Mickelson to use two drivers again at Augusta

Phil Mickelson, shown here at the Shell Houston Open, is using two drivers this week at Augusta.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Phil Mickelson confirmed Tuesday he will carry two drivers in the 2011 Masters, assuming the forecast of warm weather is accurate and temperatures do not turn cold.

One of the drivers is the Razr Hawk Prototype he used to win the Shell Houston Open. It is 45 inches long and has 8.2 degrees of loft, with a very low center of gravity.

The second driver is another Razr Hawk Prototype, although it has a much stronger loft (6.3 degrees) and is one inch longer (46 inches). Its center of gravity also is higher.

Both drivers have a 70-gram, X-flex Fubuki Prototype shaft from Mitsubishi Rayon.

Technicians in the Callaway tour van refer to Mickelson’s longer driver as “the bomber,” because it goes farther. How much farther? According to Mickelson, it’s 15 to 20 yards.

A 46-inch driver that produces more distance also produces more inconsistency. Augusta National, with its wide fairways, appears to be the perfect course for Mickelson’s two-driver system.

This isn’t the first time Mickelson has carried two drivers in the Masters. He won in 2006 with two Callaway FT-3 drivers in his bag.

During his career, Mickelson’s drivers often have garnered attention. He won his third Masters title in 2010 with a driver that was repaired at Callaway’s Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters (it had a slight fracture in the crown) and overnighted to Augusta before the start of the tournament.

Last week in Houston, he observed a wrinkling pattern in the face of his driver during the first round. Officials ruled the surface flaw did not adversely affect Lefty’s play and would not allow him to replace it during the round. Two identical drivers were hand-delivered the next morning by Callaway’s senior vice president of research and development, Alan Hocknell, who took a red-eye flight from San Diego. Mickelson used one of those drivers to shoot 63-65 on the weekend and win his 39th PGA Tour event.

The Razr Hawk Prototype is one of three different members of the Razr Hawk family. The other two are the Razr Hawk and the Razr Hawk Tour. All three are constructed with a body made of Forged Composite (a lightweight yet very strong carbon product) and a face made of titanium. Slight differences among the three can be found in clubhead size, CG location and club length.

Bending these clubheads takes skill. The loft is measured on a digital loft and lie machine. Mickelson’s bomber driver was 5.9 degrees when he brought it to the Callaway tour van and requested a bend to 6.2 degrees.

The club was gingerly altered to 6.3 degrees, where it remained.

Mickelson explanation of how he made room for the second driver was straightforward: “I won’t need a 3-iron or a hybrid, so the longest iron I’ll have is a 4-iron. Really, into the par 5s and the par 3s, I won’t need anything more than a 4-iron.”

At Houston, he carried a 3-iron. This week at Augusta, the 3-iron is out and the second driver is in.

The Mickelson two-driver strategy focuses particularly on the par-5 8th hole. If he is able to carry the single fairway bunker, “probably a 5- or 6-iron is feasible (for the second shot).”

One final note about Mickelson and his driver adventures: If any PGA Tour player wants to replace a driver damaged during the normal course of play, he must convince an official that the performance of the club has been altered.

“I am intimately familiar with it (any scenario involving a cracked driver),” said Carter Rich, equipment standards manager for the USGA Test Center. “So is the PGA Tour, because Tour officials were involved in the discussions.

“It happened with Stuart Appleby, and we had to develop a position on it,” Rich explained. “If the player wishes to take it out of play, typically he would want to confer with an official. If the player told the official there was a change in performance, then the official typically would tell the player to go ahead and change drivers.”

Anyway, Mickelson has two drivers to choose from. The strategy worked once, and now he will test it again.

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