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April 1, 2000

Phil Mickelson


LEE PATTERSON: We appreciate you spending some time with us. Maybe just a cup of thoughts heading into tomorrow then we will open it up to questions.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, this golf course obviously can yield some low scores and given the fact that there is about ten or fifteen guys within, I think, four shots of the lead, it is going to be important to get off to a quick start tomorrow; make some birdies early because I think these guys are going to be able to put together a pretty good run with Gary and myself.


Q. Inclement weather in the forecast going to make a long golf course longer, do you think that is going to be advantage, disadvantage; how do you think that is going to work?

PHIL MICKELSON: It is very difficult to say. It is very difficult to say right now. Just depends how they set it up and where the pins are and so forth. Wind is different than rain. I think that if it rains, the course will actually play easier because we will be able to attack a lot more pins. Right now some shots are just -- well, you saw the shot on 18 hit and bounce way in the air. So if it had just rained and the greens were soft that thing would be an 8-, 10-footer for eagle. So I think rain will make it easier for everybody and wind will make it more difficult for everybody. I don't know how length will factor into that yet.

Q. Obviously you are going to have -- on paper you have a big advantage in a head-to-head final round going-for-the-victory-type-of-play over Gary. How do you think that will factor -- Tiger uses that kind of thing against his opponents all the time. Will that be a big advantage for you think going down the stretch tomorrow if you two are putting it out for the lead?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know and it is tough to say. I actually think that the groups that tee off just before us have an opportunity to make a quick run at us before we get to play some of these birdie holes. If they do, we need to be careful about those players in front of us first before it really turns into a Match Play situation to where you are actually thinking about one individual. I think it is important for both of to us get off to a quick start. If we can go out and shoot 3, 4-under par the front nine, I think we might be in position then where we can look at each other and be in that situation, but I don't know if that is the case right now.

Q. Can you describe your second and your third shot on 18 and I was kind of curious on your third shot there if it was a Sunday final round, would you get more aggressive with that shot or were you careful with it considering where you were or making sure that -- because not a whole lot of room to play with there?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly the situation would dictate what type of shot I had hit if I had a 5-shot lead, what is the point of going at it? But if we were even or if I were only 1 ahead, I would probably end up firing at it. Little disappointed it was so hard there, all the other greens were holding halfway decent. Hard to say what I would do in certain situations as far as -- I am not sure if you are talking about the -- second and third shot. The third shot I was originally going to just bump-and-run it, and I thought that there was a chance that it could come out perfect and there was a chance it could roll 30, 40 feet by. I felt like if I hit a good lob shot with some spin, it may check up, hold about five, six feet from the hole which was ultimately what I was trying to do. And I had to make sure I got underneath the ball. I was on a pretty good downslope. If I don't get underneath, it could be sent off into the water long and so that is why I am overadjusted slightly and went right underneath the ball, so -- but as far as the second shot, I think the pin is going to be front left tomorrow. If that is the case, you can get to the pin out of the bunker; get the ball stopped. Some of those pins if you were in that bunker today, you couldn't get it anywhere near the hole which is why I actually tried to go left of the bunker and ultimately that was at the pin. Tomorrow, with the pin up front, I anticipate a shot going more towards the bunker because we can get it stopped.

Q. What did you have in there and what did you hit on 18?

PHIL MICKELSON: 250 hole, I hit 2-iron.

Q. Gary Nicklaus recalled playing with you once, only time in Western Junior a long time ago. Do you have any recollection of that?

PHIL MICKELSON: I do remember playing with him that day. I ran into him -- ran across him a number of times. I have seen him out here on Tour events and other arenas. Certainly he is a very good player; he has got his Tour card. I don't think he is played to his ability this year. And so it is good to see him playing well this week. Again, I haven't played with him since then which was like 1987. So really haven't seen his game. I saw him hit one drive today on 4, he just hit a perfect draw around the corner, so it looks like he is really playing well, swing looked awfully good.

Q. (inaudible) expectations to win (inaudible) --

PHIL MICKELSON: It is difficult -- obviously it's been a difficult situation when the expectations are to be the greatest player in the game. I think he is fulfilling a career right now that is extremely good in the game of golf. If you put anybody else's last name there, you would think he is one heck of a player, but because the expectations are so high, you tend not give him credit for what he accomplished. For him to be out here, after so long and being able to survive the way he did in the mini-tours, which is not easy, and to win the tournaments and have the high finishes he has had; to continue to play golf for a living, I think shows you that he is a tough competitor. He is playing well this week. I don't know what else to say.

Q. In Torrey Pines you talked about how good that was for your confidence to get back in the winning way. How is that going to help you tomorrow when you go to the final round?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, my expectations have gone from just trying to win one tournament to believing that I can win multiple and my approach tomorrow is that of -- much more confident; not trying to just get one win, but to get the job done right and get off to a good start and play a good solid round and not -- I would say that when you are struggling through a round and you are just trying to make one birdie, that is kind of the way I was feeling at the Buick, I hadn't won in a while; I was just trying to get one win. When you feel like things are going well and you get a little bit of momentum, you feel like you can birdie every hole. That is where I feel like right now. I feel like I could get in contention and ultimately win multiple events. So I feel like I have a very good chance tomorrow.

Q. (inaudible) just one other thing, seems like you are going up against some pretty popular guys in the two final rounds, Tiger with his six-game streak -- six-tournament streak at Torrey Pines, Gary Nicklaus, obviously pretty popular guy here. Talk a little bit about that? You could be the bad guy --

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I am not trying to be the bad guy. I am just trying to win a golf tournament. It just so happens that those players played well the same week. Again, tomorrow, I am not going to be out there trying to steal a win from Gary. That is certainly not the case, but I certainly want to win myself. That is going to be the goal tomorrow. That is going to be the intent and that is going to be what I will be focusing in on.

Q. You seemed kind of tired today. Is this a hard course to play through and struggle through and play well? Is this week pretty challenging as far as golf courses go?

PHIL MICKELSON: It is a difficult walk. They give us a ride on some of the holes, but the most difficult walk is getting from that scorers tent up here.

Q. If we don't get the weather they are talking about; it stays like this and it gets harder, faster, drier, windier, is it going to be hard to get a real low score tomorrow? It would seem like something in the 60s tomorrow, if things get faster would be a pretty good score?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, possibly, but you also need to keep in mind that the par 5s will be reachable. 13 will be reachable. So there will be some birdie holes as long as you make some intelligent decisions on the difficult holes.

Q. Is it good to be in the hunt a week before a major or do you think -- any concern about maybe being a little mentally tired or something going to Augusta after you get involved in the down-to-the-wire-thing tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: If I thought that mentally tired was going to be an issue heading into next week, then I wouldn't have played this week because certainly I am not approaching a tournament to miss the cut so I am fresh for the next week. That kind of defeats the purpose. I don't feel like being in contention here is taking anything away from next week. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is getting me in a competitive frame of mind, a focused frame of mind. I am playing on similar conditions and being close to the lead, feeling that what it feels -- that nervousness and anticipation buildup for the final round, it is the same buildup that we get for Thursday. So what I found is that in years past, it is very difficult to feel comfortable after a week off and then stand on that first tee in a big tournament which is exactly why I am very pleased to be in contention this week because it is only three or four more days before we tee it up in another big tournament, I have the same feeling which I am familiar with and I feel comfortable with now.

Q. You say your expectations are at a level now where you want to think about multiple wins in a season. You are certainly capable and have done that- winning one, two, three four times a year, but I am wondering as high a caliber that would fit Tiger, what he did the last nine, ten months, he has that set the bar so high that has, in turn, helped you and other players of that level to want to raise their game?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that would be the case. In 1996 I won four tournaments. I thought that was a pretty good year. Last year -- the year that Tiger had last year made my year 1996 just look stupid. Certainly -- well, you know, I overdo it, but that is kind of the point is that he certainly has raised the level much higher and it is important to -- for us, for other players, to continue to strive to play better in tournaments, to raise our game, whether it is driving the ball better, putting better, whatever, we need to play better than we are.

Q. Good thing for you, he can pull you guys along?

PHIL MICKELSON: Sure, absolutely. When I played junior golf I always had one or two competitors that I would play against. I went to high school with a guy name Manny Zerman (phonetic) who is a very good player. We forced and pushed each other to practice harder. We had money games all the time; that gave us a competitive atmosphere whenever we played. I played with Johannson (phonetic) there at Arizona State first couple of years and to have somebody like a Tiger, like a Johannson or whoever, pushing me and the other players to get better just seems to make our play a little bit better.

Q. Torrey Pines with the streak going and everything you get to 13 and there was a lot of talk about it after your round, about wondering, you know, here he comes again, whatever, you were very firm and made believers out of all of us that all you were thinking about was birdie. Do you look back to things and say: I know I can do it when I want to because I did it here. Was that one of those occasions?

PHIL MICKELSON: That I will look back on now?

Q. Yeah.

PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly, sure. What I was focusing on was obviously the right thing because I ended up birdieing a couple of holes and winning the golf tournament and if I get in that situation again, that will be exactly what I think of at that time also.

End of FastScripts…

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