Beefy boys will power to the top, says Mickelson

PHIL MICKELSON and Tiger Woods believe it is inevitable, simply a by-product of evolution.

Arron Oberholser, with his breakthrough PGA Tour victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday, proved it is not a significant factor on layouts where positioning of the ball is paramount.

The subject in question is the power game, which has become a major talking point on the 2006 PGA Tour with players such as Bubba Watson and Phoenix Open champion JB Holmes muscling their way into the spotlight.

Is it a good thing? The fans certainly seem to think so and have flocked in their droves this season to watch Watson and Holmes power the ball in excess of 320 yards off the tee.

USPGA champion Mickelson, a beefy hitter himself, senses that driver and golf ball technology has probably reached its limit.

“We’re to the point now where the strength of the player is going to be the deciding factor,” he said at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

“The equipment is to the edge and the overall distance for the golf ball has been capped. The only way to hit the ball further is through pure strength.

“I think we’re seeing the transition with the Bubba Watsons and the J.B. Holmes and some of these other long players.

“Another four, five years, we’ll probably have guys flying 360, 370 (yards) with no different equipment than we have today. It’s all down to just pure strength.”

Mickelson believes long drive champions will eventually flourish on the regular tour.

“The guys that meet in these long drive tournaments, they are going to be winning tournaments on the PGA Tour,” he said.

“If you take their length and bring it to our tour and those players chip and putt well and hit a few solid iron shots too, that’s where it’s heading.”

World number one Woods agrees the future of the game will be dominated by power hitters.

“The guys are going to be longer, bigger, more athletic,” he said. “I’m only six foot. Wait until guys who come out here are six-foot five, six-foot six that have the skills to play the game of golf and have the speed.

“It’ll be truly remarkable to see how far they can hit it, and it will also be controllable. They’ll have the mental aptitude to play.”

For Ryder Cup player Chris DiMarco, the best counter is to strengthen golf courses in strategic ways.

“I think we’re going the wrong way with just making courses longer,” he said. “By lengthening courses, you’re just making it better and easier for the bombers.

“I think if you look at Vijay (Singh), Tiger, Phil and their driving accuracy last year, I don’t think they cared much about it. They knew they could hit a wedge out of the rough on to the green.

“Being in the fairway is not a prime thing any more. It’s not a very important thing. It is for me, but it isn’t for them.”

The three venues for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on California’s picturesque Monterey Peninsula, all under 6,900 yards, provided a much more sensible challenge for DiMarco.

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