Butch Harmon has revealed that he spent time working with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy in the build-up to The Masters.
McIlroy arrives at Augusta National for the final men’s major of the year without a major victory since 2014 and having posted just two-top 10s since the PGA Tour’s resumption from the coronavirus-enforced stoppage in June.
The world No 5 has been unable to see regular coach Michael Bannon in recent months due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, leaving McIlroy making a trip to see Harmon in Las Vegas ahead of the Zozo Championship last month to get ready for his latest bid for the career Grand Slam.
“We spent about four and a half hours together going through everything in his swing,” Harmon told Sky Sports. “I’ve known Rory ever since he was about 15 or 16 and what I saw was a maturity that I’ve never seen before in him.
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“I’ve seen him play for many years and he hadn’t seen his coach Michael Bannon for almost five months, that was the reason he came to see me, because he just wanted to make sure he was on the right track.
“We changed his back swing a little. Got him a little wider at the top as he was getting a little narrow and narrow coming down, then had to get him moving forward a little to release his body better coming through.
“Nothing that was very serious and nothing that I thought was difficult for him to do. He took to it quite nicely and he has played well, he just has to avoid large numbers that he seems to have had trouble with over the past couple of events.”
McIlroy made 29 birdies on his way to a tied-seventh finish at the Zozo Championship last month, his career-best, with Harmon expecting to impress this week and build on his impressive record at Augusta National.
“I think he’s come into this week under the radar a little bit,” Harmon added. “There’s not a lot of hoopla about him, as everything is about Bryson [DeChambeau] and Tiger [Woods]. It’s interesting watching the interviews this week that there’s more questions about Bryson and Tiger than about the individual they’re actually talking to, which I think irritates the players a little.
“I think Rory has a great chance and he’s one of my picks. I think he and Dustin Johnson should be co-favourites and I think the course suits him. Rory is a great driver of the ball and hits the ball very high with the driver, which is going to have to happen this week with all the rain we’re going to have.
“I think he’s going to have a good Masters and I think that on Sunday, going down the stretch, that Rory McIlroy could be the guy you have to beat.
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“As long as he keeps his head in the game and as long as he continues to do what he’s doing, then he’s Rory McIlroy for god’s sake and he’s one of the best players that’s ever played the game. He’s going to win The Masters and I personally think this is going to be a great chance for him this year.”
Watch The Masters this week live on Sky Sports, with all four rounds exclusively live on Sky Sports’ Masters channel. Live coverage beings with Featured Groups from 12.30pm on Thursday.
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