We recently caught up with Butch Harmon to get his thoughts ahead of the unofficial fifth major

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Butch Harmon Players Championship Q&A

We recently caught up with Butch Harmon to get his thoughts ahead of the unofficial fifth major this week at TPC Sawgrass.

On Rory bouncing back:

“I think it’s very important. Rory’s number seven in the world rankings, he played well earlier in the year winning at Bay Hill, so it’s a big one. I think it’s a big event for most of the European players who are high up in the world rankings, nine of the top twenty are European and around eight are American, so it’s a big one for all of them.

“You’ve got Jon Rahm who’s really had a phenomenal year, but I think Rory needs to back up his win that he had down in Orlando and really show us at THE PLAYERS that he really is back.”

“I think he’s there [back to his best], it’s just a matter of getting his putter to work as it did in Orlando at Bay Hill. He was putting beautifully again, we know he’s a great ball striker and especially a great driver. THE PLAYERS is a great golf course too, it allows the players to go ahead and use their length to their advantage, which I think should suit him very well.”

On Rickie Fowler’s chances at The Players Championship:

“His chances are very good, I thought he did really well at Augusta, especially on the weekend which is something he struggled with recently.

“He showed the work we have done and some of the mental preparation to get his head around competing a little better and going about it a little differently, taking more responsibility for every shot. I think his chances are good, he’s won there before, he’s proven that he can win there so he’s really looking forward to it.”

On players flying under the radar at The Players Championship:

“Paul Casey is the one I keep expecting to break out and win a major, I think he has the game for it, I think he’s showed this year how well he’s played. Jon Rahm is the obvious one that hasn’t won a major but that has the opportunity, Rickie Fowler had a good chance and almost won in Augusta, he’s another one. I would say Casey is a real dark horse to win and Jon Rahm, there is no way he’s not going to win a major in my mind.”

On Tiger Woods’ chances:

“Well he has won two times there, he’s finished up there other times. I think the thing that he has to do is drive the ball in play. He’s got to put the ball in play off the tee. The tournaments that he’s contended in so far this year, he was able to hit a lot of irons and fairway woods off the tee. I think he’s got to drive the ball better. If he gets his driving sorted out, I believe he’s a factor in every tournament that he plays in.”

On the challenges of TPC Sawgrass:

“The thing about TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Vedra is that it tests all parts of your game, you have to drive the ball on the fairway, you have to control the distance of your iron shots. You’re close to the ocean so you get a bunch of wind down there, you’re in the trees so the crosswinds become difficult because you don’t really feel them a lot of the time. You’ve got a lot of water in play on that golf course. You have to putt well to win any tournament, so putting’s always important. But I think you have to have all aspects of your game firing well. You’ve got to put the ball in play, you’ve got to control your proximity to the hole with your distance control and your iron shots have to be precise. I think it’s one of the best tests in golf that we play and consistently it’s the same difficulty every year.”

On his favourite Players Championship memories:

“I liked the way that Rickie won back in 2015. The way he played the last four, five holes and then the way he played in the play-off was absolutely phenomenal. I think the one when Hal Sutton went head-to-head with Tiger Woods and beat him was another exciting one. Greg Norman ran away with it in 1994, he shot so low it was unbelievable and then I think the way that Adam Scott won it in 2004, it looked like he had the tournament won then he hit his second shot with a six iron in the water on the 18th and managed to drop and get it up and down and hole the putt to win. We’ve seen a lot of exciting finishes but I think the Rickie Fowler one was probably the most exciting and I don’t say that just because he’s one of my players, I say it because of the way it happened and the consistently phenomenal shots he hit on the 17th was pretty impressive.”

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