Phil Mickelson likes to tinker with the configuration of clubs in his golf bag, the notable exception in the past having been his putter. But even the flat stick fell under scrutiny this week as Mickelson has been sporting a belly putter.
On Sunday, during an 8-under par 63 in the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, Mickelson putted the ball "as well as I have in a long time," though the longest of his six birdie putts was 8 feet. While the round jettisoned Mickelson up the leaderboard, he is not completely sold on the putter.
After a lackluster putting performance the opening two rounds, averaging 30 putts per round, Mickelson nearly went back to a more traditional blade.
"It's something that I need to spend a little more time on and I'll probably do that in the off-season," said Mickelson of the belly putter. "[The ball] comes off at a different speed. It's a lot heavier, so it's taking some adjustment from me on the breaking putts. But on the straight putts it's great because it seems to start the ball on line very easily."
Mickelson, who won the Shell Houston Open and tied for second at the Open Championship in an otherwise mediocre season, is having his worst putting season of this decade, averaging 28.98 putts per round, his worst since 2004.
In recent months, a number of pros have gone from the traditional blade to a long or belly putter, including Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and recent PGA champion Keegan Bradley. Asked if he would continue with the belly putter at the FedEx Cup Playoffs' third round at the BMW Championship, Mickelson was neutral.
"I think there's some things I really like about it, and there's some things that are challenging, and I'll probably spend some more time with it in the off-season," he said. "I'm not sure what I'll do at the start of the year next year, but my curiosity was very high, especially after not putting great last week. I may experiment some more with it tomorrow or [in] Chicago, I may not."
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.
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