Phil Mickelson is an equipment writer’s dream – the true gift that keeps on giving. The perfect match of equipment geek and tour pro seeking every competitive edge. Mickelson, in fact, is one of the few Major champions to have equipment patents in his name.
Lefty is particularly inventive at the Major championships, where he has tried a myriad of things over the years with varying degrees of success. Whether it’s two drivers to win the 2006 Masters, the epic mistake of no drivers at Torrey Pines in 2008 or waxing about his “2-wood” that was really a mini-driver at last month’s PGA Championship, Lefty never disappoints – and he’s at it again at this week’s US Open.
Building off his win at the PGA with a TaylorMade Original One Mini driver, Mickelson was seen on Monday using a different mini driver, TaylorMade’s 300 Series Mini driver that was added to the R&A and USGA’s conforming list of driver heads last month. Unlike 2008, however, it appears Mickelson also has his Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero in the bag as well.
“I think at least half, if not a fraction more, of tee shots will be with that club just because the way the fairways are a little bit firmer than [during the] Farmers [Insurance Open each January],” Mickelson said overnight at Torrey Pines. “The ball runs out and it gets down there to a pretty good spot. There’s a lot of holes where it kind of turns or tightens, and I don’t really want to get to that spot. If you look at 4, you get it down too far and it starts to pinch in by the canyon. You look at the contour on 7, how much that fairway pitches. I really don’t want to get it down there… This is a different head than I had there but it’s the same loft and same – just about as same as can be.”
Although Mickelson made his normal effort to disguise the club, using black tape on the sole to hide most of the markings, photos reveal several distinct parts of the club that match up with the conforming list photo, including the outline of the steel on the sole, a sole weight in the back and a speed slot on the sole near the face to enhance rebound, especially on shots struck low on the face.
The USGA listing also notes the titanium club uses TaylorMade’s Twist Face technology (where the face is modestly curved more open on the high toe and more closed on the low heel area to promote forgiveness) and employs a 12-way adjustable hosel. It is listed in 11.5 and 13.5 degrees.
Given Mickelson’s success with a similar club at the PGA, it’s not exactly a shocker he would have something close to it in the bag at Torrey Pines (remember, he broke the one he had been using at Kiawah Island). And given his triumph’s with such clubs (remember he also won the 2013 Open Championship with a strong-lofted Callaway XHot 3Deep) don’t bet against the experiment being to his benefit this week.
Which brings us back to where we started. Whether he continues to play well or suffers failure, Mickelson’s equipment decisions with continue to be debated and dissected. We equipment writers couldn’t ask for more.
PHOTO: Ezra Shaw