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February 5, 2006

Phil Mickelson


Q. You tried those greens out today, didn't you?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the back side I finished strong. The putt on 18 was cool because the way the amphitheater effect is, it was neat to make that one. I ended up making a couple coming in to have a nice solid finish. I didn't play the front nine as well but I finished the way I wanted to.

Q. What does it mean to come in as defending champion and then you come back the next year? Talk about that a little bit.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I love this tournament and I love being a past champion of this tournament. A big reason, not the biggest reason, is the parking spot (laughter).

But to be in contention here coming down those last three, four, five holes is really a wonderful feeling. I ended up birdieing 16 today, and that was a lot of fun, and I birdied 18, which was fun, too. Had I been in contention, it just makes it that much more thrilling.

Last year and '96 are two tournaments that I look back on and remember a lot of the shots and go over the highlights because it was such a thrilling round for me.

Q. How was 16 all week?

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought it was terrific, and I asked other players, too, and they thought it was terrific. They just really make it a special hole for us. I feel, as I think everybody else, every other player says, they've been very respectful while we're hitting, and yet the enthusiasm makes for a very exciting hole.

Q. They're calling that hole Mickelson's Alley.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I finished strong there getting by with those last six, and that was nice to finish the tournament like that. I wish I had made that run a little bit more often. I only had that one other stretch the second round there and I let it fly. Fortunately I didn't have any more holes to let it fly, and I finished strong.

Q. Is there a part of your game this week that you can look back on and say this is what I need to work on for next week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, sure. Even though I made a couple putts coming in, I didn't putt well. I started to key in on a couple things where I started the ball on line, and that's going to be important next week at Pebble. I'd like to try to defend one of my titles, and of course I came up short this week, but it was still a very fun week for us.

Q. High hopes for next week?

PHIL MICKELSON: I do. It's a tough tournament, though, to play well at because there's a lot of factors that you can't control. You can't control how the ball bounces on the greens, you can't control some of the weather conditions, some of the pace of play issues, and you just have to kind of accept it and hope you get some good breaks.

Q. The crowds keeps getting bigger. You can't get more people here because there's new records this week.

PHIL MICKELSON: I just think the Thunderbirds continue to improve on, as each year goes on, their ability to run this tournament. They've run it incredibly efficient the last ten years, but it just gets better and better, and the players enjoy coming here more and more.

Q. What do you think of J. B. Holmes?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have not ever played with him or seen him play, to be honest. But I know that when he was at Kentucky I watched him win a bunch of tournaments in college. Obviously he's got a lot of game. He came right out and got his card, I think, in Q school, and he hits a ball a long way. But I haven't played with him. I just think it's impressive the way he's been holding up and hitting shots under pressure.

Q. This course favors long hitters?


Q. (Inaudible).

PHIL MICKELSON: Because it also favors distance control and control. Yeah, length is a big factor and it allows you to go for shots like on 15 and to try to get on 13 and take it over the island and stuff. But if you have pinpoint control like Toms does or Leonard has, they're not making mistakes, either. We all hit balls in the water and lose shots. They don't do that.

Q. The big hitters that don't do that obviously have the advantage. You can't make that up?

PHIL MICKELSON: Right, which is probably why you have J. B. Holmes on top of the leaderboard. But it doesn't mean that guys who don't hit it far can't win. They're contending every year.

End of FastScripts.

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