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August 6, 2009

Phil Mickelson


PHIL MICKELSON: I was excited to get back out and play. I thought the course was set up perfect. I think it's just a great setup where there's a real premium to hitting the fairway but if you're in the rough you have a chance. The greens are quick even though they're holding. They're certainly not soft but they are holding, and the course was fun to play, and for me personally it's fun to be back playing.

Q. Six weeks long enough for there to be a slight little bit of competitive rust? I'm just wondering whether the first few holes you missed a couple fairways by not much and a couple greens by not much, just off by a hair and then you seemed to kind of right the ship on the back.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. I think surprising for me was I had been playing much better this week in my preparation. I had been driving the ball a lot better, I was swinging the club much more confidently. I think when you get in competition, I wasn't trusting myself as much, and the pins start to get tucked and you can't miss it in certain spots, and I start kind of steering it a little bit.
The last eight holes I made a few better swings. I hit a shot often 7 where I carved a 4-iron in there to get back to that back left pin and made a 15-footer for birdie. There was big for me because to get back to under par after being 3-over, to get in a position to move up the leaderboard, that was good.

Q. You said over there you missed it more than you thought. Why do you think that is?
PHIL MICKELSON: I missed playing golf, and I missed competing. I missed both of those aspects, and in the off-season I enjoyed taking that time off, I enjoyed being away from the game. This was different.

Q. Did you get a little bit of a jolt, juice, coming out here, playing with this? Does it light your fires? You're kind of an adrenaline guy who can kind of ride that for a while. Did you miss that part of it, too?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not as much. I don't think it's that aspect. I don't think it's that. I think that I've just been playing golf as a kid ever since I was a little kid. I've just loved playing golf. I've always loved competing, whether it was for a soda, a golf ball, tees, or on the PGA TOUR for huge purses. I missed the competition. I also just miss being on the golf course. It's where I've grown up, and I just love this game of golf.

Q. Anything specific that you work on with Butch?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel like it's far off. I feel like it's just fractionally off. I mitt some good shots, but I missed some drives just a little bit. I had been driving the ball very well, so I think if I get that thing back straightened up I should be able to make some birdies. I don't know what we're going to fix.

Q. It sounds as if you haven't really lowered your expectations even though it might be understandable if you did.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I wouldn't -- I don't think that that's going to happen. I mean, my expectations are the same. I just haven't -- just because I haven't played in a few weeks -- I expect to come back out after a couple months off in the off-season and play well, and I've been able to play and practice and get ready this last week or two, and I felt pretty sharp actually. My putting has been much better, although I missed -- started out missing a bunch of short ones, and yet I've been rolling the ball better than I have in probably two years.
And so I knew that it would get turned around. I ended up making some key putts on the back. The putt on 4, the putt on 7, got the round back to even par.

Q. Butch actually said the other day that he thought had you putted at just your normal standard you would have won the first two majors of the year. Do you buy that, go along with that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I mean, given that I've only lost by a few and I missed two, three, four putts inside six feet every day, I think that would be a fair assessment.

Q. Do you see yourself now playing more tournaments and for longer after this sort of epiphany of missing it more than you expected?
PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean for longer? Do you mean more years or more this year?

Q. More years.
PHIL MICKELSON: More years? Possibly. I think watching Tom Watson almost win at 59, I find that to be -- even though he didn't win, it's one of the most inspirational stories in the game. The fact that he's able to compete at that age and the fact that Greg Norman was able to compete at the British last year at 53, I think Kenny Perry is an inspiration winning at 49, and knock on wood, I haven't had any injuries throughout my career other than a bone bruise that went away after six, eight weeks or 12 weeks. So it makes me think that I can be competitive later. But right now let's just worry about this tournament.

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