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March 31, 2000

Phil Mickelson


PHIL MICKELSON: I think that there is a grouping of players that are within four, five shots of the lead, a great number of players that have a very good opportunity tomorrow to put themselves in the lead come Sunday. I am certainly pleased where I stand being two shots back. I feel like I was on the very fortunate end of the tee times this week I felt like it played very easy yesterday morning and very easy this afternoon. I think it was windier a little for the guys this morning, consequently you are seeing a lot of guys in the lead who played on the early late tee time shift. I feel like I have got some things I need work on if I am going to play well tomorrow or put myself in contention after tomorrow's round. I have been driving the ball very well. But unfortunately, I have been having, with all the wedges and sand wedges I have been having in, I have not given myself very many good birdie opportunities and so I need to work on that and when I have done it I haven't really made the putts I really need to get my short irons closer to the hole and make some putts. But I drove the ball very well the last two days, which has made the golf course play very, very short and easy. I am hoping to do that again the next two days.

Q. Preparation for next week a lot of shaved areas, pretty similiar --

PHIL MICKELSON: Fabulous. So do the greens, they are very quick and undulated. It has a lot of similar looks to Augusta National. That shot into 18 looks identical to 15 to me, straight downhill over water with that bank and I think it has been a very good week for the players. Not just as a great tuneup for the Masters but a great tournament on its own. Golf course is in fabulous shape. There is a strong field and there is a very strong leaderboard with a good grouping of players.

Q. Different players -- some players get the whole thing I have to have the week off before a major to get focused. Other players like to go in on a roll from playing the week before. Your feelings about that and how have you approached it?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have in the past always taken the week off and I don't think that it has been the best thing for me. I think playing the week before is getting me in a competitive frame of mind and that is what I plan on doing this year is playing the week before every major. Least year I played here, Atlanta; went to Augusta, played fairly well and had a good chance to win. I did not play the week before and couple of majors I didn't play that well. So this year I have decided that I think to get in a competitive frame of mind the week before is important and I plan on playing the week before. It is different for everything, but I -- I hate to say that because I think that it is almost as though we talk about this tournament as a preparation for The Masters but in reality, myself and every one of these players is not thinking of it as a preparation for The Masters right now. We are thinking of it as a very important tournament that we are trying to win over the course of the next two days, and I don't want to demean what this tournament means to us as players.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: I am a big fan of the hole. I am a big fan of the golf course. I came here last year because my caddie Jim recommended it. He said you are going to really like this place. I came here, last year, I did. It wasn't even in the best shape it had been in. This year it is fabulous, I can't get over what a great job they have done with the course. It is fun for me to play it because with the greens as hard and fast as they are, they are firm for chipping, the little shots around the green are very -- it is very difficult, you have to be creative. You have to hit the right type of bump or the right type of lob shot. It is fun to play, I really enjoy it.

Q. Last year I talked to you at Bay Hill and you mentioned that you weren't really thrilled about some of the changes you heard that were made at Augusta. Since you played it subsequent to that, what are your feelings about the changes they made last year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I played there last Sunday and I thought that the golf course is playing excellent. It's got some more rough. It is a little bit higher. They have grown it in. Fairway cuts are tougher. 10, we are not going to see balls going all the way to the bottom off of that slope, if you don't hit it down the middle, the ball will catch it. Made some changes to the greens where they rolled the edges into you, so now you can bump into the green as opposed to into rough or into the fairway that has got grain into you so it is a little bit easier to chip to on some of those positions. My feeling is this: The greatest courses withstand the test of time and Bobby Jones and Allister MacKenzie (phonetic) designed this course way back when, they did a fabulous job, I don't think a 20 handicapper knows more than what those guys did and why they keep changing it every year, I don't understand it. The changes are fine, don't get me wrong, I have no problem with it and I like them. I just wished we played the same course that was played in 1948 and if you ever go through the locker room and see the pictures you wouldn't believe the changes. 16, the green was left of the creek. 13, the green was one-third the size. So just -- I wish that I had the opportunity to play the same golf course that these guys did way back in the 30s and 40s. But the course looks great. It is Augusta National. It is pristine as can be. It is beautiful. Anyway...

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