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March 26, 2010

Phil Mickelson


Q. Seems to have been a bit of everything out there today.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was. The first nine, the back nine which was my front, I played very well, very solid, shot 4-under, was very pleased. Made the turn and it was all over the place. Penalty shots, hole-outs, birdies; it was up-and-down. I finished with 1-under on that side and five for the round and so I'm pleased and looking forward to the weekend.

Q. Certainly what happens on 8 helps a lot?
PHIL MICKELSON: It does. You don't expect that to happen. You try to hit good shots and have birdie putts but when one falls like that, it's just a bonus.

Q. Do you find a round like that stressful or is that just the way it is for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I find that an interesting question, because there's some legitimacy to it. I have a tendency to have up-and-down rounds like that. But it's fun. I mean, I enjoy trying to create shots and hit shots and take on some of these pins and make birdies, and unfortunately I tend to make a few mistakes at times, as well.

Q. It wasn't meant to be disrespectful.
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't take it that way.

Q. Butch says you've been practicing well, even shot 58, he tells us, how hard is it to bring that form into a tournament when you arrive Wednesday evening?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is definitely, and that's why I'm excited about having three weeks in a row. I've had an awkward schedule because of the stuff we've had at home, and now that I'm playing the next three, it gives me a chance to build some momentum, work with Butch and work into the round, work into the competition, rather than having one week on and one week off.

Q. So can we have Butch for the rest of the day if you need him?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm going to take the rest of the day off, yes. He's all yours.

Q. You've been quoted as saying that you would welcome being paired with Tiger Woods at the Masters. Is that true?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was asked about it yesterday, how I felt about it. I thought it would be great. So I don't expect to happen but I think it would be great if it did.

Q. Why would that be so for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I enjoy playing against the best. I enjoy the challenge of competing with him in last year's Masters the final day and in China, I enjoyed. I wasn't paired with him at THE TOUR Championship but I played in front of him. I've enjoyed that challenge and everyone is excited to have him back.

Q. Well played out there today, you've got yourself into contention going into the weekend?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm looking forward to the weekend. It was a good day today. It was an interesting day. I played the front nine very good, very solid, four birdies, no mistakes, nice round.
And my back nine, which is the front, seemed to be a bit up-and-down. I had penalty shots. I had actually three penalty shots, as well as a hole-out and some birdies up-and-down. Turned with 1-under; nobody cares about that. I shot 1-under that side, 5-under for the round.

Q. Would it be fair to say that today's round is a microcosm of the year so far?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I wouldn't say that, and here is why. I putted great today. It was my best putting round of the year and I feel so much better with the flat stick. I feel so much better on the greens, I have much better direction and I spent a bunch of time with Dave Stockton and I feel like I don't have to attack every pin, and I can still make birdies. I can just make those 15-, 20-footers. So it was a little bit different feel to the round today.

Q. I know you've been working really hard with Dave and with Butch; afternoon today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm going to take the rest of the day off. I'll get in a work-out and grab something to eat and relax. And other than that, getting ready for the weekend. This is fun for me. I haven't really been in contention this year. I haven't really had my game where I wanted it to be. But I could tell heading into this week that it was getting there, and I was very confident heading into these two rounds. So I'm excited about the weekend and the possibilities of getting in contention.
My back nine which was the front was very up-and-down. I had an interesting back nine, but, my front nine was great. I played very solid. I made four birdies, no bogeys, it was terrific. But I had a few things go up-and-down, you know, penalty strokes, hole-outs, birdies, it all added up to 1-under par that side. I'll take it. Shot 5-under for the day, and in pretty good position heading into the weekend.

Q. Can you talk about the two bogey putts you made on those water ball holes that kept you in the mix, those are huge, clutch -- plus the long putts, too.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that was. I had about a 15-footer on No. 3 after driving in the water for bogey. And it was a big putt, because only losing one shot, I was able to get it back on the very next hole.
And I had the same situation on six after driving it in the water, I ended up having about a 20-footer for bogey and made that, and that kept my round going, because I could make that up with one birdie. And I ended up holing out on 8 and got it back to 1-under par that side.
But those bogey putts were every bit as important as some of the other stuff.

Q. What are the details on 8?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit driver. I had 135 and I hit a pitching wedge, landed about eight feet short and then rolled in.

Q. What are the details on the 58; where and when?
PHIL MICKELSON: How did you hear about that?

Q. Butch told them --
PHIL MICKELSON: Let's see, Monday, I went to Palm Springs and played the plantation course because the greens are the same here as Bay Hill, same grass. I ended up getting the putter going there, as well, and shot 58, yeah. That was fun.
Fred Couples designed it. Fun little course, yeah. Monday of this week.

Q. What does being able to recover do for you going into Augusta?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think for me it's important to get into contention and get that feel and that nervousness of being in one of the last few groups, having a chance to win the golf tournament, looking at the leaderboard, being able to focus on your own game, all of those things combined. I haven't had that this year. I haven't played the way I expect to.
And heading into this week I feel very confident with where my game was headed but I still need to shoot the numbers. Now that I feel that's coming, I still need to get into contention and be able to perform and it's important for me to do that heading into Augusta.

Q. Was that 14 birdies and four pars?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, 12 and an eagle.

Q. Got to be a career-low round.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I had the 59 at the PGA Grand Slam, and that was the only other time I had broken 60.

Q. Take us through what happened on No. 8, and before that, take us through what happened on No. 16.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, 16, the par 5 over here, I laid up perfectly on 16 and just hit a little chip shot up to three feet. Fortunately I was going for it in two and fatted a hybrid and it ended up in the ideal spot to make birdie.
And on 8, I hit a good drive with a wedge from 135 yards that landed eight feet short of the hole and rolled right in the cup. I couldn't believe that; that was fun.
But just as important as those two holes were, I ended up making some bogey putts. I drove two balls in the water today, and I ended up having a 15- and 20-footer for bogey which really kept the round going. To be able to make it up that mistake with a birdie on the very next hole as opposed to requiring a couple made a big difference and saving those bogeys, that kept the round going.

Q. When you have clutch bogey putts to save or keep the momentum going, are they every bit as important throughout the course of 18 holes as a nice birdie?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. You could say every shot is equal, and that's true, but when you make a double, it's kind of a devastating feeling, because now you have multiple holes to make it up; whereas if you just make one bogey, everybody is going to make bogeys. It happens. It's not that big of a deal. Those putts are critical.

Q. You were saying that today is the best putting round you've had so far on the PGA TOUR in 2010. When you are putting well, how much does that translate to the rest of your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: It makes a big difference because my iron shots I don't have to be as aggressive to the pin. I can try to hit 15 feet into a safe spot if I have a tucked pin and know that I still can make birdie. It's a big thing. But it just feels great. I spent four days with Stockton last week, and I feel like I have direction and know what I'm trying to do and it really feels good.

Q. I walked over when you with are playing 3 in the 4th fairway on your back nine.

Q. Maybe that's what it was?
PHIL MICKELSON: I knew I could carry those bunkers, but I didn't know what the landing area was like and what the shot was going to be like to the front left pin, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it.

Q. I good hole if they moved that tee up 50 yards?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a good hole like it is because you can get it up there if you have a helping wind. Yesterday it was into the wind and you couldn't carry the bunker. It's pretty good the way it is.

Q. Talking about like at Doral, you can turn it around on a dime sometimes and you never know what the stimulus is going to be, making a couple bogey putts, can that light your fire?
PHIL MICKELSON: It certainly could, but this was the turning point for me, this round on the greens, because the putter, I rolled it. I wasn't stressing over it. I just feel different with the blade. It started a few days ago.

Q. Between you and Davis on the back nine there, for the life of me, I can't figure out why you laid up on 16?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I just felt like there was no place to miss it around that green and have a good up-and-down. So I felt like short left was the best shot.
Oh, I thought you were kidding. I fatted a hybrid. I was going for the green and fatted a hybrid. (Laughter).

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