Mickelson, noted for taking young players under his wing, as he did with Bradley when the New England native was a 2011 newbie, invited the 20-year-old Spieth to join him for a Wednesday practice game ahead of this week’s Tour Championship. Such pre-tourney rounds are renowned for the significant coinage at stake and because, as the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson noted, Lefty enjoys preparing youngsters for the pressures that mount when things “really matter.”
Bradley was the new kid on the block when Mickelson brought the graduate of Hopkinton, Mass., high and St. John’s University into the fold. The former junior ski champion from Vermont flourished under the tutelage of his mentor, capturing the PGA Championship and rookie of the year honors two years ago, and going on to partner with the popular southpaw for a 3-0 record as a team in the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Mickelson was going to ask Spieth into the money game before last week’s BMW Championship, Ferguson reported, but when the reigning British Open champion arrived late to the third of four FedExCup playoff tourneys, the outing was postponed until Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.
Spieth and tour veteran Steve Stricker, ranked 13th and sixth, respectively, to start this week’s FedExCup finale in Atlanta, took on Mickelson (No. 8) and Bradley (16th) and, according to Ferguson, Spieth and Stricker dismantled their opponents.
Which, Ferguson observed, raised an intriguing situation. If word of the drubbing makes its way back to the skipper of this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team, might captain Fred Couples send Spieth out next month with Tiger Woods’ perennial partner in team play, the 46-year-old Stricker?