Phil Mickelson has established a tradition of Tuesday practice matches to give major preparations a competitive edge

Phil Mickelson’s tradition of playing an all-American fourball match on the Tuesday prior to a major championship continued at Whistling Straits yesterday, when the veteran American teamed up with fellow Californian Rickie Fowler to take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

On this occasion Spieth and Thomas – whose combined age is 44, a year younger than Mickelson – prevailed by a score of 1 up.

“It was an exciting match and there were a lot of birdies,” Spieth, 22, told the Golf Channel after their round. “I think as a best-ball team we were 11 or 12 under par, and they were 10 or 11 under, so it was a great match. We had a good time, and we kept Phil quiet through most of the match, which was kind of the goal.

“You can feel the nerves at the end of the round because we don’t want to hand over to those guys whatever it is we are playing for, so there are nerves because of the bragging rights and because the shots mean something, and it is nice to get in some shots that matter ahead of the tournament, rather than just hitting shots into the middle of the greens and rolling putts up to the hole. We have to step up and hit some shots and zero in on the pin and it is good preparation for everybody, and that is why Phil gets the games together.”

Mickelson is a notorious trash talker in these friendly games, but Spieth said he and Thomas let their golf do their talking.

“Phil doesn’t like it when you’re quiet,” said Spieth. “He likes it when you are giving it back to him because then he knows he’s bothering you. The best thing is to stay quiet and focused and that is what we did and we teamed up nicely.”

Fowler concurred on the value of the fourball matches: “The Tuesday games are great for everyone involved, whether you play well or not. It gives you an idea of where your game is and let’s you know what needs to be worked on or tightened up for the week.

“It is fun and we talk a lot of trash out there. We have a good time, a lot of good laughs, nothing too serious. It’s always fun to roll in putts on the other guys.”

 Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, the Official Car of the 2015 PGA Championship.