On the eve of the U.S. Open at Oakmont, Phil Mickelson’s new coach, Butch Harmon, has claimed that his prize pupil will surpass Tiger Woods as world No. 1. “Tiger’s got a big lead as number one in the world, so it’ll take a couple of years,” Harmon said. “But I think (Mickelson) can and I think he will actually.”
Harmon guided Woods to the top of the game before they split three years ago. He joined forces with Mickelson in April after the world No. 2 dumped longtime swing guru Rick Smith. Since teaming with Harmon, Mickelson has won the prestigious Players Championship and twice finished third in just three PGA Tour starts. He withdrew from last week’s Memorial Tournament with a wrist injury but insists he will be fit for the U.S. Open, which kicks off June 14 at Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh.
“He has the desire to try and rival Tiger,” Harmon told the Ottawa Sun. “He’s going to have to really work hard and change a lot more things but he’s willing to do that and wants to do it.” The famed swing coach says he is halfway through revamping Mickelson’s swing for more control.
Harmon’s positive comments represent a change from four years ago when he dismissed Mickelson’s aggressive style of play as “pathetic” and insisted he would never win a major unless he reined in his go-for-broke approach. Mickelson won three major titles before calling Harmon.
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