Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Phil Switched to Butch

For the past couple of weeks, much of the inside-baseball buzz in golf has been about Phil Mickelson possibly dumping his longtime swing coach (and good friend) Rick Smith in favor of Butch Harmon

Aside from being Tiger Woods' old swing coach, Harmon is arguably the highest-profile of the small world of celebrated swing gurus. He's also no stranger to self-promotion, which never sat well with Tiger.

I first heard of Phil's possible switch the Monday morning after the Masters. One of my playing partners that morning at Augusta National was Jaime Diaz from Golf World and Golf Digest, who is one of the most plugged-in writers on the circuit. Jaime knows everybody and goes everywhere. That morning, he confessed to be tired because he had been up much of the night writing the Phil-to-Butch story for that week's Golf World.

It was a tough story to report and write, said Jaime, because every where he turned, he got mostly denials from all the principals involved. But Jaime's radar was up and functioning, and he knew he was onto something. Still, he had nagging worries: What if his eyes, his ears and his gut were wrong? Writers hate to embarrass themselves and their publications. Truth is, Jaime said that morning, he wouldn't be surprised if his editors held the story until he could get more confirmation.

GolfWorld did run it and, once the cat was out of bag, the denials became less and less strident. Within a week, the Mickelson Camp had issued a statement to the golf press confirming the whole thing.

Somewhere, Jaime breathed a sigh of relief.

This week, Jaime's colleague at Golf World, John Hawkins, another plugged-in scribe, weighs in with a column with more details, headlined "Why Phil Switched to Butch."
And now, suddenly, Butch is talking -- at least to Brian Hewitt at The Golf Channel. Here's a column Brian just posted on The Golf Channel's website discussing his newest client.

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