Phil Mickelson's "fade-biased" driver might have cost him Open
Phil Mickelson looked like a genius when he carried two drivers during the 2006 Master’s and won.
In the U.S. Open, which as we all know Mickelson lost (he wasn’t beaten, he lost), he carried just one driver, a Callaway FT-3 Fusion with a fade bias.
Lefty’s natural shot is a draw, so the fade bias was supposed to allow him more easily to find the fairways of the numerous right-to-left doglegs at Winged Foot.
Problem was, for some inexplicable reason on Sunday, Phil’s natural shot failed him, and he began hitting majestic, towering power fades. He hit only two fairways all day, and many of the misses were to the left.
And of course the one that cost him most was the one he bounced off the hospitality tent on number 18.
So here’s the problem with weight-biased drivers: Say you normally hit a slice, so you get a heavily-biased draw driver. Then one day – maybe the most important round you’ve ever played, like a club championship or some other event that takes on U.S. Open proportions for the average golfer – you discover on the first couple of holes that your natural slice has called in sick and sent a hook in as the substitute.
What do you do with that draw-biased driver, which is now rifling the ball left of Noam Chomsky? How do you correct consistently when both your swing AND your driver are fighting you
My guess is that the fairways Phil missed to the right (pulled/hooked for the left-hander) were due to his attempt to correct whatever it was that was sending most shots to the left. Give him a neutral driver, and perhaps he could have adjusted. I don’t know.
It’s hard to argue that perhaps the greatest feel player in the game couldn’t correct his grip, swing plane, etc., etc., just because he had a fade-biased driver. But something was definitely wrong.
And for average golfers who find themselves fighting an abnormal shot shape one day (which I did over the weekend – I was right all day and never hooked it once, which is my normal problem), just the thought of hitting a club whose weighting bias feeds those poor shots makes it even harder to correct.
At least it makes it harder in your head. And maybe even in Phil’s head.
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I was wondering how Phil could be so lousy with his driver, but so great in other aspects of his game on Sunday. Maybe he should have used something like a 3 wood a lot more--but he was able to get out of trouble all day, and he may have been worried about what he would do if he missed the fairway with a shorter club and had a greater distance to reach the green.
Ron Mon, Ron Mon, Ron Mon! You should join the crowd and listen to the TravelGolf.com This Week podcast! Phil was on the show a few weeks ago talking about his driver plans for Winged Foot. Check it out here.
Here's a link to the latest show, or subscribe via RSS feed by clicking here
You are right--lots of misses in both directions. You ever try to compensate for one of those biased drivers when your swing was a bit off? Hard to know how much to adjust.
I agree. God knows I've missed as many fairways trying to play it safe as I have with my driver. I can screw up a "smart" play just as badly as I can a "stupid" play.