EDISON, N.J. -- Phil Mickelson sometimes finds the urge to stand on the soapbox to be a bit irresistible.
Exactly one year ago at The Barclays, for instance, he lobbied for a rule change after Jim Furyk was disqualified for being late for his pro-am tee time, and the bylaws were actually modified in short order thereafter.
So when Mickelson was asked for his views on the belly putter, which has become a major PGA Tour talking point after three consecutive events have been won by players using longer-shafted models, the tendency was for listeners to duck. Mickelson, somewhat remarkably, said he doesn’t have any major objection to the long-putter devices, which are anchored to the abdomen or across the chest as a means of steadying the putting stroke.
But once he got rolling, it was trademark Lefty.
"I think that there's more to it than just starting the ball online and putting," Mickelson said Tuesday. "You have to read the green correctly. You have to start the ball online, which the belly putter I think really helps, but you also have to have the right speed.
"If it were going to be banned, it should have happened 20-plus years ago. But now that it's been legal, I don't think you can make it retroactive. There have been guys that have been working with that putter for years if not decades. I just don't believe that it should even be a consideration."
Mickelson paused, then said that given the unpredictable nature of the game's two rulemaking bodies these days, he has no idea what happens next. So in that regard, he's like the rest of us.
"Having said that, we've been retroactive on grooves," he said. "We've outlawed the paddle grip, for crying out loud. I don't know why -- that was legal for three decades. So I don't know what the process is, but I think it's very unfair to let guys play with it competitively for however many years and then try to take it away."
Mickelson also fired a clear shot across the bow of Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, who must make two at-large picks to the American team next month. One of them is presumed to be Tiger Woods, but Mickelson lobbied hard for the inclusion of Keegan Bradley, a two-time winner as a rookie this season.
Bradley won the PGA Championship two weeks ago, the season's final major, in his first career Grand Slam appearance.
"This is his first year, meaning he was not allowed to make Presidents Cup points [in 2010], and he's had arguably the best year for any U.S. player," Mickelson said. "I think he needs to be a pick if he doesn't get on it on his own."