Perhaps you’ve found yourself watching an older PGA Tour player rolling putts at this week’s Fortinet Championship and been overwhelmed by a single thought. The fellow is in his fifth decade, slender, with longer hair and most noticeably, an eerily familiar putting stroke.
“Wow,” you think to yourself. “He really looks like a young Phil Mickelson with a putter in his hand.”
The player you’re watching is, of course, the modern-day Phil Mickelson. And after many years of tweaks, changes, and tinkers to his putting form, today’s Phil Mickelson says he’s found a stroke that sticks. The irony of it all? The technique that works best for Phil is the one he’s had all along.
“[I’m going to stick with this putting stroke] for a while, yeah, because it’s how I putted as a kid,” Phil explained.
Mickelson is putting very well at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif. — the first event on the 2021-22 PGA Tour season. Through three rounds, Lefty has totaled only 83 putts (or 1.53 putts per hole), and has gained 3.3 strokes putting to the field. On Saturday, that performance reached a fever pitch, when he needed only 26 putts to make seven birdies.
After his third-round 67 put him into ninth place — four strokes off the lead — Phil explained the tweak that has him channeling his younger self.
“I always had a lot of forward press and all it’s doing now is getting in the same position as a kid, but it’s getting to that same position every time,” he said. “I’m not overpressing, I’m not underpressing, so my launch characteristics when I get on the Quintic system is very consistent and that’s what I’m looking for.”
For Mickelson, the forward-ish press of his putting stroke allows him to produce consistency at the moment of impact, which allows him to have a more predictable stroke (of which the benefits are obvious). But his hand position also allows his hands to continue moving toward his target during the his stroke, which could also allow him to improve his make percentage.
At the Fortinet, he’s found a tweak to his putting stroke that works — a tweak he perfected himself some 25 years ago.
“I just felt like I had been putting really well all week and I just needed to settle down and let one go in, not force it,” Mickelson said. “I needed to get a couple of fairways hit because so much easier from the fairways getting to these pins. I just rolled a couple in, so it was nice.”