RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lexi Thompson caught a flier on the 18th hole. She intended to hit the ball 165 yards, laying up nicely in front of the water hazard. Instead, the ball traveled 200 yards, leaving her an unfortunate pitch shot out of the rough. Thompson’s third strike released hard to the back of the green, 30 feet past the hole.
Nothing about the closing par 5 had gone as planned. But then, a pleasant surprise. Thompson dropped that lengthy birdie bomb and suddenly took the clubhouse lead at the ANA Inspiration. The crowd erupted in delight.
“I get chills every time,” said Thompson of birdieing the final hole at Dinah’s Place. For a woman who putted so poorly one week ago, it must feel like the heavens have opened.
“It’s a dramatic change,” said Thompson of the rise in confidence since switching to the Cure Putter earlier this week.
Stacy Lewis knows the feeling. She had a similar honeymoon period with the Happy Putter last month at the JTBC Founders Cup. Happy Putter inventor Vikash Sanyal told Lewis he has a theory about new putters. The first day or two with any new putter usually feels great because when a person putts with the same club for a long time, their eyes get lazy.
“If you’re looking at something different,” Lewis said, “you get focused a little bit more.”
Both Lewis and Thompson posted 68s in the second round of ANA. Thompson’s 7-under 137 gave her a share of the lead with Ai Miyazato. Lizette Salas, Sung Hyun Park, In Gee Chun and Lee-Anne Pace are all one behind. Lewis is three back at 4-under 140.
Lewis first started talking to Sanyal in Canada last August. She thought there were too many colors on the old Happy Putter.
“What do you want?” Sanyal asked her.
He came to Naples in November with a putter Lewis had designed. Lewis said Sanyal, who was part of the original team at Odyssey and founder of Never Compromise Golf, learned from Ely Callaway the importance of using players to build a product.
They made some tweaks to her highly adjustable Happy Putter this week, changing the face, the lie and the offset.
“I think alignment is everything in putting,” she said.
With her old TaylorMade putter, Lewis always lined up a tad left and compensated with her stroke. With the Happer Putter, she found herself lining up better, but pushed putts with her old stroke.
“Then I used the Happy Putter for a while and the stroke kind of works itself out,” she said.
To help combat the lazy eyes, Sanyal has a new plan. He sent Lewis two alignment aids that she can pop on her putter to give it a new look.
She took them to the putting green on Friday afternoon but didn’t plan to swap them out just yet.
“His theory is, say you go on the putting green and you just don’t feel quite right over it,” Lewis said, “switch out an alignment aid and it immediately draws your eyes back into it.”
Lewis, a woman with a high golf IQ, enjoys testing new equipment and theories.
“I’m always about trying to get better,” she said.