June 19, 1999
PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA
PHIL MICKELSON: I bogeyed No. 4. I drove it in the right rough off the tee, laid up with a 3-iron and hit a wedge short of the green, chipped up 8 feet and missed it. I birdied 8, I hit 3-wood off the tee, and then a 6-iron to 35, 40 feet and ended up making that putt. On 11 I made bogey, I drove it in the right rough, hit wedge short of the green, chipped over the green and 2-putted from there. I bogeyed 15, 16, 17. 15 I hit a 6-iron, pulled it to the right in the bunker, and did not get up-and-down missing an 8-footer. 16 I drove in the fairway, 5 iron short of the green, chipped up 10 feet, missed it for bogey. 17 I hit a 7-iron long, right of the green in the bunker, chipped out 10 feet, did not get up-and-down and made bogey. 18 I made birdie. I hit 3-wood off the tee, cut an 8-iron in there to about six feet and made that for birdie.
LES UNGER: You were going to the range. Was that something you would do ordinarily or were you fixing something.
PHIL MICKELSON: Typically. Obviously with the late tee times, we were a little short on light. I had to get a couple of things done before tomorrow's round and I didn't want to have another two hour break, from the time I finished to the time I got back out on the range, it would be like you taking down all this information and then having a two-hour lag before you actually wrote the story. I appreciate your patience.
LES UNGER: Was there anything specific that you were trying to work out.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, as you saw today I hit the ball awfully sloppy, drove it poorly, poor iron play, and I just got up-and-down quite a bit to keep the round somewhat intact. The only difference on 15, 16 and 17 were that I just didn't get up-and-down, but I hit those same shots throughout the course of the day. And I think that the swing doesn't feel too far off, and I hopefully I have a little more confidence after a good session on the range, heading into tomorrow.
Q. Phil, the putt on the birdie putt on 18 ended up putting you in the last and final round for the U.S. Open. Is that important for you at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's cool, but I think that although I love being there, I think that in U.S. Opens where even par is a good score, we've seen guys like last year, Lee Janzen and a number of guys coming from 3, 4, 5 groups in front. I'm not sure if it's an advantage or disadvantage. I was trying to save a shot. I wasn't trying to figure out what group I was going to be in.
Q. Phil, after kind of a loose start, sort of, you did right it and started hitting a bunch of fairways and greens. Were you tight going out?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I was a little tense. I found that I was steering the ball a little bit the first few holes, and I tried to free up with the golf swing, and loosen up and I hit a bunch of good shots the next few holes, over the next few holes. And then it just got a little sloppy, the swing got a little bit longer, started going a little right. So I'll have to fix that for tomorrow.
Q. Did you try and put a little slider there on 18? You looked surprised after you hit the shot.
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no. It was just that it was like an inside joke. It was the first fade that I tried to hit all week. This golf course sets up well left-to-right. I wasn't going to get to the pin left-to-right, and I took an 8-iron and hit a cut shot, and it was the first fade I tried to hit all week. I anticipate trying to hit a lot of fades all day tomorrow, because basically that came off good.
Q. With regards to the beeper, if it goes off tomorrow while you're --
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm out of here. No decisions --
Q. Just let me finish. If it goes off while you're on the range as opposed to the 8th hole as opposed to the 15th hole. Whenever it goes off you're gone?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.
Q. Phil, you've been in good situations in final rounds of Majors before. Do you feel better about this one, that you can make something more happen here than anywhere else?
PHIL MICKELSON: I do feel more relaxed when I stand on the first tee here. I feel like I don't have to be perfect. I don't feel like there are red stakes lining each fairway, as I have felt in past Opens. I feel like a slight error, there's still an opportunity for recovery. And I think it's a testament for how great this golf course is in that there's only one man under par. And yet it's a very fair test. The rough isn't ridiculous. The greens aren't rock hard, although they were much firmer today. We saw a lot of shots taking big bounces. But other than that, I feel like a slight miss can be recovered from.
Q. Phil, growing up you certainly were able to hone a pretty good short game. And this course obviously demands such scrambling. Do you feel there's a little bit of advantage for you or comfort level in knowledge that everybody is going to miss greens, and maybe you're better prepared than most to deal with it?
PHIL MICKELSON: I certainly feel like miss-hit shots I have a very good opportunity to get it up-and-down. And if other players are going to win, they might not be able to be as aggressive on certain holes. But now that I think about it, I really haven't gone at very many pins, so I don't know if it's too big an advantage. But if you hit the ball and miss some greens like I did today, miss over half the greens, you're going to need to take the advantage of the ability to get up-and-down.
Q. Do you find that to be a pretty fun thing to do?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'd rather have birdie putts (laughter.)
Q. Along that line, while you say you're confident in your short game and you're happy with the course set up, still is it more taxing to have to do this hole after hole after hole? And does that lead to not getting up-and-down late in the round or are those just bad lies?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is more taxing, there's no question. But on a very good ball-striking day, the best player out here will still miss five or six greens. And with that being the case, you have to get up-and-down on those opportunities if you are going to be able to stay near the lead and be able to capitalize on the 12 greens that you do hit on those birdie putts that you do have. So I hit 8 greens today. I hit 8 today, 11 and 12 the first two days. So I only need to hit three or four more greens, really, to have -- well, to not have to scramble as much, if you will. And if I do that then I feel like I'm going to get up 75 percent -- get up-and-down 75 percent of the time, I'm looking at only one to two bogeys, now I only need to make one or two putts to get it back even.
Q. You started by saying you were a bit down on the game today. How much of that had to do with the conditions that were out there today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they were difficult, but they were certainly playable. They weren't -- the scores were awfully high. I was surprised it was that high. The greens were firmer, but I still felt like good golf shots would be reward. There was a slight drizzle that kept the greens somewhat receptive. The putts rolled much better on the greens because of that slight watering. So I don't think that the conditions were totally -- had everything to do with my poor play. I just made some poor swings.
Q. Phil, with the new equipment, the ball going so far, how can a course that was built a hundred years ago stand up to it this well or is it maybe a different kind of great course than the original course?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you turn par-5s into par-4s and you just knock off 8 shots from par, and that's a pretty easy way to do it.
Q. Phil, with all the changes in your life recently, how different is tomorrow going to feel than it would say when you were 19?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. Tomorrow is something that I have looked forward to ever since I've played amateur and junior golf. I've use looked forward to having an opportunity to win the U.S. Open come Sunday. I've had the opportunity a couple of times in my career, and I've really enjoyed playing those final rounds, even though I have not broken through yet and won. The opportunity now to start a family, that's an exciting time in my life, but that's just really the progression or the cycle of life, if you will, because as I get older and different things become important to me in my life, as it does everybody's. And it's neat to be able to experience that and have an opportunity to bear a child. When I was 19, golf was everything, that was all I had. I didn't have a special lady in my life like I do with my wife, Amy. And now we have another special girl. And so it's just exciting for me to see the progression of the stages that I've gone through or my wife and I have gone through.
Q. Two questions, Phil. A lot of things happened today that don't happen on regular Tour events. One of them is that the guys in the last group tomorrow each made 3 bogeys in a row. What does that say about the U.S. Open and what does it say about Pinehurst No. 2?
PHIL MICKELSON: Let me say this, the better example would be the fact that David Duval played the first 8 holes five over and was five shots off the lead and made up two shots by parring in. And really the way to make up shots here is not to go out and birdie the next hole. It's to par five or six holes in a row and you'll pick up a shot or two on the leaders, typically. As long as you have enough holes and enough pars in you you'll be able to make up ground.
Q. The second question is it's yet another theoretical beeper question, if you are three or four shots ahead with three or four holes to play, do you really think Amy is going to beep you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think if something like that is going to happen, there are ways to slow down the labor process. Tributalin is a medicine that calms the muscle contractions. There are a couple of ways to do that. She saw the doctor today, everything looks great, it's going to be another week or two, I just don't see that happening tomorrow. She's resting, doing everything she can to make sure it doesn't happen. And to hold off one more day, I think that that won't be a problem. If it is and if she does beep me I know it's serious and it's time to go.
Q. I have an Amy question. You say she has to take it easy, and I want to know if she's allowed to watch this tomorrow. And I'd like to know who's here in your corner this week, since she's not?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, my father is here. He's been selling those sports scopes, those dark periscope things you've been seeing, and my manager, and his wife are here. I've got a Buddy of mine playing the Golden Bear, Scott Johnson and Larry Barber and my wife cheering back home with her mom, watching it on television. They are allowed to watch. It's kind of nice because right now all she can really do is lay down. So it gives her a nice five hours of entertainment. I know when I'm sick, I enjoy watching the telecast on the weekend. It makes it easier for her to lay down, that's what she's supposed to do to take the pressure off her pelvis.
Q. Have you spoken to Jackie Burke at all this week, and if not, what kind of advice do you think he'd give you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I have -- it's funny you should say that, because I tried calling him right after the round. And I couldn't quite get ahold of him, but I looked over some notes that I had taken down from some of the things that he had said and went out to the range and it's starting to feel a little bit better. I won't really know until I'm actually in the situation of having to tee off on the first hole. But looking back on some of the things that we have talked about seems to have helped.
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