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April 12, 2015

Phil Mickelson


MODERATOR:  Welcome our three‑time champion, Phil Mickelson, finished the tournament tied for second with Justin Rose, shooting rounds of 70, 68, 67, 69, good for 14‑under par.  Phil recorded 19 birdies and two eagles.
Phil's second place showing is his 11th Top‑5 finish in the Masters which is tied for second all‑time in tournament history.
Phil, thanks for joining us.  Could you please talk us through your round?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I played a solid round, but I needed to play an exceptional round and I ended up having three bogeys that kind of stalled my round as I was starting to make a birdie here or there.
I needed to shoot something in the mid to low 60s to have a chance and just didn't do it.  I just didn't play the exceptional round that I needed, and Jordan didn't help any of us trying to catch him.  He played an extremely solid round.
But the fact is, I would have taken 14‑under at the start of the week.  I would have been happy with that.  I've played really well to shoot 14‑under and I just simply got outplayed by a young player who just played some incredible golf.

Q.  Everybody gets up for major championships, but you seem to find the ability to channel some of that into playing well, because not everybody can, even though they get up for these events.  Anything you attribute the ability to raise your game?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't have probably a great explanation other than I really focus on those events.  I really work for them with the idea that these are the events that I'm trying to play well in now.  It's not my motivation to go try to grind out win week‑after‑week.  I want to zero in on the four or five biggest events, and I've been fortunate in that I've been able to get some of my best golf out in those events when I focus in on them.  But I don't have a great answer for you why or how that is.

Q.  Like Rory McIlroy coming into this week, as you just said, you're next up for the major that get you the career Grand Slam.  What will you do; do you take a lot of positives out of this and what will you do to get yourself prepared for that?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I'll spend a little bit of time at Chambers Bay.  But really, I think that when I played well and won at Muirfield in 2013, I really didn't spend an inordinate amount of time on the golf course.  I just got my game sharp, and I think I'll probably take that approach more with Chambers Bay.
I'll go and see the course.  I'll spend some time there, but really I'll be trying to get my game sharp heading into that week.  I'll do that by playing Memorial and Memphis the two weeks prior just like I did heading into here playing the two weeks prior.
You know, my tactic the last two weeks heading into here was try to make a lot of birdies because I knew that I had to come out here and make a lot of birdies, fire at pins, get good distance control, short game is sharp and make putts.
But heading into the U.S. Open, I'll have a different tactic.  I'll try to play more of a controlled style game, getting the ball in play, getting short game sharp, that's always important.  But trying to play more of a strategic style of play‑‑ I don't want to say conservative, that just doesn't suit me; but more of a tactical style of play.

Q.  How many of the PM wedges did you carry, and your reaction under the pressure of a major championship?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I carried three, as many as I could, as many as we make, a 56, 60 and 64.
And they were critical for my success this week.  My bunker play has never been this good, and I hit some shots out of the sand; I holed it on 15; I hit two shots yesterday out of 7 and 12 that were almost impossible given the lie that I had, and yet the ball came out with spin.  So they were critical to my success.

Q.  Did Jordan ever feel gettable today, and do you think it would have made a difference if you would have been in the last group with him?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I actually thought that my best chance was if I was in the group in front.  I thought that I needed to get in front, I needed to get out to a quick start and make some birdies and have them follow suit.
I didn't birdie 1, and they did.  They also birdied 2 or 3, and they were both a couple under par.  So you knew that they were getting some momentum early.
Birdieing a few holes early like that, it just gives you a little bit of confidence that the round is going to go smoothly and you don't have to press or force the issue and try shots that you don't feel the odds are in your favor.
And I thought that that was going to make it for an uphill battle.  But you've got a lot of golf left on this course.  You've got a lot of opportunities of eagles and birdies and also some catastrophes out there.  He played extremely solid golf.  He didn't make those mistakes.  If he made a mistake, it was a bogey; and he usually followed that up with a birdie, and that's what you need to do to win major championships, that style of play.
And I needed to do something spectacular.  I needed to turn in 2‑ or 3‑under par and then really light up the back, and I didn't turn 2‑ or 3‑under par.  I needed to birdie 9 to get to 2 and I ended up having a much more difficult putt than I thought I was going to be left with, and I 3‑putted it, and shot 3‑under the back.  It was a solid round, but it wasn't exceptional, which is what I needed to do, exceptional.

Q.  You expressed frustration that the results had not been there; do you feel like this is the turning point for your season?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I really do.  I feel like this is the way I've been playing but not scoring like this.  This is the first week that I've got the score out of myself that I thought I should.
I plan on taking the next couple of weeks to actually‑‑ not off but to work on my game and get it sharp and get ready for the Match Play and the PLAYERS and hopefully use this as a springboard for the rest of the year because I feel like my game has really come around.
This week, I played some good golf and hopefully I'll continue the rest of the year.

Q.  Sorry to have asked this early; you were effusive in your admiration for Jordan yesterday.  What makes him a special player and how good can he be long‑term?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, he's just a tremendous shot‑maker, great putter, great short game.  He has no weaknesses.  He doesn't overpower the golf course, but he plays the course strategically well.  He plays all the shots properly.  And he has that ability to focus and see things clear when the pressure is on and perform at his best when the pressure is on.
That's something that you really can't teach.  Some players are able to do it, some players aren't, and he is.

Q.  You talked yesterday when you came off the course that the front nine was set up in such a way that if you played well, you can score well.  How was it set up today as far as you can tell when you came out?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I thought 14 of the 18 holes had the easiest birdie pins out there, birdie/eagle pins out there.  The other four were still susceptible, still gettable.
I thought 3 and 6 were not the easiest, pins but they were still birdieable and pretty much every other pin out there was about as easy of a pin placement you could have.  It was suited for fireworks if you went out and played well.
14, that's the best birdie pin out there.  13, the best eagle pin.  15, the best eagle pin.  16, a great birdie pin.  18, the best birdie pin.
All throughout; No. 1, that low spot, the best birdie pin; No. 2, the back right, best birdie pin.
It was set up for great shots.  It was set up for an exceptional round.  Unfortunately I didn't do it, but it was there for somebody.

Q.  Have you seen Jordan interact with fans enough to see how people look at him?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I haven't, but I just know from my experience, I enjoy being around him.  He's just a quality individual.
MODERATOR:  Thanks, Phil.

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