August 19, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions you have for Mr. Mickelson today.
Q. How long does it take you to sort of recharge and put a fresh face on things after the week of a major that didn't turn out obviously the way would you have liked it to have?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think majors tend to take a lot more out of a player, myself included. It is difficult. But, this is one of the bigger and better tournaments that we play in all year, and because of that, because of everything that is at stake, not only it is a huge purse, but it is also a 10-year exemption and there is a lot of huge motivating factors for the players. And if you think about it, one of the goals of player starting off the year is to win so they can get into the World Series of Golf. It is like a reward for playing well, a reward for winning a tournament. And because of that, I think that it is very easy to get excited about playing here. Not only that, we play one of the best courses, we play on Tour in Firestone. It is a major championship golf course. The rough is always up. The greens are quick. It is always in immaculate shape.
Q. For some many years you were the guy, the great young player. Now you have got Justin coming up, Ernie, and the other kid, Tiger. What does that kind of say for the competition for the next 10, 15 years?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that the guys that have established themselves throughout their careers, guys like Tom Kite and Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, these guys that have become legendary in the game of golf who have had remarkable careers, I think the young guys now are on their way to ultimately having a career comparable to those guys. They are ultimately going to become the Lanny Wadkins, the Ben Crenshaws, the Hale Irwins, and Tom Kites and and Watsons, so forth. I think that is what we are seeing now, is the guys, who are ultimately going to develop a name like those guys have, are just getting started.
Q. Does it push you a little more knowing that arrows are coming from that direction now as well as from the older guys?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know if it is so much that. I have been wanting to win golf tournaments, you know, ever since I have been out on the Tour. It is something that I have tried to do. But, just because they have been playing well, it doesn't mean that, you know, I am going to try harder. I have been trying awfully hard as it is. I think the disappointing thing for me is that I haven't played as well as I would like in major championships. I thought that last year playing well here and winning here was a good start for me because I won on a caliber of golf course that could hold a Major, can hold a PGA or a U.S. Open, and so it was a point that I didn't play to that level throughout the rest of this year. But, my desire to play, desire to win is just as high as it has always been.
Q. Did it frustrate you at all or did it motivate you anymore to see another one of the best players never to win a major win a major?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was happy for Davis. Davis is really one of the nicest guys out on Tour. And, everybody who knows him, pulls for him. You just don't say that about anybody. Davis is a guy that everybody likes to see do well. And, after the 1995 Open, U.S. Open, I am sorry, 1996 U.S. Open last year's difficult loss there, I am happy to see him break through and win.
Q. Do you think that bumps you to the top of this list that everyone talks about the best --
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. That is not really that important, but, I don't know.
Q. Are you amazed at all at how many kids, young fans are out here today for the clinic, just watching the golfers waiting for people, waiting for autographs? Are you amazed by that at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit. Actually, we have seen an increase throughout last couple of years, but this tournament has a huge turnout. It is amazing how many kids are out here. And it is fun for a player to see because I remember when I was that age and I wanted to play the PGA TOUR and play golf for a living, it is just exciting to see other people taking an interest in the game.
Q. When you are doing that clinic, do you think that maybe the next Phil Mickelson is out in that crowd someplace?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I don't know. I just think that it is nice to see that or it is exciting to see that more people are wanting to spend time on the golf course rather than other places that they could be.
Q. Have you played a practice round here yet?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't, no.
Q. Just wondered if had you seen the rough.
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't, no. I looked down No. 1, but I couldn't tell.
Q. We can talk about that tomorrow.
PHIL MICKELSON: Okay.
Q. What about just -- it is never easy to defend anywhere, let alone in a winner's-only field. Just your thought about what it takes to defend anywhere and specifically here.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that on this particular golf course, unlike regular Tour events, the scores are not nearly as low and so to play well here for me last year or this year or in years to come, it is important to be patient throughout the round because there are only two par 5s on the course and only one is reachable. So there is only -- really one hole that you look at and say, this is a birdie, I really need to birdie this hole, and that is No. 2. After that, par is such a good score. I think 6-under won last year and more often than that, single digits wins just about every year here. Because of that, it is important to not try and force a low score, but to try and let it happen or to try and shoot four good rounds of 1-, 2-under par that ultimately the way to win here it is not to shoot 64, 62, 63 because you are not going to get those really low rounds. I though Olazabal did it in '91. Other than that, it is very difficult to go low here. I think he had shot 61 here. Did he not?
Q. He sure did.
PHIL MICKELSON: That is amazing.
Q. Can you draw a comparison or parallel or differences maybe between your physical and mental preparations for this year compared to last?
PHIL MICKELSON: This year's tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, last year, let us see, last year came off of the PGA and I finished 8th and had a chance to win. I was disappointed. I looked at this as kind of a tournament to kind of make amends for that, and, an opportunity to get some job security, if you will, the 10-year exemption, and it was very easy for me to get excited and pumped up for the tournament. And, I think this year, because I had not played well in the Majors, it is easy for me to get excited and want to play well here because this is really the last tournament of that upper echelon that you think of that we play on a very difficult course and against a strong field that, type of thing.
Q. Are you pressing yourself in any way, shape or form heading into this event?
PHIL MICKELSON: I am trying not to. I am trying not to. I think that I am trying to just get -- stay more mentally fresh so I am not really going to be practicing as much. I am going to try and focus my practice schedule into a little less timeframe so that I have more time to relax mentally or get fresher, if you will. Mentally was -- last week was draining on a lot of players, including myself.
Q. If the rough is a little higher, how do you think that is going to affect --
PHIL MICKELSON: The scores won't be as low. And I think that the higher the rough and the harder the greens, the better chance of a top player winning. I think that that is a true test of golf.
Q. Yesterday at Winged Foot there was as large a crowd in the pressroom for the Tom Kite announcement almost as large a crowd as there was for the Davis press conference Sunday.
PHIL MICKELSON: Everybody wanted to see who he picked.
Q. What do you think of the team? You are one of its top players. What did you think of the Captain's picks and just sort of a general impression of the --
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I thought the Captain's picks were pretty obvious. And, not much of a surprise just because Fred Couples is one of the best players in the world and just because he hasn't been able to play much this year with his father being ill and a bunch of other personal reasons, he hasn't had the opportunity to accrue points. And so, that was a pretty easy pick. I thought that Lee Janzen, first of all, should have been on the 1995 Cup Team after he won a week after the picks at the International. The picks were made, and I think that if the picks were one week later, he would have been on the team. And, he is also been playing extremely well. He is a guy who can close it. He won the U.S. Open. He knows how to get the job done and win golf tournaments and with him playing well at the PGA, too, I thought, too, that was an obvious pick. So, I really wasn't that surprised with either one. I think the U.S. team has a very strong team. It is a younger team, but it is also -- it should be a young team because the young guys have been playing well and winning golf tournaments. The European side has a very strong team as well and I think that it is important to have young guys for them like Per-Ulrik Johansson, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood to start coming up for the European side because the same guys that have been competing for the last 8 to 10 Ryder Cups, that is two decades, and it is important if the Ryder Cup is going to continue with great interest that they continue to have good young players coming up.
Q. Do you think Tom should have considered himself maybe a little stronger?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think that he would have picked himself. I think he probably would have played had he made it on points. I wouldn't be surprised if any Captain picked himself. I think that is a little -- that is a little questionable.
Q. You are undefeated, if I am not mistaken, in Ryder Cup play.
PHIL MICKELSON: Right.
Q. So you have got experience. But there is four players on this year's U.S. team who have none. I mean, obviously they are great players Scott Hoch included, but the players who have played have, in fact, a cumulative losing record. Do you think the Europeans, with a more experienced top 5, with a winning record in Ryder Cup play, perhaps at least on paper rate a slight edge?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I could be wrong, but I have got to think that a lot of guys on the European side have losing records too.
Q. Top 5, they have outstanding records.
PHIL MICKELSON: Do they really?
PHIL MICKELSON: I really don't know how to answer that. I think that we have a lot of young guys and -- but I don't see that as a negative. I mean, to say that the British Open Champ this year is a rookie is kind of harsh because the guy has been out here for a number of years, has three wins, and one of them being a major championship, I would want that guy playing for me. I don't care if he has played Ryder Cup or not. That is like saying Greg Norman, if he became a U.S. citizen and played his first Ryder Cup, he is really a rookie, known what I mean?
Q. In fact Montgomerie said that it meant nothing, because I asked him the same question.
PHIL MICKELSON: Right. Then as far as the guys on the team who have losing records, I know O'Meara is one, you are probably thinking about, I am not familiar with the other guys with losing records.
Q. Freddie does, 5 and 7, played a lot of matches.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, well, you know, -- so, they have not played well. Bunch of years ago. I don't know. I don't know how to react to that. I don't think that it is that big a deal. I don't think it is that big of deal. I think that the 1991 Ryder Cup was really a turning point in Fred's career because when he teamed with Ray Floyd and they won a couple of crucial matches and were really a tough team to beat, he became a very tough player down the stretch. Consequently won the next major he played in, The Masters.
Q. What did it mean to you in terms of seasoning you as a player?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a learning experience for me when I say that it was unlike any tournament I have played before. It was a very difficult week for the players because whether we wanted to or not, there was a lot of pressure on us and we felt it to a degree, that we don't normally feel even in Majors. And, I enjoyed the week. I enjoy the Ryder Cup. I enjoy playing. I am sorry, kind of losing your point. What was the question?
Q. You mentioned what it did for Fred.
PHIL MICKELSON: What did it do for me?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I am not -- I am not quite sure what exactly it did for me. I mean, I learned or I had an opportunity to deal with a pressure off the course that was harder than anything I have experienced. By that, I mean, knowing you are going to play the next match and not knowing what it is going to take score-wise is very difficult. It is unnerving until you are actually on the golf course and then it is a lot easier. When I am actually playing, it is okay. But, the anticipation is what builds up, the anxiety and I had an opportunity to deal with that, you know, play with that a little bit.
Q. Anybody you seem to pair up with, maybe somebody you'd like to be paired with?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, there are a number of guys. I don't want to just say one because then I limit myself. I want to say, hey, whatever you think is best that I play with, pair me with them because I just like the opportunity to play and I don't want to say, you know, play me with so and so or else I am not playing. That is not a good way to go about it because it limits the opportunities.
Q. But there are some obvious pairings, it seems to me.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think in alternate shot it is important to match length with length, whether it be longer or shorter players, I think that they have the same mindset when looking at a golf course. And, it is difficult to play with an opposite mindset. And, so the guys who hit it comparable distances will be guys that I would like to play with. Now, in best-ball, it really doesn't matter. Best-ball is wide open because you are playing your own ball and so forth.
Q. Is there any one facet of your game that kind of hurts you in the major this year, common thread that you can see?
PHIL MICKELSON: I drove it poorly at Augusta. The U.S. Open I didn't putt very well and the British Open I actually played okay, but I just couldn't quite score and I think that it was different for every major. I thought that I was playing well at the PGA and I had made a couple of mental errors. That consequently threw me out of the tournament. But, up until three holes to play on Saturday, I was two shots out of the lead and I made a couple of poor choices and put myself out of it. So it was kind of a combination of a bunch of things from mental errors, to poor driving, to poor putting, to just not being in a good scoring frame of mind which were the same things that I encounter in Tour events as well. Everybody goes through their cycles. It is a matter of getting everything to kind of click or fall into place for an entire week.
Q. The rest of the year, your schedule for the season is set, you are going to play?
PHIL MICKELSON: Pretty much.
Q. You are going to play Vegas for sure?
PHIL MICKELSON: I am planning on it. It is not for sure, but I am planning on playing -- after this week I am going to end up taking probably four weeks off, playing the Ryder Cup and The Masters while I am in Europe. Then from two weeks off prior to Las Vegas and THE TOUR Championship.
Q. How you prepared for Oakhill in 1995, it is a similar pattern to how your schedule is going --
PHIL MICKELSON: 1995 I took a brunch of time off before the Ryder Cup as I did or as I am planning on doing this year. And, the reason I do that is a couple of reasons, it gives me an opportunity to rest up and then gear up for the Ryder Cup. But, also the Majors have just ended through August and I think that it is important after playing three Majors in like two months, two-and-a-half-month timespan, it is important to take some time off and rest and get ready because The Ryder Cup is a big event. And, it is one of the biggest events we play in. We only get a chance every other year to play in it.
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it is not that big of deal. It is a big tournament, don't get me wrong. But, it is, again, I think what has happened over the past few years is that the Ryder Cup, once the U.S. lost, it became a huge interest story and got built up and everything. But, if you think about when it was created, it was to promote camaraderie and sportsmanship amongst players who never really had a chance to compete against each other that much. Back in the day, guys played over in Europe and over in the United States and they never really had an opportunity to compete against each other. And now, we are competing against guys we play with every week. Colin Montgomerie is a good friend of mine. Nick Faldo plays the U.S. Tour. We see him all the time. I have gotten to know Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros quite a bit. They are excellent guys. I mean, guys I enjoy playing golf with, spending time with now for one week out of the year, they are -- we are supposed to be enemies. That is the problem I have with it. I think it has gotten a little bit out of hand primarily in 1991, I thought that was ridiculous the way the whole thing went about. I hope that -- although I wanted the interest to remain high, I hope that it is a different type of interest, not such a hard-core war-type interest, but more just an event that promotes the game of golf. And because of that, you know, I don't want to overemphasize the Ryder Cup. I want to have it be a fun event and good experience. Whereas, in 1995, it was a difficult week. It was very trying. I mean, we lost and I thought that that meant so much more than it really did. We lost the Ryder Cup. You know, it is not what it was about. It wasn't about winning or losing. It was about bringing the sportsmanship and the integrity of the game up.
Q. Was it tough for you in the singles match since everything is pretty much undecided; that it was not more of an impact placed on your match?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, to me and at the time there was because had I not won my match, none of the other matches would have mattered. And I was trailing. I was 2 down at the turn and had I not come back and won, it wouldn't have mattered if anybody else could have closed it, we still would have lost. So to me, even though the other guys didn't come through and we didn't win, it was a very positive experience for me because I knew I had to win and I ended up doing it.
Q. You are not going skiing on your time off, are you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, there is no snow.
Q. Someplace there is.
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't have a choice.
Q. Not in this hemisphere.
PHIL MICKELSON: Switzerland is a long ways to go.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. Appreciate it.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you, guys. Have a good week.
End of FastScripts....