Only two strokes separate Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as they enter the weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational, but to hear them talk about their short games, one could conclude that the two superstars were light years apart in their confidence on the greens.
“I hit it good, made nothing, and we can all go eat now,” Woods told reporters in a short but sweet summation of his 2-over 72 in Friday’s second round that put him 13 shots back of 36-hole leader Jim Furyk.
In fact, Woods’ two-day total of 62 putts (33 and 29) -- including an incredible 3-putt from six feet on the 18th hole on Thursday -- was a pretty good indication of why the seven-time winner at Firestone had two over-par rounds on a course on which he had a scoring average of 68 and change.
“Yesterday was bad putts. Today I had good speed and just still not quite right, and the putts I did pure, they were just lipping out,” Woods said. “I just need to get more consistent where I just don't hit a bad putt. As soon as I start doing that, everything will be fine.”
Meanwhile, Mickelson finally broke the 10-round string of over-par rounds with a 69 on Friday, thanks in large part to a new flat stick that found its way into the big southpaw’s bag. Mickelson, who talked about his “horrific” long game after Friday’s round, gushed about the new prototype Odyssey mallet putter he added to his repertoire, with which he quickly chalked up just 27 putts -- four fewer than he needed on Thursday.
"It’s a takeoff on the [Odyssey White Ice] #9, but it’s got a low profile heel and a raised toe that gives it kind of a hook roll," Mickelson said. "I probably should have gone to it yesterday because it just rolls off the face like magic, and it has this great track. I was making a lot more 15- to 30-footers because it was holding such a tight roll.”
Though smitten with the debut of his new short stick, Mickelson said he was not necessarily permanently dumping the blade “that’s kind of been my identity".
“But I feel really good with this thing, and I’ll probably go back and forth,” he said. “It just has a really good flow to it where it squares up, it releases, it closes, so I don’t have that fear of blocking it.”
Speaking of fiddling with a variety of putters, Jim Furyk, who told PGATour.com’s Bob Verdi that he had used “at least 100” in his 19-year professional career, could give the field lessons on shopping for mallets, blades and everything in between. There was the used Yes! putter he picked up from a Boston discounter between rounds of the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship, and, of course, his flirtation with the belly putter.
This week, though, Furyk’s employing a traditional bat and believes he’ll keep it -- at least for now.
"You should see my garage,” Furyk said after his second-round 66 that followed an opening 63 and put him two shots ahead of Rafael Cabrera Bello. “Plenty of times in my career, I have kept the same putter for a year or so. But then, when I start switching, it becomes a trend until I settle on one again. The Odyssey I'm using now I've used before. I put it in my bag just before The Presidents Cup.”
With 25 and 26 putts on Thursday and Friday, respectively, Furyk might want to stick with his current putter for a while.