Spieth, Thomas take down Fowler, Mickelson in PGA money match

MOSEL, Wis. – Big putt on the 18th green? Take a bow, Rickie Fowler. For the win, right?

Ah, not quite. “But making the putt was to save some money,” he said.

That’s right, money. Gambling may not be allowed at the mythical Bushwood Country Club of “Caddyshack” fame, but playing with a few bucks on the line is OK – wink, wink – here at Whistling Straits and within the PGA Tour landscape. So when Fowler nailed a lengthy birdie putt at the 18th hole Tuesday, much to the joy of his partner, Phil Mickelson, it was presumed to be crucial for the overall match.

Wrong, because the guy who stepped up next is on a pretty good roll here in 2015. Watching Jordan Spieth standing over a putt hardly made Fowler and Mickelson want to start counting their winnings.

“He’s a decent putter,” Fowler quipped.

So decent, in fact, that the birdie roll from inside of 5 feet was a relative afterthought. “It wasn’t really any doubt that he was going to make that one,” Fowler said.

Having at least salvaged a win in the press, Fowler and Mickelson didn’t completely get shut out by Spieth and Justin Thomas, both of whom had a pretty good advantage. Or so said Fowler. “They’re younger. They’ve got fresher legs,” he said, laughing.

Certainly, the 22-year-olds have the benefit of youth and incredible talent, and somewhere at the other end of the spectrum is the veteran guile of 45-year-old Mickelson. But in between, the 26-year-old Fowler is playing beautifully and starting to forge a nice reputation as a guy who rises to the occasion in the majors.

True, he hasn’t won one — at least not yet. And true, he opened with an 81 and missed the cut at the U.S. Open in June.

But the bigger picture is Fowler’s consistency in these majors. He was top-5 in all four of them in 2014. If you go back to the 2013 U.S. Open, Fowler in 10 majors has been inside the top 10 five times, inside the top 20 seven times. Throw in the victories this season at The Players Championship and Scottish Open and you’ve got a young man not sweating out his lack of major success but banking on his confidence.

“I’m playing great,” Fowler said, and in case you’re wondering about his embrace of Whistling Straits, it’s there.

“I’m enjoying it more, and it looks a little more welcoming to me the second time being here. I’m feeling very good about the game.”

That his wallet didn’t take as big of a hit as it could have in the match against Spieth and Thomas was a bonus.

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