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Saturday, August 31, 2013

He Didn't Get a 59 But...

Phil Mickelson did manage to grab the first round lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship with a 63. Still, it was the other things he talked about -- or didn't talk about, depending on your perpective -- that garnered the most attention. The following quotes came from this interview transcription and this article by Helen Ross.

There were the questions about his "putting secret" that seems to have made him fearless on the greens -- at least, on most days:
Q. 10 putts on the front, 25 putts total. You said you found a secret you don't really want to talk about.

Well, for the last three or four years I haven't putted as well as I know I could. I've putted very average at best, with a few really good weeks. And now I feel like I'm putting great every week, with a few weeks, like the PGA, where it was just fractionally off. And it just feels great. I can see the line and I'm rolling the ball down that line.
Q. You went to a thicker grip, you have a better feel, you're not gripping the putter as tight, you have a better feel with the hands and you can feel the exact amount of forward thrust?

Have at it. Fire away all your theories that you want, but I ended up having conversations with eight of the best putters I've ever seen. And we've probably talked between 30 minutes and two hours, or at least I have with these guys. And I actually took notes. And there's one thing that they all said that's the same. And that's been my secret.
Q. At the end of the tournament you're going to tell me that?

And as Helen Ross noted, he's refused to name those 8 putters. They must really be something if he spent anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours with each of them. We can make some reasonable guesses about who they might be.
  • He's worked with Dave Pelz for years. There's a good chance Pelz isn't one of them simply because his talks with Pelz have probably lasted for weeks at a time!
  • Steve Stricker's probably on the list.
  • Luke Donald too.
  • Brandt Snedeker's a good bet. Since he putts more "rapidly" than most players, Phil might have expected something to stand out when compared to the others.
  • Brad Faxon? Probably a lock for the list.
  • Loren Roberts comes to mind.
  • How could he not talk to Ben Crenshaw?
  • Or Jack Nicklaus?
And that's assuming that when he says "guys" he's excluding women. It's no secret that he tapped Amy Alcott when he needed some help with Riviera a few years back. There are a number of LPGA pros who might have helped him.

I don't know that Phil is going to share his little secret any time soon, though -- not given the other little bomb he dropped, the one I found most interesting. As Helen Ross quoted,
"If I finish off with one or two (more) wins this year and win the FedExCup," said Mickelson, who'll start Saturday's second round at TPC Boston with a share of the lead, "I think that would be enough to get the Player of the Year."
When I heard his interview on GC, it was very clear that he's seriously intent on getting his first FedExCup and his first POY award. This quote doesn't even begin to convey the intensity in his voice when he made this quote. When you hear him say that he gave up on the 59 around the 4th hole (his 13th of the day) and was just trying to get something in the low 60s, it becomes clear what he wants.

And today he plays with Tiger and Adam again. We know how he gets up for that!

If he does manage to get a win this weekend, the FedExCup race will heat up quite a bit. What's a 59 compared to that?

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