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Justin Thomas pulls Phil Mickelson prank on fans after team dinner in Atlanta

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Phil Mickelson is likely to miss his first Ryder Cup since making his debut in 1995, but that doesn’t mean Justin Thomas can’t have a little fun at Lefty’s expense.

Speaking this week on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Thomas recounted a story from last week’s U.S. team dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta, where afterward Thomas decided to play a joke on some unsuspecting fans who were waiting outside another of the hotel’s restaurants.

As Thomas tells it, he, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa were walking down the stairs after eating with the rest of U.S. automatic qualifiers and captains when they passed the group of about six people, who instantly recognized the Tour trio, saying to the pros, “Good luck this week, guys.”

That’s when Thomas decided to pull the prank. Having passed the group but still within earshot, Thomas said aloud to DeChambeau and Morikawa, “I can’t believe we’re picking Phil! What do you guys think about that?”

“Me being just a typical -- just someone who always has to just mess with people, I couldn’t help myself,” Thomas said. “I said it loud enough for them to hear … and all six of them turned around and looked at us, and I’m like, I really hope that that’s on the internet by tomorrow. I couldn’t help it; it was just sitting on a tee for me and I couldn’t let it go.”

U.S. captain Steve Stricker will formally announce his six picks Wednesday morning at Whistling Straits.