McIlroy confirms he is working with Butch Harmon

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy has confirmed reports that he has sought the advice of Butch Harmon ahead of his tenth attempt at completing the Career Grand Slam at next week’s Masters.

On Wednesday it was reported that McIlroy had been seeing Harmon in order to improve his form heading to Augusta National next week after encountering some struggles on the PGA Tour this year.

McIlroy is teeing it up at the Valero Texas Open, looking to find a spark heading to Augusta next week where he has missed the cut twice in the past three years despite seven top-10 finishes.

“I’ve done this a number of times in my career. I met Butch when I was 14 years old, so we’ve always had a good relationship. If there’s one guy that I want to go and get a second opinion from, it’s him,” McIlroy said.

“Yeah, I think just after THE PLAYERS and just sort of struggling through that Florida Swing with my swing and with some of the misses I was having with my irons, I just thought to myself I’m obviously missing something here and I just would love to go and get a second opinion and have him take a look, a second set of eyes.

“The one thing with Butch is you go spend time with him and you’re always going to feel better about yourself at the end of it whether you’re hitting it better or not. He’s sort of half golf coach, half psychologist in a way. It’s fun to go out there, I went and spent probably four hours with him in Vegas.”

McIlroy will still be primarily coached by Michael Bannon but will use Harmon sporadically to fill the gap while Bannon works in Co. Down. It will be a similar arrangement to his ill-fated stint with Pete Cowan in 2021.

“He said a couple of things to me that resonated. It’s the same stuff that I’ve been trying to do with my coach Michael, but he sort of just said it in a different way that maybe hit home with me a little bit more.

“Yeah, it was a really worthwhile trip and I feel like I’ve done some good work after that. As I said, this is a good week to see where that work has gotten me.”

McIlroy has tried just about every preparation tactic in his pre-Masters build up over the years but according to his daughter Poppy, he needs to stop overthinking it and just be Rory McIlroy and don’t bother with a lesson!

“Yeah, it’s also like the chicken or the egg, right? You can say all you want that let it go, let it flow, all that stuff, but if you don’t have the technique to back it up, then it’s sort of going to be hard to do that.

“I just needed to clean a couple things up in the golf swing and then it makes it easier to then not overthink and to let it go and try to get in that really good mindset.

“As I was walking out the door on my way to the airport to go see Butch in Vegas, those were Poppy’s words of wisdom. It sort of hit home with me, like yeah, you’re probably right.”

McIlroy has played a busier schedule than usual heading to the Masters, believing that the first major of the year falls outside of the period where he usually plays his best golf, so he hopes some extra competitive action will have him fit and firing for next week, despite some underwhelming results.

“I think it’s been good. The results haven’t been what I would have liked, but I’ve learnt a lot about where my game is. If I hadn’t had played as much over the past couple of months, I maybe wouldn’t have started going down this path that I’m on and just sort of trying to clean up the technique a little bit. I’m working on a couple of slightly different things than I was working on before.

“I think it’s been good. It’s been, yeah, there’s been struggles in there too which aren’t great, but I think looking at the bigger picture, if I can get through that and get my game to a really good spot where I can play great now from April through to August, I’ll be happy.”

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