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Is Rory McIlroy working with legendary instructor Butch Harmon? This is what we know

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Does Rory McIlroy have a new swing coach?

Reports began circulating on Wednesday based off a social media post by a journalist, who covers other sports but not golf, that McIlroy has begun working with famed teacher Butch Harmon.

Golfweek can confirm that McIlroy took a lesson from Harmon a week ago in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean he’s parted ways with his longtime coach Michael Bannon and is now working with Harmon, the son of 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon.

Speaking on the “I Can Fly” podcast, McIlroy said that he took a lesson with Harmon on March 27.

“I went last week to see Butch Harmon for a golf lesson. I’ve seen him over the years, like once every few years I’ll say, ‘Hey, Butch, can I come see you and you can take a look and see what you think.’”

On the podcast, McIlroy, 34, recounts that as he was leaving for the airport, his three-year-old daughter Poppy asked him, “Dada, where are you going?”

McIlroy said he was going for a golf lesson, which drew this classic kids say the darnedest thing response: “She said, ‘Dada, you already know how to play golf,’” McIlroy said. “That’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve gotten in the last three years.”

Dipping into the golf world with a scoop:

I’m told Rory McIlroy has begun work with Butch Harmon.

Harmon, “the best golf instructor in the world,” worked with Tiger Woods from 1993-2004, Phil Mickelson from 2007-2015, and recently helped Rickie Fowler find his swing again.

— Kris Pursiainen (@krispursiainen) April 3, 2024

The 80-year-old Harmon, who coached the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Greg Norman during the prime of their careers, retired from traveling to PGA Tour events but still works with the likes of Rickie Fowler and Maverick McNealy, who visit him at his Las Vegas facility.

McIlroy has been coached for nearly all of his career by Bannon, who is based in Northern Ireland and travels to the U.S. to work with McIlroy when needed. McIlroy spent a brief stint with Pete Cowen in 2021 ahead of the Masters that year but returned to Bannon several months later.

McIlroy won the DP World Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic in January, but has failed to record a top-10 finish this season on the PGA Tour. If he fails to do so this week in San Antonio at the Valero Texas Open, it will mark the first time he’s headed into the Masters without one since 2010.

McIlroy’s iron game has been a point of emphasis of late. He has slipped from eighth in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green (+0.721) last season to 119th in the category this season (-0.176).

McIlroy needs to win the Masters to become just the sixth golfer – and first since Woods – to complete the career Grand Slam. The Masters begins on April 11.

Golfweek reached out to Harmon and McIlroy’s agent but didn’t hear back. McIlroy is scheduled to speak to the media at 4 p.m. ET in San Antonio.

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