Swing sequence: Phil Mickelson

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Swing sequence: Phil Mickelson

October 19, 2008

AGE: 38 / HEIGHT: 6-feet-3
DRIVER: Callaway FT-5, 8.5 degrees
BALL: Callaway Tour ix
AVG. DRIVING DISTANCE (RANK): 295.8 yards (33rd)
BIRDIES PER ROUND (RANK): 3.76 (4th)'I'M EXCITED ABOUT MY SWING'I've been working with Butch Harmon since early 2007 to make my swing slightly shorter and tighter. I want to have more control, especially with the driver. To get that without giving up distance, I've spent a lot of time working on my explosiveness: lower-body strength for more stability and upper-body strength for more rotation and speed through impact. My results have been uneven so far, but my driving has completely changed. I'm able to pick my line within the fairway instead of starting the ball outside it, and my misses are a lot smaller. That extra attention to my long game has probably come at the expense of myshort game, but I've been working on my chipping and putting, and they're almost there. But I'm excited about my swing.-- Phil Mickelson

WORK IN PROGRESS

Mickelson and Harmon are keeping the big picture in focusBy Matthew RudyPhil Mickelson is nothing if not decisive.From 2004-'06, Mickelson had the most productive stretch of his professional career, winning a major championship each season and eight tour events overall. But he felt like he needed to make changes -- like Tiger Woods did -- to become a threat to win every major. So in April 2007, Mickelson made the difficult decision to break from his longtime teacher and friend, Rick Smith, and get together with Butch Harmon -- the instructor who supervised Woods' original swing-reconstruction project in 1997-'98.The cellophane was barely off the relationship when Mickelson started seeing results. After a month, he won the Players Championship. Another step came in September of last year, when he went head-to-head with Woods at the Deutsche Bank Championship and shot a final-round 66 to win.Precision off the tee is Mickelson's main goal, so Harmon has helped him develop a shorter, more controlled action. "Phil had a tendency to over-rotate his hips, which would make his driver swing get too long -- well past parallel," says Harmon. "We've worked on maintaining the flex in his left leg on the backswing to restrict his hip turn."Mickelson has also improved his footwork, quieting his lower-body action so he makes a smooth shift to his front foot on the downswing instead of spinning out. "We're also working on maintaining the width at the top of his swing -- keeping his left arm from collapsing and letting the club dip past parallel," says Harmon. An intense fitness routine has helped Mickelson better maintain his posture through the swing. "It's the foundation of the changes we've been implementing," says Mickelson.His results in majors this year were inconsistent: He tied for fifth at Augusta and for seventh at the PGA but wasn't a factor on Sunday at either tournament. But Harmon believes Mickelson isn't finished improving. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," he says.

AT ADDRESS

Good, athletic posture: Arms hanging down, spine straight.

With the shaft in line with his stance, he's off to a good start.

Phil swings back wide and maintains it; his hands stay away from his head at the top.

THE BACKSWING

We'd like more flex in his left knee so he doesn't risk over-turning.

AT THE TOP

The shaft is on-plane (between his arms) where it used to drop too flat here.

IMPACT

THE RELEASE

Check out the great extension of his left arm and the shaft.

THE FINISH

Nice balance at the finish, but we still want to see his spine more forward.

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