The 2011 British Open is upon us, and come Sunday, it may very well come down to a final putt or two. On that note, following is some of the “putter buzz” surrounding the greens at Royal St. George’s Golf Club…
Phil Mickelson said that he is going to change his putting approach this week. “I have not putted well” at earlier Open Championships, he said. “The grass is a little bit more coarse, a little thicker, has a little bit more effect, and you need to putt with less break and more aggression is what I’ve come to find. I’m going to try to do that…and see if that doesn’t combat some of the issues that I’ve had putting here.”
In Mickelson’s words, we’re hearing echoes of Tiger Woods at last year’s British Open, when he famously switched putters for the first time in more than a decade. Said Woods, “I’ve always struggled on slower greens. I’ve always putted well on faster greens. This putter does come off faster. . . . It rolls the ball better and rolls it faster. So these greens, I’ve had to make very little adjustment in how hard I’m hitting it compared to if I had my older putter.”
It typically doesn’t bode well when longtime giants of the game start questioning their putting approach on the eve of major tournaments. You don’t hear Rory McIlroy or Jason Day questioning themselves right now, eh?
Speaking of Day, we presume that he will again be wielding the TaylorMade Ghost Spider putter, and that he will generate a lot of airtime with it, as he did at the Masters and U.S. Open. It will be amusing to see this unconventional white beast of a putter stalking the old links.
Rory McIlroy will likely use the same Cameron Newport putter that he wielded to win the U.S. Open. It’s a newer putter for McIlroy, who had been using a Cameron Fastback in tournament play for more than a year leading up to the U.S. Open.
Meanwhile, Golf.com just published an interesting story about an old Cameron putter that Darren Clarke is retiring, despite using it to recently win his first tournament since 2008. Clarke is having the putter restored and repainted, after which he will stick it in his trophy case.
To which we ask: Why restore it? Why not keep it as is, with the weathering and battle scars of tournament play, instead of making it look like new again? Well, that’s his prerogative, and ultimately the story is yet another example of how the putter is the most personal and intimate club in the bag.
P.S. DIRECTV is offering innovative multi-channel coverage of the British Open, including a channel dedicated to British commentators. In other words, they are essentially offering a Chris Berman mute button, for which many will be grateful.