Joy of Golf: Mickelson and Webb show break ups can be amicable

Joy Chakravarty 08:23 12/11/2015
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Parting company: Mickelson and Butch Harmon.

Last week, two of the oldest and most established golfing partnerships in the world came to an end.

Phil Mickelson severed ties with his coach of eight years, Butch Harmon, while Karie Webb and her caddie for 15 years, Mike Paterson, also split. Some recent golf partnerships have ended on extremely acrimonious notes, so it was good to see both Mickelson and Webb parting on cordial terms.

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You just have to look at cases like Tiger Woods and his former coach Hank Haney and caddie Steve Williams, or Robert Allenby with his bagman Mick Middlemo to know what I am talking about.

Webb and Paterson’s is a nice, feel-good story. It seems the Australian superstar had always encouraged her caddie that if he got an offer from someone on the more lucrative PGA Tour, he should take it up and not let their friendship hold him back.

Webb is a seven-time major champion on the LPGA and winner of 41 titles in her long career, but she is also 40 now and has dropped to 27th in the world rankings. So, when Webb’s compatriot John Senden, who is having a good run on the PGA Tour lately including a win in the Valspar Championship last year, gave an offer to Paterson, it all worked out very amicably for all parties involved.

In Mickelson’s case, it really was only a matter of time before he took the decision. The American has obviously gained immensely in the company of Harmon, but he is winless since the 2013 Open Championship, and that is a huge drought for a player of his calibre.

Mickelson has dropped to No. 27 in the world rankings, and there is a chance that by the time of his next tournament – he is not scheduled to play anything until the third week of January – there is a strong possibility he could drop out of the top- 50. It will be the first time in more than 20 years that Lefty has fallen below 25th in the rankings.

The five-time major champion has hit a plateau lately, even though he firmly believes he is on the cusp of the greatest period of his golfing career. He has talked about it repeatedly, but self-belief hasn’t led to improved performance. And hence the decision to move on and get a different perspective on his game. He has already named Arizona-based Australian Andrew Getson as his new coach. 

The rumour mill has it that Mickelson is preempting a move by Harmon to get back with his former client, Woods. I don’t see much credence to that story because the legendary coach has repeatedly said any client he adds to his roster, will have to be after consultation with Adam Scott and Mickelson. And Woods is not going to give up on Chris Como without giving him the benefit of working on his theories with a fit body.

What I liked most about Mickelson in the whole episode is the fact that he flew down to Las Vegas, had lunch with Harmon and personally explained his side of the story before making the announcement. That respect to Harmon was the proper thing to do, instead of discussing it over the phone.

There is no denying Mickelson is one of the most exciting players in the world, even at the age of 45. Here’s hoping for another upward curve in his career when he gets back to competitive golf in 2016. 

DJ’s down with the kids

There was a small press release from the PGA Tour, but I thought it really merited much more attention than it got.

It seems American superstar Dustin Johnson is putting his name and money behind a world-class junior golf championship. The inaugural Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship will be a three-day tournament from February 13-15 and will be played at TPC Myrtle Beach. The tournament is expected to feature a 90-player field of boys and girls from around the world.

Giving back: Dustin Johnson.

In the release, Johnson, who lives in the Myrtle Beach area, was quoted as saying: “Junior golf was vital to my development as a player, and I’m excited to help launch an event that will grow into one of the nation’s premier tournaments.”

I thought it was a brilliant move by Johnson, whose brand of power golf is a huge hit with children.

Junior golf will surely benefit when someone as popular as him gets involved, but I am also certain it will help Johnson immensely, who has not had the best of time with the speculation on the long lay-off he took from the game last year.

Quote of the Week

“I got married on Saturday of the Masters. What a great wedding anniversary we are going to have.” – Russell Knox, when asked about his first visit to Augusta National next year, for which he qualified by winning the WGC-HSBC Champions

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