The ‘firing’ lesson Phil Mickelson learned from Tom Brady at Augusta

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson hits a putt on Tuesday on the 3rd hole at Torrey Pines during practice for the U.S. Open.

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Phil Mickelson, a little while before the second Match just over a year ago, held out his phone in his right hand and filmed himself outside the Medalist Golf Club talking “bombs” and “hellacious seeds.” He’d post the video to Twitter, and it has nearly 40,000 likes. 

His partner in the event was also in the parking lot. 

“You know, I got to tell people, man: This dude played 18 holes this morning, and he was working out,” basketball hall of famer turned Match analyst Charles Barkley said on the TNT broadcast. “He was running, doing wind sprints and jumping jacks in the parking lot. Anybody got that type of dedication, I’m not betting against them.”  

Turns out Tom Brady works out at other private golf clubs, too. 

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Augusta National, it seems, has a gym. 

“So I’ve been fortunate to spend time with him, and when I’m around him, I learn a lot,” Mickelson said Monday ahead of this week’s U.S. Open. “I learn a lot by just watching and observing the dedication, the hard work. When we would go play at Augusta and he’d stay at the cottages, he’d would be up hours before we played. He would go to the gym and do a bunch of band work for an hour just getting his shoulders and knees and hips and everything firing and activated.

“He’s very disciplined in what he eats and recovery and taking the time to do the right things after the round and so forth. It’s inspiring to see, because when you see somebody do it and do what he’s doing, which is play football at the highest level at an age that really nobody else has ever done it, it’s inspiring, and it’s motivating. When you see it happen, it’s much easier to do.”

Indeed. Nine months and one NFL season after that Match, Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl, and first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He became, too, at 43, the oldest quarterback to win the Lombardi Trophy. Then, about three years months after the Super Bowl, and a year after that Match, Mickelson won this year’s PGA Championship. At 50, he is now the oldest to ever win a major championship. 

In three weeks, the two will pair up again when they face Bryson DeChambeau and another quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, at the Match 4. Their first time together, against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning, Brady hooked his tee on 1 shot, split the backside of his pants after a hole-out for eagle on 7 and entered the back nine with Mickelson down three. He’d rally in the second half. They’d lose only 1-down. 

“So he played really well the back nine, and when we’ve played, he plays a lot better than what you saw on the front,” Mickelson said Monday. “He just hadn’t been playing at that time so his game wasn’t sharp, and he just didn’t quite have it that day. It almost made him more human because he excels at everything he does. To see him struggle like that was very humanizing, I thought. I thought it was a good thing.

“Then the back nine, he kind of clutched up and played and hit some shots, and we made a good move at it and ended up losing 1-up. The way he can mentally slow down when things aren’t going well and process it and then start to perform is another trait that you learn from him.”

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor