By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The world of putting on the PGA TOUR became an itty-bitty less interesting this season.
That’s because Robert Garrigus has shelved his itty-bitty putter.
Garrigus is one of the longest hitters on TOUR but also gained notoriety in recent years for his 28.5-inch putter, which looked pretty funny in the hands of a 5-foot-11 pro. Seemingly more suited for a junior’s bag, Garrigus’ putter instead helped lift him to a win at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in 2010 and a 74th-place FedExCup finish in 2011.
Alas, the long putter revolution has picked up another believer as Garrigus had a belly putter in play last week at the Humana Challenge, where he finished T2.
Garrigus used a 46-inch Scotty Cameron Big Sur – 17.5 inches taller than his old putter.
“I would have never in a million years been like, ‘oh, I think I need to go to a belly putter,’” Garrigus said after the final round at La Quinta, Calif.
His coach, Jim Ahern, encouraged him to simply try it out.
“I putted with a few different styles, the belly, I tried the chest, and the chest ended up being perfect,” Garrigus said. “It was 46 inches, which is three inches shorter -- kind of fitting, because my other putter was about seven inches shorter than everybody else's. But I started rolling it, I started getting confident with it, and about five or six days before I came out (to Humana), I found the perfect grip for my putting stroke, and it took all the tension out of it. Man, I tell you what, I haven't rolled it this good in quite a long time.
“It's so easy to take it back and take it through. I hit so many good putts this week, it was the straight putts I always had problems with, I always pulled them, now those are starting right on line and it's just awesome. I'm just very, very excited about the year.”
TYPICAL PHIL: Phil Mickelson came to the Humana Challenge not wanting to make any changes in his bagfrom last year. If you know Phil, you knew that vow would have limited shelf life.
“The first day, of course, I hit two (drives) out of bounds and I kind of bagged that idea,” Mickelson said.
After that opening-round 74, he replaced his Callaway FT Tour driver for a RAZR Fit that he had worked with over the offseason. Sure enough, his next three rounds in the desert were 69-66-69.
As for the putter, last year’s belly experiment appeared to be just that. He used a conventional-length Odyssey blade that brought back old vibes.
“I think that as I looked back at these last couple months, the way I putted best over the years, it was when I was an amateur and early in my career where I putted very free with a blade,” Mickelson said. ”So I went back to the putter I used growing up as a kid. Odyssey, identical specs, I’m rolling it much like I did when I was younger, and it feels really good.
TRANSACTIONS: As expected, Rickie Fowler made it official with Cobra Puma Golf. He already wore Puma’s clothes, now he’ll play Cobra clubs including the orange-accented AMP driver. … After eight years with Yonex, Colin Montgomerie is returning to Callaway, the company with which he won five consecutive European Tour money titles. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf.
NEW STUFF: Mark Wilson, not cut from the Mickelson mold of club tinkering, tweeted after winning the Humana Challenge, “I went out of my comfort zone this year, putting new Ping i20 Driver and i20 irons into play cuz they felt so good. Apparently, a good call”. Indeed. For the rest of us, those clubs will be available in late February. … Camilo Villegas put a TaylorMade Ghost Manta belly putter into play at Humana, shooting an opening-round 63 and finishing T19. He finished T39 for the event in Strokes-Gained Putting; he was 141st for the 2011 season. … Luke Donald is taking new Mizuno MP59 irons and MP-R12 wedges to Abu Dhabi.
WINNER’S BAG: Wilson at the Humana
Driver: Ping i20 8.5 degree (Grafalloy Tour X shaft)
3-wood: Cleveland HiBore XLS, 13 degrees
Hybrids: Ping i15, 17 and 20 degrees
Irons: Ping i20 4-PW
Wedges: Ping Tour, 52, 60 degrees
Putter: Ping Karsten Anser
Ball: Titleist ProV1x
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Robert Garrigus, who started the Humana Challenge with two double bogeys in his first three holes, has just broken out of a three-way tie for the lead with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole.
Garrigus is now 21 under and one stroke ahead of Mark Wilson and John Mallinger.
Garrigus was actually 6 over after his first eight holes in Thursday’s first round, which he played on the Palmer Course at PGA West. He has played his next 56 holes in 27 under, including a career-low 61 in the third round.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Robert Garrigus knew he had a shot at history as he stood on the eighth tee of the Nicklaus Course at PGA West on Sunday morning.
"A hundred percent," he said firmly.
With two holes remaining in his third round at the Humana Challenge, Garrigus was 11 under and flirting with a 59 -- the number only five previous PGA TOUR players had ever shot. The eighth happens to be a 509-yard par 5 and "I was thinking eagle the whole way," he said.
"We took out driver, I hammered it down the right side and it just kicked right instead of left," Garrigus recalled. "I wasn't nervous, I was just pumped up.
"And then hit a great shot in there, over the side slope with a 5-iron from 206, and just, I knew that if I birdied the last two holes I was going to shoot 59. So I hammered that thing to make sure it got there and just misread it a bit.
“But made a couple really good par putts coming down there on my 18th hole. So very pleased with the way today went."
As it was, the 61 Garrigus shot nipped his career-best by two strokes. Even better, it moved him to 18 under and into a tie with Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and John Mallinger, three strokes off the pace being set by Mark Wilson.
"It could have been something crazy," Garrigus said, lamenting a couple of putts he missed in shooting 29 on his first nine on Saturday before the horn blew. "But it was crazy -- 61's pretty dang good in a PGA TOUR event."
Garrigus said he's been working out this year -- "It's kind of a new me," he noted -- and the man who used to use a 28-inch putter is getting used to the long one he now employs. He was pleased with the way he handled the unexpected overnight wind delay, too, after playing his first 13 holes in 9 under.
"In the past I've always not dealt well with the breaks and coming back out and trying to keep the momentum going," Garrigus said. "But I got right back out at it and holed that 25-, 30-footer up the hill (for birdie), hit it right in the center of the hole. That was a lot of fun."
Garrigus, who birdied two of the five holes he played on Sunday morning, will be playing in the final group of the day with Wilson and Johnson. He's not overly concerned about the two-hour break between the completion of the third round and the start of the fourth, either.
"I'm a new guy, I'm going to go in and eat and work out and stretch again and I'll be ready," Garrigus said. "I'll be focused for the next round and this one didn't exist."