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September 24, 2014

Phil Mickelson


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to welcome Mr. Phil Mickelson to the interview room, who on Friday, if selected, will become the first American history to play ten Ryder Cups. How does that feel? How does that make you feel.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, has been an exciting event for me over the years. And as I look back over my career, it's the Ryder Cups and the team events that I've been on that I've made that really provide the great memories, the great experiences and the accomplishments that I like to reflect back on. And to be on this team is a great honour and privilege. I'm excited to play here in Scotland where we've been treated so wonderfully and the people here are so nice and where the game has really kind of taken root.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: A quick word on your current team, shaping up nicely.

PHIL MICKELSON: We really have a great group of guys. We have a lot of fun together. We really have had some fun these first few days together. I think we have some really high-quality players. Now, obviously the European side does, too, and I know they are favoured and I know what great players they are, but we are having a lot of fun together. And hopefully that will bring out our best golf. I don't know if it will, but either way we're having a great time.

Q. Can you just talk about the dynamic of being the underdog? Europe kind of played that card for years.
PHIL MICKELSON: Certainly we're here without Tiger Woods. We're without Dustin Johnson. We're without Jason Dufner. And we're playing a team that has players like McIlroy and Stenson who have played just incredible golf over the years. I'm sure they're going to play every match, and they're going to be extremely tough to beat, whoever gets paired against them. Certainly we are the underdog. But rather than focus on what we don't have, what we do have a great group of 12 guys that really enjoy each other's company, have a lot of fun together, and, like I said, are hopefully bringing our best games to Scotland, because we are going to need it to make it a tight race and a close one for Sunday.

Q. Can you use that to your advantage at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure. It takes some of the pressure off knowing that we are on away soil. We have not won here in 20 years. We've got a team that is a heavy underdog, and the expectations certainly aren't high. But I will say that again, we have a great group of guys and we have got some great leadership. I am really, really excited about Captain Watson and what a great job he's been doing, not just the last two years, but with the team this week, he's been just exceptional.

Q. You've won The Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and the Open at Muirfield. It would be a pretty unique tartan triple, for want of a better phrase, if you could win The Ryder Cup also on Scottish soil. That would be quite special, I would imagine.
PHIL MICKELSON: It would be very special. I'm just now learning how to win in Scotland, but we have a captain that's known how to win here for many decades, and we're hopefully going to take some of his leadership and get us there. But we have a huge hill to climb and a great challenge, but we are looking forward to. And we think win, lose or draw we are excited to be here and play together as a team and hopefully make this Ryder Cup a thrilling and exciting one. Although, it's going to be a challenge.

Q. You've got a phenomenal career, but would you feel that your Ryder Cup record is perhaps the only blot on your resumé and it's not as superb as everything else you've achieved?
PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't say it as eloquently as you did by calling it a blot (laughter), but I think that it's a record that I'd like to improve on.

Q. Just to follow up, does the record -- obviously you've played more than most, but you've also lost more than any other American player. Does that sting you or is that something that you don't really think too much about?
PHIL MICKELSON: Are you always this half-empty? Is that how you look at things? (Laughter). Because we're more optimistic here (laughter).

Q. I just wonder if it drives you on and makes you more determined, particularly this week, to try and improve that.
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely I would like to improve my record. That's certainly a goal (laughter). It doesn't take much to improve my winning percentage, I'll say that. But I've got a good partner that obviously I'm going to play again with Keegan. I don't think I'm letting go of any secrets here. If you've noticed, we've played together these first few rounds and we seem to have a good partnership, and he brings out some of my best golf and I'm very optimistic that I can improve on my record. But again, we're taking on some very strong -- a very strong team on their home soil. It's going to be a challenge. But I'd like to improve my record.

Q. You've repeatedly said throughout this year that you think the next five years of your career will be the best five years. If that's the case, you'll play in more Ryder Cups, but can you allow yourself to think what if, and what if this is your last one; and will you try to savour this one a little bit more because of that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I savour and I cherish every team event, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, every team event, that week is a very special week. It's something that I cherish. It's been 19 years that I've made it without being a pick. I was a pick in '94, and the last 19, I've made it on my own. I don't know why I would expect it to stop. I expect to keep playing well and play even better over the coming years. I followed my worst year prior to this in 2003 with one of my best in 2004 and I expect to do the same next year.

Q. Having nine times walked to the first tee on the first day of a Ryder Cup, can you describe what that feeling is like for you, and was it different the ninth time than the sixth time than the first time, or do you expect it -- is it always similar?
PHIL MICKELSON: The Ryder Cup brings out more emotion in you as a player and as a person and probably as a fan, as well, than any event in golf, and we feel that. We notice that. I think the epitome for me is watching Pepsi, Keegan's caddie, whip the flag around on 15 at Medinah. Because Pepsi is a very unemotional individual. He doesn't have highs or lows. He doesn't share much emotion. He's very even keel. He's very monotone on how he speaks, and to see him whipping that flag around was totally out of character. And The Ryder Cup does that to you. It brings out emotion in you that you don't normally experience. What's interesting to me about The Ryder Cup is that most players -- not all, obviously, I'm generalising here, but most players play in and compete in The Ryder Cup before they win a major championship, because you learn a lot about yourself and how to handle pressure, how to handle intense situations and bring out your best golf in those moments by playing in The Ryder Cup. And most of the players, not all -- again, not all, this isn't the case for everybody, but most of the players have competed in Ryder Cup and then they go on and win majors.

Q. You talked a little bit about the leadership of Tom Watson, your guys's captain. As a ten-time Ryder Cup vet, is there anything that you can offer first-time guys like Jordan, like Jimmy?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll try to do or say whatever I possibly can, but it's Captain Watson's team. He's the leader. He's done this now, it's been 21 years since the last time we won on foreign soil and the last time it happened, he was the leader. It was also the last year before I started making the teams. So I'm very honoured that I have the opportunity to play with him, play for him, and learn from him. I've been on 19, 20 teams, and I'm learning from Tom Watson this week. It's been really an honour to play for him, and we're very lucky as players to have this time with him. A lot of players didn't have the chance to play during his competitive days. I did. I was able to play with him the last few years that he played on the regular Tour before he moved on to the Champions Tour, and I cherish that time. And to have him as captain is time that we all value and appreciate and learn from.

Q. Can you talk about the reaction of the team when the two Wounded Warriors spoke last night, how heartfelt that might have been/ you go back a long way with these kind of speeches.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Josh and Noah gave two of the best speeches that we've had. I remember back in 1993, when Chip Beck and John Cook took on The European Team, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo. Chip Beck said, "It's not what you accomplish in life, it's what you overcome." We're playing a game and we are trying to overcome challenges to succeed in a game. These two gentlemen have overcome some of the greatest challenges that any individual could deal with in life. They're dealing with loss of limbs, they're dealing with near-death experiences, they're dealing with life challenges, and they're overcoming those challenges. So we, as players, found this to be very inspirational because of the challenges they're overcoming. It makes the challenge of overcoming an incredibly strong European Team seem not as great a challenge.

Q. As the record has mounted the last few years and the stories and people ask, what's wrong with the American Team and why can't they win, and one of the theories put out there is that the Americans are not as close, they don't get along, and yet you were leading in the team competition two years ago and lost in the singles. So doesn't that knock down the theory that you can't play together?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, not only are we able to play together, we also don't litigate against each other and that's a real plus, I feel, heading into this week (laughter).

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Ouch. (Laughter).

PHIL MICKELSON: I couldn't resist. Sorry. Go ahead.

Q. Tom Watson said on Monday, I think, that this was, as far as you guys were concerned, about redemption for what happened at Medinah two years ago. As someone who was part of that team, is it about redemption, is it about revenge or is that something actually that you'd rather put out of your minds going into this?
PHIL MICKELSON: That actually has not been mentioned one time that I've heard of in the team room. That really has no play as to what goes on this week. We're really focusing on trying to play our best golf here in Scotland and trying to do something that hasn't been done in 20-plus years from the U.S. side, and that's to win on foreign soil. And we are kind of welcoming the challenge, and like I said, we need to play our best golf to make it a close match, and that's what we are hopeful to do. It really has nothing to do with trying to redeem what happened two years ago or whatnot. We got beat pretty good in the singles and it happens in The Ryder Cup, and we are trying to let that go and bring out our best game this week.

Q. When it comes to Sunday singles, do you have a preference where you go in the lineup? Does it depend what the score is, and are you one who will make a request, that you want to go in a particular order?
PHIL MICKELSON: We don't have a strategy, I don't think, as far as such and such player should play early in the rotation or late in the rotation. But we do like to have players that like to play fast or play earlier so they don't get held up and they are able to play more in their rhythm. That's more the strategy or thought process, whether it's been Ryder Cups or Presidents Cups. This week, we just need to be prepared as a team to play at a pace that is a little slower than normal.

Q. I know you've touched upon this, but do you try and ignore the favourites and underdog label, especially considering what happened back in 2002, when you played Phil Price and what do you remember of that match?
PHIL MICKELSON: I suppressed that a long time ago (laughter). I don't know what you're talking about.

Q. You've spoken about your partnership with Keegan. Two years ago, you sat out the Saturday afternoon. With hindsight, how much of a mistake do you think that was and does it influence your thinking this time around?
PHIL MICKELSON: I understand why this continues to be a topic of conversation, but I need you to grasp our mind-set because it will make sense that it had no impact on the outcome of the event. Keegan and I entered the morning round on Saturday with the idea that, Listen, Captain, we are going to put everything we have into this morning match, and you need to give us a rest. We've played hard for three rounds, and we don't want to go into singles worn out. We want to be ready for singles. When we played and won 7&6, it was certainly a thought, let's play them again. The debate was this: Should Keegan and I play or should Bubba and Webb play? Either way we are going to play in the second slot, so which group should go out. Bubba and Webb went out and they won the point. So it wouldn't have made a bit of difference because that was the decision. We weren't going to take anybody else's place. It was whether or not Bubba and Webb were going to play or Keegan and I were going to play, and we were going to go out in the second slot, and they went out in the second slot and won. So there is absolutely no way that that had an outcome on the final event.

Q. So the decision was made before you went out, not midway through that morning?
PHIL MICKELSON: When we were ahead five or six holes, Davis came to us and said, "Do you want to play?" And we said -- or I guess I said, our deal was we were going to go out and play as hard as we can in the morning round, knowing that we were going to be sitting in the afternoon giving somebody else a chance and resting for the singles so that we gave ourselves the best chance to win the singles match. And like I said, the debate that he was having was, should we put Bubba and Webb out in the second slot or should we put you and Keegan out in the second slot. Bubba and Webb were playing great and Keegan and I wanted a little bit of a rest. Because statistically, if you play all five matches, you don't do well in singles. Like I said, we won the point that we would have played, anyway. So wouldn't have made a difference.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Phil, many thanks. Thank you very much
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