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March 15, 2009

Phil Mickelson


LAURA HILL: Let's get your reaction, I know it was a tough day for many reasons, but you can't argue with the results out there.
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm very pleased to have won today. We saw some of the shots that Nick Watney hit today. They were spectacular, the eagle he made on 10, the hole-out on 9. He hit the ball beautifully and it did get to be a match-play situation for a while where we were a couple under par through the front nine and nobody had made a move. You could tell that it was just he and I. I'm very fortunate to come out on top, and it feels great.

Q. How was the course playing for you, was it in your favor?
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought the setup and the conditioning was terrific. I played well. Just I played well; it was out there. There were a lot of holes that you could make birdie on, and there were some very tough pars.
I struggled with that fourth hole this whole week. I struggled with No. 3. and 18, those are three of the toughest holes we have out here, and I think 18 is one of the hardest par 3s that we have on TOUR. So those are some of the hardest holes we play on TOUR out here, and yet there were a couple of birdie holes also.

Q. Was there a question you were going to play?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, because I had felt the same the previous two days. I just haven't eaten in three days, so I'm weak. I was just trying to maintain an even pace. That's why I've been so slow walking the last few days. You know, I'm 50 yards behind everybody. I'm trying not to intentionally play slow. I told Nick, I'm not trying to slow-play here; it's just going to take me a minute to get out there.

Q. And secondly, obviously Nick doesn't have the cache of a Tiger Woods, and it almost seemed like the duel you had with him was every bit as much as you had four years ago.
PHIL MICKELSON: He certainly hit some shots that Tiger is known for hitting, the hole-out on 9 and the eagle on 10, and I thought he drove the ball very well. He hit a lot of great iron shots and he putted very well the last two days that we played together.
I think he's an incredibly talented person, player; incredibly talented player, and he's one of the nicest players we have on TOUR. I look forward to him being on some of our team events. I think he's going to be a real asset to our team squad on the U.S. Team events.

Q. How do you feel right now as far as does the win give you enough -- give you enough adrenaline to get through the night or will you need for IVs today?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I've just had a problem just keeping food down or fluids in, so I may just stay over one more night just to get an IV bag; or I may just try to get home and get in bed. I'm not sure.
But I think in two or three days, this virus hopefully will pass and I'll be able to resume my work to get back ready for the Masters and the Shell Houston Open the week before.

Q. Are you prone to dehydration at all or is this a virus-type issue?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's more of a virus-type issue. It wasn't that hot out there. It wasn't like some of the heat that we've had in the past. I've been drinking constantly all four days. I don't understand why I've had such a hard time with the virus.

Q. Can you give us the play-by-play of last night and what your symptoms felt like and what you went through and how long they kept you and what they did to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. (Laughter) No. I just had an IV; I was in there for a few hours and had two big bags of fluid put in me and a little bit of medicine to help out.

Q. Have you lost weight? They have scales in the rooms at the spa, have you bothered to check?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't really eaten much, but I've been drinking a lot, so it's hard to tell.

Q. Are you surprised that you can play this well in this condition?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, because that's why they say, beware of the ailing golfer. I knew going in I was going to play well.
I was in bed until 1:30 today, and also, I didn't have the energy today. I wasn't able to look at the leaderboard or worry about what other guys were doing.
When Nick was hitting those great shots midway through the round, I didn't have time to worry about it or energy to worry about it. I was just worried about my own shot and try to maintain an even pace; make sure I was drinking fluids. Tried to hit. I got half a sandwich down today and a banana, which is the best I've done.

Q. Can you speak about your decision to work with Butch; looking back now, how difficult it was to make a change, and just how difficult it's been to change?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's taken a little longer than I thought it would for the rhythm to match up with bit of an almost shorter -- faster swing. But the fundamentals of it make it easier to hit long stuff, long irons, and woods in play, as well as now farther; I've been able to pick up some speed.
I'm surprised it took this long, but I'm glad we are passed that phase where it feels awkward and now it just feels like my swing.

Q. What did it mean to have that trophy on the final hole and hold it up in front of the fans?
PHIL MICKELSON: It feels terrific. The people here have been awesome all week. I can't believe how supportive they have been of all of the players and how many people have turned out to support this event; it's incredible.
After falling shy by a shot in 2005, to be able to win by a shot, felt incredible. And as Nick's ball rolled up to the hole it, looked like it was going to go in; I've been there, man. I know that feeling. It's not a great one.
I'm fortunate to be able to come out on top by a shot.

Q. What was going through your mind when his putt was rolling? Did you think it was going in?
PHIL MICKELSON: I did, yeah. It looked like it was tracking. Certainly didn't think it would be short, downgrain like that.
But I felt like I had a pretty good look at mine for a win if I needed it.

Q. You had a bit of an adventure at 12 where you had to swing right-handed and everything. Given the way you felt, did that seem like particular hard labor?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm sorry, will you do that again a little clearer?

Q. I'm sorry. At 12, where you had to swing right-handed and turn the club over from under the bush, did that seem like particular hardship with the way you were feeling?
PHIL MICKELSON: Did it feel like particular what, hardship?

Q. Of all of the days to have to do this.
PHIL MICKELSON: I certainly didn't want to have to hit a right-handed shot with the lead. (Laughter).
I wasn't trying to be showy. I just didn't have a choice. But I actually hit that shot pretty good. In fact, if it didn't hit that palm tree, I probably would have been left with an 8-, or 9-iron into the green, and maybe even a birdie putt.
But you know, I'm not going to play 18 holes flawless; I never have, and I don't care how it looks. I'm not here to try to be pretty. I'm here to get the job done and I was fortunate to be able to do it by a shot.

Q. What club was it?

Q. You tee off today with Tiger ten back; at any point did you ever think he was actually out of it? Was he still in it to you? Did you just faze him out?
PHIL MICKELSON: You're stretching it. (Laughter) Let's come up with a better question. Come on.

Q. Seriously, ten back.
PHIL MICKELSON: You're serious? (Laughter).

Q. I'm serious, yeah.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that I wasn't feeling well, and the last thing I was going to do was look at a leaderboard, regardless of who was on there.

Q. Somewhat on the same vein, this is a tournament where obviously Tiger has had a lot of success, obviously once at your experience. How good is it for you to win an event, your first World Golf Championships event, at a course where he's dominate and made his come back from eight months off? How satisfying is that for you, and now looking to the spring and the summer, how much confidence does that give you about maybe getting to No. 1?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, the reason why it feels so satisfying for me to win here has nothing to do with any of the reasons you just stated. I mean, it feels great to have won here, because I knew that I was playing some good golf heading into here. It feels great because I'm starting my Masters run to Augusta. This is all part of the process.
I enjoy this process of competing, being in the final group, tied for the lead, against a player who is playing some terrific golf, feeling that pressure, feeling that intensity, and how important each shot is throughout the entire round.
All of that adds to helping me or whoever, play better in the majors.
And as well as being able to come out on top in a World Golf Championships where we have the best players in the world here competing; those are the reasons that it feels so good.

Q. Not to belabor the point about your illness, but what was it that made you decide that you needed to go to the hospital last night after three days of being sick?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was shaking for an hour. I had the cold -- what is it, the cold sweats. So I was in bed for a half hour shaking. I took a hot shower and that didn't do it; a hot bath, and almost burned myself trying to get warmed up.
That's when I decided to go.

Q. Just to clarify, obviously in that position, I wouldn't think you would drive yourself.
PHIL MICKELSON: No. Bones was there. TR was there, Sean, my trainer, was there and Eddie Carbone was able to set it up so we were able to go right in. The tournament was great and I've got some incredible people helping me out. I'm very appreciative to have those guys in my life.
Bones was incredible. Went and got peanut butter and jelly Sandwiches last night. Got me setup at the urgent care. Had Eddie Carbone there. They were banging on my door. I didn't know this when I was in the bathtub and couldn't hear them. They almost broke the door down; they thought I had passed out, because I've done that quite a bit in the past. I'm very lucky to have a guy like Bones with me.

Q. I know these things are relatively young, these WGCs, but curious what it feels like to have won one, compared with some of the other big tournaments you've won, not majors, but some Pebbles and Rivieras and whatnot.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think in time they will get an increased status just like a major, elevate them from, like THE PLAYERS Championship has, amongst other TOUR events. But they are young, so it's hard to say.

Q. Just back to that shot at 12, how much of the ball could you see? Was that the most difficult part of that shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. I think the most difficult part was hitting right-handed with a left-handed club. That was probably the toughest part of it. (Laughter).

Q. Could you see the ball?

Q. It looked like it was hidden pretty good.
PHIL MICKELSON: I could see part of it, yeah.

Q. Talking about your approach shot on 18, there was a conversation, he's talking about hitting a draw and you're talking about hitting a cut. It looked like a sense of you having made that shot. Can you just talk about that approach on 18?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's a tough one. The drive was actually the more critical one, because you've got to hit it in the fairway there, and if I hit it in the water, I'm looking at losing the tournament rather than trying to win it. When the drive came off, that felt awesome.
And the iron shot in, you know, I could bail out and still make par to the right, so it felt like there was a bigger margin of error. It set up very nicely for a little cut 6-iron. It felt good and the wind was right for that shot, and it came off.

Q. You made it pretty clear that you had more important things to worry about than Tiger Woods, but knowing where he finished, after how long he was away from golf, does that mean to you he's going to be back sooner than maybe some people expected?
PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean, sooner than some people expected? He's back, isn't he? I don't get it.

Q. Back to where he used to be.
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, I don't think anybody is concerned about that. He's the greatest player of all time arguably, he or Jack, and he'll get back to that level. I'm hoping it's in five weeks and not four. (Laughter).

Q. A month or so ago, you were struggling a little bit, or at least the beginning of the year; what happened? Were you concerned during that stretch, or did you think it was a matter of time before you got to this point?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I wasn't really concerned, because I felt heading into the year, I was really playing well, even though the scores were not showing it. I knew that we were finishing with the changes. They were feeling comfortable. I felt like this was going to be a great year. I was confident heading into the year. I just had a couple of bad weeks. I had three bad weeks. It wasn't something I was going to worry about.
Then got it turned around.

Q. I know it's early in the round, but the shot on 8?

Q. Yeah. Distance on that?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was 255 hole, 45 carry. There was no problem if it did not -- even though it was into the wind; there was no problem if I drew it. The problem was, if I cut it, if I came out of it a little bit it, would have floated up in the wind and it would have fallen short. So I had to draw it to make sure it turned over and bore through the wind.
That was the my only concern. I wasn't going at the pin, per se, but I was going at the middle of the green and I had to make sure that I turned it over. And it did, and it bore right through the wind.
LAURA HILL: Congratulations. Thank you.

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