Calling them an open secret would mistakenly characterize them as a secret. But now the five-time major winner is offering details.
Speaking on a Golf.com podcast, Mickelson recounted the following tale from a Tuesday at The Players Championship, when he and Rickie Fowler took on Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley. And this story is exactly the reason you never want to play Mickelson for money.
Take it away, Phil:
“Now Keegan is about ready to bow out of these games because he’s never won. It’s been a year and a half and he’s paid every time. And it gets demoralizing. So he’s like, ‘If I don’t win today, I’m out. … This is the day. This is the day I’m going to win.’
“Fast forward to the 12th green. Keegan and I have about a 16-footer and 14-footer, and I’m away. Now they’re 2 up. They’re 2 up. And as I’m standing over this putt, I back away, and I say, ‘Oh my goodness, this putt is the entire match.’
“And Keegan bit, and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, how so?’ which is what I was hoping he would say.
“And I said, ‘Well, if I miss, you’re going to make your putt. You have momentum, you’re going to make it, and you’re going to be 3 up with six to go, and you guys are going to win. But if I make it, you’re going to quick-peel yours low side. You’re going to be so pissed off, you and Brendan are going to give us a hole. Next thing you know, we’re going to be tied, Rickie and I are going to have momentum, we’re going to make a birdie or two coming in, probably beat you, 2 and 1.
“So I knock it in. I knock it in. And of either side he could have missed it on, he missed it low side. He quick-peeled it low side. Now they’re so pissed off, they both bogey the next hole, and we get that hole and now we’re tied. So Rickie and I birdie 15, 16 and 17, and win, 2 and 1.
“And I just chuckle about the story every time I hear it, because it’s just funny. And I don’t care about the money. I just love being able to – and I give him smack about this every time I see him. “
Thereafter, Mickelson says that Bradley took a one-year sabbatical from the Tuesday game but eventually came back, won some matches, and is no longer “totally defeated.”