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