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April 9, 2006

Phil Mickelson


PHIL MICKELSON: I want you to know that I am extremely excited to be here to talk to you. (Laughter).

BILLY PAYNE: Needing no introduction, ladies and gentlemen.

PHIL MICKELSON: This was the goal, to be here.

BILLY PAYNE: Let me say what great pleasure we have as members of Augusta National, as organizers of The Masters, to present our 2006 champion, now a winner of a major championship for three consecutive years, Phil Mickelson, congratulations and please share some thoughts.

PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you, Mr. Payne.

It was a really fun day. I just had an incredible time playing the final 18 and had a great time playing the 13 holes this morning with Darren Clarke. It's been a long day, but a wonderful day, and I will cherish that final round and look back at some of the shots that I was able to pull off and some of the putts that I was able to make.

Q. Did you become a different golfer, whether it was inside your head or in your game after you won here the first time, and if so, how has that played out on the course?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if it happened after. I would say that it probably happened before, where I started to prepare better for tournaments. Where I started to play a little bit differently, to control my game, control the ball flight, control putting. Got a little better at the start of 2004 and I think that it started with the win here in 2004.

Q. Would you now advocate everyone going out and putting two drivers in the bag?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, if they are the proper brand. (Laughter).

Q. And in all seriousness, how much did that actually help you?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, it was huge. It was a huge help. Because I worked with the technicians over at Callaway and I've got 20, 25 more yards with this driver that draws. I call it a draw and a fade, but the fact is, the draw is like an additional driver; it makes my normal driver a 3 wood, because it goes so much farther. And I needed it to combat the added length here at Augusta. This is the only course that I can think of that I will probably do it, and I did it last week at BellSouth to get accustomed to it. I don't know where else I'll end up needing to do that, but it was a huge help here, and I started going to that driver exclusively, only on holes that I thought I would play cuts. Like on 14 and 17, I ended up hitting that draw driver because I needed the extra length.

Q. You obviously were perturbed this morning by the photographer and the thing at 18, did that

PHIL MICKELSON: No, no, I ended up hitting a good shot. It didn't affect me at all as far as my play.

But it was just upsetting that as a player, I dream about playing in these tournaments since I was a kid, and competing and being in the lead like I was on the 18th hole. And to have a shot be affected or the outcome be affected by a photographer with an early trigger finger is upsetting, because not only do I not want it to happen to me, but I don't want to win that way if it happens to another player, either.

Q. In each of the two previous majors that you have won, you walked up to 18 having to execute a pretty difficult

PHIL MICKELSON: Birdie the last hole, yeah.

Q. Wondering if you can describe the experience this time?

PHIL MICKELSON: A lot better. I loved it. (Laughter) the stress free walk up 18 was incredible. I had been wanting that I had actually been wanting like a four or five shot lead, but three was okay, too. It was a great feeling walking up there, knowing that I had the tournament in hand.

Q. Was being with Freddie a good pairing for you?


Q. He talked about it being good for him, how you two were actually encouraging each other along.

PHIL MICKELSON: I love playing with Fred. We had a great time and we kept saying how lucky we were to be in the final pairing on Sunday at The Masters and how much fun it was. It made for a very fun day, and we were pulling for each other to make some birdies and encouraging each other.

When 14 happened where he ended up having a little mishap there, you know, it was you don't want to win like that. It would have been, if he knocks that first putt in, we would have had one heck of a time that final four holes, and I wanted to see that happened. As much as I wanted to win this tournament, I was sorry to see that happen.

Q. Is that camaraderie a little bit unusual?

PHIL MICKELSON: We've had a good relationship because we've played on so many Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. Although we have not been partners but a time or two, we're still teammates and we still pull for each other, play practice rounds together and have an enjoyable time.

Q. As you well know, we made a great deal of the fact that you were 0 for 42 in the majors and asked you all the time

PHIL MICKELSON: 3 for 9 sounds better, huh? (Laughter.)

Q. What's the difference, are you a new guy because of that and can you describe the feeling?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm having the best time right now playing golf. I'm having so much fun being able to compete for major championships, it's just incredible, and to win a couple now, it's just an amazing feeling.

I couldn't have done this by myself. I have practiced hard but I maybe didn't practice the right way or on the right things. To have the help from Dave Pelz and Rick Smith, it has really given me the guidance. So that when I do spend time practicing, I'm spending it on the right things to help me prepare my best and play my best. I feel as though with their commitment to me and my commitment to them, we are going to hopefully be able to compete and contend in future majors, as well.

Q. Just to go back to the Freddie question, in a way, was that an ideal pairing for you, as opposed to, let's say, Tiger or Vijay, who maybe are not saying, "Come on, let's go make some birdies, Phil"?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that probably wouldn't have happened. (Laughter) So, yeah, it was a good pairing. We had a great day and it was really a fun day.

Q. Between 1962 and '66, Arnold Palmer traded the green jacket back and forth and you and Tiger have done it three years in a row. Any thoughts about maybe continuing that and what that would mean to both golf and the Masters?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you know, I don't really want to trade next year. (Laughter) But, I certainly enjoyed having the jacket put on me rather than putting it on.

It was I don't know if it will be I don't know if it's good for the game or not, but I love the chance to compete against guys like Tiger, guys like Retief and Ernie and Vijay and Fred who are playing so well. It gives me an incredible feeling of accomplishment to be able to come out on top this week.

Q. Along Art's question about 3 for 9, are you feeling more comfortable in your own skin now that all that pressure is gone?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm certainly a lot cheerier.

I guess, I don't know how to answer that, I'm just having so much fun playing and competing in these tournaments and being able to focus in or try to focus in on majors and try to get my best game out for those events.

I had a great experience in the 2004 U.S. Open when I lost to Retief, having the opportunity to compete, I think it's more than whether or not you win or lose. It's having that opportunity on that final round, final nine, to come down the stretch with a chance to win. And to make the turn on the back nine here at Augusta on Sunday and be in the lead was just a great feeling and a lot of fun. I'm glad I was able to finish it off on the back nine because it doesn't always happen that way. But win, lose or draw, it's just fun to be able to compete.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about being left handed and the new course, if it figures in at all?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm actually right handed, you know, in everything but golf. But as far as Augusta National is concerned, we have such a variety of holes that move both ways, I don't think it favors a left handed or right handed player, if that's where you were heading with the question.

I certainly am pleased or have played well here and like the way it looks to my eye, and I like the golf course a lot.

Q. Your 2004 win was, I think the word "relief" was there, getting off the schnide (ph); what is the difference today?

PHIL MICKELSON: The difference is that I felt that sense of relief after I broke through and won a major and today I felt this great feeling of accomplishment to be able to beat guys like Tiger and Retief and Ernie and Vijay and Fred and some incredible and talented players. And to come out on top, it's a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Q. You have six victories now in the State of Georgia, any special feeling about this state?

PHIL MICKELSON: Obviously I'm a little biased and I love it here. I love the golf courses, I love the people, love the town and I love coming here and playing.

This place, though, is so special to the game of golf, and I just am so appreciative to the members here at the club to give us as kids, when we were kids growing up, such a great dream and such a great opportunity to come and play such a great tournament. It gives us something to strive for.

Q. There was a lot of talk before the tournament about what the changes what effect it might have on the competitiveness and playability for shorter hitters. How do you think the course stacked up this week, and do you think it changed?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I'd like to say one thing about the changes real quick. I really like 'em. (Laughter).

Q. Just to put this in motion, how do you stand on Grand Slam, all in one year or four in a row, a la, Tiger?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, let's settle down Grand Slam talk and stuff. To hold well, you call it the Tiger slam, to hold all four majors, incredible. That's just one of the most incredible feats in the game; that, and Bobby Jones' Grand Slam, and Ben Hogan in '53 winning three of the four, are probably the greatest feats in golf.

I don't know, does that answer what you're

Q. You're halfway there. Have you ever gone through all 18 in a major without getting in trouble?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Nick, I hate to admit, probably not, but I wouldn't say I was never in trouble. But I was able to get out of it. You know, the bunker on 10, that was a tough bunker shot and I was able to get closer. There were places that weren't easy, but I was able to get up and down or get out of it.

Q. You started out with the lead for this fourth round and you got a string of pars going, when did you start thinking, I'd better start making some birdies at some point?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, because the first six holes are extremely tough. With the exception of 2, and maybe 3 today because of the pin placement, but normally that's the only pin placement that's a birdie pin, I just felt like if I could get through the first six holes, I wanted to get through under par, but my only two birdie holes were 2 and 3. So once I didn't birdie those I was trying to birdie 4, 5 and 6. When I get to 7 and the pin is down below, that's a birdie hole, and so is 8.

Q. How far did you have to the pin on 7, what did you hit?

PHIL MICKELSON: I had 138 and I hit a little 9 iron.

Q. As you're starting to collect major titles now, how much thought are you giving to what this might do for your legacy and your place in the game?

PHIL MICKELSON: I really don't think about that. As much as I want to be a part of the history of this tournament and a part of the history of the great game of golf, it's not something I dwell on. I really enjoy the challenges that each major presents.

Starting tomorrow, we'll start preparing for Winged Foot. It just is a fun event, the four majors, to look forward to and try to prepare my best and to play my best. I don't think about ultimately, you know, leaving a legacy, if you will. I just try to play well and compete and hopefully win as many as I can. It's nice that I at least started, because two years ago I wasn't, and now I've got a nice little start.

Q. You alluded to being a better golfer now than when you were younger; when you were really young, do you look back on that and say, I wish I had learned sooner, or did that make you a better golfer now, the near misses?

PHIL MICKELSON: I look back on the old Masters highlights and I watched some things that I've done and I've learned from those experiences. I've learned from hitting it over in 1995 on that sixth hole making double bogey trying to chip. I learned that you can't put it there, or if you do, you've got to putt it. Things like that, I've picked up, because it knocked me out of the tournament in 1995.

Or I looked at how I tried to putt these greens with this long stroke which just doesn't work on such fast surfaces. And I've learned a lot, but it's not like I could just cram that into a year and have it all down. It's taken me time and years of seeing what's worked well and what hasn't.

You know, the 15th hole, it's taken me years to realize that 5 is a good score there. You know, it's okay to make par there. You feel like you've got to birdie the par 5s in the back. But when I tried to force it and I make 6 and 7, I knock myself out of the tournament, and it's okay to make par on 15. It's not going to kill me.

Things like that, I've picked up over the years, but it's not something that, you know, you could just cram that knowledge in. It just takes awhile.

Q. How close are you and Fred away from the course, and what's the most fun you've ever had with him away from the course?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's a question I can't answer. (Laughter) But we've had some good times. I just think he's just really a terrific person, as well as a great player and really enjoy being around him.

Q. A couple things, if you can go over your birdies at some point, that would be great. But beyond that, what are you going to be most proud of about the way you did manage your game today I think you went into 18 as the only guy without a bogey, as Nick said, you didn't look like you were in a lot of trouble. What were you proud of about the way you managed today?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, Todd, it was just a day where I was able to drive the ball in play. I drove it great the back side. Just really hit a lot of good drives on the back side. Drove it in play, hit good iron shots and I had great touch around the greens, or a lot of good lag putts that I hit that left me just tap ins. And when I didn't hit a good lag putt on 11 and left it six feet short, I ended up making that.

I putted well I'll look back on the whole round and just think that I did look back and really relish some of the shots I pulled off.

Q. Did you feel the same calm this year that you did two years ago? You made a lot of big deal about that two years ago; was it the same type of feeling or was it better?

PHIL MICKELSON: I really had a good feeling about this tournament, obviously winning by 13 last week helped, but I knew I was playing well and I knew I was prepared for the tournament. But I still had to execute, I still had to perform. But having the confidence that I was playing well from my performance last week; that I had prepared well from the days that I had spent here, gave me the confidence and the ease of mind, if you will, heading into the final round that I was ready. I didn't question it.

Q. You talked about stress free on 18, but were you surprised given how many good players that were on your tail and nobody made a charge on the back nine?

PHIL MICKELSON: I was a little bit, but the golf course is very difficult to make a lot of birdies because it's playing so long. I did think, though, with the pin on 13 where it was, 14 where it was, 15 and 16, I thought we were going to see some fireworks.

We saw some birdies, but we also saw some bogeys, too, because of some poorly struck shots. It's very tough to get up and down to those pins. I knocked it eight feet on 16 and I was really worried about 3 putting that, it was so fast.

Chipping or putting from 30 or 40 feet there is really tough to salvage par.

Q. That was the first time today where you were able to walk up the 18th and take it in and enjoy it, what were you thinking about and Rick said after your round that that was the most perfect round you had played in a major. How do you feel about that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I love that, I love that he feels that way, because I probably when I have a chance to look back on the round, I will feel that way, too. I haven't had a chance to dwell on the whole round. I just know that it was nice walking up the 18th hole with a three shot lead. I haven't experienced that before and it was a great feeling walking up the 18th at Augusta. What a special place.

Q. You've shot low scores 60, 62 in other tournaments, how does that round, pretty flawless 69, compare with some of those?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I felt like today there were some tough holes that I was able to make par on and there were some birdie holes that I was able to capitalize on.

When I look back on it, I think what I'm most proud of is that I didn't let other people back in it. They had to come and chase me down and make birdies to do it. That's what I was proud of. I knew that they were going to make birdies, but rather than force it and try to make birdies myself, I played for par on the tough holes and I was able to capitalize with a couple of birdies on the easier ones.

Q. Was your ball striking almost comparable to some of those low rounds?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't say that I played flawless today, because I feel like I played far from it. But I was able to manage my misses and control my misses, and then the back nine, I drove it as good as I probably ever have. After 10, 11, those last five drives, I hit really, really well.

BILLY PAYNE: Please go over your score card, Phil.

PHIL MICKELSON: I birdied 7 with a driver and a 9 iron from about 138 yards to eight feet and made that.

I hit driver, 3 wood on 8 just short of the green and chipped up to three feet for birdie.

I birdied 13 with a good drive around the corner, a 4 iron to 30 feet par and 2 putted that.

I hit a I had birdie on 15 with a good drive and hit 5 iron just over the bunker right, pin high and chipped up to eight feet by the hole and made that.

And bogeyed 18, after a good drive just in the right rough, I hit a 9 iron to the left of the green. Chipped up to 20 feet, 25 feet, 2 putted for bogey.

But I had a twig behind my ball on 18, and I didn't want to move it, risk moving it and having a penalty, so I just kind of hit it and it shot left on me. I figured that I was okay to get it on the green from there.

BILLY PAYNE: 2006 Masters Champion, Phil Mickelson, congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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