A year ago at The Barclays, Phil Mickelson briefly experimented with the belly putter just two weeks after friend and mentee Keegan Bradley became the first to win a major championship with it.
This week at Bethpage Black in the same event, Mickelson has gone to the claw grip for the second time in a little over a month.
Mickelson was seen using the grip on Sunday in the final round of the FedEx Cup playoff opener. The grip, made famous by the likes of Chris DiMarco, creates a pendulum-like effect with the lower hand controlling the movement of the club while the top hand acts as a pivot point. The grip is typically employed to help to steady the hands on short putts.
The four-time major winner briefly fiddled with the grip during last month’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
The lefty could very well be experimenting while he struggles to score better, or he could be making yet another not-so-subtle statement about the Rules of Golf and equipment regulation.
The governing bodies of the game are thought to have authored a ban on the anchored putting stroke, to be announced this Fall, which would effectively make use of the belly and long putter obsolete. The claw grip, however, can be construed as a similar stroke – without the club being anchored to any part of the body. Mickelson may be curious how the stroke would be viewed under an anchoring ban.
When the game’s governing bodies implemented new regulations on golf club grooves in 2010, Mickelson put a PING wedge in his bag that had been grandfathered legality as a result of a lawsuit won by the equipment maker against the U.S. Golf Association. Not too long after Mickelson used that wedge in play, Karsten Manufacturing, the U.S. Golf Association and the PGA Show came to a settlement to prohibit use of that wedge.