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January 28, 2006

Phil Mickelson


JOHN BUSH: Phil, 9 under par 207, two shots back heading into the last round. Thanks for coming by for a few minutes. If we can get you to comment on your round for us.

PHIL MICKELSON: I got off to a great start and hit a lot of good shots; and was 5 under through 11 and played the next six holes in 3 over unfortunately and made birdie at the last to finish at 69. Had a chance to go really low but a couple mistakes late in the round brought me back to a couple shots behind.

However, I'm still in striking distance, as are a lot of guys. There's a tremendous amount of guys that have a shot tomorrow. It should be a fun shootout and fortunately, I'd like to be in the group in front so maybe I'll be able to make some birdies early and see if I can get out to a good start, put a little pressure on them and force them to make birdie, too.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's not a bad spot. I'd love to be 13 or 14 under and leading; that would be the best spot but to have a chance.

I want to play the front nine so that I have a chance with nine holes to go. That is what is so exciting to me is the last nine on Sunday and I'm in a position where if I play a good front nine, couple under par, I should be right there and have a chance. It just makes for a fun Sunday, win or lose.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I have not I have yet to get confident or comfortable with the putter. It hasn't quite obviously these greens are not the best to tell, but last week the greens were great and I still struggled a little bit.

I may have keyed in on a couple of things there in the last few holes that might carry over to getting the ball started online. That's what I care about is getting the ball started on line with the right speed. Whether or not they go in, I can't control. But I haven't been doing that yet and yet I still find myself within striking distance. If I can get that turned, I felt like I got the ball striking turned last night, I just get that putter turned tomorrow, I should have a good chance.

Q. How much more confidence do you have with three wins here inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think the biggest thing for me is that I've been slowly getting better since last week. I started from scratch, improved to play pretty well at the Bob Hope and get progressively better with my ball striking as the week wore on.

And as this week has wore on, I feel like I've gotten better and better. I felt like I hit a lot of good, solid shots today and there were two areas that were lacking, I feel like I had very poor bunker play. I've got to spend more time in the bunker. I didn't get up and down three chances that I had that were not overly difficult. I've got to improve my bunker play and I've got to get more confident with the putter.

But as the week has gone on, I've gotten better and better, and I think that just one little tweak here or there with the blade and I might have a good day tomorrow.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I am. I felt last year just before I went on the streak at Phoenix and AT&T, I could feel that I was getting better and starting to improve. I feel really close right now where I'm starting to get much more control over my ball striking and kind of the last piece is feeling comfortable on the greens.

I think the putting is probably the hardest thing when you take a lot of time off to recuperate from because it requires not just a good stroke, but you've got to read the greens right, and there's really not much you can do to practice that other than to watch putt after putt. And I've got to get that feel and the touchdown, too, to get the right speed.

Q. Given the way he hits the ball inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Rod has always been a solid player and a good ball striker and again he's up there in the lead tied with Sergio

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I'm sorry, you meant Sergio? Right. (Laughter).

Well, Sergio, I think the most impressive thing about Sergio's game is his driving. I think he's one of the best drivers we have on TOUR. He hits it consistently solid, very consistent ball flight and HIS misses are just barely off line, if it does miss the fairway. I don't recall him ever really having big misses left or right.

He's a great driver of the ball. And he's got an incredible short game. I know that he has not been pleased with his putting, but I think he's considered a good putter and certainly a great wedge player.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard. It's a hard golf course, that's why I don't play it other than in the tournament; it's too hard for me. It requires a good overall game. It requires a lot of distance. It also requires accuracy and it requires great iron play as well as a good short game. It's just a very hard test of golf.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: You have to be patient to score low out here because where a lot of the pins are, you just can't get to. You can get maybe 15 feet so you've got to hit solid shots and get a couple of putts to go in, and you need to drive it well on the par 5s. You can drive it in the fairway you can get on or right around the green and those are the holes that you can take advantage of.

JOHN BUSH: Play well tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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