PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 28, 2004
Q. Your win at the Masters, talk about that last putt and what went on after?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, as we saw, I had a really good read after Chris DiMarco's putt. Rather than trying to overdo the read and go from the side, I had seen what the ball was going to do, so I didn't waste any time looking at another read. I just stood up and hit it and tried to play another two inches of break than what Chris had played. It was a nice feeling watching it go in.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that night on Sunday, it kind of hit that I get to come back every year; that I'll always be the 2004 Masters Champion, and that I'll be able to be a part that have event for rest of my life. I think that night reading and watching some of the highlights and so forth, that was -- that gave me a really special feeling.
Q. What did you do with the kids?
PHIL MICKELSON: We put them down and we all kind of hung out and celebrated. They were very tired. The kids were tired after a long day. They didn't nap any. We kept them up for quite a while to watch the finish. It was pretty cool having them there.
Q. The putt, was it 18 feet or 20 feet?
PHIL MICKELSON: Right around there. Around 18 feet is what I thought.
Q. Where the green jacket?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's back home. We didn't bring it. It's time to put it on a hanger and get back to work.
Q. Do you feel any different as a player having won a major now?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel any different as a player. I don't feel any different really as a person. I just have a memory and an experience that Amy and I will always remember. I'll always look back on the highlights and recall that win. Whether I win more majors or not, I'll always remember this first one. But now that two weeks have gone by, it feels like it's time to move onto other tournaments, start playing and practicing hard again.
Q. Can you tell us about the 17th hole out there today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I only hit one shot. It was a good one. (Laughter.) It was a little 6-iron that landed on the front of the green, trickled in for a hole-in-one. So things have been good. It's been a good time.
Q. How many oysters have you had so far?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it seems like we're eating every fourth hole out here in the Pro-Am, we have such great food. I love those grilled oysters, though, or those barbecued oysters. Those are something else. I think gone through about a dozen, dozen and a half.
Q. In what ways did not winning majors in the past prepare you to win the major two weeks ago?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, having played at Augusta so many years, so many rounds of golf, I started to understand and feel comfortable with the holes and how they were set up regarding the pin placements. So that on Thursday, when we had the hardest pin placements for the week, I understood that it was not a day we were going to go out and shoot 65, 66; but that when they them put in lower spots, like they were on Sunday's back nine, you could go out and shoot a low round. And so by playing patient throughout the round and knowing when not to attack, it allowed me to take advantage of the holes that I could get to. And I think that that helped, knowing in the past what mistakes I had made previously, I don't know, whether it's knock hit it in the water or making double on 5, or this year, accepting par all four rounds, things like that seem to have helped shave that shot off that I was talking about.
Q. Do you feel that players like DiMarco and Justin Rose will be able to capitalize on what they did not accomplish at Augusta in the future, or is it a case-by-case situation?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that those players have such great talent that I think that they will win their share of tournaments. Chris has become a very good friend of mine. Justin Rose is a very young player, but he has so many physical skills and he has really become one of the best players in the world, and Chris DiMarco has been, too. We've had a chance to play together much I think playing together in the final round, he had a shot the entire day until the last two holes maybe. I think he has played well there in the past to where he'll be able to play well in the future, ultimately break through and win.
Q. Television viewers, commentators and people on-site that day saw a quiet confidence and a different kind of look and demeanor about you. You seem to have played with that all year long, is that just appearance, is it fact, and does it still stay with you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that in the past, I have always played very relaxed and had a lot of fun Thursday, Friday, Saturday. It seems when Sundays come around, I drive up to the course and I'm not real talkative and I'm real quiet and stay away and leave me alone. I'm not the way I normally am day-in and day-out. So I have -- I don't know if -- I haven't really made a conscious effort, but I just tried to take an effort to not let myself drift into that mode and let my personality be what it is on Sunday, as well as the first three days, which is having fun. I enjoy playing the game, I enjoy having fun, and I enjoy the competition. I enjoy the opportunity to win. And rather than try so hard, I just wanted to enjoy the round, enjoy the day, and I felt that that allowed me to play my best golf.
Q. Shinnecock; what challenge does that present?
PHIL MICKELSON: This year at Shinnecock, I understand that they are going to have a lot of chipping areas around the green, which will be a similar element to Augusta National. They are trying to bring the short game element back to Shinnecock. The biggest difference will be the penalty for a wayward tee shot, which in the past has always concerned me. Surprisingly I have been able to come close to winning the tournament in '99 and 2002. I've had good opportunities to win. I actually feel that the U.S. Open now presents a better opportunity for me to win now that I feel I'm driving the ball in play. And that has been the biggest difference this year, the big reason why I'm looking forward to that tournament, but I haven't had a chance to really look at Shinnecock yet. I've been just kind of cherishing the win. It's only been two weeks now since Augusta. I'll go out there early, a couple of weeks early like I did at Augusta, and try to play the golf course and see again if there's places I can shave a half a shot or a stroke a round, and see if I can get myself in contention on Sunday. I'll really start preparing in about a month.
Q. Every golfer has qualities others envy look and Vijay Singh is No. 2 on the Monday list, what in his game do you admire and look at?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, he's a great player, whether it's off the tee, he hits the ball very long, but he's very straight. He's always had great distance control with all his irons, but he's been a tremendous short iron player, too. He's able to lower his ball flight and hit shots with less spin, which players that have always driven the ball long ways and had trouble doing. Greg Norman is the perfect one that comes to mind. He puts a lot of spin on the short irons, and over the years mit has hurt him in some spots. Vijay is able to avoid that problem, and the last probably four or five years, I would consider him a tremendous putter.
Q. I asked you this question before the Masters on Wednesday, and I think it would probably be appropriate to ask again. Now that you've won the Masters, are you a better player than you were three weeks ago, or you now have 23 wins and one of them happens to be a major?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel any different as a player. I don't feel any different as a person. I think into the win certainly feels good and it feels incredible. But I don't think anything changed over the course of four or five days other than me gaining the experience of a lifetime that I'll always cherish and look back on very fondly and be a part of that great tournament every year. But I don't look at my record any different. I know that some people do, and that's fine, but it just doesn't feel any different.
Q. Majors, for one reason for another, have been hard for you to win for eight, ten years, whatever. Do you think now they will be any easier to win, or is it still, you know, just one tournament at a time and they are all tough?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think it's possible that after getting over the hurdle of winning the first, the second and third may be easier. Although, it has been maybe even tougher for some players. So it's hard for me to say. I haven't played in one, having won a major now. But, I do feel that major championships could provide me a better opportunity to win tournaments, given that I'm able to drive the ball in play now, and the penalty for misses is so great in the four majors. In the past, driving the ball wayward and not really having as precise a distance control with my short irons has really put me at a disadvantage on the challenging test that majors provide.
Q. From the experience factor, did you ever, whether it was Pinehurst or Atlanta or Augusta on a couple of occasions, when you got to the back nine, did you ever doubt yourself?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't. I really thought that I was going to win both of those tournaments and a couple other ones. But sometimes things don't go exactly as you had planned. If you had asked Ernie Els, he fully believed that he was going to be wearing the green jacket, and he had, in his mind, been trying on sizes, or he visualized it and seen it happening, and sometimes it just doesn't always work out the way you plan.
Q. What do you think you learned about yourself in that week the most?
PHIL MICKELSON: I really haven't looked on it as something that I've learned. I think that one of the things I was able to do was take past knowledge from tournaments that I've played in the past, what I've learned in the past about the golf course and apply it to this year's event. I think a perfect example would be No. 15, because in the past, I've chipped balls in the water, I've made bogeys, I've made doubles and it's cost me getting into contention. This year I was perfectly content playing for par, tried to make one or two birdies; I ended up making four pars and won the tournament by a shot. But I saved a shot or two here or there by not making bogey or double. I look at Vijay, who had a great tournament but played that hole very difficult the first few days, cost him more than one or two shots, and he would have had a much better chance at winning and applying pressure, had he played those holes at par the first few days. So that's an example of what I've learned from the past rounds there and how I applied it to this year's Masters, as opposed to learning something new.
Q. Player of the Year, it's real early, but right now you would be the prime candidate for that. Could you discuss your thoughts on the possibilities of other rewards for this season, asides from just Masters, green jacket?
PHIL MICKELSON: You said the prime candidate for which, Player of the Year?
Q. Yes, sir.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would say this; that I had a very good chance at Player of the Year in '96, and that was the year that Tom Lehman won the British Open and THE TOUR Championship and ended up winning Player of the Year. It's a goal that I've had, or something that I would love to attain as a player. In fact, I've always thought that it was as important to win Player of the Year honors, to have your peers look at you as the best player for that year, almost as much as I desire to win a major championship. Granted, they most likely go hand in hand. But I'm off to a great start this year and certainly I have a great opportunity to accomplish that goal. But the meat of the season, the heart of the season is just coming up. We still have three majors and a bunch of other tournaments to go; that what I really want to do is try to continue the practice regime that I've had that's been successful, the preparation routine that I've kind of developed that was successful at Augusta, and apply to the other majors so that I can hopefully continue the type of play that I've had throughout rest of the year, because that might give me a chance to attain those goals.
Q. You joked about a couple of times on the West Coast Swing and again at the Masters, saying, "I wish if I had known earlier it was this easy I would have won," and we all laugh and it's a good line. Is it as real as that? Are you admitting that you were maybe more stubborn in the past and you have changed your philosophy of playing off the tee?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's more a function of execution. And it's not that I was -- if you noticed at Augusta, I was swinging as hard as I could. I was trying to drive it as far as I can. One of the things is that I went to a golf ball that is much more beneficial from 150 yards in for me, and that is -- that's the Pro V1, which is a little softer than the Pro V1X that I was using. Last year, my stats from 150 in and how close I hit the ball put me at, I'm guessing, but at around 130th. Whereas this year, I don't know exactly what I am, but I've got to believe it's Top-5, and it's because I've been able to take advantage of the scoring clubs and the scoring opportunities, and even more so, now that I've been in play. But it was more execution. The golf ball has typically cost me 10 or 15 yards in distance, and that's what I'm seeing in my statistical categories for the year, about what I expected. But don't get me wrong, I'm swinging at it every bit as hard as I did last year. The slight difference is that I'm playing a little bit of a fade, which has more to do with the technical change that keeps the face a little squarer through impact.
Q. What were some of the highlights of letters or phone calls or telegrams you might have received after the victory and maybe some of the most special messages you got?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I was very flattered that Sunday night, the President called. When he was then Governor Bush out of Texas, he came to the Ryder Cup in '99, the Saturday before the final round and gave a very inspirational talk to all of the players on the team. I was very flattered that he had called. I thought that it was very cool to have the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and really cool to go on Leno and Letterman, a show that it's very difficult to get an invite to. I was very flattered that they called, which is why I did all of those things. You just don't have that opportunity in life that often. I had a couple of interesting ones, really interesting opportunities. One of them I couldn't take advantage of, but of all people, Don King called me, and it was very flattering. He asked if I wanted to go sit ringside at a fight at Madison Square Garden, I think Klitschko and Corrie Sanders were fighting, but unfortunately I wasn't able to take advantage of that. But I thought that was pretty cool. I didn't know he had anything to do with golf.
Q. Have you ever had any encounters with Don king?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I haven't, that's why it caught me off-guard.
Q. Did he say, "Only in America can you win the Masters"?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, he did. He loves the underdog.
Q. How realistic is a Grand Slam in one calendar year? Is it realistic?
PHIL MICKELSON: It depends on who you ask, but it's not something that I've really thought about yet. This is the first one.
Q. I understand.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm really not thinking about that at all. I don't know what the odds or anything, and I'm really not concerned with that at all. I've got the first one which was a big --
Q. You're the only guy with a chance this year.
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure. And it's on to Shinnecock and we'll see what the odds are after Sunday at Shinnecock.
Q. How do you feel coming into this tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've played well here. I like this golf course a lot. I like the tournament a lot. It's going to be challenging for me to play well after winning the Masters and for me to come out focused and ready to play. It will be a challenge, but I do feel I've had a couple of good practice sessions back home. I do feel like I'm striking the ball and playing well, but because I haven't played competitively in a couple of weeks, that has -- that could be the biggest challenge is getting back into competitive golf. And typically I like to have a week or two to play and get sharp before I really feel ready to come out and win. But I've also been fortunate to win tournaments like the Bob Hope this year after not playing in a tournament for months.
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