Butch Harmon on what makes Tiger Woods a great player
Tiger Woods knows how good he is. And Tiger Woods knows that you know that.
He has to know.
“And you got to have a lot of prick in you. You have to be that kind of guy when you walk between the ropes. You and I know DJ (Dustin Johnson) as well as anybody. When he walks between the ropes, and Brooks (Koepka) is the same way, Tiger’s the same way, they just want to cut your heart out. They want to beat you. They’ll go to dinner later on, or we’ll have a beer afterwards and joke, but when it comes time to play, I’m going to really get you.
“Now, a Jack Nicklaus thought that way, but you would never know it by his demeanor. Tom Watson was the same way – you’d never know it by their demeanor. But they had it. They knew how good they were.”
Woods knew that, Harmon said, during his six straight USGA victories in the ’90s.
At the 1991 and ’93 Junior Amateurs, Woods won on the 19th hole. In ’92, he won 1-up. At the ’94 and ’95 Amateur, Woods won 2-up. In ’96, Woods won on the 38th hole. All of the matches went the distance or beyond.
“He couldn’t tell you how he was going to win it – he just knew he was going to beat you,” said Harmon, who once instructed Woods. “And you can’t teach that. That’s that fight. That’s what the great quarterbacks have in the NFL when they’re coming down the stretch. It’s what (Tom) Brady’s always had, (Joe) Montana and all these great players. The great guys have that. They have that ability to reach inside, and they love the pressure. They thrive on it. They want it.”
Koepka, instructed by Claude Harmon III, played with that confidence during his four major championship wins, the Harmons said.
“In Brooks’ case, I still don’t think he gets the credit for being as good as he is,” Butch Harmon said. “But he uses that to his advantage. That’s why he plays with that big chip on his shoulder. You don’t think I’m good? Let me show you how good I am.
“And then people will say, ‘Well, how come can he play so good in majors and not good in other events?’ Well, No. 1, he gets up for the majors. He likes the challenge. He likes to be there. He likes being the man.”