Butch Harmon: I made sure McIlroy's coach was "okay" with pre Masters meeting

Butch Harmon made sure to get the all-clear from Rory McIlroy's coach, Michael Bannon, before giving him a pre-Masters tune-up.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

In search of his first green jacket and the career grand slam, Rory McIlroy sought out advice from legendary golf coach Butch Harmon

Harmon is not McIlroy's full-time coach; that is the job of Michal Bannon. However, Harmon and McIlroy have maintained a close relationship since they first met when the Northern Irishman was only 14 years old. 

As a result of their close relationship, McIlroy has periodically visited Harmon in Las Vegas to get a second opinion on his swing. 

McIlroy has endured a tough start to the PGA Tour season, and despite winning the Dubai Desert Classic, he has been out of sorts with his short irons and wedges for most of the year. 

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

With days to go until the start of The Masters, McIlroy headed down to Las Vegas to visit Harmon, with the pair reportedly working for four hours to improve his approach game. 

Related: Rory McIlroy's daughter questions why he's gone to see Butch Harmon

Before meeting up, however, Harmon made sure that Bannon was okay with the session going forward. 

Speaking to GolfMagic, he said:

"We've done this in the past. Maybe three years ago, he'd (McIlroy) call me, and sometimes you just need another set of eyes. Michael Bannon, his coach, is a good friend of mine. He knew that Rory was going to come see me. We made sure he was okay with that. We both kind of teach the same way. We're both not really complicated people; our stuff is very simple. So I think it worked out pretty good."

Despite his well-documented issues, Harmon believes the work they have put in together has made a big difference. 

He added:

"He came here, and we spent four hours going over some things in his swing he wasn’t happy with. A lot of it was missing greens with wedges and short irons. The fixes were pretty small but created a much better swing.

"I’m a pretty simple person in the way that I teach. I’m not into all the Xs and Os and the numbers like that. I just watch the ball, and that pretty much tells me what we need to do. The big thing was to give him confidence with the shorter irons. 

"You know Rory has a swing built for driving - it’s probably the best swing in the game today, which is why he drives it so well. He swings it at 120-125mph with a big long arc, and a big long follow-through, and I was trying to get him to make more of a three-quarter swing, not such a long follow-through to try to take the ball out of the air a little bit, to control the distance better."

While Harmon is primarily a swing coach, McIlroy himself said that he's also a fantastic sports psychologist.

According to Harmon, part of their time together was spent mentally preparing for The Masters.

He continued:

"I think he just needs to relax a little and get into the round. It’s the old saying - just go shot, by shot, by shot. It’s easy to say, but it’s hard when you’re pushing.  I said just go play golf - you’re Rory McIlroy for christsakes, one of the best players who’s ever played the game. And the course was built for him, if you look at the way he drives the golf ball.

"I’ll be very interested to see how he takes that small bit of advice I gave him."

If McIlroy is to succeed at Augusta he will likely have to overcome both Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm to do so. 

Having both slipped on the green jacket before, Rahm and Scheffler will undoubtedly have a competitive edge. However, Harmon still believes McIlroy is going to be one of the men to beat, but he did highlight the added pressure of being a fan favourite. 

"There is no doubt about it. You can always say he has got to be one of the favourites going in there. His game was built for there with his ability to drive the ball. 

"He has just got to relax and play golf which is very easy to say but he wants it so bad. We want it for him. The press wants it for him. The fans want it for him. His family wants it for him, and that gets in the way of allowing you to be yourself.

"I think if he can just go and be RM, he is going to have a great time and have a great chance on the back nine on Sunday which is all you can live for."

 The Masters will be available on Sky Sports Golf and via a NOW subscription from 11th – 14th April, and you can follow all the latest news on Sky Sports social and digital channels throughout the week.

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