Should Mickelson stick with the belly putter at the BMW?

By Rex HoggardSeptember 4, 2011, 5:17 pm

Phil Mickelson played this week's Deutsche Bank Championship with a belly putter for the first time in competition and nearly missed the cut. But he followed that with a third-round 63. Should he chalk it up to an experiment gone awry, or should Mickelson stick with the belly putter at BMW Championship? senior writers Rex Hoggard and Jason Sobel weigh in.



Phil Mickelson should ride this belly putter experiment into the BMW Championship and beyond, not because he posted a round-of-the-week 63 early Sunday at TPC Boston but because it’s the correct competitive choice.

To be accurate, Lefty’s 63 was the byproduct of near-flawless ballstriking, not the perceived magical powers of the belly putter, and his longest putt this week is just 11 feet. But that line misses the subtle benefits of the long implement.

Mickelson has hit 68 percent of his greens in regulation and is averaging 29 putts per round this week, statistical matches to his season-long averages of 66 percent and 28.98, respectively. Yet he’s recorded just a single three-putt (at No. 13 on  Saturday), which is well ahead of his year-to-date clip which ranks him 147th on Tour in three-putt avoidance.

Most long-putter converts will tell you that their “good” putting rounds are not as spectacular with the belly or broom-handle versions, but their day-to-day consistency is much better than it was with a short putt. And let’s face it, Lefty could always use a little more consistency.

But the biggest reason Mickelson should stay with the belly putter through the playoffs is because he looks natural using it.

“I asked him how long he’s been using it and he said since Monday,” said Gary Woodland, who was paired with Mickelson for Rounds 1 and 2 in Boston. “He made everything short and looked really comfortable with it.”



Phil Mickelson is a consummate tinkerer. He's tinkered with two drivers in the bag. No drivers. Five wedges. And now, a belly putter. 

Nice idea based on the recent success of anchored-putter champions Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson, but if Lefty wants some immediate success of his own, he may want to tinker his way back to the standard-model flatstick that has served him so well for years.

In his first two competitive rounds with the belly putter at TPC-Boston this week, Mickelson needed 29 and 31 putts, respectively, giving him an average higher than his season-long number of 28.97 to date.

In the wake of his third-round 8-under 63, knee-jerk reaction is to proclaim that Phil made the right call. The truth is, though, he still needed 27 putts despite an eagle hole-out on No. 12; he missed seven putts of between 10-17 feet; and he didn't sink anything longer than an 11-footer on the 11th hole. 

Sure, he'll gladly take a 63, but he must be left wondering what could have been had he employed the blade putter that's helped him find so many winner's podiums. 

After the Deutsche Bank Championship final round, Mickelson will have a bye week to figure out the belly putter. Really, though, he'd be better served to go back to the girl whom he brought to the dance in the first place. She's been a valuable partner for years – and hey, after a week away, it'll seem like he's tinkering with something new. 

Just like old times.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.