Phil Mickelson, who yearns for the US Open title like none other, will switch to a claw-like putting grip for a better chance to win at Pinehurst, he said on Tuesday.
“The greens here are quick so I’m actually going to go back to the claw grip this week in an effort to have a little bit lighter grip pressure and create a softer roll,” Mickelson said.
Five-time major winner Mickelson, the US Open runner-up a record six times, only needs a US Open triumph to become just the sixth golfer to complete a career grand slam.
But with his putting stroke struggling and the 114th US Open set to offer lightning-fast greens with saucer-like target areas, the reigning British Open champion met Tuesday with coach Dave Stockton and decided to make the switch two days before his 24th US Open start.
“You have got to take risks sometimes,” Mickelson said. “You have to be willing to take risks and be accountable.
“I feel like right now, after talking with Dave this morning — what’s going to give me the best chance to putt these greens well? And this is what we came up with.”
Mickelson tested the claw grip in the final round of last week’s PGA event in Memphis, where he fired a final-round 72 to share 11th, his best US PGA showing of the year.
“You can’t win any golf tournament putting the way I’ve been putting,” Mickelson said. “I should have won that last week by eight shots if I putted worth a — decent.
– Popping at it –
The 43-year-old US left-hander felt his usual grip had left him popping at the ball on putts.
“I just have been popping at it and not making a long kind of smooth, brush stroke,” he said. “Ultimately I’ll go back to a regular grip but for now, probably the coming weeks, that helps me get the feel and flow back.
“What I should have done is practice the last few weeks with it and then gone to regular grip this week, but here we are.
“But what it really is it helps about the short putts. Three to six, seven feet, I’m much more solid with taking the bottom hand off and just kind of lightly pushing the putter through.”
Mickelson admits he has pondered how it would feel to be holding a US Open trophy but has tried to banish such thoughts from his mind.
“This is a week that I’ve been looking forward to and it would mean a lot to me, but if I get ahead of myself, I won’t have a chance,” he said.
“When I jump ahead, that never really works out good, at least in the past six times.”