That was the first time I met Thompson. The second time came five days later. He was seated on a curb with a sharpie and British Open flag in hand. Throughout the week he had snagged an autograph from every Open champion on the property.
“I’ve had a couple of interactions with Phil but the one time I really talked to him was at Oakmont in 2016 right after the St. Jude where he hit this shot on No. 17. He was right up against a tree and he hit a big slingin’ hook around the tree to about six feet. I walked up to him at Oakmont and was like ‘Dude that was the greatest shot I think I’ve ever seen in my .’And he was like ‘You liked that? You liked that?’ I was like ‘Yeah!”
So all Graham has to do is miss his putt and we win the match. And Phil looks over at Graham and goes ‘Pick it up it’s good.’ And I looked over at Phil and I’m like Are you me? Now if I miss the putt we lose the hole. So I was pissed. But then sure enough I made the putt we won the match.
A few years later Phil called me soon after Amy herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. You know Phil — he likes to know everything about everything. So he asked me loads of questions.
“I can’t remember the first time I met Phil.  I’m getting old! But I’ve played a lot of golf with him over the years. Early on we never really got on that well. We were competitors.
We fed off each other all week. It just so happened that that week was when my youngest daughter Abby Jane started to kind of realize ‘Dad’s not home. Where is he?’ But she saw me on TV and saw that I was playing not with Phil Mickelson but with Daddy’s friend.
I stayed in St. Andrews during the Open or on its outskirts and I jogged several times through the old town. The Senior British Open is being played this week on the Old Course but that’s not why the course was closed for play on Sunday the day Francesco Molinari won 45 minutes up the coast in Carnoustie.
We all missed the 18th green and had similar flop shots. I hit mine in the bunker. Poulter hit his about 15 feet past. Phil hit the famous Phil flop — lands on an upslope spins up the hill trickles down to like six or eight inches. Poulter winks at me and goes ‘He’s still got me.’ And I went ‘Yeah he’s got everybody.”
You know he made me feel guilty! Like nobody can chip compared to you you know? So he’s like ‘It’s unbelievable but when you’re chipping and you’re trying to hit it high you gotta put it on the front foot.
“You want Phil stories? I wouldn’t even know where to start . There’s only so many guys on Tour that I can just look at and I’ll start laughing and Phil is right there near the top.
I first became aware of this bit of golf lore in 1991 courtesy of a man named David Joy an artist and actor and native son of St. Andrews who just then was developing Old Tom as a character.
As things transpired Europe played very well that year and we won. The ritual at the opening and closing ceremonies is for two players — a Euro and an American — to enter side by side with their wives or partners to the outside to them. Obviously that week I didn’t have a partner.