NORTON, Mass. – After taking the lead with an 8-under 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Phil Mickelson did not shy away from identifying the aspect of his game that most contributed to his low score Friday.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t hit it that close. I didn’t hit it as well as I feel I could,” said Mickelson, who reached 14 of 18 greens in regulation during his opening round at TPC Boston. “But I put it close enough on the green and I putted unbelievable.”
To term his performance on the greens Friday as “unbelievable” would hardly be an exaggeration. Mickelson took 25 total putts in his opening round, but needed just 10 during his outward nine of 7-under 28. The reigning Open champion began the day by making a 19-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th, one of five putts he holed from more than 10 feet across his first eight holes.
“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 good weeks,” explained Mickelson, who entered the week ranked fifth on Tour in strokes gained putting. “Now I feel like I’m putting great every week … I can see the line and I’m rolling the ball down that line.”
Following his triumph at Muirfield last month, the southpaw hinted that he had found a “secret” that sparked his return to form on the putting surfaces. Mickelson reinforced that notion Friday, though he remained coy about the specifics of his discovery.
“I ended up having conversations with eight of the best putters I’ve ever seen … and I actually took notes,” he added. “And there’s one thing that they all said that’s the same. And that’s been my secret.”