|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
August 5, 2008
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN
KELLY ELBIN: Phil Mickelson, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club, 2005 PGA Champion. This is Phil's 16th PGA Championship. Has seven Top-10 finishes in the PGA Championship.
Phil, welcome back to Oakland Hills. I understand you played some practice last week. Thoughts on the golf course?
PHIL MICKELSON: Was out here last week, the course is great. It's very difficult, obviously. The greens are challenging, and it's golf course to be a great venue for this PGA Championship.
Q. How hard do you think it will be assuming they say, play middle tees and take a not too-over-the-top-setup approach? Will it be the hardest of the four major courses barring, say, weather at Birkdale or whatever which was kind of weird; is it that difficult?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think so. I think that Torrey was a lot more difficult. I think that it's a very fair setup. I didn't see anything that was unfair about it that was going to make the scores ridiculously high.
I felt that the tee boxes that were added to make it play longer; although it's longer, it doesn't really alter the clubs into the greens.
For instance, No. 4, we were hitting a hybrid or a 3-wood to the top of the fairway and then hitting a wedge down. And the tee is moved back a few yards, 20, 30 yards, so now we hit driver to the same spot.
The next hole, No. 5, we were hitting 3-wood or hybrid over the hill to stay short of the creek and get down to the edge of the fairway; with the new back tee, we reach that now with a driver.
So although it's playing longer, off the tee, it just forces us to hit more drivers and 3-woods off the tee, but ending up in the same spot for iron shots in. So I don't feel as though it's going to affect the scores too much.
Q. How about the par-3s in particular, do they seem longer than most or how do they compare maybe?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they are difficult. The 9th is extremely difficult. Being that it's 250 yards. And 17 with the new tee box moved back to 240, 250 yards, that's extremely difficult too.
I thought that the third hole which is 190-, 200-yard shot is a great par 3, as well. They're great par-3s. 13, if I'm going to be a course architect for a minute, moving 13 tee box, the par 3 there, back to the same yardage as No. 2 was kind of a mistake. That's kind of a case where I think longer isn't necessarily better.
Because now it's a little monotonous we're hitting the same club. I kind of liked the mixture of having 13 be a short hole and 2 be kind of a -- 3 be kind of a medium hole and then 17 and 9 be long. But they're tough. They're not going to be a lot of 2s on any of those par-3s.
I think that's a case where as a player, you think of any time I can put a 3 on the card, I'm going to try to do that. So a lot of times you'll try to hit the middle of the green on those holes.
Q. You spoke at Augusta about the Olympics in golf trying to carve a place in that. I'm trying to think, what exactly do you think of the benefits for golf of having that over having four majors, three WGC's, PLAYERS, Ryder Cup, and all these other international exposure moments it has the rest of the year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that having golf an Olympic sport is exponentially more important to the game of golf than the majors. And the reason for that is it would bring in 168 different countries and their Olympic foundation and all those revenues and that would be going towards the growth of the game of golf. Because every country wants to be represented properly in the Olympics. I believe that they, that every country would now would be putting money into the game to get their young players young people young athletes into the sport.
And I think that's great for all of us. It's great for the manufacturers, because it's going to increase the demand for product. It's going to be great for architects; it's going to be great for members of the media who cover it; it's going to be great for the PGA TOUR because of the television rights now and the interest throughout the world and in many more countries.
It's great for us players, because we're going to have more of a worldwide exposure. I just think that it's a very important part of the growth of the game of golf. The majors are incredibly big as we know, but we still capture the same audience that are already interested in the game. The Olympics brings us to new markets on a worldwide scale, and I can't imagine how big the game can become in countries like China and India that has so many more people than the United States does; if it became a priority for those countries to partake successfully in the Olympics and put the revenue in towards growing the game there, it could be -- just everybody would win.
Q. To play devil's advocate, the PGA being in charge of golf of growing the world of golf nowadays, it's said that we lose over 75 percent of all new golfers within 12 months. With all the new courses, all the exposure and all the great equipment, what would you attribute that great loss to annually?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not an expert in this field. I'm talking about areas that the PGA of America cannot reach. Right now the PGA of America hits America; and I'm talking about the world, and so that's a different demographic.
Q. Later today there's going to be an announcement by the R&A and the USGA about a change in the grooves. Now that we're on the subject of equipment and growth of the game, what are your thoughts on the changes that they will make which will basically bring people back to V-grooved clubs?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, Steve was just telling me before, that's the first that I have heard about it. I don't know the details of the announcement. So I don't know what to really make of it yet, or what that means to us as players, when we have to stop using clubs and so forth.
I personally think that -- well, I don't know. I have to think about it. That's the first I've heard about it.
Q. I remember you always enjoyed playing Atlanta going into Augusta; how good of a tune-up for this is Firestone?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's as good as it could possible be, I feel, because it's a very similar test to what we see in PGA Championships and Firestone was set up immaculately last week. The practice facilities are tremendous.
And so it gives us an opportunity to spend an entire week getting our games ready, as well as have four competitive rounds in a very similar environment and conditioned golf course that we'll see here at the PGA. I thought it was perfectly done. It was a great place for us to get ready.
Q. Also assuming that the finish did nothing to diminish your confidence the way you played all week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I obviously didn't like the way I finished the event last week, but I was so glad that I was in a position to compete for the championship, to get back into contention, to have an opportunity where every putt counted and mattered and put myself in a pressure situation heading into this event.
I would have loved to have won last week, there's no arguing that point. But I really needed to be there like I was. I needed to have four good rounds. I needed to feel the pressure, and I needed to play well in on a tough golf course heading into this week. So I was -- I take a lot of positives out of last week.
Q. Since you made the switch from Rick to Butch last year, what has that switch gotten you, and how come it doesn't come together in the majors?
PHIL MICKELSON: I have looked back on this last year, and the area that I've been most deficient in is putting. So I've tried to target that and spend a lot of my time getting that sharp.
I thought that I drove the ball great last week. I hit a lot of good drives. My misses were just off the fairway. I only had two or three big misses throughout the entire week, which is good. So I have seen a lot of progress.
But I've also had great success with Rick in my career. He's taken me a long ways in the game, with three majors and with a lot of TOUR wins. So I think just sometimes you just need to hear something from a little different point of view, and that probably prompted a switch. But I've been very pleased with the swing changes that we have made. I notice that when I see my swing on TV, how much shorter and more compact it looks and easier to repeat. And it feels that way as well.
Q. What about the majors?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I think the major, as I said, in the first part of that, it's more attributed to my putting in the last year or two than anything.
Q. Your appearance in the Congressional Hearings, forgive me if I haven't got the terminology right, but you know what I mean. Could you just tell us a little bit about the format? Were you asked questions? Did you answer questions? Did you read from a statement? And secondly, would you sum up your feelings about making that appearance. Do you feel that what you did was worthwhile?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was enjoyable and an interesting opportunity that I've not ever had before. It gave me a platform which I've never had before to try to make a positive influence in the math and sciences.
And the first part, I wouldn't say it was a prepared statement, but I had a five-minute segment where the six or seven panelists all spoke for five minutes, and although I didn't read off of anything, I had prepared some notes and kind of an outline of what I wanted to say.
Afterwards we were there for a total of two and a half to three hours answering questions. And I thought that it was interesting. Again, it's a little bit of my element. I play golf. And I love being on the golf course and practicing and hitting balls.
So it was a different area for me to be in a different environment and I thought it was an enjoyable challenge and fun that it could -- it was kind of interesting that golf gave me that platform.
Q. Did you ask questions or were you asked questions?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was asked questions.
Q. You passed them all, did you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm sorry?
Q. You passed them all?
PHIL MICKELSON: I answered them all. Yes.
Q. Back to this week, how does this course fit your eye, per se, and what kinds of things are you working on? What are sort of the keys to you for feeling like you have the best chance to win out on this golf course?
PHIL MICKELSON: This is an interesting golf course to try to attack, because the birdie holes change each day based on the pin placements.
So No. 9, unless the pin is in the middle of the green, you're just trying to make par. But when the pin's in the middle of the green, I feel like there's a 2 out there. And there's a lot of holes like that where there are high sections that you can put the pin, making it very difficult to get to. And there's also some low spots that the pins can be that makes it easy to get to.
So when I look over the round before I play and try to decide how I'm going to attack each hole, the birdie holes are constantly different each day. I think that makes for a very interesting, strategic test of golf.
Q. Back sort of to this Olympic thing. Some logistical things would have to be dealt with in order to make it happen. Obviously the Olympics are getting ready to go on now. This time of year is a very busy year on TOUR; it's a Ryder Cup year; it would show up in the same-numbered years. Do you think it's worth all of that effort to restructure the schedule to do that, and also what kind of format would you like to see in an Olympic games? 72-hole format or team-type thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: Back to the scheduling. The first opportunity for it to be an Olympic sport would be 2016. Our TV contracts and sponsor contracts typically end in 2012. So they would, the announcement being summer of 2009, there would be plenty of time to factor that into the equation. It's only once every four years. It's not a big disruption by any means.
What was the second part of the question?
Q. What type of format would you like to see?
PHIL MICKELSON: What type of format? Oh, well, I don't really know or care. I think that it would be fun to have something different than the typical 72-hole stroke-play, but that's always been a great test to see who the best player is. So there's nothing wrong with that, either.
Or there's nothing wrong with having kind of a team, match-play-type college format, as well. It could be anything. And it's open to again creating some excitement. I think that the format needs to be well thought out, but there's a number of options.
Q. Just going back to your finish last week, would you attribute -- what would you attribute your lapse to? Was it something mechanical or otherwise?
PHIL MICKELSON: I felt like as the round wore on, seeing putts just go up to the lip of the hole and not go in just kind of took energy from me, as opposed to giving me some momentum.
But I felt like I hit the ball well all day. It was just three or four holes there in the end, and even the 16th hole, I hit three good shots, just didn't get the ball in.
So I don't really look back on it with too much negativity. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots throughout the day, drove it great, hit my irons shot close, and I hit a lot of good putts that just didn't go in.
And I have to look at it and not get too disappointed because there wasn't any one thing that was deficient.
Q. There's obviously some build-up to sort of picking up for the Ryder Cup with the first eight being named on Monday. I'm curious as you look at this next month, with all these tournaments and the FedExCup Playoffs and all, how much different is it for you in an individual event like this, and the ones coming up, versus that team event. How much is there a shift in thinking between a team event and what you're used to?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure that there's too big a difference, because the best way to play well for your team is to play well as an individual. I think that the best thing for this year's Ryder Cup Team and why I believe that the U.S. side is going to have an exceptional year this year and play very well, is that it's in the middle of the FedExCup season. And it's not six weeks removed from the last major; it's right in the heart of our season ending events.
And I believe everybody on our team is going to be at their sharpest and working hard on their game and give us a great week's performance for the Ryder Cup. I think it should be, it should make for an exciting event.
Q. Much has been made with Kenny Perry not playing in the majors, previously; what's your take on his decision there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I understand it and I support it, because I believe as an individual, you need to decide what allows you to play your best golf and you need to go that direction regardless of the scrutiny.
For me personally, that doesn't work. I mean, my avenue's going to be different, and it works for me and I want to focus in on the majors and try to play my best in that.
But that doesn't work, necessarily work for everybody else. Just like I like to play the week before a major, a lot of guys don't. A lot of guys don't play well in the majors when they play the week before; they get tired.
So everybody's got to find their own personal idiosyncrasies that work, and I understand what his reasoning was; and although it's because of his success and his great play, it's going to open himself up for scrutiny I believe he owes it to himself to stick to what he knows, allows him to play his best.
Q. Going back to the Firestone question a minute ago, you probably didn't see this, but a lot of the national sports shows yesterday afternoon spent more time talking about you who tied for fourth, than the guy who won the tournament. Do you take that as a back-handed compliment, does it annoy you or what do you think about that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know what was being said. Were they complimenting my outfit?
Q. I don't think they were.
PHIL MICKELSON: I guess it's flattering. Where do you want me to go with that?
Q. Just curious what you thought. Do you still take it, I guess, as a back-handed compliment that you still make news, no matter what you do? Outside of Congress.
PHIL MICKELSON: Again, I don't know what was being said. I'm imagining if I know the history of our relationship, it probably wasn't too nice. So I'm curious to hear the points that you would like me to comment on.
Q. I'm guessing that just talking about the fact that you bogeyed three of the last four and not so much what led to it.
PHIL MICKELSON: The finish. Okay.
Q. Seeing it as a quote, unquote, collapse, instead of looking at the guy who won the tournament.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that could be.
But let me explain one of the things that I'm trying to do, and when I am playing a course, and obviously the last four holes were not good. But when I'm playing a course, I'm trying to take half the trouble out of play. So I want to set up down the right edge of the fairway and hit a cut; and if I miss it left, it doesn't bother me. What bothers me is if I hook it; if I'm trying to take the right side out and I miss it right, it doesn't work.
And in all those shots that I missed left, the 4-iron on 15, the drive on 17, the drive on 18, all three of those shots, I was trying to take the right side out of play, aim down the right edge and hit a little cut. And I pushed it a little bit. It didn't slice. It wasn't a big, rounded slice; it was just a block more or less. And so because of that, I don't look at that overly disappointed, because I missed it to the side I wanted to miss it.
Q. Quick follow-up. How important is this week as you assess your season?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, this is a big week. Because right now my season with just a couple, with just two wins is I think just okay. But if I were to able to come through on Sunday and win this event, it would make an okay year a great one.
Q. This seems to be everybody's favorite question, but with Tiger Woods not being here, is there a noticeable difference to a tournament, a major tournament when he's not here, for a player?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I noticed it when I walked in; there's a lot of empty seats. Usually when he's in the event, that doesn't happen.
Q. Anything else on the course as far as fans, as far as your mental makeup, as far as going out and winning a tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: From a player's point of view we don't, I don't really notice that too much. The atmosphere for the competition seems to be the same, and everybody's into their own games and trying to get their best play out of them.
Where I notice it is, like I said, right here in the media center, where normally this is packed when Tiger in the field.
Q. I'm still trying to figure out this grooves change release, which I've got here in front of me. I just wanted to ask you a question in theory based on that. The model they're going from is that professionals are spinning the ball too much out of the rough and it's placed almost no value on driving accuracy; the V-groove will spin less; you'll be forced in theory to put it into the fairway more often. Did you view that as a necessary remove, and does that sound like a reasonable thing for them to do to sort of bring accuracy back to the fore?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I kind of -- I haven't said too much about the whole grooves issue because I like the V-groove rule. I have no problem with that because I feel like it's more a challenging thing for a player to judge shots out of the first cut of the rough or out of the rough; judge fliers; is the ball going to spin, how is it going to come out. And I like that challenge and I feel like it gives me a better chance, I believe, as well as I think it will affect some of the course setups.
And one of the biggest issues I have with course setup is having the same penalty for everybody regardless of skill level, and that leads to the thickness of rough. If you have a ten-inch rough -- and I'm sorry a lot of people say five and a half inches or whatever the length is; everybody wedges out 80 yards into the fairway. It's the same penalty for everybody and so skill level is factored in there.
And I'm hoping that the course setups won't be like that, but they will be like the PGA TOUR has done this year and had a little bit more playable shot-making abilities, recovery shots, more integral part of the game from the rough on mis-hit tee shots.
So I kind of like it. But what's interesting for me is that this exact study was done with triple the data back in 1988, was given to the USGA, and it was disregarded, and now 20 years later, it's considered valid.
Again, I don't care, because I like the new rule change, but it just is funny to me how that -- the way the process worked out.
Q. Coming off of Firestone, where are you from a competitive edge standpoint, and what are you working on in your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel great with ball-striking. I feel great off the tee. And the area that I'm spending most of my time is short game. I feel like around these greens, putting is going to be a big part of it, and so will chipping. So I'm trying to spend most of my time again with short game.
I had a good week last week with the short game, but it wasn't great; and I felt like if a few more putts had gone in on Sunday, I would have been able to slide in with a victory. But that's where I'm spending most of my time.
Q. Forgive me if you already answered this, but what are your impressions of Oakland Hills and the entire Metro-Detroit area as a Major Championship venue?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's always supported golf incredibly well from the '96 U.S. Open and the 2004 Ryder Cup. We have had some tremendous success here in the area with the community involvement. It's evident here in the practice rounds. Unbelievable how much support this tournament's gotten from the community.
So it's not only a great golf course, but a great place to play.
Q. When you said that a win here could turn an okay season into a great one, it seems a little like what you were saying before Baltusrol. Do you see any similarities between this and 2005?
PHIL MICKELSON: I do feel the same way. I had an okay year in 2005 heading in, a couple of wins, and looked at it as though it would make an okay year great. And I feel the same way this year. It's been an okay year, but winning the last major could turn it into something special.
Q. Any resemblance to the Ryder Cup course in 2004, or is it completely different?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think it's completely different, the greens are all the same. None of the greens have been touched, I don't believe. They look the same to me. My notes have them to be the same as far as breaks and so forth.
But again some tees have been moved back, so some of the holes are longer. But again it doesn't play as -- it doesn't play much longer because we're just hitting -- we're able to hit driver off the tee instead of a 3-wood or hybrid.
KELLY ELBIN: Phil Mickelson, thank you very much.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts