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January 18, 2014

Phil Mickelson


Q.テつ Some incredible numbers on the score card, give us a sense of how you compiled them.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ Well, I hit a lot of good shots and I putted really well, to make that many birdies.テつ It was a fun day.テつ I hit some good shots and capitalised on it.
I got a little tired those last four or five holes, and I could tell that it was early in the season and I wasn't quite as sharp, those last four or five holes, as I was early on and so that's something that I'll be able to work on, made a few lazy swings in the end but I hit a lot of good shots, the irons felt pretty good, and earlier in the day I was putting the ball in play and it felt good.

Q.テつ You were out with Seve Benson, that last shot was Seve‑esque; talk us through that one.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ Bones did not like the decision to try to reach the green out of the bunker, and I don't blame him.テつ It wasn't probably my smartest play.
I hit a terrible shot into a spot that was tough but because it was sitting on a fairly hard, packed lie, I was able to go in steep and keep it low underneath the trees and I had plenty of green to work with.テつ I just drove a little pitching wedge, just thin it and keep it under the trees and gave myself a 45‑, 50‑footer, a putt that you don't expect to make too often.テつ I had a good feel and it felt great to finish that way.

Q.テつ You talked about being a bit tentative, cautious, what was the attitude going out today?
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ Well, the attitude was this morning, we had nice conditions, the golf course is in great shape and it wasn't too windy.テつ In fact, this wind, which is the opposite of the first two days, is a much easier wind to score on on this course I believe.
And I got off to a quick start.テつ I needed to make a move and I was able to do that the front nine and then carry it over on the back, birdieing 10 and 11 got me off to a good start on the back side, and was able to get right in it for tomorrow.

Q.テつ How encouraging to play this sort of golf in just your third competitive round of the year?
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ What I like is that it feels better each day.テつ The first day, I felt terrible.テつ I felt terrible off the tee.テつ I felt terrible with the irons and my putter was awful.
So the second day, half of it started to come around and today it started to feel pretty good and hopefully I'll be able to build on it again tomorrow and feel sharp and hit some good iron shots and hit the ball in play off the tee and have a good day.

Q.テつ How excited about the prospects tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ Well, I love the fact that I have a chance and that I'm in contention the first tournament out this year.テつ I love that I've played better each day.テつ I love that I've had some good practice out here.テつ We've had nice weather to do it, and that my swing is starting to feel sharper and sharper and I'm starting to feel more and more control with each swing as the week goes on, and that's important as we start the year to build a solid foundation and feel like you're on the right path with direction.

Q.テつ Tell me your thoughts on a lovely round of golf which is your lowest here at Abu Dhabi.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ It was a fun round today.テつ I knew that just making the cut, I needed to make a love and got off to a good start birdieing the first two holes and was able to eagle the 8th hole and get to 5‑under and make a good turn.テつ When I birdied 10 and 11, I knew that I was off to a good start on the back side and had a chance to move up the leaderboard.
I do think that the wind, although it's strong and it's not easy, it's the opposite direction than the first two days and it's much easier this direction.テつ I feel like there's more birdie holes this direction.
So I will still be back a few shots I anticipate heading into tomorrow's round, but I love the fact that I'm in contention and I have an opportunity here in the first week of the year and here in Abu Dhabi where we've had some great weather on a wonderful golf course.

Q.テつ I presume you love the fact, that, too, you can see the clear sense of progress over the days.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ I think that's the biggest thing for me is that each day as the tournament has progressed, I've felt sharper and sharper.テつ The first day I did not feel very good with the golf swing or the short game, and as the second day came, I got sharper with my irons.
Today came, I started to hit some really good shots.テつ Still had some loose ones, but I hit many more good shots today than I did the first two.テつ If I can continue improving each day, that's the goal, and I love that I have a chance tomorrow.

Q.テつ You've touched on this; you do feel that you're in a nice sort of poised position, depending what the leaders manage to achieve?
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ That's it.テつ I don't know how far back I'll be or what I need to shoot tomorrow but the fact that I have a chance is a great way to start the year.テつ Because heading into the Majors, let's say in April, you want to have some opportunities to win golf tournaments.テつ You want to feel that pressure, that nervousness and to be able to feel that the first week of the year is awesome.

Q.テつ Did you have a sense when you woke up this morning and arrived here that something special might happen?
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ I felt really good after yesterday's round, because I hit a lot of good iron shots.テつ I felt like the swing was much more on path.テつ If you watch the video from the first day to yesterday and today, the plane of the swing is very different.テつ The first day is was so steep and vertical and now I feel like I have control of the clubface, draws and fades, and I hit a lot more good shots today.テつ I still had some sloppy swings today, rusty swings, if I will, but the number of good shots that I hit has increased each day and that's really what I'm looking for.

Q.テつ Between shots on that first day, it was noticeable you were just rehearsing move after move after move, just trying to get yourself into the groove in a sense.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ That's it.テつ I felt I had not quite in my practice sessions felt sharp. テつI had not felt the control of the golf ball the way I wanted to, and I started yesterday and today to hit some good, crisp iron shots, a few tee shots today.
But I still have some things to work on.テつ I still made some rusty swings, some lazy swings.テつ I got a little bit mentally tired there those last four or five holes, which was good, because it meant that I was really focusing the earlier part of the round.
But this is a great start to the year.

Q.テつ You're carving out opportunities today that you were able to take; that must be very, very satisfying in the context of what you want to achieve from this week.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ Well, it is in that I've improved each day, I've felt better about my game each day, and then lastly to be in contention the first week out and to feel that nervousness on the first tee tomorrow and to have that opportunity to win a golf tournament this early in the year, first week out, is a great feeling and a great opportunity because the more times you can put yourself in the position and handle it and deal with the pressure, the better your opportunities are when April comes around.

Q.テつ The birdie at the last, you were playing with Seve Benson, it was Seve‑esque, wasn't it, a different Seve.
PHIL MICKELSON:テつ Well, it was not a smart decision out of the bunker to go for the green, but I don't know, that's just what I do (laughter).テつ I ended up putting it in a very difficult spot but I was fortunate in that the lie I had was tight enough where I could take a wedge and kind of trap it or keep it thin and keep it low underneath those branches.
I had plenty of green to work with.テつ I wanted to make sure that I missed the ball left of the pin so I didn't short‑side myself and I gave myself a lot of green to work with and just drove a pitching wedge on the green.テつ It wasn't that close; it was 50 feet, but I made a really good putt to finish the day and it feels terrific to see that ball go in.

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