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The Tour Report

February 15 2012

9:30 AM

Harmon’s Tiger insight helps Mickelson

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Redington/Getty Images
Butch Harmon has coached Phil Mickelson since 2007.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM There’s no denying Phil Mickelson has outplayed Tiger Woods the last five years when the two have been paired together, as they were Sunday for the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Why Mickelson owns an 8-3-1 mark against Woods during that period is open for debate, but Butch Harmon certainly seems to have played a role. Harmon of course used to coach Woods and has coached Mickelson since 2007, which is when he started to impart some of his inside knowledge of his former pupil to his current one. Woods and Mickelson were paired together for three rounds, including the final one, at the Deutsche Bank Championship that year. Mickelson shot a lower score each time and went on to win the tournament by two over Woods. “I explained to [Phil] some things to be aware of when playing with Tiger,” Harmon said via cell phone. “If Tiger putts out first the gallery is going to start moving ahead, so if you have a chance to putt out first it’s in your best interest to do so. If it’s close on the back nine, Tiger will sometimes hit 3-wood on purpose to make you wait.” “Tiger’s not doing anything illegal, it’s just a little bit of gamesmanship.” It wasn’t close on the back nine Sunday at Pebble Beach, where Mickelson raced to the lead with three birdies and an eagle in his first six holes en route to a 64 and his 40th career win. Woods, who began the day tied for second and two shots ahead of Mickelson, shot 75 and tumbled into a tie for 15th. “I don't believe anybody has benefitted more from what he's done for the game than myself,” said Mickelson, who has been paired with Woods 30 times in his career. “He seems to bring out the best in me and the last four or five years. I just seem more focused.” That wasn’t always the case. Prior to 2007, Woods owned a 10-5-3 mark when playing with Mickelson. “If [Phil] played with Ken Duke [on Sunday], would he have shot 64?,” Harmon added. “Who knows. “He feels more comfortable now than he ever has playing with Tiger.”