Mickelson talks wedges at TPC Scottsdale

Phil Mickelson

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Here at frosty TPC Scottsdale, Phil Mickelson, aka Wedge Man, was holding court.

Fascinating stuff. The master tossed out a few nuggets of wedge wisdom, and they were immediately snatched up by the quick and the curious.

First, Mickelson revealed he is a better wedge player because he is using a different ball this year. He has gone soft, playing the Callaway Tour i(s). He called it “Callaway’s version of a very high-spin golf ball” and added, “It helped me last week at Torrey (the Farmers Insurance Open, held at San Diego’s Torrey Pines, where he finished second), and it’s going to help me this week as well.”

Why does he like a soft ball, particularly in cold weather?

“When it gets cold, the ball doesn’t compress as well, and when it hits the face, the face actually moves, and the misses get exaggerated, and this golf ball doesn’t do that. This golf ball compresses very easily, so I hit it a lot straighter in cold conditions.”

Mickelson talked about his wedge practice sessions, in which he follows the advice of instructor Dave Pelz.

“We don’t work with technique, we work on how to practice. When we work, we’re building a foundation that carries over to the golf course. For instance, I do a towel drill where I try to fly my irons a specific yardage, and I hit 1,500 balls a month to those specific yardages and have for the last seven years.

“So when I get a wedge shot like No. 18 (at Torrey Pines) that’s 72 yards and my towel drill number is 75, I only have to alter it three yards to get it to fly to my number. And over seven years of doing this, I can usually fly it within a yard 95 percent of the time.”

He needed to sink that 72-yard shot to tie Bubba Watson. He came close, but lost the title to Watson by a stroke.

Mickelson also is using an unusual wedge configuration – 52, 60 and 64 degrees – although nobody questions Lefty when it comes to wedges. The gap between 52 and 60 is greater than most players can comfortably handle.

Finally, Mickelson revealed one of his career goals. Normally he doesn’t talk much about goals, but here he was, taking a long-term perspective.

“Well, I don’t really like to share goals too publicly, but one goal that I will share is I think there’s a magic number about 50 wins. I’m 12 away. I really think that’s an attainable goal and maybe in a short period of time.”

That’s Phil, who at 40 is still totally captivated by the Thrill.

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