The sneaky tactic Xander Schauffele uses to get Phil Mickelson off his game

After Phil Mickelson’s historic win at the PGA Championship, Lefty credited 27-year-old Xander Schauffele with helping him to sharpen his game. During a string of matches at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., last year, Mickelson recalled getting waxed by Schauffele over three straight rounds.

“I went back and talked to [my wife] Amy and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to beat this guy. He’s probably playing the best of any player in the world right now,’” Mickelson said at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. “Then [Schauffele] came to Colonial the following week and almost won. I saw what it looked like to play at the highest level.”

Mickelson wasn’t the only one who was learning a thing or two during those rounds. In this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar Podcast, Schauffele says he also benefitted from their at-home matches.

Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot.
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“I played, during quarantine, a ton with Phil,” Schauffele told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. “I sort of watched everything he did. How he practiced, how he went about chipping around the greens, his mentality when we were playing against each other. Obviously more light-hearted than tournament competition rounds, but the big thing I learned about Phil is the guy is addicted to the game. He is so driven and passionate at his age and for how long he’s been playing. We’d go play and he’d always ask to play an extra nine holes. And if he lost, he’d want to play another 18 holes. And then I know he’d go home and practice on his range at Rancho.”

Though Schauffele was clearly on a hot streak during the Covid quarantine rounds with Mickelson, he also admitted to utilizing a bit of gamesmanship to get the upper hand.

“Edit this part out,” Schauffele joked. “Whenever I’m down to Phil, all I have to do is start asking questions about one of his sponsors, or his coffee, and he’ll start running on about it. And he’ll actually forget that we have a match. And I feel like that’s my time to shine, spring in. That’s kind of my go-to move when he’s kicking my a- -.”

For more from Schauffele, including why he never watched his golf swing on video until college and why he was okay with finishing second to Tiger Woods at the 2019 Masters, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury

Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.