Notebook: Harmon feels 'Tiger effect' during time with President Obama

Butch Harmon
Getty Images
Butch Harmon was referred to only as Tiger Woods' coach during his sessions with President Obama, and not as the coach of his many other top players.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | 4:21 p.m.

MARANA, Ariz. -- Butch Harmon first worked with Steve Elkington in the 1980s, and his roster of clients has grown enormously over the years. He coached Greg Norman and Tiger Woods during their rise to No. 1, along with four players in the World Golf Hall of Fame: Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal and Fred Couples.

But when he worked with President Barack Obama at The Floridian, he was referred to only as Woods' former swing coach.

''I haven't been with him for 10 years. It's irritating, to be honest,'' Harmon said. ''I guess they were looking for a connection because the president was playing with Tiger. But people think Tiger made me successful. No one remembers I took Greg to No. 1 in the world, or all the work with Elkington, or Davis Love III. It's the press. Anything to sensationalize. And you're dealing with a White House press that doesn't know any of these names.''

Hank Haney, on the other hand, expects to be linked with Woods the rest of his life. Then again, Haney didn't have such a long list of top golfers (except for Mark O'Meara) before coaching Woods, and he has said he won't coach another.

''It's a big honor to have coached Tiger,'' Haney said. ''You couldn't have a better feather in your cap, especially with the success that Butch Harmon had with Tiger. In terms of my coaching career, obviously nothing can come close to the opportunity I had to work with Tiger Woods.

''I never hit any shots and Butch didn't, either, he said. ''My friend Bill Parcells always says it best. 'You are what your record says you are.' And so how Tiger played while you coached him certainly has a lot to say about you as a coach.''

REST VS. RUST: Ian Poulter was never tempted to return to golf earlier than he planned, and it worked out just fine for him. After a six-week break after Kapalua, he returned at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and reached the semifinals, before losing to Hunter Mahan and then Jason Day in a meaningless consolation match.

His quarterfinal match was a perfect example of how players can be sharp even after a long break. He beat Steve Stricker, who also had not played in six weeks.

''I guess I was glad to beat a part-timer,'' Poulter said.

Poulter said he did not play a single round over the last four weeks of his break, or even one hole on a golf course. He spent his time on the range, tuning his equipment. It reminded him of the early days working in a golf shop, when his duties left him no time to play on the course.

''I had time to practice, and that's what I do when I have time off,'' he said.

Some players have had time off, though not by choice.

Rory McIlroy goes into the Honda Classic with three competitive rounds this year, having missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and losing in the first round of the Accenture Match Play.

OPEN QUALIFIER: Guan Tianglang will find out this week if the 14-year-old from China gets to play in two majors this year.

Guan earned a spot in the Masters when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur late last year. The win also put him in the International Final Qualifying for the British Open, and the teenager is in the Asia qualifier. It starts Thursday at Amata Spring in Thailand, where he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur.

Four spots are available.

Also in the field are Cheng-tsung Pan of Taiwan, the runner-up to Guan and the highest-ranked Asian amateur at No. 5; and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, a two-time winner of the Asia-Pacific who made the cut both times he played in the Masters.

DIVOTS: The OHL Classic at Mayakoba, held opposite the Accenture Match Play the last six years, moves to November this year. Tournament officials were at Dove Mountain with a clever recruiting tool, and to remind players of the date change. They gave players an iPad with their names engraved, loaded with information about the Mexican beach resort. ... Golf Channel altered its programming last week to show live coverage of the Women's Australian Open, where 15-year-old Lydia Ko was tied for the lead going into the final round. It had an audience of 288,000 viewers for a 0.22 rating. ... Trump Doral has signed on as the host course for the World Golf Championship event through 2023. ... Bo Van Pelt and Mark Wilson were elected co-chairmen of the Player Advisory Council, meaning they will join the policy board next year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans have won the last 11 official PGA Tour events, their longest streak since 11 in a row from 2010 Barclays through the 2011 Sony Open.

FINAL WORD: ''If they happen to play poorly at Augusta, those two, I think it's going to be a tough year for them as far as winning majors.'' – Johnny Miller, on Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.