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September 29, 2010

Phil Mickelson


GORDON SIMPSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Very pleased that we are joined by Phil Mickelson. Phil, you've had the experience of winning a Ryder Cup, you've been on losing sides in The Ryder Cup. What is it that makes this so incredibly special?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's fun for us to be able to share the highs and the lows with other players, players that we compete against each other week-in and week-out; but to share the same type of emotion that you feel in the most challenging situations on a golf course. To be able to share that with somebody makes this tournament unique and is what sets it apart.
GORDON SIMPSON: You've also had the experience of inclement weather here the U.K., and once again this morning. How was it out there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not bad at all. It was cold and a little rainy. I'm surprised at how accurate the weather forecasts have been, they have been right on, and clearing up in the afternoons. It's a beautiful day.
GORDON SIMPSON: Graeme McDowell said the European Team is sort of the x-factor this year; what about the U.S. Team?
PHIL MICKELSON: We are having fun. We are having a good time, and I think that it's hard to predict how the matches are going to go. You just don't know what the weather is going to be like and who is going to be playing who. I just think it's going to be fun to see on Friday, but it's hard to predict today.

Q. Corey was saying earlier that you had major Dan Rooney come in and speak last night. What did he say to you and what did you take away from it and how important is it to have somebody that's a combat veteran come in and speak to you guys?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it was interesting, and I'd rather not discuss what was said, but I will say that it was like the quietest that I had ever seen an audience. It was fascinating.

Q. What did you take away from it? Was it motivational?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really want to -- I don't want to go into that. That's kind of our team moment, you know.

Q. Could you talk about the course? Is it a good match-play course?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that it is. I think it's a wonderful golf course. It's in terrific shape, and the holes themselves have a lot of risk/reward, a lot of real big penalties if you miss-hit a shot and a lot of rewards if you pull off a shot. The par 3s are very challenging, shaved banks, drivable par 3 seems like a risk/reward. This is going to be a great venue for match play where players can be aggressive without fearing the big number, because there are a lot of double and triple-bogeys if we were to have a stroke-play event with conditions as such. But this is a great place to hold a match-play event.

Q. You have not won over here in 17 years. What's the difficulty of winning this on foreign soil, and how difficult is it going to be to overcome?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think the biggest challenge is the fact that the European Team is so strong; that they have so many good players. That's our biggest challenge.
There are other challenges, too. They are going to have the support of the crowd and that can be a challenge. And there are other variables, but it has been a long time since the U.S. has won over on foreign soil. This is my eighth Ryder Cup, and the U.S. Team is yet to win when I've been on a team here on foreign soil in Europe.
It's something that the U.S. side would really cherish if we were able to somehow pull off the upset. But it has been a long time. We're trying hard to turn that around.

Q. You mentioned the risk/reward holes. As a guy who occasionally likes to take a risk in search of a reward, when you're playing with --
PHIL MICKELSON: Are you speaking of yourself or are you speaking of me? (Laughter).

Q. In playing with a partner, when you're standing there and you're holding a club, and you're talking to Bones and deciding to go for it, and instead of having Bones say not so sure about that, or whatever, you're making the decision. When you have the partner, how much are you going to look at that guy and say, well, I hope you don't mind but I'm going to try for this?
PHIL MICKELSON: In foursomes, it's one thing, but in fourball it's a different deal. In fourball you try to set it up so one guy can go for it and usually on my two-man team I'm the guy that's doing that. So it's a good opportunity for me to have a partner that can keep the ball in play.
In foursomes, whether it's me or my partner, I want them going for it. I want them taking the risk and the challenge and if I don't pull it off, I want the opportunity to salvage par. I like that aggressive play in my partners and I certainly like it in myself. You have to let the bad shots go and try to make up for it on the last hole.

Q. You've had obviously very modest success in The Ryder Cup in the past, no need to tell you about that, but, a why, and b, does it hurt?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that, you know, whether we have won or whether we have lost, we have had incredible experiences during The Ryder Cup. We have had great friendships that have been formed on the team. We have had incredible experiences, life experiences, that I look back on and I saw Captain Strange out there on the course today and we were talking about '02 at The Belfry where, even though we lost, we had so many great memories of that week, that we shared certain stories with.
And so win or lose, The Ryder Cup has been nothing but an incredibly positive experience. I certainly would like to improve on our record. I mean, the U.S. has not played as well as we would like, but we were able to pull off a win in the last Ryder Cup. We are currently holding The Ryder Cup. We brought it over here to show you what it looks like (laughter). We are going to be fighting hard to bring it home.

Q. You personally, though?
PHIL MICKELSON: Me personally? About what?

Q. About your record.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you can't look at The Ryder Cup as an individual record, you have to look at it as a team, and that's why when I refer to the record, I refer to our wins and losses, yeah.

Q. Just in relation to the Tiger/Rory saga --
PHIL MICKELSON: Saga, what's that? Saga? Missing that.

Q. Rory says he would really like to play Tiger. It's been in the papers a bit lately?
PHIL MICKELSON: But that's the feel that any player has. Any player wants to play the best ask Tiger is ranked No. 1 in the world. That's the type of charisma that Rory McIlroy has. He's just like any other top player that wants to take on the best. That's not any type of controversy or saga.

Q. Do you know if Tiger has taken umbrage, because Corey was in here this morning, and he certainly gave the impression that Tiger was not happy at all with what Rory said.
PHIL MICKELSON: They get along great, are you kidding me? Rory is one of the nicest guys you can imagine. He's one of the classiest guys out on Tour ask Tiger gets along with just about everybody, usually because he beats them and he's nice to them when he beats them. Whether it's in a PGA Tour event or what have you. (Laughter).
Rory is as classy a guy as there is. I've been paired with him a bunch and I really enjoy playing with him. The whole European Team is built with a lot of classy character.

Q. Turning attention to the main competition of week, the ping-pong in the team room --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, it is, Matt Kuchar dominates. He's very good.

Q. We hear Tiger has the edge on you --
PHIL MICKELSON: You must be getting your information from the same place many of your tabloids get it. It's false. (Laughter).
No, we have had a lot of fun, and our big match usually takes place Sunday night. So we have just kind of practised with each other. We have hit it back and forth, but nothing fierce yet. Our competition is Sunday night. We play a best-of-five series.
So far, just like the U.S. Team is holding The Ryder Cup, so am I in our little match. (Winking). (Laughter).

Q. You mentioned this being your eighth Ryder Cup, and in several of the earlier ones you went up against Monty as a player. What do you remember about him? Is there anything that stood out to you why he was so successful?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've always had a good relationship with Colin because he's got a great sense of humour, and he and I rib each other. We have great little banter with each other. We've played some pranks on each other over the years going back to the mid to late 90s.
Our matches have been always with a fun kind of light-hearted spirit. He's played some incredible golf. He's putted incredibly in The Ryder Cup. I mean, some of the best putting I've ever seen. I remember The Ryder Cup in '99 at Brookline when he was getting heckled a little bit by the crowd. And that was a bad idea, because all he did was make putts left and right, and put it right back on them. I thought his ability to bring his best golf out in this event was inspirational.

Q. As you said, Tiger Woods is in theory world No. 1, but do you see yourself as leading the American attack against Europe?
PHIL MICKELSON: We are a team, and we have to look to the players who have been on most of the team -- or many of the teams in the past, and that's going to be myself and Tiger Woods. It's going to be Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk, as guys to make sure that the players who are here for the first time don't have any big surprises; that they are able to get their best game out and be properly prepared for Friday's matches. It's not just one person. I mean, even as great a leader as Corey is, he's putting it upon everybody to bring out our best golf. It's not just one person leading the way; it's everybody.

Q. You and Tiger had a shocking partnership in the foursomes and fourballs I remember at Oakland Hills a few years ago. Is there any chance of you two being paired together this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, I think there's a great chance. Why don't you just hold your breath and we'll see till Friday. (Laughter).

Q. Do you think you might win one?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that in The Presidents Cup, which is another international event that we play, Tiger and Steve Stricker have partnered very well together and Tiger and Jim Furyk have partnered very well together, and I would be surprised if that team got split up. I would expect the same undefeated record that Stricker and Tiger had at The Presidents Cup; because of that record, I think that that partnership should not be split up.
Now, granted, that was on U.S. soil and it wasn't against Europe and now we are playing Europe on their home soil and it's going to be a much more difficult task but that pairing is extremely strong, it's one of our better ones and it's no hidden secret. Everyone seems to know that's a pairing that works well.
I would be surprised to see those two split up.

Q. Regarding pairings again, based on what you said about fourball and foursomes, Dustin Johnson might make a better partner for you in the foursomes, but not as good a partner in fourball where you want a partner that keeps the ball in play; could you comment on that, and who might be a good fourball partner for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Dustin is going to be a good partner for anybody, regardless of their style of play, because he is so good. I mean, he hits the ball so solidly and keeps -- whether he's -- he could be the straightest driver I've ever seen. Now, granted, he's hitting the ball longer than just about anybody on Tour, but if you take the percentage of degree off-line, his is probably as straight or straighter than anybody else on Tour.
But he's also 40 or 50 yards ahead of where the guys are that are leading driving accuracy. So he makes an incredible partner, because when you put an iron or 3-wood in his hands, he's going to start hitting 85 per cent of the fairways. I think that he would be a great partner for me either way.

Q. I understand you don't want to go into the details of what Major Dan Rooney said, but could you explain, the American's apparent fondness for associating sport with war? (Laughter).
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't noticed that to be the case, but I do feel proud to be part of a country that cares about the civil rights of people all throughout the world and not just in our own country.

Q. A little while ago, you used the words -- you talked about somehow pulling off the upset; why do you think the U.S. is the underdog?
PHIL MICKELSON: Why do I think? Well, there's that big Paddy Power saying they are minus or plus whatever on the list. It's just how everybody has listed us.
And we are playing against a very highly-skilled team.

Q. Two years ago, the Americans managed to create a level of intensity over those three days; do you feel that's starting again in your team room?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if the word intensity would be the word I would use here today on a Tuesday. That certainly may be the case later in the week, or Wednesday -- I guess we are Wednesday, aren't we.
I think the first couple of days we've been here, I think fun is the word I would use. We've had fun in the team room and played ping-pong and laughed and joked around. We have really had a good couple of days as far as getting adjusted to the time and hanging out.
I think the intensity will come later in the week when the event starts. But for now, we are just enjoying each other's company and getting to know the golf course and getting ready for the competition.

Q. Had you ever known anything like those three days before? It just seemed incredible the way you guys --
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel that intensity, and I think both teams feel that intensity every time The Ryder Cup comes around and we compete. Because whether we win or lose, we still feel that same intensity. The difference was in '08, we were able to bring out some of our better golf; whereas in years before, we were not.

Q. You mentioned The Belfry in 2002, I don't know if anyone has made you aware, but the Celtic Manor is the hometown club of Phillip Price who you played in the singles, one of the best moments of his career; do you have any memories of that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've tried to suppress that memory. (Laughter) since you keep bringing it up.
I thought he was a class man. I really enjoyed having him on the European Team all week. He obviously played great golf and he ended up beating me, but he did it in a classy way. He was nice about it. He wasn't inconsiderate in any way. He was always a professional. I appreciated just the way he handled the whole event.

Q. Obviously we are still more than a few years away from this happening, but is Ryder Cup Captain a role you would relish at some point?
PHIL MICKELSON: Right now, I still feel like I want to view it from a player's perspective, and I still am learning as other captains do things differently, and I'm learning things that I like and don't like and what have you.
Right now, I'm enjoying the role as a player, and I know I'm 40 and I seem old to everybody, but I still feel like I have some more teams in the future and I'd rather just view it from that point of view.
GORDON SIMPSON: I'm sure there's life in the old dog yet. Thank you very much.

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