Phil Plans to Putt Out With the Belly at TPC Boston
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Phil sticks it to his belly

As expected, Phil Mickelson put an Odyssey XG Sabertooth belly putter in his bag for the first time of his career on Friday for the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. So, how did the experiment turn out? Well, good enough for him to stick with it for at least three more rounds (assuming he makes the cut, of course).

“I got off to a great start with it, making about a ten-footer on the first hole for birdie and then an eight-footer on the second hole for birdie,” said Mickelson after posting a one-under 70. “I thought it went well. I feel that I’m probably putting better with that putter than I would be the short putter, so I’ll end up using (the belly) for the rest of the tournament I would anticipate. But I don’t know if it’s a short-term or a long-term thing.”

Mickelson has struggled with his short-distance putting in the last few years, most recently and notably at the Open Championship in July, which may have cost him the win. He added that his stroke felt “pretty good” with the belly. He just needs to get more comfortable with the long wand.

“I thought I was starting them online and I’ve got to get comfortable with the speed and so forth,” said Mickelson, who needed 29 putts. “That’s a little different, but right now it feels good.”

PGA champ Keegan Bradley has used a belly putter for several years and Phil credited the rookie’s success to his decision to give it a whirl. Bradley, who has given Phil a lot of credit for mentoring him and his two victories, feels humbled Mickelson has turned to him for advice.

“I think that any way Phil putts, he’d make anything,” said Bradley, the hometown hero at TPC Boston who shot three-under 69. “But it’s really an honor to have Phil talk to me about anything in terms of the game. I even hesitate saying anything to him because he’s one of my heroes. It’s just a proud moment for me to get a call from Phil and hear from him.”

The four-time major champ and ’07 Deutsche Bank champ is known to get into the esoteric details of his game, but he had a hard time explaining whether there were any nuances to the belly putter that helped his stroke.

“I honestly don’t know, I haven’t spent enough time with it,” Phil said. “The guys who have used it for a long time, Brendan Steele, Keegan Bradley has putted very well with it, Martin Laird, Webb Simpson, those guys know a lot more about it, the intricacies of it, but it felt good. I enjoyed it. I had fun today.”

However, Phil did note that the longer putter passes through his hands better, but also makes it a different stroke.

“That’s probably why it’s a little bit more awkward at first for me because I’m used to keeping my hands ahead and this time the club is passing my hands,” he said.

Good news is Phil didn’t miss any putts inside of five feet on Friday.

(AP Photo/Stew Milne)