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March 5, 2005

Phil Mickelson


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Phil. As the 54-hole leader, Phil Mickelson is the winner of this week's CRESTOR Charity Challenge. In his name a donation of $50,000 will be given to the healthcare charity of his choice and in addition the Mercy Hospital Foundation will receive $50,000 from the Ford Championship and CRESTOR. Congratulations.


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: This is your third time.

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been nice and we're going to give it to the Homes For the Troops, which is what we've been doing the birdies and eagles for. It will be fun. It's a nice addition that CRESTOR has done. We appreciate it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: On to the competition. It's going to be a fun day out there tomorrow. Great playing today.

PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you. It should be a fun day. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a tough challenge. With the round that Tiger put together, my goodness, it's hard not to notice when you look on the leaderboard and he's one lower every time.

So it was a heck of a round and I'm very fortunate that I was able to make enough birdies on the back to keep the lead.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions, please.

Q. What do you have to do to beat Tiger tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: Probably shoot the lower score. (Laughter.)

Q. Other than the obvious.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's hard to say. You just never know what he's going to do. He's just an amazing competitor and he just finds a way to get things done. My record against him head-to-head has been nothing near stellar, and something I'm going to work on. But I am looking forward to the challenge. I really enjoy and look forward to being able to compete head-to-head against guys like Tiger and Vijay and Retief and Ernie. So tomorrow is going to be a fun day for me, win, lose or draw. Just having the chance to compete head-to-head is going to be fun.

Q. You say that, that your record is not stellar but in fairness you don't always have an advantage like this, either.

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm always coming from four or five back, you're right. That's a lot harder to do.

Now, he is going to make a charge, but I also have been hitting some good shots, too. So it should be a good match. My only hope, Doug, is that we play well enough to have it be a two-man race; that the guys at 14-under who could easily go out and shoot 7-, 8-, 9-under par, we want to make sure that we don't let them back in the tournament. Because if we play anything like we did at the Ryder Cup together, that is a very real possibility. (Laughter.)

Q. Do you know how many times you guys have played against each other in the final group on Sunday?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't. I don't know the number.

Q. Are the roles reversed, aside from you being in the lead in years past where Tiger was at the peak of his game and right now you're playing your best golf and he's maybe trying to get back to where he was so to speak?

PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. But you know, just a fraction off of his best is still better than just about anybody in the game. So he may not be playing his best, but it sure is one of the best games ever.

It's just that when he plays his best, things like the 2000 U.S. Open happen where he wins by double digits. He's a remarkable competitor and again, I haven't had the best record against him in the past, but I'm hoping I have a chance to change that tomorrow.

Q. So you don't feel like other than the two shots you necessarily had any other advantage on him, scores aside?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no. Heavens no. He's too tough a player.

Q. You're one of the only guy that's come from behind to beat him from 54 holes, that's a list of three?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't even know when that was. When was that?

Q. TOUR Championship.

PHIL MICKELSON: Five years ago. Great. (Laughter.)

Q. This course has been pretty tame so far. Expected sunny and light breeze tomorrow; do you think it's going to be a little hard?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the defense of the golf course is the wind and we haven't had much of it the first three rounds and consequently the scores are pretty low. It just depends on tomorrow what the conditions are like. If it's like the first three rounds, we're going to see some low scores. We're going to see a lot of birdies. I actually think it's going to be fun. We have had a lot of very difficult conditions on TOUR the last couple of years. We've had some very thick, thick rough, very tight fairways, very edgy pin placements and this year, the setup has been tremendous, I think, very fair, good pin placements where you can get to some of them; rough that is tough but not just necessarily a wedge out.

I think that tomorrow if there is no wind and we see a lot of birdies, I think that will be really fun.

Q. The last time you were in the final group with Tiger on a Sunday was 2003 at the Buick Invitational. I think Faxon was also in that group. What are your memories of that day?

PHIL MICKELSON: I lost. I was four or five shots back, too. But I don't really remember too much. '03 was a year I'd like to forget. Thanks, though.

Q. Talk about your game specifically. You said this is the best you've ever played physically. Does that include the mental aspect of it, too, focusing on the golf course and tomorrow will certainly be a mental test as well, I'm assuming.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, sure, to play against one of the best players the game has ever seen, it's not just a physical challenge, it's a mental one, too. It's going to be tough. But again, I think that I had a different feeling today. I wanted him to play well. I want to go head-to-head with him. It's a fun opportunity. Rather than be worried that he's making birdies.

I've been looking forward to the chance to play head-to-head against him. Again, win, lose or draw, the opportunity to play head-to-head against Tiger is going to be a great learning experience and if I'm able to turn things around from the past and come out on top, if I'm fortunate enough to do that, it will make for a very special week.

Q. You talk about how you haven't had a lot of success against Tiger, but yet then you talk about that you really want to go head-to-head. Aren't you a different player now that you really want that, versus maybe two or three years ago where maybe that wasn't necessarily the case?


Q. Thanks. Phil. (Laughter.)

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go through your birdies and bogeys.

PHIL MICKELSON: Birdies and bogeys, I birdied the third hole with a 3-wood and nine air fight feet.

4, 3-iron in the bunker and L-wedge to eight feet and missed it.

Birdied the fifth hole with a driver and an L-wedge to six feet.

Birdied the sixth hole with driver, sand wedge.

Birdied the seventh hole with driver, 9-iron to three feet.

Birdied the 10th hole with 3-wood, 3-wood in the front bunker just in the grass on the lip and chipped up to a foot.

Birdied 12 with a driver, 3-wood just short of the green, chipped up to eight feet, seven feet and made it.

Birdied the 16th hole with driver pin-high just left of the green. Chipped up to three feet and made it.

Q. Did you consider that line on 10 on your second shot a risky move or your only move?

PHIL MICKELSON: On the second shot?

Q. Yeah.

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought the tee shot was stupid risky, yeah. I just held onto it. Got fortunate. But the second shot, no. I had a huge gap between the trees. The only other play was, what, wedge out to the right.

Q. We could not see what your lie was.

PHIL MICKELSON: No, the lie was great. 3-wood on it clean, no problem.

Q. Are you going to look at tomorrow like a match-play, head-to-head if the scores haven't caught up to you? Are you going to play it the way you play it the first three days?

PHIL MICKELSON: For me to win tomorrow, I've got to shoot really low. I mean, Tiger just always makes birdies when he has to and especially on Sundays.

Q. I guess if the field has not caught up to you, though, are you going to look at it as just play your game?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's not match-play, it really isn't. Even if the guys behind us don't catch us it's still not match-play because you have that two- or three-shot swing capability and there's a lot of water on this golf course, especially middle of the round there, 8, 9, tough shots, 10 is a tough water hole, 18 is brutal.

There's a lot of water out there and a lot of potential for two- and three-shot swings.

Q. Did you plan before the round when you saw -- did you plan on having a go at 16 and will the tees be different for you to give it a chance tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've gone for it the first three days. It's not like anything has changed. Only thing that would make a difference is the winds, if the wind is somehow helping or hurting, I would not be able to go for it, no.

Q. There was a lot made of the lack of conversation, for lack of a better word, between you and Tiger at the Ryder Cup. Was that an uncomfortable situation and how would you describe your relationship when you played against him?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's not uncomfortable at all, Doug. It's enjoyable. It would be more enjoyable when we play well, and that's what I think we are both hoping for tomorrow.

Q. Do you think there will be much conversation tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: Probably a little bit, yeah. At least early on. At least front nine. (Laughter.)

Q. Your tee shot on 18, did you hit somebody again? Did something save it from a worse fate, do you remember?

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't hit anybody. I asked the marshal and they said no, it didn't hit anybody, no. I don't know if it hit a tree or what. But it was very clean and it's probably the correct side to miss it on on that hole. (Laughter.)

Q. Just quickly on 17, if you could talk about that lie and was getting it into the bunker about as good as you could have done?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was the play I was hoping for, yes, because it was so bad I wasn't sure I could reach the bunker, was just hoping to get it in there, yeah.

Q. Are you still doing martial arts training and if so what does that do for you?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I do it probably three, four, five days a week and it really helps with my balance.

Q. What kind?

PHIL MICKELSON: Mostly tai kwon do. Mostly kicks.

Q. Will you be using it tomorrow? (Laughter.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I hope I don't have to.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thanks, Phil.

End of FastScripts.

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