WHO: Phil Mickelson
WHAT: 30' 7" par putt
WHERE: 202-yard par-3 12th hole at Pebble Beach
WHEN: Final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
In the final round, Mickelson was paired alongside Tiger Woods. When they teed off at 12, Mickelson was leading the field by a couple of shots and he was five ahead of Woods. Mickelson hit a poor tee shot that landed 26 yards short of the hole and in thick rough, while Woods hit into a greenside bunker. After Mickelson hit a weak pitch to 30' 7" from the hole, Woods holed his bunker shot for a birdie. Suddenly, Woods, who had played poorly to that point, had life, and it looked like Woods would cut his deficit to three strokes. But Mickelson holed his putt and took the wind right out of Tiger's sails.
Mickelson's putt was the type of in-your-face reply that Woods used to routinely deliver to opponents. Three holes later, at 15, Mickelson holed another par bomb (38'3"), and he cruised to victory from there. On both par putts, Mickelson wasn't trying to make them. He just wanted to start the putts on line and put good rolls on them. Holing the putts was a bonus.
THE DRILL: When working on long putts, most golfers make the same big mistake. They drop three balls 30 feet from a hole, hit the balls and miss all three putts. Then they go to another hole and do the same thing. Soon, they've missed nine straight putts and their confidence is gone. They've done nothing but reinforce failure.
Here's a good way to practice long putting and develop feel. Take 10 balls and stand on the fringe of a putting green. Then walk 10 feet into the green and put a tee in the ground. Now walk another 20 feet in so you're 30 feet from the edge of the green. Put down the balls, and try to putt all 10 balls so they stop between the tee and the edge of the green, but putt with the following pattern. Hit the first ball as close to the edge of the green as possible. Hit the second ball just short of the first ball. Then hit the third ball just short of the second ball. Follow that pattern for all 10 balls, making sure that the 10th ball stops between the tee and the edge of the green. If any ball goes past the ball at which you're aiming, you have to start over.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Adams teaches at the Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla.