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March 12, 2009

Phil Mickelson


LAURA HILL: We'll open it up to questions. I know you guys are on deadline.

Q. Can you talk about your finish?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a good one and I was able to get it in the hole and make some birdies.
I was even par through eight holes and not really getting into the round. I was just trying to get to a point where I to shoot 3- or 4-under par, a good round tomorrow would get me back up near the top of the lead. I ended up making a good birdie on 9 and ran off six birdies on the back side.
It was just nice to see the ball go in the hole. Obviously I had some chip-ins. The round could have slid a little bit. I made a double on three after hitting the second shot in the water and hit my tee shot on 4 in the water, but I chipped in and made par. I had a couple more chip-ins late in the round, too.

Q. Did your play reflect a 65, do you think?
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought -- I felt going into this tournament that I was playing as well as I ever have as far as I can remember. From 50 yards in, my short game has never been this good and I've never driven the ball this long and this straight without the fear of a big miss.
My iron play is better than it has been in quite some time. And I expect that to improve as the week goes on. I am excited about the next three rounds.

Q. I was going to say, yesterday you were talking about how your short game is better than it's ever been. Have you had many rounds where it came together so well, so often today?
PHIL MICKELSON: A few times. There have been a few times where I've had some short game round like this. Certainly in L.A. it helped me win. I got up-and-down a bunch there.
But the shots like on 16, those are the shots that are critical. The ones that go in, obviously require a little bit of luck. 18, maybe not, because it's straight uphill. It's one you're trying to make.
But the shot on 17, a little luck. 16, those shots are the critical ones, 15 yards and being able to hit it down there inside three feet. That's the areas that going to save me strokes, not necessarily the makes, even those are great to have, and I had a number of those today.

Q. Were you at all frustrated? I'm just trying to listen to how well you're playing and how well you feel your game is and you get through eight and you're even par. Was that wearing on you a little bit?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I knew it was going to come around. I missed a short birdie putt on 1 after having a wedge on green.

Q. You had a wedge on 1?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm telling you, I've never hit the ball this long or straight. Hit wedge on 1, but hit it in the bunker left and hit a good shot to three feet and missed it. I knew there were birdies out there. I was able to make a birdie on No. 5 to get it back to even after that chip-in on 4. I knew birdies were going to happen. I just didn't know when or where throughout the tournament.
I think that -- I can't wait to get on the course tomorrow. I'm playing well. I'm driving it better than I ever have. I drove it on 18, I just knew it was going to be a good drive, carry the water and get down there.
It's a great feeling.

Q. Just a quick follow-up if you don't mind. As much as you focus or will probably focus on 16 through 18, how critical was 4 coming off a water-ball double going back into the hazard?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it was important to get it up-and-down and only lose a shot. Going in making it was obviously a boost.
My goal was to get it back to under par for the turn and had I got it up-and-down and made only 2-over, I could have made three birdies coming in and got it to under par at the turn which would have been my goal.

Q. You've played in Asia a couple of times, have you seen Marksaeng or Jeev Milkha Singh?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've played with Jeev a couple of times and Prayad a couple of times, as well. Both are great players and wonderful guys. Jeev is one of the nicest guys you'll meet and I'm glad to see him play well. I think he won over there, as well, shortly after -- did he win The Barclays? Did he win Singapore? So he can obviously play. That had a good field, that tournament.

Q. When you say you haven't hit it this well in a long time, does that go back to Riviera?
PHIL MICKELSON: The drives I hit at Riviera on 15 and 17 were the real key, because when I hit some squirrely drives there, I was trying to control it. I'm using the same driver as when I won, and the difference is, I'm just teeing it high and ripping at it. And the technology of the club is doing the rest.
It's just like the drive I hit on 15 and 17 after hitting some poor drives, I said, screw it, let's go; let's hit it. I teed it up high and ripped at it, and I hit the longest, straightest drives I've hit, and that's what I've been doing. I've just been following that motto, and it's been great. (Laughter).

Q. Is that going to be the next CD?
PHIL MICKELSON: Even Butch likes it. Even Butch is liking it. (Laughter).

Q. Did you hear about what Henrik Stenson did on 3 today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Uh-uh, I didn't.

Q. Stripping down to his boxer shorts to hit one out of the hazard. I know you put Bones' shoe on once to hit a ball. Have you ever considered that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if I would ever do that. I'm not sure I would. I have a feeling I would hear about it a few times. (Laughter).
LAURA HILL: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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