Category: Phil Mickelson


April 01, 2013

Will Phil Mickelson’s new oversized putting grip give him an edge at Augusta?

Posted at 11:33 AM by Brian Manzella

P1-Phil-Grip-Scott-HalleranWhen I was a young golfer, the prettiest putting stroke in the game belonged to Ben Crenshaw. Gentle Ben's graceful motion stood out at a time when the PGA Tour's practice putting greens were a mix of leftover strokes from the 1950s and '60s, as well as more modern arm-and-shoulder moves developed on faster greens. Many junior golfers -- including me -- copied his more erect posture, with his lead arm and heel-shafted Wilson blade putter staying in-line through impact. My version of his stroke didn't last more than a couple years, and most of the other players doing their Ben impressions didn't amount to much either. But one stroke did, and it won a Tour event as an amateur. It belonged to Phil Mickelson.

Since that 1991 win in Tucson, Phil Mickelson's putting stroke has been a favorite of golfers and TV analysts. Early on, Phil seemed to me to be doing a Crenshaw impersonation on the greens. It wasn't an exact copy, though. The subtle differences in his early-career stroke and Crenshaw's were partly due to Phil's more aggressive game and nature as well as Lefty's more bent-over posture at address (he has about five inches on Ben). As arm-and-shoulder dominated as Crenshaw's stroke was, Mickelson's was even less wristy. As "up the lead arm" as Ben's impact was, Phil had even more forward hands. But Phil made lots of putts from all over the greens, and the wins piled up. Eventually, like many champions before him, his problems came on the short ones.

Phil has worked on his stroke with a few putting coaches, most notably Dave Pelz and Dave Stockton. He's had the short ones under control at times and struggled at others. In 2012 Mickelson finished 10th in the Tour's new Strokes-Gained Putting category. Out of 191 ranked golfers, that's an enviable position. Coupled with his length off the tee and magical short game, Phil's putting stroke gave him the chance to challenge any time he teed it up.

That success aside, golfers in their 40s are always looking to putt like they did in their 20s. And Phil is no exception.

He has recently experimented with the claw grip and this week in Houston, Mickelson used a fat, oversized grip (pictured). Here's what he's trying to accomplish with both of those oft-attempted variations.

A claw grip puts your lower arm and hand in a different location at address than a conventional grip does. Your lower arm is more parallel to the ground, which places that wrist in a spot that encourages some flow and wrist-straightening through the ball. For someone whose stroke has gotten stiff or stale, it can add some new and improved feel. Also, taking what feels like a radical new grip on the club helps your brain forget the old stroke, and sometimes a little putting amnesia can go a long way.

Using a putter with a fat grip can often limit small wrist movements in both the vertical and horizontal planes of the stroke. Mickelson says he likes the feel this grip gives him, and perhaps that feel recalls the more arm-dominated stroke of his youth. I've seen golfers use both the claw grip and a fat grip at the same time, although last weekend in Houston Phil appeared to have abandoned the claw style in favor of a conventional putting grip.

Weekend golfers are always looking for an edge on the greens, and PGA Tour players are no different. Maybe the fat grip will help Phil on the slick, sloped greens of Augusta, a place he has won before and would love to win again.

Brian Manzella is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

RELATED: More putting tips on Golf.com
RELATED: Phil Mickelson's homepage

(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

January 16, 2012

Top 100 Teachers Poll: What to expect from Phil Mickelson in 2012

Posted at 10:26 PM by Golf.com

A trim and fit Phil Mickelson starts his season this week in Palm Springs. We asked Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers what to expect from Mickelson this season after his uneven 2011. Here's what they said:

Graph1

Comments:

"Three or more if he fixes his putter problems." --Todd Sones, Whitedeer Run Golf Club, Vernon Hills, Ill.

"Zero. You have to putt well to win a major." --Glenn Deck, Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, Calif.

Graph2

 

Graph3

 

Graph4

Comments:

"He has too many putting teachers who contradict each other. Pelz and Stockton don’t teach the putting stroke the same way." --Brad Redding, Grande Dunes Resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"He has a putting stroke that everything has to be timed perfectly, very small margin of error." --Todd Sones, Whitedeer Run Golf Club, Vernon Hills, Ill.

"Even if he did, he'd still make more putts than the average Tour player." --Steve Bosdosh, Four Streams Golf Academy in Beallsville, Md.

"He doesn't have the yips, but he hits his short putts way too hard. That is why he gets so many violent lip-outs." --Eric Johnson, Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.

"If you really understood the true yips, absolutely not." --David Glenz, Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg, N.J

"Yes, but with the driver." --Peter Krause, Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, Hilton Head, S.C.

Graph5

"He will if you count the Champions tour." --Eric Johnson, Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.

"If Tiger had played another sport he would have reached 50." --Glenn Deck, Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, Calif. 

"I know he has enough talent to get to 50 but I worry about how his arthritic condition will affect his ability to play and practice to the extent he would need." --Jason Carbone, Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, N.J.

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This story was produced for Golf Magazine's weekly Front9 app. To keep up with the latest golf news, get great tips from the Top 100 Teachers in America, and weekly Rules Guy columns, download the Front9 app at the Apple iTunes store. A lifetime subscription is $2.99.

April 13, 2010

Anger is the impediment Tiger needs to remove

Posted at 3:36 PM by Carol Preisinger

Springtime at the Masters, and the wind wasn't the only thing bringing impediments to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Like all of us, pro golfers have to jump hurdles every day in life, the kind that are not so loose and easily brushed aside.

Freddie has his back issues, Phil carries concerns about his wife's health, and Tiger brings his history of, well, all of that. These issues can't be tossed aside so easily like a piece of pine tree in the line of a putt. As Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf, the wonder of the Masters became clouded by doubt for some, and sprinkled with hope for others. But the skies quickly gave way to warmth and sunshine as golf fans welcomed him back with few penalties.

The question that began this Masters was, "Will humiliation impede Tiger's mental game?" It didn't, but his temper did. Anger creates stress, stress creates tension, and tension impedes motion. Phil didn't appear too upset when a pollen stamen, out of nowhere, landed in his line and deflected his birdie putt on No. 3. If that happened to Tiger, we might have heard, "G-----it, pollen, you s---!"

Many players compete every week while dealing with challenges. It's tough to empty your  head and make the gremlins go away, but if Tiger truly has a clear conscience now, free of all impediments, he should be able to  leave behind the outbursts we've come to know him for.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said it best: "His future will never again be measured only by his performance against par but by the sincerity of his efforts to change." Please, Tiger, as part of your transformation, learn to accept the bad shots and show some control on the golf course. It will help the fans believe in you again, and it will help your game, too.

Come on, Tiger, learn from your behavior, and stay away from the hazards -- after all, you can't remove loose impediments in there.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Carol Preisinger is director of instruction at the Kiawah Golf Club in Kiawah Island, S.C.

The Big Play: How to Hit Legendary Shots Like Phil Mickelson

Posted at 10:58 AM by Brad Redding

Phil-mickelson-theshot_660x
Who:
Phil Mickelson
What: 205-yard 6-iron to four feet
When: Final round of the Masters
Where: 510-yard par-5 13th hole at Augusta National

Mickelson is not as all-out aggressive as he used to be. You could see that in the final round of the Masters when he just tried to finish the front nine around par so he would be in contention on the back nine, where he knew he could go low. Also, his second shot at 13 was not as crazy as it looked on TV. He had a perfect lie in the pine straw, with his ball sitting up, and the gap between the trees was bigger than it appeared. In fact, the gap was so big, at least in Mickelson's eyes, that he nonchalantly approached the shot and never debated whether he'd go for the green.

Add in the fact that he hit a 6-iron, and there wasn't too much risk. The key to hitting off pine straw is judging the lie. If the lie is good and the ball is sitting up, you need to catch the shot a bit thin to ensure a solid shot. That's because with the ball sitting up, you have to make sure that you don't hit down in the straw and below the ball. To catch it a bit thin, the swing should be a bit shallower and more rounded than normal. Groove that motion by making practice swings like you're swinging a baseball bat, so the club swings around your body. Then hit the shot.

If the ball is in a bad lie and nestled down in the straw, you need an extra-steep angle of attack. For this, take extra steep practice motions. Also, don't attempt a full shot. Hit a layup. It's common to catch these shots heavy, and the ball won't go as far as normal.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brad Redding is the director of instruction at the Resort Club at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Photo: Robert Beck/SI

February 01, 2010

The Big Play: How to drive it like Phil (Not!)

Posted at 5:26 PM by Steve Bosdosh

Phil-mick-farm-ship-2_299 Who: Phil Mickelson
What: Lost ball in a eucalyptus tree after a badly sliced drive
When: Third round of the Farmers Insurance Open
Where: 462-yard par-4 seventh hole at Torrey Pines

Phil Mickelson has always been a poor driver. His swing is built to generate speed and he hits it a mile, but his very loose, long and handsy swing makes him wild. In fact, he’s never ranked higher than 160th in driving accuracy. Last week at the Farmers, Mickelson could have won if he didn't have so much trouble with his driver. (His 41.1 percent driving accuracy ranked 75th of 78 players). Perhaps the worst of Mickelson’s wild drives came on the seventh hole Saturday, when he blocked it dead left (just like he did on 18 at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot) and the ball got lost in a tree. Working with Butch Harmon, Mickelson has tightened up his swing a bit. But as he demonstrated last week, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I don’t think Mickelson will ever make substantial gains, however, unless he changes his go-for-broke gambler’s style of play. Doing that might help Mickelson’s driving, but it could ruin his overall approach to the game, so I don’t think he’ll make this adjustment.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR DRIVING
Most players swing too hard with a driver, causing them to lose their balance and hit stray shots. Here’s a good drill to tone down your driver action: Try to swing with the same speed on the downswing as you use in the backswing. Doing that isn’t realistic, because you’ll never swing as slowly as you think. But attempting to slow down will throttle you back to where you want to be with the driver, which is about 75 percent of your capacity.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Steve Bosdosh is the director of instruction at the Members Club at Four Streams in Beallsville, Md.

(Photo: Robert Beck/SI)

July 15, 2009

Contenders and pretenders at the 2009 British Open

Posted at 3:09 PM by Brady Riggs

The British Open returns to Turnberry on Thursday, which means we'll likely see a deserving winner. This course has produced some of our greatest champions: Watson in 1977, Norman in 1986, and Price in 1994. That’s because Turnberry tests every part of a player's game. You won't see another Ben Curtis this year. And unless Tiger Woods wins, it's unlikely another American will.

The links golf you see at the British Open is a different game. American golf is mostly played in the air, while links golf is largely on the ground. You need to make adjustments to play this style golf, and for most American players one week is not enough time to prepare. The international players are familiar with British Open-style courses—many of them grew up on them—and they're more capable of hitting a variety shots. Even American Todd Hamilton, the 2004 winner, had played on the international tours, where he got his Ph.D. in links golf.

So who is lurking out there as the potential winner? Let's take a look.

The Favorite

Tiger Woods* is the overwhelming favorite to win. He's the smartest guy who's ever played and probably the best putter to play at a championship level. He's very versatile with his game so he has the flexibility that a lot of American players don't. For example, Phil Mickelson is great on a course that requires a high, soft shot, but he hasn't adapted to the British Open. Tiger's never been a one-trick pony. Plus, he knows how to play championship golf. He doesn't try to impose his will on a course; he takes what it gives him. That's a hard thing to do and it speaks to his patience and maturity.
Brady's Odds to Win: Even

*I made him a similar favorite at Bethpage, but the draw didn't work out for him. He didn't cry about it; he never will.

The Contenders

Martin Kaymer:
Golf is a game of streaks. Nothing beats playing well going into a major and last week's Scottish Open winner is hot. If you follow the European Tour at all, you always see his name up there. The British Open is the most important tournament internationally and this might be Kaymer's week.
Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1

Henrik Stenson: I love his game and he's proved that he's always someone to be dealt with. He won't be afraid, and I always like a guy who's good at match play.
Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1

Geoff Ogilvy: Until otherwise noted, Geoff is a top-5 contender in every major championship. He's proved it.
Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1

Angel Cabrera: At majors, he's like the guy who comes to dinner and just won't leave. He's probably as formidable as anyone out there. If he was American, he'd be a hugely popular player because he looks like he really enjoys life. I dig him, he's cool.
Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1

Sergio Garcia:
Regular readers know I'm not a fan, but he's obviously played well in this tournament. If Tiger ended up with a bad-weather draw, and Sergio was in the good half, then Sergio could win this tournament. But I can't envision a scenario where he beats Tiger if all things are equal.
Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1

Lee Westwood: I really like him. He's gotten a lot smarter and it feels like he deserves to win a major. Westwood was down and out and he resurrected his career. Golf is a difficult game in which to do that and it says a lot about his character.
Brady's Odds to Win: 10 to 1

Padraig Harrington: He just won the Irish PGA, but that's not a great barometer. He always wins that—it's like an annuity for him. If he is really getting it back, then he would be the guy after Tiger. I just think he still has some questions about his own game.
Brady's Odds to Win: 10 to 1

Anthony Kim: The British Open is a good tournament for him. He had three really good rounds at Birkdale last year, and Anthony is very smart on a golf course. He never does anything stupid, although he can get too aggressive. However, the British Open is not a bad event for an aggressive player. No one ever called Tom Watson conservative. If the course gets soft and Anthony can go birdie-hunting, look out. When he's firing on all cylinders, he can beat anyone, including Tiger.
Brady's Odds to Win: 10 to 1

Continue reading "Contenders and pretenders at the 2009 British Open" »

April 06, 2009

Top 100 Teachers consider whether Phil Mickelson is overcoached

Posted at 5:25 PM by Anne Szeker

We asked our Top 100 Teachers if Phil Mickelson, who works with Butch Harmon (full swing) and Dave Pelz (short game), was overcoached -- 61% said yes and 39% said no. But the teachers were not content to simply cast their ballots. They had more to say on the issue, and we figured you might too. So, here's a list of their best remarks on the question; you can weigh in below in the comments section.

Not overcoached, but perhaps over-dependent. – Mitchell Spearman, Manhattan Woods Golf Club

Didn't Hogan say the "secret is in the dirt"? Sometimes you have to figure it out on your own. Yes, Phil is overcoached. – Don Hurter, Castle Pines Golf Club

No, he's just not extremely receptive. Both Bones and Butch need to grab Phil and get in his grill and not worry about their paychecks. Phil would be better off for the straightforwardness. – Tom Patri, Friar's Head Golf Club

Yes. Phil is a right-brain, creative, feel type of player. He should go with his instincts. – Jim Suttie, Cog HIll GC

No. In fact this is the best he has ever swung the club. – Michael Breed, Sunningdale Country Club

No. There is no such thing when the coaching is correct. – Bill Madonna, Bill Madonna Golf Academy

Are you kidding? Let him have whomever he wants on his team. He is the only competitor against Tiger. – Nancy Quarcelino, Kings Creek G.C.

Not overcoached, but incorrectly coached. – Keith Lyford, Golf Academy at Old Greenwood

He is a feel player with two coaches who teach positions. He needs Harvey Penick to come back to life. – Bruce Patterson, Butler National Golf Course

Yes. Who coached Hogan, Snead, Trevino, Palmer? – Steve Bosdosh, Members Club at Four Streams

No. He just doesn't listen. – Eden Foster, Maidstone GC

He uses Butch and Pelz for different reasons, and as long as he keeps them to their strengths, this should be good. – Brian Mogg, Golden Bear Golf Club at Keene's Point

If having a swing teacher, a short game specialist, a mental guru, and a physical trainer can lead to overcoaching, then I would say that he very well could be. – Gary Wiren

Phil Mickelson has always depended on a good bit of outside support. I think he needs more coaching than the average PGA Tour player. So, no, I don't think he's overcoached. – Hank Johnson, Greystone Golf Club

Yes and No. He has enough coaches. He sure hasn't made too many changes in the way he plays the game to have the coaching team he has. He has hired great teachers to help him.  In my mind, he needs to listen and pay more attention to Butch. – Shawn Humphries, Cowboys Golf Club

Yes. No question. All the stats that Pelz runs at him, plus what Butch tries to get him to do – and I am sure that there are a number of things that they don't agree on – puts Phil in the middle. He needs to go more on instinct and not so much on numbers. – Mike Malaska

Phil is so overcoached that he is becoming like the Irish centipede trying to figure out which leg to move first. – Gerald McCullagh, University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course

Yes, for sure. I have pictures at last year's Masters of Pelz and Harmon at the same time in a tag-team lesson. – Rick Barry, Sea Pines Resort

August 20, 2008

TV hypes 'chokers' like Mickelson, Els

Posted at 10:15 AM by Gerald McCullagh

I love the drama of a well-contested tournament. This year’s PGA Championship was no exception, with my hero Padraig Harrington nailing his putt on the last hole to clinch the title over Sergio Garcia. Unfortunately, this championship wasn’t on the radar of the average sports fan because Tiger Woods wasn’t participating. Only Tiger is a proven closer in majors, and without him the sport feels like a competition among also-rans played for a few diehards wasting a summer weekend in front of the television.

Back in the day, television coverage of golf championships was less extensive, but it did a better job conveying the drama of the event. We were able to watch all the players as they worked their way into the clubhouse, not just a chosen few. We had heroes -- players like Sam Snead, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Calvin Peete -- who didn’t win with the ease of Tiger, but we loved them anyway because we saw their journeys.

I have watched events this year that didn’t show shots from the leader just because he wasn’t a marquee player. Today, members of the media hype the tournament by predicting victory for the biggest and most marketable stars -- guys like Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. Those guys repeatedly have failed to close the deal in big tournaments, but nonetheless they are touted as the favorites.

Most of these stars don't know how to win, so they shouldn't be advertised as favorites. When they “choke” down the finish, viewers are left with a bad taste in their mouths because the winner is perceived as a nobody who snuck in the backdoor. Truth is, guys like Kenny Perry have as good a shot week-to-week as Phil and Ernie, and fans wouldn't be disappointed if they weren't constantly being told that the big names were going to win.

Players like Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els should be spending their time learning how to finish. Maybe a little time with Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon, guys who know how to get those final outs, would help. And members of the media need to stop pretending that Mickelson and Els—and many more like them—know how to win.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Gerald McCullagh teaches at the University of Minnesota’s Le Bolstad Golf Club in Falcon Heights, Minn. He also blogs here.

August 06, 2008

PGA stands for Phil Gets Another (major)

Posted at 5:15 PM by Brady Riggs

When I look at this year’s PGA Championship, I can only think one thing: Phil Mickelson looks like a lock to pick up his fourth major championship.

Phil’s had an off year at the 2008 majors. He took fifth place at the Masters, but finished only 18th at the U.S. Open and 19th at the British Open. So why do I think he’s primed to win at Oakland Hills this week? Because this is his type of golf. Oakland Hills is a big golf course, it’s tree-lined and the weather will be hot. It reminds me of Bethpage (where Phil came in second at the 2002 U.S. Open) or Baltusrol (where Phil won the PGA in 2005). He can keep the ball in the air all day long and, with his short game, he’ll be able to get around as good as anyone in the field.

The other reason I like Phil is that he’ll face less scrutiny at Oakland Hills. He put so much pressure on himself to win his hometown U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. That pressure -– and the marquee paring with Tiger on Thursday and Friday -- clearly wasn’t good for his game, and he’ll benefit from reduced expectations and attention this week.

If Tiger Woods was in the field, you’d be looking at three PGA Championships in a row. Tiger said watching the PGA on TV will be tougher for him than watching the British Open. I imagine the reason is that he hasn’t won a major three times in a row yet, and he’s missing a great opportunity to cross that off his bucket list at Oakland Hills.

Tiger is the only player in the game who can get in guys’ heads. Phil doesn’t scare anybody when he’s near the lead. They all know he will find a way to make it interesting.

So who can step up if Phil can’t close the deal? Retief Goosen is another guy who plays well on big courses. I also like Stuart Appleby as a sleeper pick. Stuart has been playing very consistently and his game really fits Oakland Hills.

The other pick might be the field. Caesars Palace Sports Book in Las Vegas posts odds for only the top 69 players in the 156-player field. Right now, Mickelson is the favorite at 7-1 odds, but "The Field" (everyone not on the board) is the true favorite at 6-1.

This year’s champion might actually come from the field — like Shaun Micheel in 2003 and Rich Beem in 2002 — but that would be bad for the game. This is always the least anticipated major, and it’s even less anticipated without Tiger and during the Olympics. Even diehard golf fans sound like they’re more interested in talking about the Ryder Cup.

We need to have another great storyline, like Greg Norman’s run at the British Open, to generate some buzz. My dream scenario would be a Mickelson-Anthony Kim duel on Sunday. They are complete opposites on the spectrum of tenacity: easygoing Phil versus intense Anthony.

Fortunately, when the best players in the world compete for a major, great storylines always emerge. This week won’t be any different.


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