Swing Sequence: Phil Mickelson

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Phil Mickelson Lefty's raw talent — not his 'Tigerized' swing — gives him an edge By Brady Riggs, Top 100 Teacher Much has been made of Phil Mickelson's coaching switch to Butch Harmon in 2007, and it's no coincidence that Harmon has tried to "Tigerize" Phil's swing. Mickelson now reaches the top in a way that's eerily similar to Woods (whose swing is shown reversed here for easy comparison). Unfortunately, Phil's downswing is still what most instructors would call "a work in progress." His problems in successfully closing out tournaments (something Tiger does very well) are well documented, and almost always involve inconsistency off the tee. There are dozens of players who swing the club better than Mickelson from a technical standpoint, but there's still a lot you can learn from his technique. However, until he removes the errors that require him to make compensations, he'll need his raw talent, competitiveness and short game to stay near the top.
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1. Phil's compensations start at address, where his toe line points well right of the target to allow for his fade. This isn't as damaging as his other adjustments — a fade is the best ball flight for his swing, and has proven effective at Augusta.
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2. Phil's takeaway has gotten much better. It used to be inside, forcing his club across the line much earlier and more severely at the top. While the club looks slightly outside his hands, it's lined up parallel to his feet. So far, so good.
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3. Both are in solid shape here with the club outside the hands. Tiger's core strength allows him to re-create this position in Frame 5 (a solid move in any swing) without as much hip rotation as Phil. In other words, Phil has more moving parts.
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4. Here's where the trouble starts for Phil. Notice how Tiger keeps the clubhead in line with his left forearm. Phil swings the club across the line. Tiger fixed this problem in his swing a decade ago, but Phil continues to struggle with it.
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5. Here, the clubshaft should point toward the target line. Tiger is close to ideal; Phil is way off, and has three choices: 1) Ride the steep angle and hit a fade; 2) Drop the club down too far to the inside and hit a block or hook; or 3) Get lucky.
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6. Notice how much more open Phil is than Tiger — Lefty is trying to save his swing. He'd rather attack the ball from the outside and hit a fade than get stuck and hit a block or hook (the shot that cost him the 2006 U.S. Open).
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7. Tiger's clubhead is behind his body, enabling him to attack the ball from the inside. Phil's clubhead is in front. If Phil tries to hit the ball straight from this position, he'll add difficulty by introducing more compensations.
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8. The fade is set — Phil's hips and shoulders are well open to the target, with his entire right arm exposed to the camera. While this saves him from making further adjustments to hit the fairway, it reduces his ability to work the ball.
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9. Check out how low Phil's club exits the hitting zone — It should extend out toward the target instead of immediately moving right after impact. And you rarely see a bent lead leg on Tour anymore. His swing is a throwback.
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10. Phil leans to his left and has difficulty getting off his back foot. This is typical of a player who hangs back during impact and uses his hands to control the face. Only a player of his caliber can succeed with so many compensations. More on Mickelson • Phil's career in photos • The Shop: Mickelson's clubs • Phil Mickelson homepage