ATLANTA – Following a shocking opening round at the Tour Championship that featured just a single hit fairway, Phil Mickelson rebounded for Rounds 2 and 3 at East Lake.
Lefty improved from the tee each round, hitting five fairways on Friday and eight on Day 3, which is even more impressive considering his decision to change drivers this week.
Mickelson said the change was prompted by his scouting trip to Hazeltine National on Monday and the need for added distance off the tee at next week’s Ryder Cup.
“This year I've been using a driver that's an inch and a half shorter, and when I went to Hazeltine and saw how long of a golf course it was, I went to a longer driver again,” he said on Friday. “I hit this driver 18, 20 yards longer. That's a significant difference.”
But the changes to Mickelson’s driver go beyond a longer shaft.
According to Callaway Golf’s PGA Tour rep Johnny Thompson, Mickelson switched to a Great Big Bertha (8.5 degree) driver with a higher moment of inertia compared to the model (XR 16 Sub Zero driver) he had been using.
The new Great Big Bertha spins slightly more than his older driver and allows Mickelson to draw the ball easier, as well as hit it further.
Added distance prompted Tuesday’s work session with the Callaway Golf team at East Lake, but the change was largely necessitated by Mickelson’s evolving golf swing since he started working with Andrew Getson last fall.
“He wanted to keep spin rates down in the past, as changes have been made in his swing he’s able to add some spin, with that he’s able to gain some MOI,” Thompson said. “The team worked with him, getting the driver to fall in line with the changes they have made.”