Storytime: When Xander beat Phil with an ace

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There's no such thing as a bad time for a hole-in-one, but some aces are more timely than others.

One such instance came during a friendly round last year during quarantine between Xander Schauffele and Phil Mickelson. The two Southern California residents were stuck without much to do, so they began to play a few rounds together at The Farms near San Diego. Mickelson is known for his prowess when it comes to on-course gambling, but he admitted that Schauffele regularly got the best of him during their mid-pandemic battles.

"We played a match and he went out and shot 64 and I'm like, 'Wow, all right. You gave me a pretty good beating, let's do this again,'" Mickelson shared last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge. "So a few days later, we went and played again and he shot 63. I'm like, 'Wow. OK. Let's try one more time.'"

The third time did not prove to be the charm for Mickelson, as Schauffele put up a 62 in their third trip around The Farms and once again got into his pocket. Things peaked on the 16th hole, where Mickelson had instituted a press and promptly stuck it to 4 feet on a 220-yard par-3. Schauffele followed and not only got it inside Phil - he knocked in a 6-iron to win the hole with a press-defeating ace.

"I went back to (Mickelson's wife) Amy, and I'm like, 'I don't know how I'm going to beat this guy,'" Mickelson said. "'He's probably the best player in the world right now.'"

Mickelson isn't playing this week at the Memorial Tournament, but Schauffele is in the field and was asked by reporters about the ace during Tuesday's press conference. He came through with some color commentary that made the story even better, complete with the image leaving of a shell-shocked Mickelson on the tee box.

"He tried to quick-trigger it. He pressed," Schauffele said. "And the walk back to the 16th tee is like 80 or 100 yards or so, and we were jawing each other on the 15th green. I won the hole, he pressed, and then he quickly went back to the tee to tee off, and it's one of the harder par-3s on the course. And he kind of wasn't supposed to hit first, and of course he hits first and hits it to 4 feet or so.

"I'm letting him know that I could make him re-hit, since it's match play, but since he was getting his butt kicked, I figured I would let him hit it to 4 feet and not make him re-hit. But it was just funny. I wasn't really a guy to make too many hole-in-ones, and I kind of pulled a 6-iron toward the water a little bit, fell right in line with the pin and then trickled in.

"And Phil just sat - there's a little mound behind the tee box, and he just sat there, looking down on the ground, shaking his head. He just really didn't know what to do with himself. So I found that pretty entertaining."

Schauffele won the battle, but Mickelson may have won the war. The 50-year-old admitted last week that getting drummed during the pandemic break was a big motivator for him to reclaim his game, and he credited it in part for his PGA Championship win last month. Schauffele, meanwhile, was watching from home after missing the cut in a major for the first time since 2018.

"Seeing that, the way he played with this calm, and didn't try to overpower every hole but overpowered the holes he should ... I saw what it looked like to play at the highest level," Mickelson said.

It was a lesson that Mickelson turned into his history-making sixth major championship. But don't be surprised if he's slower to call for a press the next time the two of them wander onto a par-3 tee box together.

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