No golf shots of any consequence will be struck at the Northern Trust until Thursday’s opening round at Liberty National marks the start of the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedEx Playoffs.
Don’t tell that to Harry Higgs, though.
The 29-year-old Higgs, one of the most colorful characters on tour, unwittingly roped himself into a Tuesday morning match at the Jersey City course he desperately doesn’t want to lose.
At 10 a.m., Higgs and Keith Mitchell will throw it down in a practice round against Phil Mickelson and Joel Dahmen with a few dollars and a lot of bragging rights riding on the outcome.
What began as a personal Twitter experiment for Higgs a few weeks ago now has his heart pumping as if he’s getting ready for the final round of a major.
Higgs was on a flight with some time to kill a few weeks ago and he found himself fiddling with his phone on Twitter.
“I’ve seen guys do Twitter Q&As and it was the first one I’d done so I was kind of curious to see if anyone’s going to ask me a question,’’ Higgs told The Post on Monday in between a practice-range grind. “Somebody asked me, ‘Hey, if you were in a match like the ones Phil’s done on TV, who would you play with?’”
Higgs’ Twitter response: “I’ll play with anyone. And I don’t think @PhilMickelson is ready for my trash talk.’’
So it began.
Mickelson took the bait as if he were pulling driver out of his bag on a reachable par-4.
“I might not be ready for your trash talk but I AM READY for you,’’ Mickelson responded on Twitter.
“All talk until I get invited to one of your coveted matches big guy!!’’ Higgs shot back.
Then the fun began.
Mickelson, not only a six-time major champion with 45 career victories but one of the sharpest, most well-prepared instigators the game has ever seen, publicly invited Higgs for a Tuesday match at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship.
“This will save me a trip to the ATM before I leave. Thank you,” Mickelson chirped on Twitter.
The problem for Higgs (which Mickelson surely was well aware of) was that he hadn’t qualified for that limited-field event.
“So, I had to kind of eat my words and ask him if we can do it in a few weeks at Liberty National, and here we are,’’ Higgs said. “It will certainly be one of the most pressure-packed Tuesdays I’ve ever had. But Phil is going to get a good dose of what we call ‘Harry mode.’”
What exactly is “Harry mode?’’
“Just like a, ‘[Bleep] you, I’m going to win no matter what,’” Higgs said. “We’re going to bring out ‘Harry mode’ and see if it’s good enough to beat a Hall of Famer.’’
Adding to the intrigue — and testament to Mickelson’s needling brilliance — is Mickelson’s choice of Dahmen as his partner. Dahmen is one of Higgs’ closest friends on tour.
“Joel probably knows more than anyone about me here [on tour],’’ Higgs said. “I would say there probably isn’t any other reason why Phil would have picked Joel to play. I’d be shocked if Joel isn’t there to dig at me and make me feel like I’m a 12-year-old in the group.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some attempts to rattle me and Keith. Keith and I will attempt to rattle Phil and Joel. It’s less about what’s on the line in terms of dollars and cents; it’s more about pride. I don’t want Phil to be able to tweet at the end of this that he beat us.’’
Higgs said he’s unsure of what the financial stakes will be, saying, “I’m sure that I’ll find out on the first tee what the stakes are.
“I’ll work my best to keep it so that it’s just enough that it gets you going over an 8-footer but not too much to where I’ve got to play great this week [to make up for the lost funds]. Me, Joel and Keith have been going back and forth about what we think we’ll be playing for. I mean, Phil’s kind of in charge. It’s not going to be an ungodly amount. It’s going to be just enough to make me uncomfortable and I’m sure Phil will be not uncomfortable at all.’’
Higgs has $2.9 million in career earnings. Mickelson, 51, has won $94,794,977.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,’’ Higgs said. “I’ll be ready. It’s not going to get nasty, but if there’s just enough trash talk, I’m not going to just sit there and take it. He holds all of the cards. He’s won 40-plus times, six majors, he’s a Hall of Famer. There’s only so much I can give him crap for. But I’m going to attempt it.’’
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