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March 13, 2009

Phil Mickelson


Q. Enjoyable -- (inaudible).
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. But in the past when I would hit it this hard, I would have a lot of big misses, and although I had one today it, was more of a brain freeze than anything. And I have more confidence in where the ball is going, even though I'm watching it up in the air into these cross-winds, I'm hitting more fairways and hitting the ball a lot longer.
This is perfect for Augusta. This is the driver I'll be using at Augusta and I'll probably be using it the rest of the year, I'm hitting it so well.

Q. Are you trying to guide it --
PHIL MICKELSON: I would try to hit a lot of shots, draws, cuts, low, high. This driver, the spin rate is just perfect to hit the ball high and far, so that's kind of what I've gone with. I'm not trying to do too much. I'm just standing up and ripping at it.
In the past, I've had clubs that would miss it big and I felt like I always had to manipulate the face to get the ball to go somewhat straight, and here I just feel like I have to just swing it and the head does all the work.

Q. (Inaudible.).
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I was steering it, trying to hit shots around Riviera, control the driver and whatnot, and I hit a drive on 11 left, and it just kind of knuckled a little bit left.
When I tee the ball up high on 15 and 17 and just whaled on it, it had the perfect launch and spin rate no, curvature sideways. It was just easy to hit and control. And I took that, and kind of ran with it.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PHIL MICKELSON: I can't be any more excited. As well as I'm driving it, to be hitting it as high and as far as I'm hitting it, with my short game being as good as it's ever been, I can't wait for Augusta to get here.

Q. Was there a time where you ever felt this good over a golf ball?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably not. I knew heading into this week I was playing well, and I'm excited for this weekend, but more than that, I can feel my game really coming around for the Masters.

Q. Fair to say the work with the short game for amateurs has been a help for you, as well?
PHIL MICKELSON: It has. Simplifying my techniques and to articulate and translate it so everybody can do it has forced me to simplify my own game; and consequently, I've never chipped or hit bunker shots as well. I'm excited about getting this thing out, because I think it will help some people.

Q. (No mic.)
PHIL MICKELSON: I think maybe trying to do a little too much in the golf ball, because I believe in myself and I believe I can hit those shots. But when I stand up on some of the fairways here in the past, I've always felt like they were pretty tight, and now I'm feeling like they are wider; and I'm asking if they have opened it up or anything, and Bones is saying no.
So it's a good feeling to look down the fairway and feel as though there's a big fairway to hit.

Q. A few of the other guys at the top of the leaderboard kind of struggled down the stretch the last few holes, and you had a surge; how important is that going into the weekend?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think it matters too much. I think there's going to be low scores out there, and I'm going to have to keep pace. But fortunately, I'm playing well enough and believe I can do it.

Q. Is it any different going into the weekend when Tiger Woods, who has been so good here, is ten strokes back, rather than neck-and-neck with you?
PHIL MICKELSON: It kind of sucks. I hope he comes out tomorrow and plays a great round and makes a move. I would love to get back from '05. I came close in '05 and got beat and I would love the opportunity to play head-to-head.

Q. This is a good course to be aggressive on, anyway, and there's no punitive rough out there to speak of and you can pretty much hit driver and go find it and hit it again and have a pretty good chance of getting it around the green.
PHIL MICKELSON: The rough is challenging in that you get flyers or some that come out dead, and it's hard to judge, especially on holes with water, like 3 and 18, and that's the challenge.

Q. What was your approach in the past here? Was it less aggressive, conservative? Where would you put it in the scheme of things?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know, I would try to work it back into the crosswinds and stuff. Now the ball isn't getting hit that hard by the crosswind.

Q. Had you made that chip-in on 18 to send it into the playoff --
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if I would have played another inch of break or not. I think it would be fun. I think we all as players cannot wait for Tiger to get back on top of his game and hopefully be able to keep pace with him. Not that we've been able to do it in the past, but we are hoping to have those opportunities to go head-to-head.

Q. When you went to Augusta earlier this week, were you hitting the driver just like this?

Q. And did it look as good as you --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I played -- I drove it very well there, and I knew heading in here that it was going to be a good week.
I was a little concerned because, I felt it gets so windy here, that I might want to try to keep the ball down or what have you. But as preparation for Augusta, I was going to use that driver and it's been working out so well, I think I'll just keep it the rest of the year.

Q. Will you keep another driver --
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, in case something happens, but I don't see that --

Q. Anything else in the bag that might be different that week in the Masters?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably not, no.

Q. A few years ago having the great success leading into Augusta; what would winning here mean?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not at that point yet to think about the result yet, but I think if I can continue to play well over the weekend, I think that momentum will carry over the next two weeks that I take off as I work on my game.

Q. 17, longest drive of the day, 3-wood from --
PHIL MICKELSON: It was 247 hole. I don't know what the carry was. It was like 230 carry I think. What about that, though?

Q. Romero hit it in the water, and that was a pretty good swing.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it was a tough shot, because those palm trees were in the way and we had to work the shot right-to-left and the wind was pretty strong left-to-right and his ball got caught in the wind and went in the water. I was a little further up and was able to cut it back into the wind and have a little bit easier shot.

Q. The first two rounds, have they been a de facto informercial for your short game?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't been conscious of it, but I'm sure it's helped.

Q. What did you ever do with that second driver that you used at Augusta to win that year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I still have it. Yeah, that was a good one, too. (Laughter).
I think this one goes longer than that one, though.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PHIL MICKELSON: Basically, it sucks. (Laughter).

Q. What were conditions like when you were at Augusta this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's perfect. 74 degrees and because it was warm, the ball was going far and we were hitting short irons. The last two years, it's not that the course was too long but we had tough weather; cold, wet, the ball wasn't travelling. But when it was 74 and sunny it, was very fair and able to make a lot of birdies.

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