Why Phil Mickelson made a last-minute equipment change at PGA Championship

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The final round of a major championship is the last place you’d expect a player in contention to make a last-minute gear change — unless you’re Bryson DeChambeau. But there was Phil Mickelson on Sunday, holding a slender lead over a handful of pursuers at blustery Kiawah with a slightly modified bag setup.

We’ve seen Mickelson try to gain an edge on the field with his gear before — he put in a 47.9-inch Callaway Epic Speed prototype driver this week — only this wasn’t a case of “Lefty being Lefty.”

As CBS on-course reporter Dottie Pepper noted as Mickelson prepared to tee off on the 3rd hole, the five-time major winner was forced to make a change just 15 minutes before his 2:30 p.m. tee time.

“I did just get a very interesting equipment update from [Tim Mickelson], his caddie and brother,” Pepper said. “He said the 1-iron is out of the bag today because 15 minutes before they went to the tee, they cracked the face on it. The 4-wood is now in the bag.”

Mickelson did have a Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero 4-wood in place of the 16-degree Callaway X-Forged UT utility iron during the final round, but according to a GOLF.com source, it was actually an 11.5-degree TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver that had to be replaced after the face caved in, rendering it unusable.

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While the timing wasn’t ideal, pros replacing a club due to a cracked face is far from uncommon. Repeated blows to an ultra-thin titanium face will continually wear down the structure over time. And when you’re a pro hitting a clubhead in roughly the same spot at a high rate of speed, the face has a high likelihood of going at some point.

Like most pros, Mickelson had a backup at the ready to replace the damaged club.

The “2-wood” is a club Mickelson has tinkered with over the course of his career. During the 2013 Open Championship, he employed a 13-degree Callaway X Hot 3Deep as the longest club in the bag en route to winning the Claret Jug. The club has resurfaced from time to time over the years, most recently during last year’s Zozo Championship.

The deeper-faced fairway wood has given him a secondary option off the tee that’s come in handy on tight courses, like Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, where a “fairway finder” is necessary to keep it in play.

The 2-wood has once again been a key club for Mickelson on a number of holes this week. Thankfully, he didn’t have to contemplate going around Kiawah without it in one of the biggest rounds of his career.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.