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Masters 2024: The wild story of the 'surgery' Phil Mickelson's driver needed before his 2010 Augusta win

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Phil Mickelson hits a driver during the third round of the 2010 Masters.

Streeter Lecka

If you’re a Phil Mickelson fan and into omens, then you might be rooting for Lefty to damage his driver before this year’s Masters. That’s because the last time that happened to Mickelson, it set off a wild chain of events that ultimately led to his third Masters title.

Although Mickelson is far better known for winning his second Masters in 2006 armed with two drivers in the bag, the tale of his driver in 2010 is far less known, but no less compelling.

Rewind to the week before the Masters in 2010 when Mickelson cracked the carbon-composite shell of his Callaway FT Tour TA driver during the final round of the Shell Houston Open.

Normally replacing a driver is no big deal, but Mickelson wanted that driver and the composite shell made repairing it far more complicated. Making matters more stressful was the fact it wasn’t something that could be done in the tour van at Augusta.

In short, the driver required the golf equipment equivalent of a transplant. Performing the surgery was Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior VP of R&D at the time (the Dr., while ironic, is legit as Hocknell has a Ph.D.). Hocknell retrieved the club Sunday night prior to Masters week and got a text message from Mickelson, who was in Augusta, Monday morning asking, “How bad is it, Doc? Is she gonna make it?”

Hocknell and his team performed, in their words, “an unprecedented repair,” removing the carbon composite body from the clubface while never taking off the Mitsubishi Fubuki shaft in order to ensure the loft and lie remained untouched. “We had never done that before, so everyone was a little nervous,” said Hocknell.

The same weights were inserted in the same location in the new shell before it was bonded to the titanium cup face and the same skid plate added to the sole. The driver was on a plane heading to Augusta by 3:30 that afternoon and delivered to Mickelson on the eighth tee during his Tuesday practice round at Augusta National.

Mickelson used the driver and went on to rank second in the field in distance with a 297.1-yard driving distance average while winning by three shots over Lee Westwood.