Mickelson playing HSBC with TaylorMade 3-wood

Phil Mickelson has a TaylorMade Rocketballz 3-wood in play at the HSBC Champions.

Phil Mickelson has a TaylorMade Rocketballz 3-wood in play at the HSBC Champions.

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Phil Mickelson is playing the HSBC Champions in China with a TaylorMade Rocketballz 3-wood. This was confirmed Friday morning by Callaway, Mickelson’s golf club sponsor, and by TaylorMade.

Although all the Rocketballz 3-woods sold at retail have a white head, this one is painted black. Mickelson spoke about how the equipment change fits his game better this week at Mission Hills Golf Club's Olazabal Course.

“When I come over here, a lot of times I’m not able to hit driver and I’m right in between clubs,” Mickelson said. “And our 3-wood and driver weren’t ready, so they let me use a different club, which is why I love my relationship with Callaway. They want me to play whatever I have to play my best.”

Officials at TaylorMade headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., confirmed Mickelson’s use of the club, but didn’t know the loft.

Harry Arnett, Callaway’s senior vice president of marketing, did not attempt to hide Mickelson’s flirtation with a competitor’s 3-wood.

“Phil said Mission Hills isn’t a course where he can use driver at all,” Arnett said. “He wanted to play a high COR fairway wood there, so he asked to play one of our prototypes, but unfortunately we are not ready to launch this product yet. Our primary interest is supporting our players, so we told him to play whatever he wanted until he thinks we have the best possible product for him, which we believe we will have very soon. This is pretty much standard operating procedure for us.

“Not well known to many is that Phil has one of the most flexible equipment contracts of any top player and has played other equipment from time to time during his relationship with us, and is well within his right to do so.”

Many PGA Tour players have equipment contracts allowing them to use one, two or three clubs from competing manufacturers.

Mickelson said he still is carrying a driver at the HSBC Champions, in which he trails co-leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood by three strokes entering the final round, and he will keep driver in his bag next week for the Barclays Singapore Open.

“This is a little bit bigger course than some of the ones we're used to," Mickelson said. "We have some holes we can hit driver here. But usually when I go to Singapore next week, the fairways cut in, and I’m not able to hit driver and I’m always stuck in between the two.”

Alex Miceli contributed

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