July 20, 2009--Stewart Cink walked to the 18th at Turnberry on his 72nd hole of the Open Championship and drained a birdie putt to post a 2-under par score. Awhile later, Tom Watson approached that same green at 3-under par, but made bogey and allowed Cink to get into a 4-hole playoff. About 45 minutes later, Cink had beaten Watson and made off with the Claret Jug, playing the part of the villian in this Watson fairy tale. And then Cink named his accomplices during the post-round speech and heading the list was Las Vegas golf's Butch Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club.
After deferential words to Watson, Cink looked at the Claret Jug gleaming in the late day sun of Scotland and said, "I'd like to thank Butch Harmon" and with that Harmon was officially recognized for helping lead yet another golfer to a major championship. Harmon has worked and continues to work with many of the best golfers in the world including Greg Norman and Tiger Woods (formerly) and now with Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, and Adam Scott, among others.
Harmon has lived in Las Vegas for about a decade, and operates his Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club, one of two Las Vegas golf courses designed by the legendary Rees Jones. Both Rio Secco and the Harmon School are resort golf experiences that are open to all Las Vegas golfers. Schools and lessons are available at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, and currently there are good summer Las Vegas golf deals at Rio Secco. In addition, Rio Secco is the home of the world-famous T-Mates, beautiful female caddies that make a day at Rio Secco even better. Cascata, the other Las Vegas Rees Jones golf course, is a siser course to Rio Secco.
"I feel like I'm at my best with a guy like Butch Harmon, because he's taught me a lot about the swing and the short game and everything," Cink has said about Harmon in the past. Harmon and Cink have worked a lot on the short game this year, and Cink also recently gave up the long putter to get away from anything from the past year or so that led to some struggles. Cink also has commented that he has made a lifelong commitment to working on the short game, but he and Harmon also have the whole game working.
"Being that tall, there's a lot more time for things to go wrong in the swing," Harmon wrote in a recent Golf Digest article. "Stewart used to swing past parallel, and then get very narrow on the downswing. He's made some really good changes. His spine would back up as he swung into the ball, and he'd have to flip at it with his hands. Now he's wide going back and wide coming down. He's become one of the longest hitters on tour."
Cink also has been working with a mental coach and trying to instill a "Learn to win" philosophy. "This week for some reason I just believed all week that I had something good," said Cink. "My swing felt great. I was hitting the ball solidly. I was curving it the right direction, and that's so important here. And I just felt so calm. I never even felt nervous at all. I mean, literally I did not feel nervous today in a situation that in the past I would be extremely nervous." Apparently, he has grasped the new winning philosophy, both physically and mentally.