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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Phil’s Detour – How Mickelson dominated his first PGA Tour Champions event

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After missing the cut at 2020’s first FedEx Cup Playoff event at TPC Boston, Phil Mickelson decided to make a quick detour to Ozark National to play his first-ever tournament on the PGA Tour Champions.

A course that fits Mickelson’s style of hitting high bombs, Ozark National features generous fairways and is a shorter track compared to those seen on the PGA Tour. Mickelson was able to hit less than driver on many holes and keep the ball in play. He jumped out to a hot start with a sizzling 61 that included a bogey on the only green he missed.

Speaking of keeping it in play, Mickelson hit an impressive 75 percent of his fairways for the week. In previous articles, we have covered that fairways do not necessarily translate to better scores. However, if you can translate those fairways into greens in regulation, it will. Greens Hit is the best ‘traditional’ statistic in terms of correlation to scoring. Over the three days at Ozark National, Mickelson was able to hit more than 87 percent of the greens. This included 17/18 greens in round one and 16/18 on day three.

In addition to fairways, another way to make it easier to hit the green is to hit it farther off the tee. In general, the closer you are to the green, the better chance you have of hitting the green. Mickelson’s patented “high bombs” enabled him to average 323 yards for the week (on measured holes). This average would be good on the PGA Tour, but it’s outstanding on the senior circuit. Mickelson’s length and the offseason work he has put in to increase his swing speed paid off with the ability to drive key par 4s and shortening par 3s. This included driving the par-4 fifth during the final round and nearly acing the long 12th during the second round.

Using V1 Game’s “Hole by Hole” review, we can see that these two tee shots gained 0.83 and 1.34 strokes respectively. Great shots, to be certain—particularly when you take into account that Mickelson felt like he miss-hit the drive that hit the green on the par 4 and needed only an 8-iron to stuff it from 200-plus yards on the par 3. High bombs indeed.

Mickelson was able to do something this week that he has struggled to do on the PGA Tour this season: play mistake-free golf. Using V1 Game’s Virtual Coach, we can see that he maximized his potential in all three rounds, avoiding the mistakes in our three keys.

Mickelson had just two three-putts on the week. Coincidentally, both came in the final round while he was trying to close out the tournament. He also only had one penalty over the three days. Avoiding scorecard-wrecking mistakes is one of the central keys to scoring at any level and it helped Mickelson coast to a four-shot victory over Tim Petrovic.

Typically, in Ways to Win, we have plenty of advanced metrics such as strokes gained to dive even deeper into the winner’s performance, however tours such as the PGA Tour Champions, LPGA, and Korn Ferry Tours do not utilize the same PGA Tour Shotlink technology as the PGA Tour that allows us to track every shot. V1 Game is equivalent to Shotlink technology for the amateur golfer. So with no Shotlink, this week we captured Mickelson’s data using the simplified V1 Game score entry method. The feature requires minimal input and still provides significant actionable data to help V1 Game users improve.

The biggest takeaway this week is confidence and loving the game not only makes it more enjoyable but improves performance. Mickelson likely went into the week with confidence that he should be the best player on this tour and he legitimately enjoyed his time playing against some of the game’s greatest champions. V1 Game can highlight your weaknesses, help you improve, and give you the confidence to get more enjoyment out of your golf.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Devin

    Aug 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Nice V1 ad

  2. Roy

    Aug 27, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    He dominated by playing a shorter course with less rough and trouble than he has for the last 30 years….

  3. Benny

    Aug 27, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    No way is it “easy”. These Champs will smoke any of us on any track. That means anyone reading this boys. I know you may think your +3 index is good but the Sr PGA will still make you look like a fool.
    Phil made short work of the tourney but and hopefully gives him some serious confidence with the majors!

    • Roy

      Aug 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      Easy is a relative term. Easy to a PGA tour player, not easy to any of the +3’s here

  4. Speedy

    Aug 27, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Easy pickings for Phil. Setups are usually tame on the old boys tour. Semi-retirement.

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Flatstick Focus

Flatstick Focus: Interview with Joe Legendre – Legend Golf Company

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In Episode 26 Glenn is back and we interview the owner of Legend Golf Company, Joe Legendre.

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole Episode 141: The (golf) show must go on!

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Host Michael Williams has breaking news on The PGA Merchandise Show going virtual in 2021 from Marc Simon of PGA Golf Exhibitions. Also features John Buboltz with the latest putters and irons from Argolf.

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Opinion & Analysis

Barney Adams: Ball rollback isn’t the right move to combat “The Golfer of Tomorrow”

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The announcing crew at the 2020 U.S. Open seemed obsessed with “the bombers”—players who drove the ball extreme distances with little regard for the occasional tee shot into the rough. TV has selected Bryson DeChambeau as their representative, given his length and victory.

I thought I’d wait a bit to see what the industry sources had to say. I can’t say it’s unanimous, because I haven’t seen everything, but the theme is: “Get Ready for The Golfer of Tomorrow”

  • 350-yard carry
  • Clubhead speed which tears through the rough allowing the ball to launch high and carry to the green
  • The ‘new’ instructor who teaches distance be it ground up or whatever new method is used
  • Gym sessions producing athletes who look more like football players
  • And last, a whole new shelf of steroids for golf

At the same time the USGA and its organizational allies are planning meetings focusing on not if the ball will be rolled back, but when—clearly, influenced by visual evidence from a great Winged Foot course in our national championship.

Let’s look deeper!

A hypothetical: go back a few months. You are on the planning committee for the U.S. Open to be held at Winged Foot, one of America’s great venues. This year because of COVID-19 there will be no galleries, something never experienced at a USGA major golf event. I repeat, your committee is planning for the U.S. Open. That implies “Open Rough” a term that is significant on its own. You don’t play from Open Rough, you escape…maybe.

The nature of Open Rough is a thick chunky base with long tendrils reaching skyward. These make it very difficult to find your ball in the best of circumstances and when attempting to advance these tendrils wrap themselves around your hosel closing the face, sending your ball deeper into hostile territory. That’s if you can even find it, Open rough has “disappeared” many balls over the years and done so within full view of gallery spectators aiding course marshals. The rule of thumb for competitors has always been to find the most reasonable patch of fairway and get out.

But this is the year of COVID-19. No galleries. Marshals, but relatively few because of no galleries. Now, considering that normal U.S. Open rough will produce many searches where marshals are important, the shortage of them will cause endless searches—which don’t make for great TV viewing. So, a decision is made, cut the rough down so shots can be found. Still in the rough but sitting on the chunky base and very often can be played. A tough call for the purist but an objective economic evaluation leaves no choice.

The announcers regale us with astonishing distances and swing speeds that allow escape from Open Rough that used to be impossible! The golf publications jump on this theme and predict that the Golfer of Tomorrow will be “DeChambeau-like” not sweet swingers but physical hulks rewriting the book on distance strongly influenced by no fear of the rough.

My point here is those publications and instructors, jumping on the “longer and slightly crooked is better” bandwagon have added 2+2 and gotten 5 when using the 2020 U.S. Open as a premise.

DeChambeau is a great and powerful player, however, I don’t think he’s known for his putting. Now I may have dozed off but I don’t remember him being widely praised for his putting. He should have been, it was terrific, probably influenced his score! He is our National Champion, an unsurpassable honor. But his style has me betting that the USGA is working on dates to discuss changing the golf ball, as in making it shorter.

I’m 100% against such a move. Golf is a game where amateurs can go to the same course play the same clubs and given a huge difference in skill achieve some measure of affiliation with the pros. A birdie is a birdie, not a long or short ball birdie. From a business perspective, the overwhelming majority of those golfers financially supporting golf are over 50. And we want them to hit it shorter?

Well, Mr. Adams what would you do? I know zero about golf ball manufacturing, but keeping the distance the same I’d change the dimples to increase curvature—just enough so it doesn’t affect slower swings that much but very high swing speeds so it’s in the player’s head

More thoughts. As an admitted TV viewer, get rid of those yardage books. Fine for practice rounds but when the bell rings it should be player and caddie, not an “on green” conference. What’s next, a staff meeting?

I’ll conclude with a note to the PGA Tour and, importantly, an admonition. To the PGA Tour: The minute a tee goes into the ground on #1 every player is on the clock. Stroke penalties, not fines, will get their attention.

To the rest of the golfing world: Let’s not blindly pursue the Golfer of Tomorrow concept without considerably deeper study.

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