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February 03, 2009

Mickelson's new driver approved by the USGA

Posted at 5:29 PM by David Dusek | Categories: Callaway, Drivers, Phil Mickelson

Phil_mickelson_fbr_open_driver Phil Mickelson played last week's FBR Open using a Callaway FT-5 driver (right), the same model he used for most of the 2008 season. That's because the driver he wanted to use, a modified Callaway FT-9, had yet to be approved for play by the USGA.

“It got approved yesterday,” Mickelson said.

Maybe that's why Phil hit just 28.6% of the fairways at TPC Scottsdale and missed the cut by seven shots.  “I hit it hard,” Lefty said of his Callaway FT-5, “but I was missing it to the right with some draws, and on those fairways [my tee shots] all bounded into unplayable lies.”

Unlike the FT-9s that are available in pro shops nationwide, Mickelson's has a hosel. That slight alteration — created by Callaway specifically for his driver — necessitated the game's governing body to examine it, like any other new club, to ensure it conformed with the Rules of Golf.

The verdict: It does.

So this week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson chose to play last season's U.S. Open without a driver, Lefty will try to win with a unique driver.

"My misses are better with this club than they've ever have been,” he said.

UPDATE (February 6)
On Thursday, playing Torrey Pines' South Course, Mickelson hit seven of 14 fairways and his average driving distance was 329 yards.

On the ninth hole (Mickelson's 18th), a par five that was playing 619 yards, Mickelson's tee shot went 300 yards. He then hit his driver again, from the middle of the fairway.

"It wasn't the smartest play there. I was trying to get one running right in front of the green. I thought I'd come up right in front, and then just chip up to that pin, but I had to miss it left. The left rough was fine or the fairway was fine, I'd be able to run it right up to that pin, but anything right wouldn't. I had been cutting that driver [for left-handed Mickelson, that's a right to left shot]. I'd been working with it off the deck, and I thought I would hit a little fade, and I hit a bad shot ... I should have hit 3-wood down there and taken 6 out of play and possible birdie. But that's what happens. I was fortunate to walk away with par."

Mickelson's second shot went 244 yards into a fairway bunker on the right side, 68 yards from the hole. From there, he hit into a greenside bunker, short and right, and then blasted onto the green. Mickelson sank a 12-foot, 11-inch putt to save his par and finish with a two-under par 70.

(Photo by Robert Beck/SI)

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