PINEHURST, N.C. – Phil Mickelson began preparations for the U.S. Open in the final round of the St. Jude Classic when he took his left hand off the putter, turned it slightly clockwise and rested the grip between his forefinger and thumb.
In more simple terms, it’s known as the “claw” grip.
And that’s what he’s using for Pinehurst No. 2.
“The greens here are quick, and 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, so that I get some of the hit out of it,” Mickelson said. “I was running them way by last week, and by taking my bottom hand off the putter, it eliminates some that hit.”
Mickelson said that allows him to roll the ball more softly into the hole.
“Ultimately, I’ll go back to a regular grip,” he said. “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.”
Mickelson said it particularly helps on the shorter putts. Those are the ones he has missed in a career filled with six runner-up finishes.
Matt Kuchar probably hasn’t contended in enough majors to be in the group of “best to have never won a major.” He’s had two good chances at the Masters.
Even so, he is No. 5 in the world with seven PGA Tour wins, including a World Golf Championship, The Players Championship and a FedEx Cup playoff event. And he’s had more top 10s than anyone over the last three years.
Either way, he doesn’t mind it.
“If you haven’t won a major, you sure want to be a part of that conversation,” he said. “But certainly, it’s been a goal of mine. It’s been a goal of mine since I started playing the game. So it remains there.”
With the World Cup beginning at the same time the Open is going on, many international golfers will be looking for scores and updates wherever they can find them.