NORTON, Mass. -- Keegan Bradley doesn't look like the pied piper.
But in a reverse twist, the PGA Tour rookie is ... corrupting his elders, who are following him in famous droves.
Two of the most decorated stars in the game, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson, credited the reigning PGA Championship winner with helping them understand the tricky subtleties of the belly putter, which Mickelson put in his bag for the first time Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"I think that any way Phil putts, he'd make anything," Bradley said Friday. "But it's really an honor to have Phil talk to me about anything in terms of the game. I even hesitate saying anything to him because he's one of my heroes."
Even heroes take an occasional fall.
Lefty needed a bandage for his ailing putting stroke, and after using the longer belly model intermittently during his pro-am on Thursday, Mickelson left his short putter in the locker room and went with the controversial belly at TPC Boston, where he finished with a 1-under 71.
He certainly had moments of both competence and confidence, mixed with some deserved consternation.
Mickelson birdied the first two holes from just beyond 8 feet, and made a couple of par-saving putts from 5 and 6 feet on the back nine. Yet he also missed birdie attempts from 10 and 11 feet later in the round, which included a three-putt from the fringe on the third hole.
He had 29 putts in all, which put him in the middle of the 98-player pack at T52 when he finished, but indicated it's going to remain in the bag -- at least for now.
"I got off to a great start with it," he said. "I though it went welll and I feel that I probably putted better with that putter than I would be with the short putter, so I will end up using it for the rest of the tournament, I would anticipate.
"I don't know if it is a short-term or long-term thing, but it looks pretty good. I feel pretty good with it. I felt like I wa starting them on line and I've got to get comfortable with the speed and so forth, which is a little different, but ... right now it feels pretty good."
So, while the reviews were rather tempered, some think the belly might be just the tonic for Lefty's increasingly twitchy touch. Longtime tour swing coach and television analyst Peter Kostis, watching the Deutsche telecast from home, called the belly model "perfect" for Mickelson's putting stroke.
With the butt of the club anchored in his abdomen, Mickelson can't extend or shorten his arms at the elbows on the backswing or after impact. The club swings like a perfect pendulum, like a weight attached to the end of a string.
"That's what's been missing in his stroke, in my opinion," Kostis said.
Mickelson also spent time with his new golf psychologist, Julie Elion, on the putting green before the round, so he is clearly looking for answers to questions. Since winning the Masters last year, he has one victory in the ensuing 17 months.
Mickelson had a difficult time explaining how, or if, the belly is better suited to his stroke. It's only been in the bag for a matter of hours.
"I honestly don't know, I haven't spent enough time with it," he said. "The guys who have used it for a long time, Brendan Steele, Keegan Bradley has putted very well with it, Martin Laird, Webb Simpson, whose guys know a lot more about it, the intricacies of it, but it felt good. I enjoyed it. I had fun today."
Mickelson said there was some awkwardness, since he has putted with his hands ahead slightly ahead of the ball at address and impact for most of his career.
"You can't forward press," he said. "It just passes my hands, so it's a different stroke, so that's probably why it's a little bit more awkward at first for me because I am used to keeping the hands ahead and this time the club is passing my hands."
The ranks of the belly converts continue to swell. One group ahead of Mickelson, potential Presidents Cup player Bill Haas used a belly putter for the third tournament of his career, and second in succession.