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April 30, 2009

Phil Mickelson


PHIL MICKELSON: This is the best setup I've ever seen because you always have a shot, but with the greens being firm, it's hard to get it close. I almost hit a 60-yard shot in the water on 14. It is a tough, tough course to get it close and make a lot of birdies, except for the par-5s you can reach. But always having a shot, I think the fans are enjoying the recovery shot, which is the most exciting shot in golf. We're having a bunch of recovery shots, at least I am, from the trees and so forth. I think that makes for exciting golf.

Q. I know you like to play a couple weeks in a row, and there's this week and THE PLAYERS next week. You're coming off of two weeks off after Augusta. Do you normally start well or does it take you a little while to get back into competitive mode?
PHIL MICKELSON: It varies on how I'm playing. I had a good practice session last week and I felt good about my game. I felt like this was going to be a good week. I didn't feel like I needed a week to get in shape for THE PLAYERS. I felt like I was going to be ready here. On the front nine I hit a lot of good shots and made some birdies, had an eagle and had the round going.
I didn't take advantage of the holes on the back nine. You've got to take advantage of 10, 14 and 15. Those are three holes you can make birdies on, and I didn't do it, but I'll still take my round.

Q. Talk about that save on 18.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll take it. I was fighting for par after that tee shot in that bunker. I was going to have to lay it up and ended up pulling it because I didn't want to go in the water. I ended up in that scoreboard. I didn't have the best options there because I was going to have the ball either really below my feet, which I ended up opting for, or possibly getting on the other side of the cart path and having it severely above my feet in the trees, with tree problems. But I was able to get enough spin on the ball and get -- the shot was slightly uphill and slightly into the grain, which helped stop it, as well, and I was able to get just enough spin out of that rough to get it close.

Q. It was really sort of a tale of two rounds, the first 11 holes were real solid, and the last seven weren't bad but there was just a few little blips, the bad opportunities, not getting up-and-down when you had those opportunities.
PHIL MICKELSON: You're right. You've got to take advantage of 14 and 15, and I just hit poor chips there. That's why this course setup is so great is the greens are firm and those shots aren't easy. It's not easy to get the ball close around the greens, and I didn't hit the best chips. I almost hit one in the water on 14. I got a lucky break there. So those holes where I needed to capitalize on birdie opportunities I didn't take advantage of.
I'll get to play early tomorrow before the storm, before we get some good rains, and hopefully make some more putts.

Q. Talk about your round today.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was fun to par the last hole and salvage the round. I had a bogey-free round going so it was nice to get that shot up-and-down. I played very well the front nine, had a good round going, and in the middle of the round I let a few birdie holes slide. I didn't take advantage of 8 and 10, which are birdie holes, and I didn't take advantage of 14 and 15. But I shot 5-under today and I'm pleased with the round.

Q. Can you talk about the conditions? This year they talked a lot about the rough being down. What did you think?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think this is the best course setup that we have on TOUR, for the reason that the recovery shot is back. Because the rough is short, we're able to hit shots under the trees, around the trees, around the greens when we miss a green, and because the greens are firm, those shots aren't easy. Those shots are difficult. I think that challenge really brings the shot making out in the players. It gives the better players a chance to separate themselves with recovery shots and shots around the green. I think this is the best setup we have on TOUR.

Q. When you go out there today did you know that number (-7) out there and think that's where you had to get to going out there?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's the first day. The last thing I'm setting is a number. Maybe Sunday I'll start thinking about a number. But Thursday the conditions can vary from the morning to the afternoon. I think the afternoon rounds are always a little bit tougher to get it going because you don't get the perfect greens that we get in the morning. Tomorrow I get to play at 7:40, and if I get a hot putter, those greens are going to be perfect and maybe I can make some more birdies.

Q. Did you hit driver more than you normally would here because of the rough?
PHIL MICKELSON: I did. I probably would have hit a lot more 3- and 4-woods but because there was some area if I were to just miss the fairway where it was playable, I hit a lot more drivers.

Q. Talk about 5. That's sometimes a quirky fairway to hit.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I actually hit the fairway there with driver. It sets up like 13 for me at Augusta. I just hit a big, sweeping cut, hit it in the fairway and hit 4-iron on the green.

Q. Second shot on 14 was a good shot, just surprise you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Let's see, 14 wasn't a good shot. I hit it way too hard. I tried to bump it in -- it was interesting because by the hole you saw how fast it was. It was downhill, downgrain, but short of it there was a little hump and it was into the hill, into the grain. So I tried to hit a bump shot that would skip through that and then release down to the hole, and I carried it all the way up top. It was a terrible shot. I got lucky it didn't go in the water.

Q. Given the style of play of you and generally power players really, would you expect lower scoring conditions with the thick rough and softer greens or virtually no rough and firmer greens?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think this is playing similarly score-wise as it would if there was some more rough and softer greens. Softer greens are how we can get the ball close to the hole. And all the shot-making, you have to be creative. You have to be creative with your short game, you've got to be creative with shots into the greens because the greens are firm. That's why I think this setup is so far.

Q. As far as your position at 5-under, you're right in the mix?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I'm pleased with the first round. I'm pleased with the way I got started. We've got three more rounds, a lot of golf left, but tomorrow, again, I get to play in the morning, which I'm excited about, and we'll hopefully get a hot putter and have a good round.

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