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April 3, 2011

Phil Mickelson


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the winner of the 2011 Shell Houston Open, Phil Mickelson. Convincing weekend, 9-under 63, followed up by a 7-under 65 today, biggest win of the year, three strokes. Obviously you've got to be feeling good as we head into next week. Just a few comments on the week and being here at the Shell Houston Open.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a really fun week, and to be able to spend some time with the people that helped us these last couple of years has been very special, too. They're just incredible doctors that are at an amazing facility.
But I feel like this week, this week is a great example of why I believe in 2004 signing with Callaway was the best decision I ever made for my career. Because when I had a bit of an issue, the head of R & D flew out, and because I've been experimenting with a couple drivers, he wanted to make sure I had the right onces. Brought the backups. I drove it great all week. It's a great example of why I feel that was the best decision I've ever made for my career, and I went on to win this week. And so I'm just very appreciative to the commitment they've made to me and that I get to be with them.
DOUG MILNE: I know you've been asked all week long about this week being somewhat of a tune-up for next week, and your response has always been that you're focused on the Shell Houston Open, and you obviously got the job done. Just a few comments on this week prior to heading into next week.
PHIL MICKELSON: So, it feel really good for me to have played well and to gain some momentum heading into next week. It feels a lot like '06 in that I needed to have a week where I kind of put it together. By that I mean, I've been saying all year I'm playing well but I'm not getting the scores out of it, and I'm having just kind of a lapse of focus.
And it was even evident today on a couple shots, a basic easy chip shot on 8 that I flubbed and 3-putting 15. Those little types of lack of concentration. I've got to continue to work on that. Although all in all, this was one of the best weeks I've had in a long time as far as seeing the shot and being able to hit it.
So, it was a great week in that regard and great for getting momentum heading in next week.

Q. Phil, it's like you flipped a switch after No. 8. That's right after that you go and birdie five in a row, and can you kind of talk about how you turned it around there?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was so upset at myself for losing concentration over that shot that I really was able to maintain my focus the next few holes. And then I was so upset at the way I let my mind wander on 15 when I had a great eagle opportunity and then missed the come-back for birdie that I'm really proud of the way I focused in on 16 and hit the best -- one of the best 9-irons, best shots I've hit all week to within a couple feet to make birdie.
So I was able to battle back when I did have a couple of those lapses, but I know going into Augusta and the penalties being so severe there that I've got to be able to work on that.

Q. Phil, congratulations. Talk about the course, what they've done here getting it as close to Augusta as possible.
PHIL MICKELSON: This is one of the best manicured golf courses we play all year. It's just pristine. The greens roll as -- better than just about any green I've ever seen. The superintendent here and the staff has done an absolutely incredible job, and I think more and more guys are going to continue to come here because it is such a great set-up.
And with the first cut similar to Augusta, it allows us to really work on shots from just off the fairway. I love it because I think the recovery shot is the most exciting shot in golf, and this golf course allows you those opportunities. It's not just wedging it back into the fairway if you hit a poor tee shot. I think the fans really enjoyed some of the get-out-of-trouble shots, recovery shots, that are fun to see.

Q. Speaking of recovery shot, looked like at 11 you had one you couldn't wait the see where -- when you hit it, you were just dying to see where it went.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. I know that it looked like I lost it left, but I hit it there three days this week. It's wide open, there were no trees, and I had a better angle to the pin. So I was not disappointed the fact I hit a few yards left. In fact, I was aimed a little bit left of the bunker almost.
I don't know if it hit the cart path or not, because it got out there further than it should have. It was a good angle to get to the pin.

Q. You talking about the Sergio Garcia type run up the fairway off the hit the shot.
PHIL MICKELSON: I can't run like him (laughter). You mean lumber up there? No.

Q. You talked a little bit about playing the week before the Masters. Talk about what it does for you, though.
PHIL MICKELSON: Each player as an individual golfer has to find out what's best for them to prepare for a big event. And I find that I tend to play my best in a Major Championship when I compete the week before. It gets me into competitive frame of mind, and I enjoy the challenge in only having three days between competitive rounds.
So that for me personally works. But I know that Nicklaus and a lot of guys prefer to have the week off and kind of focus in on that one particular golf course and those shots. I understand that. There's an argument both ways. As a player, you have to find out what works best for you as the individual.

Q. Phil, you and Scott are good friends and obviously you're into your own games, but that was a battle out there for awhile. He was throwing at birdies, you were throwing out birdies. He turned around and he's like "He's birdieing every other hole, I can't shake the guy."
PHIL MICKELSON: He's a fun guy. I love spending time with him. We laugh a bunch, and he's certainly one of the guys I enjoy being around the most out on Tour. We've played a bunch of rounds together and had a bunch of lunches and dinners.
It's fun. But we did not have the same banter today as we usually do in our practice rounds. We were both out there grinding and working hard, and I felt like I -- I kept making birdies and I wasn't catching him. I couldn't catch him. He just kept -- he just kept firing at it. Every time I thought there might be an opening like on 12, you know, he sticks it 3 feet or maybe on 13 and he sticks it 2 feet. He played some terrific golf, and I was fortunate in the end.

Q. You jumped to three in the world.
PHIL MICKELSON: Honestly, I haven't looked at that because I haven't been getting the scores that I want, I haven't looked at rankings and so forth. Right now this has been an awesome week. A lot of fun. I've got some work to do when tomorrow comes around. It's not like I can celebrate and enjoy the victory. There's some work to be done in these next three days to get ready for Thursday.

Q. Phil, lot of stories about next week have said this is the most wide open Masters in maybe a decade. What do you think about that? And also do you think today's result makes it a little bit less wide open than it maybe was?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's always a bunch of guys that can win that tournament. I don't think, you know, two days, the last two days should change anything on how others view that particular event.
It's wide open. There's a lot of players that can do it. But I certainly like the way that I play the golf course, and I'm very pleased with the way my game is coming round.

Q. Change it for you? Could it change it for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I certainly have a lot more confidence heading in, because the one area that I've been not doing as well as I usually do, which is seeing a shot, visualizing a shot, being able to hold that picture throughout the swing and execute, I started to do much better this weekend.

Q. You hadn't scored real well on this course the last few years. What was the difference this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't have a great answer for you right now. I don't know what to say.

Q. The fans loved you this week. Talk about what means to be in Houston.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was really a fun week, and, gosh, the community support here is incredible. I'm excited that Shell is going to be part of this through '17. This is really creating an environment the players are enjoying and loving, the great practice facilities, wonderful conditioned golf course. I think the field will continue to get stronger and stronger.

Q. You came in talking about how your driver was. Was part of that on 17 when you had a 3-stroke lead and took a driver out instead of a 3-wood there and pushed it to the left?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. The problem with that shot is if I hit it straight and don't cut it, it goes right through into the hazard that cuts into the middle of the fairway even though you can't see it from the tee. I had to make sure that I overcut it, if anything. Plus the pin was to the right. So I had to be left. It didn't do me any good to miss it right. I felt like, you know, anything at the middle or left was okay.

Q. Phil, you've won, this is your 39th time. When you're standing there at 18 after you chipped and --
PHIL MICKELSON: It's the greatest feeling.

Q. You were clearly savoring the moment. You had a huge smile.
PHIL MICKELSON: How can you not?

Q. Is there any way to describe what's going through your mind in?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to say, but from a player's point of view, I look back at the couple of Masters, let's say, and 2004, you know, I'm tied for the lead, I've got to birdie the last hole, and I'm walking up 18 and I'm trying to hit good shots, it's stressful, it's pressure.
'06 and '10 last year when I had a 2, 3-shot lead walking up 18, that's the feeling I like, where I can really enjoy it and be comfortable and after I hit the chip -- you know, I remembered as I was hitting that chip shot on 18, this tournament is not over. If I don't catch it right, it goes in the water, I've got to hit a good shot. Once I pulled it off and hit a good chip shot, I was able to kind of relax and savor the moment.

Q. How personal has this tournament become for you coming here since giving your time to Houston?
PHIL MICKELSON: Right now I don't want to go into that because I've got a big event this next week, and it's time -- as much as I loved winning here and I'll look back on this in seven, eight days, this being a very special day. Right now, tomorrow, you know, I've got some work to do. Tuesday I got to get ready for Augusta, and so I'm not going to be able to savor it or celebrate right now. I'll put it on hold for eight days.

Q. You mentioned 2006 winning at BellSouth, how this felt like that. Did you feel like your point is good? Obviously that --
PHIL MICKELSON: The last two days I certainly did. I played four days like that at BellSouth, but the last two days I played similar. I would much rather play the last two than the first two like that.

Q. Phil, this obviously puts a lot of confidence in the tank, but obviously competing takes a little bit out as well. Do you have any concerns as far as that's concerned in terms of draining effects?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't. Again, I look back in '06. I think it's nothing but a plus to be able to gain some momentum, especially given that I haven't had the results and the scores that I wanted to earlier in the year. So it just -- it gives me a little bit of momentum.

Q. The fact you spent a bit of time at Augusta at the start of this week, did that in a sense put a bit of bounce into you for this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's fair statement. It reenergizes me every time I go there. I get excited with the game and fall in love with the game again and again. It reminds me how much I dreamt as a kid of playing there, of competing and winning Majors and winning golf tournaments.
Every time I walk the grounds now, having one won there, I've looked backed about some shots I've hit or some players in the past hit. It creates an excitement level for the game of golf.

Q. You're a huge sports fan. Final Four in Houston. Any national title predictions?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know much about college basketball. I've really enjoyed watching the games. They've been some good, exciting games. I love watching the hustle in college hoops. And I also like the way it's officiated. It's fun.

Q. You'll get this in a couple days in Augusta, but --
PHIL MICKELSON: You got the Augusta hat on. I like that.

Q. Your mindset a year ago this day, you were in and out of Houston so much for the treatment with Amy and your mother. How has it been last few months this time and your mindset now?
PHIL MICKELSON: Both Amy and my mom are doing so much better. We're in a much better place. It feels good.

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