Phil Mickelson has long been hosting “Tuesdays with Phil” money matches the week of a major. This Tuesday was no different, as “Lefty” and Rickie Fowler took on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas for bragging rights and a handful of $100 bills in a practice round at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where the PGA Championship tees off Thursday.
Spieth, the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion, had joked he was going have his U.S. Open trophy flown in so he could sit it on the front of each green to taunt Mickelson, a six-time U.S. Open runner-up and notorious trash talker.
“it’s the first time I have something on him,” Spieth, 22, said.
While Spieth didn’t actually bring his U.S. Open trophy to Tuesday’s match, Mickelson, 45, had already prepared his comeback for it.
In a video clip posted on Twitter by Golf Channel, Mickelson said “I left mine in the locker room here.
Spieth: “Your U.S. Open trophy?”
Mickelson: “No, my Wanamaker from ’05.”
Mickelson was referring to the Wanamaker Trophy that’s awarded to the winner of the PGA Championship, a major Spieth has yet to win.
Spieth and Thomas won Tuesday’s match, but just barely. Spieth thought his approach to No. 18 clinched the match, but Fowler drained a 35-foot birdie putt, forcing Spieth to make birdie. He did so and then turned and bowed to Mickelson.
“Kept Phil quiet most of the day, which is kind of cool,” Spieth said with a smile.
Spieth said he tried to limit his trash talk with Mickelson.
“He doesn’t like it if you’re quiet,” Spieth said. “If you give it back to him, that’s when he knows it is bothering you.”
Spieth and Thomas shot 12-under par in the two-man scramble, with Mickelson and Fowler at 11-under.
“I don’t know if I speak for anybody else, but you could feel the nerves at the end of that round,” Spieth said. “Because you don’t want to have to hand those guys whatever we play for.”
PUTT FOR DOUGH — Mark Calcavechhia can relate to Spieth. The former British Open champion told ESPN.com earlier this year that he’s felt more pressure in Mickelson’s money matches than in most PGA Tour events:
“I’ve been more nervous on the last hole trying not to lose two or three hundred bucks to Phil or Dustin (Johnson) or whoever than I have been on the last hole standing over a putt for $20,000.”
TAMING TIGER — Tiger Woods took on Mickelson only once in a money match, at the 1998 Nissan Open, and got smoked. Mickelson then put photocopies of Tiger’s $100 bills in Woods’ locker with a note that read, “Just wanted you to know Benji and his friends are very happy in their new home.”
WORKING WATNEY — When Nick Watney lost $1,000 to Mickelson in a money match at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews, he counted out the cash on the 18th green and handed it over with a word of congratulations.
Mickelson grabbed the stack of cash, gave it a quick glance and handed it right back.
“This is Britain,” he told Watney. “I need pounds.”
Watney stared at him, hoping it was a joke. It wasn’t. He had no choice but to pay Mickelson $1,700 to satisfy the currency exchange. “They’ve asked me to play again,” Watney told ESPN.com with a slight smile. “And now I just say ‘(bleep) you’ and walk away.”
WATCH YOUR STEP — When Rory McIlroy, returning from an ankle injury, walked down some steps to join Phil’s game at the seventh hole, Mickelson told him, “Careful going down that slope. I don’t want you to hurt your ankle.”
McIlroy, 26, shot back, “It’s OK, Phil. Joints aren’t quite as old as yours.”