United States team captain Paul Azinger, right, and USA's Phil Mickelson pose with the Ryder Cup during a photo shoot at the 2008 Ryder Cup. (AP/Chris O'Meara)
Everyone knows Phil Mickelson loves to gamble, and Paul Azinger, 1993 PGA Championship winner and current ESPN golf analyst, provided an excellent anecdote about how cool Phil is under pressure on PGA Tour Radio this week.
I had some big games with Mickelson. He was virtually unbeatable. Payne Stewart and I were playing Ben Crenshaw and Mickelson. By the time we got to the 18th hole at Bay Hill, it had gotten a little out of hand … We get to the last hole, and it's like $1,600. We get to the 18th green, and we all have birdie putts. Mickelson is the closest, and he has about a 14-15 footer down the hill. We all miss … If (Mickelson) makes it, we lose $1,600. If we beg out, we forfeit $800. But if he misses it, we only lose $400. So Payne says, 'I'm out.' I said it was downhill, right-to-left. He's not making it.
So Crenshaw jumps in and says, 'I'll take Payne's side.' So he gets his guaranteed $800. I looked at Mickelson, and I don't know if I can say this, but I said, 'Putt it, bitch.' Mickelson looks at me and walks over to the putt. Dead center. He makes it dead center and smiles. Payne starts smiling and high-fiving Mickelson because I just lost $1,600 and he only lost $400. I was so mad. That's when I knew Mickelson was going to be a really good player. I just knew it.
Listen to the full clip below.
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