|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
June 12, 2007
RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Phil Mickelson to the interview room this afternoon. Phil is playing in his 17th United States Open Championship this week at Oakmont. He is a former USGA National Champion having won the 1990 U.S. Amateur.
Phil I think you had an opportunity to get out and play a couple of holes this morning, maybe you can just tell us how you're feeling.
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a chance to play nine holes today. It was the first time in a while and it was nice to get out on the course and get to hit some shots.
As you know, I've had a bit of a wrist injury the last two weeks. And since Memorial, I took four or five days off and had two doctors look at it. Fortunately I had the same diagnosis from both doctors; that it was inflammation. I took four or five days off and tried to play last Tuesday and hit balls and just wasn't able to do it.
I called and immediately got a cortisone shot to try to get rid of the inflammation. On my way out here I stopped by Butch's place in Vegas to hit some shots and wasn't quite able to do that yet.
The last few days I've been having therapy sessions with Jim Weathers. I've been doing some light therapy, an interesting new things, as well as some rehab with it as well as resting it. I think the Cortisone shot is kicking in, and the therapy is kicking in, because each day I'm able to do more ask more. Monday I was able to chip-and-putt which yesterday I hit balls for the first time for about 20, 30 minutes and did the same today and I added nine holes. I'll do the same tomorrow, hit balls for a half our or so and play nine holes, and as the week goes, on I'll probably do more and more. Looking forward to playing, I should be able to play no problem.
I probably won't be pain-free like I had hoped but I should be able to have it be manageable as long as I don't aggravate it or hit in the rough. (Laughter).
RAND JERRIS: You spent quite a bit of time preparing for the championship. Can you talk about the character of the golf course and particularly the greens.
PHIL MICKELSON: The greens are interesting. I've enjoyed studying them and spending some time on them. I think that will be the biggest challenge this week.
Q. I didn't get to see all of the holes this morning; did you play any shots out of the rough and if you did, how did it feel?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't hit any shots out of the rough. I don't want to aggravate it. Tried not to hit too many drivers yet. I don't want to go at it full speed just yet. I think I hit one or two drivers at the most. Just kind of easing into it.
I've got a really good game plan mapped out for the tournament. I'm just not sure if I'm going to be ready to implement it because I haven't had the normal practice and preparation that I would have going into it a major.
But I'm still looking forward to being able to play and hopefully implement or put together the game plan that I had hoped.
Q. You just touched on that; you've made a habit of playing into tournaments, playing competitive rounds going into it. How much of a draw back do you think that will be going into Thursday not having played competitively for over two weeks now?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's certainly not the way I wanted to be coming into this tournament. I wanted to have good practice sessions and good driver sessions. I've brought a couple of drivers since THE PLAYERS and wanted to work on that and haven't been able to do that. I haven't been physically able to practice as hard as would I like and I'm not sure where my physical game is going to be as far as ball striking and so forth.
But I've been able to chip-and-putt and put together a game plan but it's difficult to implement given I have not been able to practice the last two weeks.
Q. This obviously is one of the most grueling majors around because of the rough and all that goes with it, do you think you'll be able to get through four rounds? And as a follow, what are the parts of your game plan that you think might be most difficult to implement because of the wrist issues?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think it's important to drive the ball very well here obviously, and that's going to be the biggest challenge for me because I haven't been able to practice it as well as go at it 100% with confidence that it's not going to flare-up again. But this should not be a long term problem if I don't aggravate the inflammation, and this unfortunately isn't the best week for that, given my driving history. (Laughter).
I ended up over stressing my other wrist because it was carrying a heavier word on work outs and trying to stay in shape so I've been ordered to after the rounds, I can't sign autographs or hit balls or do strenuous work outs. It should not be a problem if I do this for the next two to four weeks. I shouldn't have a long term problem and I should let the injury settle down and it won't be an issue.
Again, that's not easy to do here at this setup. Now, I will say the rough is a half or a third what it was when I got injured. It was two or three times as tall as it is now.
Q. As a follow, do you have any concern as you go in Thursday that you'll be able to perform this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure I do, I have concerns. But I'm going to do the best I can do it. I'm going to do all that I can to do that.
Q. Can you just tell us how it happened? Was it one particular shot here or was it a series of shots, and how does it affect the way you prepare for future majors?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's a good question. I don't have a specific one shot. It was just numerous shots of jarring at impact, club stopping. And then when I went to hit drivers a day later, it just started flaring up.
How will that affect future preparation? Well, I probably won't practice out of such thick rough as much, yeah. Or at least wait for it to get cut a little bit, because it's been mown quite a bit heading into this tournament than where it was. I'm sure that's just a precaution that they had the rough as high as they needed it and just cut it down to where they wanted it, but I didn't realize that.
Q. Does this injury take the driver out of your hands more than you would like because you want to protect your risk?
PHIL MICKELSON: Certainly in the practice rounds. But I think to win this tournament, you've got to hit driver and get the ball down the fairways, because the greens are so beautiful and so fast that you need spin; you need trajectory; you need short irons coming into these greens to have a chance of keeping the ball somewhat close to the hole.
Q. What are your expectations this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm trying not to go in with too many expectations as far as how I finish, place and so forth.
I want to, as Thursday starts and as we get to Sunday, continue to improve my ball-striking without aggravating my wrist anymore, and hopefully implement my game plan that I've developed the last couple of weeks with Pelz.
Q. Secondly, what can you tell us about the contraption that Dave was carrying along with him on the greens?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not too much, yeah.
PHIL MICKELSON: Anything at all?
Q. Pretty close to it.
PHIL MICKELSON: I was measuring the speeds of the greens because Pelz has that half -- we call it a Pelz-Meter. It's a half meter it takes half the energy of a Stimpmeter but it's calibrated to a Stimpmeter. Pelz is a former NASA scientist, and he spent $150,000 on this computer chip and it has a mathematic computation that allows him to measure greens on any green surface regardless of slope and pitch. The Stimpmeter was used 20 years before NASA was even more formed and you cannot measure these greens with any accuracy because there are no flat spots. With his meter, it's calibrated to the inch. I know what speed each green is.
Normally it would not be a big thing, they are very consistent for the most part. I had one as fast as 15.6 and one as slow as 11.2 and that's four and a half feet of difference right there. It's important that I have that information to know going into these greens the difference in how the ball is going to roll out.
Q. Just going back a little bit, a lot of people obviously changed their swings or go to see somebody, are you surprised so quickly that working with Butch that you got results as quickly as you did, and what was the biggest thing that you think he changed about the way you play golf?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, and probably the driver.
Q. People discussed 8th hole, which is obviously a very, very long par 3, because of your wrist injury I assume you would normally hit a 3-wood or 3-iron; will that affect you and what do you think of the 8th hole? Did you get that far?
PHIL MICKELSON: You said 3-iron? You know that hole is 300 yards, right?
Q. To the back hole position. But what would you use there, and on a hole like that, would your wrist be affected particularly?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. That wouldn't -- that wouldn't -- the par 3 there wouldn't cause the problem. It would be holes like -- well, the holes that you need driver on. That's the biggest area because the driver I'm swinging the fastest -- the face is the least loft. So there's more of a direct blow at impact, and so more absorption in the wrist of energy. That's the biggest area of concern.
8 would not be a factor because that's a 3-wood or hybrid shot.
Q. What do you think of it?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's a great hole, and as I slowly have started to get into architecture, I find that the longest par 3 that I ever see is 240 or 250, and the shortest par 4 I ever see is about 330 or 340. There's 80 or 90 yards in there of room for some great holes, but because we don't know what to call it relative to par, those holes aren't built. And I think this is an example of a hole that's built in that yardage area, 300 yards and you don't know what to call it. It's probably a par 3 1/2, so the USGA is going to round up or down; well, we know what way that is going to go. (Laughter) It's a great golf hole and everybody has to play it. And just because we don't know what to say par-wise, doesn't mean we shouldn't have holes like that.
Q. I guess the question is, can you re-injure or hurt your wrist more during this week, and did you ever think about not playing and let it actually heel itself up completely to go through the other majors?
PHIL MICKELSON: No to the latter part. And probably if I don't overdo it any one day, it should -- it should be fine on it's own in a couple of weeks.
Again, as long as I don't overaggravate, which is why I'm taking it day-to-day. But it's continuing to go down and the inflammation has gone down.
Q. On those rare occasions when you might hit into the rough, can you go at it as hard as you normally would out of there?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. No. I'll have to -- I certainly shouldn't hit an iron out of there, where the iron is digging into the ground and cutting the grass and stopping. I'll probably take a hybrid and try to slide the sole through a little bit better. But again, I don't plan on hitting in the rough. (Laughter).
Q. Are you relieved that this week is finally here and do you think that once it ends, you're not going to hear about Winged Foot anymore and what happened last year?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no, I'll still hear about that. Come on, you guys, of course. (Laughter).
But I would probably like to have one more week before we started this event, but I'll be as ready as I can be on Thursday.
Q. Were it not the U.S. Open, would you try to play this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably not. I'd probably wait one more week. Yeah, I'd probably wait one more week.
But, you know, we could talk to David Fay -- in fact, I had different we are him last night, but he wasn't very receptive to the idea.
Q. Will you have to wear that brace when you play?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. But it's really not intrusive because the palm is open. It's just wrapped around the thumb. So it's a little bit more supportive around the wrist. I'll probably tighten is for shots, loosen it a little bit more better blood circulation after I hit.
Q. What kind of therapy are they doing right before the round or the night after you play?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I've been icing, been pushing out, rubbing out inflammation. We've been doing some new light techniques to try to stimulate cell activity. We've been trying to use energy work to try to get blood flow and try to get it to heal, and it seems to be helping. Every day seems to be getting better, which is a good sign.
Q. Electrical stimulation?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not exactly, but kind of.
Q. If the tournament started tomorrow, would you play?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I played nine today. I could have played 18, but again, I don't want to push it. I'll practice a little bit more tomorrow. I'll do some of my drills tomorrow with ball-striking that I have not done in a couple of weeks. And I don't expect it to get worse. I think it will get better each day.
But again afterwards, I have to ice it and rest both wrists. Nothing too strenuous afterwards.
Q. Obviously there are a lot of difficult holes out here. Tiger says his favorite will be the 19th hole. Are there any favorite holes for you, as far as you can see it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Rather than isolating it, I think the toughest stretch, 7, 8, 9, 10 is the toughest stretch in all of golf, and that is the stretch that will eliminate the majority of the field in that four-hole area.
Q. We all remember Shinnecock a few years ago, and last year No. 1 at Winged Foot had to be looked at and watched very closely. Are there any greens that if they are not careful --
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, there's six or seven of them, sure.
Q. Is there a No. 1?
PHIL MICKELSON: The obvious three holes are 1, 10 and 12 but there are a few others that need to be looked at because they got a little bit faster than I think they realize. But given the pitch on 12, it was rolling over 13 on a Stimpmeter, an accurate Stimpmeter and it was too much pitch for the ball to stay on the greens.
Q. As a golfer, you're your own boss. Do you find it difficult to listen to a doctor?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, not at all, Steve. I listen to Bones, whatever he says. I listen to -- well, I actually do listen to Butch. (Laughter).
No, I have to listen to them because they are the experts in their field and I respect what they do. They both -- I've had two wonderful doctors gives me the same diagnosis, inflammation, cortisone shots should help, let's do it this time, it will take a few days to kick in, rest, don't do too much after the rounds, ice, blah, blah, blah. I absolutely respect what they have said, especially two of them.
Q. I know you like to be a glass is half-full kind of guy and optimistic, but wondering as well as you were playing before you got hurt, how hard is it to have the same attitude and same outlook right now being the timing of when you got hurt and being at the top of your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: If I was looking at it optimistically, I would say this will help keep me at one shot at a time, and this wrist brace will help me alleviate any extra wrist break at the top of the swing I may have.
You try to find the best -- is it okay if I use this now if I said that? (Laughter). You do the best you can. I'm looking forward to this tournament, and I've been looking forward to getting back here for a year, and looking forward to getting out here the last three weeks, and I've been thinking about this event. I'm excited it's finally here. I wish I had one more week of recovery and practice time to prepare properly, but you do the best you can.
Q. How does the wrist affect your putting, or does it?
PHIL MICKELSON: It doesn't. I haven't noticed anything in putting or in little short chip shots, 30, 40 yards on in.
Q. One of the 15-year-old boys who is an amateur golfer, the youngest player to win --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, he just won I saw that.
Q. You know it.
PHIL MICKELSON: I do.
Q. We had a press conference in Japan, and he is looking forward to watching you guys this weekend. I just want to you to know, he is planning on playing next year for the U.S. Open. Would you give him some advice to play for the U.S. Open?
PHIL MICKELSON: Why did he not try to qualify for this year, or did he?
PHIL MICKELSON: He didn't? There's qualifying in Japan --
Q. Yeah, he didn't have a right to qualify for this year, so next year. Do you have any advice?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm looking forward to competing against him. I certainly want to give him too much advice, because I don't want him to come over and beat us all. But it is fun to see how many great young players there are in the world, and I'm excited to have a chance to compete against him.
Q. And he had a press conference and he really, really likes you very much, too. Would you please give him some warm message? (Laughter). Sorry, but he wants a little message.
PHIL MICKELSON: I read where he won the tournament, and I just can't believe what an incredible accomplishment that is at 15. When I first played a TOUR event I was 17 years old. I couldn't come close to making a cut.
For him to win at 15 is incredible. It's one of the greatest feats in all of golf, I believe. He's going to be a great talent and great for Japanese golf, as well as world golf. And maybe the Presidents Cup; he ought to be considered for a captain's selection this year; Gary Player. (Laughter).
Q. Was there a point where you finally put last year behind you, and is there anything you took from that final day?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't ever want to put it totally behind me. I still want to look back on it and recall what happened, because I used that analysis to design a game plan to start driving the ball better. Hopefully my previous weeks of playing at the Nelson, the Wachovia and THE PLAYERS Championship has helped me implement that program to get me started. If I just forget about it, I'm not taking advantage of the opportunity to take advantage of some weaknesses hopefully turn it into strengths.
Q. As the father of three, what advice or word-to-the-wise would you give Tiger Woods about being a father?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, me giving Tiger advice doesn't really feel right, about anything. (Laughter).
Q. But you have experience.
PHIL MICKELSON: He had wonderful parents and great role models for how to raise children, and I'm sure that knowing he and Elin like Amy and I do, they are going to be wonderful parents.
Q. I know you're reluctant to talk in much detail about Butch's changes, but personality-wise, what's that been like and how has he helped? By most accounts he's very different from Rick in how he works with students or clients or whatever.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been great so far. I've really enjoyed spending time with him. He's been entertaining. He's a wonderful storyteller. I think the stories are worth maybe more than the knowledge I've learned. It's been very fun working with him and hearing so many great stories from past players, as well as present.
Q. Given the lack of playing leading up to this tournament, and like you said, you'd love to have one more week, is your confidence in winning as high as it has been, or should be leading up to this event?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's really not -- that's not an area I'm really focused on right now. I'm focused on trying to play well and trying to get healthy to execute the shots I need to execute. I'm really not able to think about the results or think about trying to win or Top-10 or make cuts or anything like that. That's not really in my thought process.
Q. How does that compare to years past in this events; were you in the same frame of mind, just trying to work your way through the events?
PHIL MICKELSON: Last year teeing off I felt like I was in position well, I felt like I was playing well having won the two previous majors and that I had a good game plan for Winged Foot to win. So that's exactly what I was thinking about.
Here, I've got to stay a little bit more in the present and not think so much about the result, just get healthy to execute the shots I need to execute and I need to keep it out of the rough. I say that jokingly, but I really need to keep it out of the rough more so than in the past.
Q. Have you had any experience in a practice round or tournament round in the church pews; as a budding architect what are your thoughts on those?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think they are cool, some of the coolest bunkers in the game, and a lot has been made of them. I don't think it's been duplicated, certainly not to that element of beauty and design. I haven't hit shots out of there. I certainly don't plan on going in them, but it is something that I would look at as a possible architectural feature in some of my design work. I think it's really cool.
RAND JERRIS: Phil, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts