By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Butch Harmon sees a lot of Gary Woodland in Alvaro Quiros. Now he'll try to help him the way he has his other long-hitting client.
Quiros is a six-time European Tour winner, but has just one top-10 finish in a stroke-play event on the European Tour and zero top-25s in seven starts in the United States.
While Harmon and Quiros won't work together full-time because Quiros spends the majority of his season in Europe, Harmon said he hopes to help "clean up" Quiros' game, beginning next month in Las Vegas, when Quiros plans to visit for a few days.
While Quiros ranks second on the European Tour in driving distance (313.4 yards) and 10th on the PGA TOUR (305.6 yards as a non-member). He is only 36th in greens hit on the European Tour, and has hit only 60 percent of his greens on the 2012 PGA TOUR.
"He hits it a long way, but where he hits it from (on his next shot) is the weakest part of his game," Harmon said.
Harmon, who began working with Woodland earlier this year and also coaches long-hitting Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, is excited about the opportunity.
"Like with Gary, he has a lot to learn," Harmon said. "The exciting part is that also like Gary he has a lot of natural talent. Any time you can hit the ball as far as he does, that's a big advantage."
In addition to working with him next month in Las Vegas, Harmon will spend time with Quiros at World Golf Championships and majors.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The toughest part wasn’t physical. Then again it never is for Gary Woodland, who earlier this year hired Butch Harmon and has since undergone a major swing change.
“I showed up in San Diego this year and I didn’t know how I was going to play,” Woodland said. “The big deal for me is I’m not making changes at home, I’m making changes on the golf course.”
It’s shown in the results. Since hiring Harmon as his coach, Woodland has yet to finish in the top 25 in five starts.
But to look at only the finishes would be short-sighted.
Even though Woodland won the Transitions Championship a year ago and was one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, he was also one of its least accurate. He ranked 137th in driving accuracy and this year is 165th.
He also didn’t have much variety in his game, which was mostly all about power.
“It’s been been an adjustment, but it’s definitely come along quickly,” Woodland said.
The record of Harmon’s players -- past and present -- in majors was also part of the appeal for Woodland, who knows his length, when used properly, can be a huge advantage at Augusta National.
“He obviously knows the advantage, he’s won a million majors there with Tiger and Phil,” Woodland said of Harmon, who helped coach Woods and Mickelson to a combined four Green Jackets. “He knows the ins and outs and which shots you need to compete there, and I think I was lacking a couple of those last year.”
Even though Woodland’s results have been lacking this year, he hasn’t missed a cut.
Part of that speaks to the competitiveness he’s had ever since he was a multi-sport star as a teenager.
“I think the biggest thing I learned with that, in baseball and basketball you have to learn to win when you’re not playing well,” said Woodland, who played basketball at the Division II level in college before transferring to Kansas and focusing on golf. “I didn’t have my best stuff Sunday [at Transitions] last year, but I found a way to get it in the hole.”
And that’s given Woodland plenty of confidence despite the swing changes.
“We’ll be ready by Augusta,” Woodland said. “And I think we’ll be ready before then.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
There was a good reason Butch Harmon didn’t return the phone call right away. He was in the midst of a 5 1/2-hour range session Tuesday with his newest pupil, Gary Woodland , in Las Vegas.
“I spent all day with him,” Harmon said via cell phone. “He is incredibly athletic and what I really like about him is his work ethic and desire to get better. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Among the things they worked on was Woodland’s path and knowledge of his swing.
“He’s got a lot of golf savvy for a guy who hasn’t played for that long,” Harmon said of the 27-year-old who won twice in 2011 and ranked fifth on the PGA TOUR in driving distance. “He just needs a better understanding of his golf swing and why certain shots happen when they do. But he’s excited about the relationship.”
Last week, Woodland and longtime coach Randy Smith split after Woodland left Randy’s son Blake Smith of Hambric Sports Management to be represented by Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management.
Woodland played in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he finished 24th, and said he expected to make a decision on a new coach within a couple of weeks. It didn’t take that long. Woodland flew straight from the tournament to see Harmon in Las Vegas.
“He called me and asked if I would have any interest in working with him,” Harmon said.
Harmon was interested and called his other clients, starting with Phil Mickelson, to make sure they were OK with it. Harmon also works with Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney.
“[Gary] fits into the profile of the guys I work with,” said Harmon, who has also worked with Tiger Woods and Greg Norman, among others. “He has a big swing and a tremendous amount of talent and is an awful lot of fun to be around.”
Woodland had worked with Smith since 2005 when he was a junior at Kansas.
Last year, Woodland got his first career victory with a one-shot win at the Transitions Championship, then teamed with Matt Kuchar to give the U.S. its first victory in the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup in a decade.
Before he had left the scoring area Thursday evening, Phil Mickelson was already preparing for the second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
A disappointing round of 71 had left the 2008 champion -- who could take over the No. 1 ranking in the world with a win this week -- in a tie for 89th and in danger of missing the cut. So Mickelson had already been exchanging text messages with his swing guru, Butch Harmon.
They had plenty to discuss, too. The round had started with so much promise as Mickelson got up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the first hole for birdie and added another at No. 2 on an 8-foot putt.
The tide turned at No. 7, though, when Lefty hit his approach into the hazard to the left of the green and made double bogey. He got one stroke back with a 16-footer at the eighth hole but didn't make another birdie the rest of the day.
To add insult to injury, Mickelson closed with bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18. He couldn't get up and down from the front greenside bunker at the par 3 and played the 18th from 17th fairway on the way to his final bogey.
"I played well the first four holes but the last 14 I played terrible,” Mickelson said. “So I'll have some work to do. I already was in there texting Butch so I've got some direction for in the morning. I'll probably get out here for an early session."
Asked whether the hot, heavy air and bright sunlight had sapped his energy, Mickelson refused to give himself a pass.
"I've had a tough last couple of days because I've been doing a lot of outings, and maybe energy was a factor, I'm not sure," he said. "But there's no excuse. There's no wind. The golf course is in perfect shape. There are a lot of scores out there. I just wasn't one of them."
Mickelson, who ended up hitting just five fairways although he managed 12 of 18 greens, knew he had squandered a day tailor-made for scoring. He had 30 putts for the round, as well.
There's always Friday, though. And Mickelson, who won the Masters and finished second at the Quail Hollow Championship two weeks later, is nothing if not resilient.
"The greens should be perfect," Mickelson said. "And if I can get a few iron shots close to the hole I should be able to make a run." – Helen Ross