NORTON, Mass. -- Phil Mickelson recently let people in on a little secret: the world No. 3 has found the key to putting, and that was about all he was willing to share, until Friday.
Mickelson, who opened his Deutsche Bank Championship with a sizzling 8-under 63, thanks to rolling them in from distances that included 28, 19, 18, 15 and 11 feet all over the receptive putting surfaces, called his 25-putt day "unbelievable." While his pronouncement left little room for argument, it invited a deluge of queries.
Turns out Mickelson, who banked eight birdies and an eagle during the first round at TCP Boston, has huddled with some of the top gurus of the greens, each of whom supported the others with one essential tip.
"I ended up having conversations with eight of the best putters I’ve ever seen, probably talked between 30 minutes and two hours ... and I actually took notes," Mickelson said. "There was one thing that they all said that's the same, and that's been my secret."
Mickelson, prior to winning the British Open last month, mentioned a "secret" he’d gleaned that helped him regain his touch and confidence with the flat stick.
"For the last three or four years, I haven’t putted as well as I know I could. I’ve putted very average at best with a few really good weeks," Mickelson said on Friday. "Now I feel like I’m putting great every week with a few weeks like the PGA where I was just fractionally off ... I can see the line and I’m rolling the ball down that line."
Phil-watchers, naturally, have been trying to get the tour player who is ranked fifth in strokes gained putting, compared to 134th just two years ago, to declassify the information. One theory a reporter posited on Friday had to do with Mickelson’s move to a thicker putter grip, which purportedly helped the golfer hold the club with less pressure and provided a better feel.
"Well," Mickelson said, after listening graciously to the hypothesis, "have at it. Fire away with all the theories that you want."
Another scribe hoped to learn the identities of the eight wise elders, where the confabs took place, and how Mickelson decided to convene such high-level meetings.
"Those are all great questions," the tight-lipped Lefty said to laughter. "Let’s move on to the next question."