Saturday, March 31, 2007

Justin Leonard Leaves Butch Harmon for Old Teacher

justin leonard butch harmonIt's been a bit of a rough patch for Justin Leonard, and little Texan, 10-time PGA Tour winner and major champion. Those 10 wins and British Open victory must seem like they came ages go: Leonard has struggled the past year and a half, missing lots of cuts and not contending once during that time period.

But he's making changes he hopes will get him back on track, starting with firing Butch Harmon and returning to his old teacher, Randy Smith:

Think a fresh slate. As in two fresh faces and one very welcome old one. New ways of looking at things. And, he laughed, new baggage.

He's left Butch Harmon and is back with Royal Oaks pro Randy Smith, the man who taught him the game. He's got a new caddie, too, in Brian Smith (no relation to Randy) and he's working with Dick Coop on his mental game. All this happened in the last three weeks. Actually, since the night he missed the cut at the PODS Championship.

That was when his agent, David Winkle, asked him a simple question about the team surrounding him, including Harmon. "Are you getting all that you need?" Justin's answer was no. He wasn't.

"Nothing against Butch,'' Justin said. "I wouldn't change our relationship for the world because I learned a lot with him, but... ''

Like Butch's dad Claude used to say, you never blame a guy for wanting to get more information and trying to get better. And, Justin said, "That night I was just looking (at where he was and thinking) I've tried to stay patient, I've tried to stay the course. That's not working.''

The hardest calls, he said, were to Harmon and caddie Brent Everson. And the one to Smith? Justin had dialed the number a few other times in the last six months, but only to ask if he could drop by for putting help.

"That was the easy call,'' he said. "But actually it was a little hard because there was this little thought in my mind that he's going to say, 'You know what, Bud, I just ain't got time for you.' ''

What did he hear? "No problem."

There's a good article on about Leonard and what he's going through now.

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