LEMONT, ILL. (AP) - Even more surprising than Phil Mickelson using a belly putter at the second stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs was a direct message that showed up during the weekend on Twitter.
“I have a belly putter!”
It came from Brad Faxon, who, when contacted Tuesday in South Korea for confirmation, had just been told by security that he and Jeff Sluman were not allowed to play cribbage in the hotel lobby because it was too close to the casino.
“Can you believe that?” Faxon said.
The ban on cribbage? Sure.
A belly putter for the guy reputed to be among the best in golf with the short stick? Hard to believe.
“I’m dead serious,” Faxon said.
Only a week earlier, he said the belly putter for most people was a “second, third, fourth or last resort” when all else had failed, and that some USGA officials, no doubt, were turning in their graves for not ruling against the concept of anchoring a putter to the body. Faxon then called Paul Vizanko at the Scotty Cameron Putting Studio in California and ordered one.
Before anyone starts looking for dogs and cats to fall from the sky, Faxon said he won’t be using the belly putter on the Champions Tour this week in South Korea or anywhere else in competition. He was simply curious.
“I wanted to see what all the hype was about,” Faxon said.
The belly putter first gained attention when Paul Azinger used one in a seven-shot victory 11 years ago at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The hype to which Faxon refers began last month, when players won three straight PGA Tour events with long putters.
Adam Scott, who in February switched to a long putter that he anchors to his chest, won the World Golf Championship at Firestone. A week later at the PGA Championship, Keegan Bradley (belly) became the first player to win a major using a longer putter. Webb Simpson (belly) won the following week in Greensboro, N.C., and then won again at the TPC Boston.
Maybe it’s more than a fad.
“It’s like the two-handed backhand in tennis,” Faxon said. “Twenty years ago, it was not the norm. Now it’s the better way to go. The belly putter and the long putter are going to trend that way. Young kids are not going to be afraid to switch.”
There have been ample anecdotes about an entire threesome using a long putter. Ian Poulter tweeted that of 10 guys on the practice green in Boston, eight had long putters.