’s garage alongside his father, Karsten, at 13 and he now heads up one of the most influential golf companies in the world. In particular HSBC saluted the family for creating the Solheim Cup.
Spaniards stranded in Bali
Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari had to miss the LPGA’s Toto Japan Classic after being ‘stranded’ in Bali having played in the Lexus Cup.
The Indonesian island’s airport was closed for three days due to strewn ash from nearby Mount Rinjani.
The Spanish duo were given the last tee times on Friday but the airport didn’t open in time.
Recari was ranked 71st on the Money List with the top 72 making it into the Tour Championship and it’s not looking great for the Spaniard as she won’t be playing in this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
The Rules of Golf: Explained (sort of)
Here we go again with the wonderful rules of golf.
Adam Scott was playing the 6th hole in China and with lift, clean and place in effect picked up his ball thinking it was on the fairway by the green. He then looked back and wondered if the area where he had just chipped from was actually the fairway.
This then happened;
– He asked for a rules official and was told that it wasn’t the fairway and that he would incur a one-shot penalty for picking up his ball
– He was also told to replay the shot which would now be his third. He chipped on, missed the putt and made 5
– Two holes later the same official informed Scott that a wrong decision had been taken, he should not have replaced his ball after hitting his first chip and would therefore be penalized another shot for picking his ball up – plus another for playing the second ball. The 5 would now be a 6
After more than 30 minutes in the scoring area the tournament committee met by phone and decided that under Rule 34-3/1.5 aka Committee Error and Scoring in Stroke Play the additional penalty was removed.
The European Tour’s chief referee John Paramor summed a very strange situation up perfectly.
“It’s a lovely decision in the book that very kindly the R&A and the USGA put in there to help aging tour officials to right the wrongs in the world.”