More from Muirfield
Pettersson’s putter: Carl Pettersson’s golf bag was a little bit lighter. And the burly Swede didn’t stand quite so tall Thursday in the British Open.
All because of his putter.
Pettersson has used a long putter that he anchors to his chest since he was in college at North Carolina State. For the first time in a major — for the first time that it really mattered — he switched to a conventional putter on Thursday at Muirfield.
“Putted nice,” Pettersson said without even being asked a question.
The USGA and R&A adopted a new rule in May that will ban the anchored stroke starting in 2016. Pettersson was among those who were strongly opposed to the rule, and he was one of the players singled out as how the ban might affect a career. The broom-handled putter is all he has used as a pro. He has put in thousands upon thousands of hours practicing with it. But he also realizes change is coming.
Pettersson used what he called a “split claw” grip, in which the bottom of the putter handle near the shaft rests between his right thumb and forefinger.
Ode to the 2-iron: Dustin Johnson wasn’t tempted by the firm links of Muirfield to make any changes in his bag, such as putting in a 2-iron instead of a 5-wood. That 2-iron appears to be gone for good.
The last time Johnson said he had a 2-iron in his bag was Sunday afternoon at Royal St. George’s in the 2011 British Open. He was challenging for the lead on the par-5 14th hole when he tried to lay up with a 2-iron and it sailed way to the right, out-of-bounds. He never recovered, finishing runner-up by three shots behind Darren Clarke.
That shot stuck with him.
Johnson believes if he had hit a 5-wood, even with a poor swing he wouldn’t have lost as much to the right. Besides, he tried out the 2-iron on a Trackman radar device and found it only goes about 7 yards longer than his 2-iron.
“I tried a 2-iron on the range and it lasted for about five minutes,” he said.
The real difference, though, was Royal St. George’s. That was the last time he hit one in competition.
“And it will never go back in,” Johnson said. “If I wouldn’t have had one in there, it might have been a different story.”
Spieth rolls on: The last five days must feel like a blur to 19-year-old Jordan Spieth. He won the John Deere Classic on Sunday for his first professional win, which qualified him for the British Open. He flew on a charter to Scotland. He saw Muirfield for the first time. And then he went out Thursday and had one of only 13 rounds in the 60s.
Perhaps even more impressive is that Spieth had only one bogey, dropping a shot on the par-3 fourth hole. He birdied two of the par 5s and added another birdie on the short par-4 third hole. The kid loves to play poker to relax. This feels like house money. Remember, he started the season without status on any tour and now has a PGA Tour title, an exemption through 2015 on tour, a spot in the next two majors and World Golf Championships and over $2 million.
“There’s even less pressure than there was before,” Spieth said. “I kind of accomplished more than I’d thought possible this year. I just wanted to get my card for next year. Now it’s just really exciting. ... I didn’t think it would happen this soon. But on the course, I was plenty confident to go out there and do it.”