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January 24, 2006

Phil Mickelson


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Phil Mickelson to the 2006 Buick Invitational, Phil coming off a T 5 in your first start at last week's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. First off, you just came in from receiving a check for your charities of $140,000 from the TPC 2005 Fund raising Campaign, and just wanted to quick comments on how important that is for and you your campaign.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I really appreciate the TOUR getting involved in helping support these very worthy causes. The last two years have been fun for me to help out the Special Operations Warrior Fund and the Homes For Our Troops. The Warrior Fund helps provide college education to the kids who have lost their parents at war, and the Homes For Our Troops helps to rebuild homes for people that come back handicapped or amputees in anyway to make their quality of life better.

So that's something that I'm going to be involved in, and I'm again this year and I plan on doing throughout the rest of my career each year is staying involved with those in the form of birdies and eagles and so forth. It's just been a fun association. I really appreciate the fact that the TOUR values it, too, and got involved.

TODD BUDNICK: Jump to last week, a T 5 in your first start, you have to be happy with the way you played, five rounds under par.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I was. I tell you there's a mini goal in there. When I play the Hope there's a lot of water on those courses and Dave Pelz used to kid me, "My goal is for you to go the entire year without penalty shots."

I tell him, "Look, man, I can't even get past the first tournament." And this is the first year I've gotten past the first tournament without a penalty shot. I'm off and running and there's not too many water holes out here at Torrey, so I'm actually going to make it to next week.

Q. What were your expectations, what was your expectation level last week and now this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that last week I tried not to think about winning. I had not touched a club in three months. I think I played two or three rounds sporadically in those three months. And six days before the start of the tournament I got together with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz and worked intensively.

I didn't know how quickly it would come around. Certainly in a couple of practice rounds before hands, I didn't feel very sharp. But the more I did the drills and the more I worked on my game, it got better and better and I was able to strike the ball fairly well and control my misses throughout the entire week.

Didn't putt as well as I wanted to. I spent the last four hours this morning working on putting, and I intend to do that the rest of the afternoon, get a good confidence in my stroke, do my drills and hopefully carry that over into this week. I'm not really result oriented, but I feel like the putting was the area last week that I need to improve after last year.

Q. The repetition inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think I can improve on my play last week. Certainly our field is very strong this week, so that translates into a lot tougher to win.

I think that if I continue to get better, I should have a good chance on Sunday which is always the goal.

Q. What were your thoughts on the TOUR's new schedule?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm going to support the TOUR. I'm excited that things worked out, apparently very positively. I wasn't involved in a lot of that stuff. I'm certainly going to support it in any way I can, I plan on playing being a part of the '07 schedule. I'm excited about it. I voiced a couple of other opinions earlier, but that's by the wayside now that things are done and we're ready to move on and I intend to fully support what we've been doing.

Q. Do you plan on playing every event through THE TOUR Championship?

PHIL MICKELSON: All 40 of them, no. (Laughter) but of the big ones that we're pushing, I intend to, sure.

Q. The four

PHIL MICKELSON: There you go. Absolutely.

Q. What about events like inaudible Firestone?

PHIL MICKELSON: I used to play there, that's the week before the PGA? That's part of my schedule usually is playing the week before a major. So I would certainly play that as well.

Q. Playing seven inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm playing six out of seven right now starting last week that's true. I think the big thing for me is that I need an end point. You know, I can go at it hard, with the idea that once you go to this point, you can take some time off. And what I like is that there's an end point now, as opposed to dragging on for 12 months and never having the point where you relax and say, okay, we're done for a while, let's take a break.

But I was not involved in that. I love what's happened as far as how the TOUR schedule is coming about, but make no mistake; that was not my idea, I didn't push it, but I fully support it.

Q. Inaudible?


Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: He threw out the idea at the Ryder Cup a year and a half ago and said, "What do you think?" I just learned through the media, which is fine.

I don't think players should be involved in the TOUR. I don't think we should have any say. I think it should be just like it happened. I think the Commissioner should run the TOUR just like he did, and I'm going to support it.

Q. What is the impact then on your schedule?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well I was looking at that and what it's going to do is not really going to affect the number of tournaments. I'm going to play 20 or 21 tournaments like I always do. I was looking at a couple of weeks before some majors that I may end up doing a different preparation. I may come up with an alternative preparation for the majors rather than playing the week before.

I thought that Atlanta has always been a great place before Augusta, two hour drive away, very similar golf courses. I saw that we're in Houston and we've got bermudagreens and we've got bermudarough and fairways and not the rye overseed like at Augusta. So I probably won't end up playing the week before.

Q. So do you think that will adversely effect some events inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I don't know why people choose to play certain events. I know why I choose to play certain events. And like I always do, I'll play 20 or 21 events. Which ones I play in will be obviously open for criticism, and that's fine. But whether I I'll get criticized for not playing, let's say in Hawaii like I did earlier this year, but then I'll go play six out of seven.

So if I miss a tournament, I'm going to end up playing another one. That's kind of my schedule, but I don't know why other guys play theirs.

Q. Do you think something can be done to get the top three, four, six players together on a more regular basis?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's not my job to call every player and get us all together and say, hey, let's play these events so we play them together. I think that needs to come from somewhere else.

I would fully support something like that, because I think that it's what the fans want to see. I think it's what television want to see and I think it's what the sponsors want.

But we're going a certain route again in '07 and I think that we're going to have some more tournaments. But we're not going to have every tournament where the top guys play against each other. But we're going to have more than we have this year and I think that's good.

Q. You really didn't play much the last three months, do you normally take that much time off?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I try to take as much time off as I can, and the reason is it gets my anxiety up to go play, or my desire to go play. And those last three or four weeks, I really had to fight myself to not go play.

I played a couple of rounds, two or three here or there, but I would not practice because I didn't want to work on the wrong things. I had Rick Smith come to town and we used some video to try to get my swing as close as possible to, say, the PGA or the '04 Masters. We didn't really have anything new to work on. We were just trying to get it back to where it was, and I worked with Pelz from getting my short game sharp from 150 yards in.

Would have I loved to have had two or three weeks before the tournaments to get ready. But, I'm going to play six or seven weeks, and I'm using these tournaments as a way to improve my game. And also, in the off season, I really cherish those first couple of weeks after Christmas, spending them with my kids and taking them on individual ski trips and having those overnight trips with each one on an individual basis. Those are the trips I value the most where I get them one on one. Typically it's easiest for us to do those after Christmas; they are out of school, they are on vacation and there's snow on the ground in a lot of places to go skiing.

Q. Do you approach the season now in a different manner, more relaxed, more confidence?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I certainly enjoy the West Coast Swing and the media conferences, or press conferences before hands. They are a lot more enjoyable than they have been: "Is this the year? Is this the year?" We don't have that anymore, so that's nice.

And I am looking forward to playing the majors again. I think what's so great about winning the PGA is I've got, what, six, seven months between majors. Whereas, if you win the U.S. Open, you have three or four weeks before you've got to be ready for the British. And here I've had six, seven months to chill out and kind of look back on that. So it's been really a fun off season.

Q. Are you okay with inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I can't even come close to the unsightly distances that Bubba Watson hits it. You know what, that's fine, that's fine. I've tried that route for me and it was a struggle. It doesn't seem like it's a struggle for him; the guy finishes fourth in his first tournament. It seems like he's able to overpower a lot of courses.

I think he's got to win pretty soon. I saw that he either lost in a playoff back in Australia this guy can really play. It's not just the long game that he plays, he can really play.

Q. You've played with him before?

PHIL MICKELSON: When he was in Georgia, yeah. I would drive down to Athens and stay with Bones and play with the UGA team a couple rounds before The Masters or Atlanta.

Q. Any great Bubba stories?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we played one round. No great stories. I just remember how long he hit it then. And he used to throw it in my face a little bit, yeah. He said, "Did you get all that one," just little things like that. But well warranted; I couldn't hang with him.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it won't work at Augusta but it should work in a couple of the other majors, just keeping the ball in play. It certainly helped me last week at the Hope, not really going for distance, but just keeping it in play. I stayed out of water and penalty shots and was able to get up there somewhat in contention.

I think the majority of courses, it will be helpful to just keep the ball in play. But there are some courses like we have here in San Diego where distance is a big factor. This is the longest course I think that we play in, play on, 7,600 yards at sea level. It plays a lot longer than anything we have at The INTERNATIONAL, even though yardage wise it's longer.

So distance will be a factor here. I might have to try to swing a little bit harder, but I still feel as though I'm better off to just kind of control the misses.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. Very similar shots. Just little fades, trying to take for me the right side out of play. And I was able to do that many what effectively in both tournaments and keep the ball in play and not have too many big mistakes and was able to win those two. It was kind of nice.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that you have to be. You have to be concerned when there's change. But I think that The Golf Channel does a great job in their coverage of golf. They provide the in depth analysis and they provide the many hours that really benefits the TOUR.

And now that The Golf Channel has so many millions of viewers, I think that it shouldn't be a problem. I think that it really could be an asset, especially as time goes on and we continue to get a larger subscription base to The Golf Channel.

Q. What are your thoughts on the changes at Augusta?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I haven't played the new changes. I know it's a lot longer and I've heard some stories about some guys that have played there.

I thought it played very long last year. Now, it was a little wet; we were not getting the normal roll. The ball rolls on the fairways longer at Augusta than it does anywhere else. We did not get that anywhere last year. Consequently, I hit a lot of 4 , 5 , 6 irons on par 4s that I'm used to hitting 9s and wedges. To make it longer, it's going to be even more difficult, especially if it doesn't play hard and fast.

But, I don't have a problem with it, because I think it's what's identified with Augusta; it's length. We've always thought that the players that win at Augusta are the longest hitters. We always thought the players that win at the British Open are straighter. At the British Open, low ball hitters; and the PGA there's always a little mixture. So it's staying consistent with what the tournament has always tried to be.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they have absolutely done that. Now they are going to long irons and fairway woods. So I'm starting to look at the 9 and 7 woods and (laughter).

Q. Do you think it's too much?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I don't know. I wouldn't say that. I think it's going to be very challenging. We've always had a lot of under par wins. But I think the one thing that I've noticed that I've really liked about it is that now that the course is playing longer, the greens have not gone over the edge.

I remember in '95, '96 when the course was playing shorter. I remember Jeff Sluman on the second hole there had a 4 footer uphill, the putt lips out and comes back at him and rolls 60 feet off the green. That was kind of over the edge.

And I remember a 4 footer that Norman had on the 11th hole there from just right of that front left pin and he barely touched it and it rolls off the green. We haven't had that with the longer course, and I think it's been more of an overall fair test. We haven't had that crossing the line there on the greens.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. No technical changes over the last couple of years. Just trying to get back to the same swing. What I'm trying to focus in on is getting better from 150 in, and you can never be too good from there. Again, getting the touch down, getting the consistency down and so forth.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Rick tries to get my swing with video and so forth to be as similar as possible swing plane, address and shot quality as the last couple of years. And then Dave and I continually work on ways and drills to get better from 150 in.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, sure. I'm always looking at that, and I've had a couple of minor adjustments this year that I think are going to be beneficial, too. Nothing major, though.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's not even close to what it used to be. It's longer, the greens are different, the bunkering is totally different. The layout tee to green is the same, let's say. Maybe a few changes here or there. But the greens now are totally different.

Q. How is your frame of mind different from inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's not too different from the way it's been in the past. I'm excited and anxious to get back out on TOUR. I can't wait to play. I've been working hard on my game, because I miss it. I just really look forward to the upcoming tournaments.

Q. Having won two majors, what has that done for inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel as that's changed much, I really don't. Other than maybe a few softer questions or nicer, nicely putt questions, it really hasn't been too different. (Laughter.)

It has been fun and it's given me two great memories to look back on and reminisce and two nice trophies to proudly display on the mantle. Other than that, I haven't really seen too much crossover. It's been fun.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been pretty much the same, yeah.

Q. Do you have a workout regimen? You look different.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, thank you, I think it's just the vest (laughter)

I have. I mean, I think as the year goes on and as I travel more, it's harder and harder to eat properly. It's harder and harder to get a consistent workout. And certainly during tournaments I'm fatigued from the rounds; I don't go at it as hard.

When I'm not playing, I certainly have more regimented workouts, and I feel a lot stronger and less prone to injury, I think is probably the best way to put it. It's not as though I feel I can alter my game and practice harder and not get injured.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really, no. I really didn't. I stayed about the same. I had put on a little bit there in November that I had lost, I tried to lose and got it off. That wasn't really the goal; it was just to get stronger and get a lot of the stabilizing muscles that support joints and so forth, the torque in the golf swing, getting those stronger to prevent injury.

Q. How often do you play here?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been I used to play probably three or four times a week. We used to have a couple of matches and practices out here. We would come and play the front nine on Torrey South all the time.

When they redid the course, they blew up the greens and put in totally different ones, different grass at different locations, totally different designs. So all of that local knowledge that I had learned on the greens that had helped me win the tournament, what, three times, is no longer helping me because it's not applicable.

I'm trying to relearn the course and trying to play as many rounds as I can on it and study it, because we have a U.S. Open here in 08.

Q. How are the greens different?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they are different grasses, shapes, contours, designs. They started from scratch and redid them all.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it doesn't really matter now. We've got it all set in stone for '07 and I'm going to support whatever we do. So it's no use rehashing that.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. That's not correct, no. My concern is getting the top players to play each other more often. I think that's what we need.

It is fought internally by the players. The top half don't want to support being told where they play because they like the freedom of being able to play whenever, wherever they want. The bottom half like being able to leverage the top players over 40 tournaments to keep the purses up all across the board. So that's why I continue to say that we as players should not have any input in the TOUR.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, we're going to play together more often. Not every tournament, though. I think it should be every one but more often. I think with the playoff system, we're going to have the top guys playing there, THE TOUR Championship, the top guys playing there. We'll have probably three or four more tournaments than we had last year, or this year, in '06, where the top guys will all play. But wouldn't it be great if all 20 we had 20 events where everybody played together? It would be cool.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I just wish we would play against each other more often. I think the new schedule in '07 does that. Not as much as I would like, but it does it more.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that he is I think that he is a brilliant individual and he's one of the guys that I respect the most, because of a lot of the decisions and ideas he has. I don't know the intricacies of it. I know that we somewhat stole the idea to make the World Golf Championships (laughter). So there you go. So it must have been a pretty good idea.


PHIL MICKELSON: Those are the logistical problems that would arise, sure, but there's always solutions.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's irrelevant because that's not what we're doing. We have a set schedule in '07, and that playoff system will get the top guys playing there after the majors, which is great. Because now the excitement of the TOUR doesn't end at the PGA. We actually have another five, six weeks of carryover.

Q. Do you think players will play in all four?

PHIL MICKELSON: I can't imagine they wouldn't. I don't know who would not want to play. They made it so enticing with purses and with the cities that we go to and the courses. I mean, really, they are tournaments that if you were not required to play, which I'm not sure if we are or aren't, but if you weren't required to play, you would still want to go there; you would make it a priority.

Q. How important is it to keep public golf affordable inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Here at Torrey Pines or in general across the nation?

Q. Here at Torrey Pines inaudible raising the ticket prices.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's a very important goal of the TOUR through all of the First Tee Programs that we've set up throughout the country to be able to bring golf and make golf affordable to all types of individuals, especially at a young age. And that would be very consistent with the importance of being able to play here for a reasonable dollar amount.

Now, I think it was $10 or more when I was 15, which was, what, 20 years ago. So I don't know if that's, what a reasonable rate is. That's not my area of expertise. But I think that the San Diego Junior Golf Association does a great job of creating a number of tournaments for almost nothing, very affordable, giving guys a chance to play throughout San Diego County on some great golf courses. And I think that the whole City of San Diego really does a great job of inspiring and creating opportunities for young juniors to play. Torrey has always been a leader and I think they will continue to be, but I think that all of the courses here in San Diego really make an effort to help grow the game.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: You've seen how well the Champions club is, run by Jackie Burke. Have you ever been down there? It's one of greatest clubs because Jackie Burke has a vision and he makes all of the decisions and the club stays consistent with that thought process.

And you get some courses that have these greens committees, and they rotate every two or three years. And each committee says, well, I want to redo the first three greens, and then two years later the next committee says, well, I want to redo 4 through 6. And they never have the greatness a club like Champions has, or Whisper Rock has because of Gregg Tryhus. I think it's a great way to run a golf club and it would be a great way to run the TOUR.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have a few times and the course has been very accommodating. But it is difficult because of the demand to play the South Course, and there's so many normally you can go to a club and be first group off ahead of the first tee time and not have it be a big deal, but there's so many people here before the first time that it doesn't really it's a little harder to slide off unnoticed.

So it really is not something that I do on a regular basis, although I love coming out here and playing because I think Torrey Pines South is the hardest golf courses I've ever played day in and day out. It's the longest I've ever played, and take away tournament conditions, if you just go play a course on any given day, it's probably the hardest golf course I play.

Q. When was the last time you played here in a non tournament?

PHIL MICKELSON: Does a Pro Am count as non tournament? Maybe two years ago.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Phil.

End of FastScripts.

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