SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Phil Mickelson has made Tuesdays on the PGA Tour a lot more fun. His Tuesday game — typically, a fourballs match for undisclosed, relatively modest stakes — has become an event.
“Sometimes the matches are set up months in advance, even a year in advance,” said Rickie a Mercedes-Benz ambassador, in a Tuesday interview.
The matches are tweeted live by media, and the results are often just as much a point of intrigue in the participants’ news conferences as is their pre-tournament preparation.
It’s been a chance for Mikelson to give a golden tap of the shoulder to players he believes will assume his place as future leaders of the PGA Tour. It’s an affirmation of talent and potential, Mickelson’s chance to impart a little wisdom and have a good game at the same time.
“We have a great time with the matches,” said Fowler. “It’s a good chance to see where the game’s at, talk a little trash and have some fun.”
The Game has become a common part of prep for guys like Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson, who have all become somewhat regulars in the rotating cast of characters. When Justin Thomas got the call to play in The Game for the second time ahead of this week’s PGA Championship, it was a show of confidence that the hard-swinging rookie may have a special week ahead of him.
However, at 45, Phil Mickelson is no spring chicken. Without a PGA Tour win in more than two years, his last major title at the 2013 Open Championship, Mickelson is, to paraphrase Rory McIlroy, late in the back nine of his career. That means the days of Mickelson hand-picking players for his Tuesday Game will someday end. Never fear. The Tuesday Game is evolving.
“Most of the time Phil is the organizer,” Fowler said. “But we’re starting to organize some stuff on our own.”
Fowler added, “There’s definitely been a few B-matches here and there.”
Of course, don’t take this to mean there’s some Don Corleone stuff going on here. It’s still Phil’s game. But the guys that Phil has tapped to make these matches unique and intriguing are the ones who are going to keep it going. Given Mickelson’s effort to mentor young players, particularly American players, in team matches for the better part of a decade, it sounds like this evolution is exactly what the five-time major winner wanted.