Monday, January 26, 2009

Butch Harmon: Ian Woosnam
should be Europe's Ryder

Cup captain at Celtic Manor

When Butch Harmon speaks, you listen. The normal reaction to the patter of tiny salesmen is to run a mile. But Harmon is the best in the business.
In the course of half an hour, Harmon, pictured right by Cal Carson Golf Agency, says that it would be:
*Madness not to appoint Ian Woosnam as the next Ryder Cup captain,.
*Predicts that both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods will join the European Tour next year and wonders if John Daly will ever learn to help himself.
What sets Harmon apart is that not only does he say what he thinks most of the time, he has the experience and insight to give his opinions real value on the sporting shock market.
Harmon led a mortar crew in the Vietnam War, played professional golf, lost his temper a lot, hit rock bottom through booze and gambling, and coached Tiger Woods in arguably the greatest year a golfer has had.
Oh, and Harmon's dad won the Masters.
Oh, and Harmon now coaches Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott. And Jose Maria Olazabal, potentially Europe's next Ryder Cup captain. And Corey Pavin, the recently appointed American Ryder Cup captain.
So when Harmon says that Woosnam should be the next Ryder Cup captain, or that Mickelson will join the European Tour next season, you tend to take notice.
"I would go for Woosie. It's the obvious choice. He won last time at the K Club. It's in Wales. He cannot make the Ryder Cup team. Monty could still make the team and I know Jose thinks he can still make the team. He spent time with me two months ago and he wanted to play."
Is Woosnam not too old? According to Europe's tournament committee, 50-year-old captains are out of touch.
Harmon said: "Age has nothing to do with it. You could be 40 and out of touch with the players. It's rubbish. It almost sounds like an excuse [for defeat under the 51-year-old Faldo]. This one should have been a slam dunk. Woosie in Wales. I can't even imagine why anyone else was on the docket to be considered."
If Woosnam should have been a slam dunk as Europe's captain, should Paul Azinger not have been an easy lay-up as America's leader, rather than Corey Pavin?
Harmon said: "The American team really wanted Azinger to do it again. All the players wanted him. Phil Mickelson really wanted Azinger to do it again. But Corey will be a good captain. He's feisty, he still plays the Tour and he will definitely learn from Azinger."
Pavin may still play the US Tour, but what about the rest of the Americans? When Alvaro Quiros won in Qatar on Sunday he shot up to No 28 in the world, winning twice as many ranking points as Pat Perez, who limped up to 59th spot after his win in California. The balance of power is shifting.
Harmon said: "The Race to Dubai has created a whole new atmosphere in golf. It will be a world event. The FedEx Cup in the US hasn't taken off like they thought it would. It's very limited. The Race to Dubai allows everyone in the world to play in a European Tour event. You've seen that with the Americans. I think Phil will join next year, I really do, and I think you will see Tiger Woods join too. It will be spectacular."
Ah, Phil and Tiger. So what was coach Harmon's take on the moment when Tiger's caddie, Steve Williams, called Mickelson a -----?
Harmon said: "It was ridiculous. I can't even imagine why he would say anything like that. Even if you thought it I don't know why you'd say it. I know he called and apologised but I don't know how you can apologise."
Mickelson was with Harmon in Las Vegas nine days ago and said: "It's over and done with." But Mickelson must know that it is not. Woods responded to the furore by reprimanding Williams, but rejected calls to sack him.
Harmon said: "The conversation I would like to have heard was the one between Tiger and Steve Williams. The player is in charge of the caddie's mouth."
But Mickelson did tell Harmon that he didn't think Williams should have been sacked.
There is never enough time with Harmon, but before he whizzed off to what he called "the pub", there was just time to ask him about John Daly, who was supposed to be playing in Dubai this week but has not turned up again. Harmon coached Daly for a while before "sacking" the player in an acrimonious split last year.
Harmon said: "I felt I could help John. I was gonna give him tough love. I thought that's what he needed because everyone seems to tolerate everything he does. Unfortunately it didn't work out. But when you have a problem, until you're willing to face your problem and admit you have one, it's always going to be there. It's a sad thing. He's a great kid."
+Butch Harmon was speaking at the launch of The Butch Harmon School of Golf at The Els Club, Dubai Sports City


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