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January 28, 2016

Phil Mickelson

San Diego, California

Q. I know you didn't get off to the start you wanted, but you probably would have taken a 69 sitting on the third tee today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I would of, yeah. I thought anything in the 60s would have been a good score. It's a very difficult golf course.

There were some good low rounds out there. Those guys that shot those played some good golf. But after doubling the second, I was able to kind of just keep things calm until I made a few birdies and it was a good back nine.

Q. The driver's really the key out here this week, and you drove it great last week. Did you continue that through the day?
PHIL MICKELSON: Toward the end. The back nine I hit a bunch more fairways and the front nine I hit a few. But it wasn't as good as I expected, but it was better than I'm used to.

Q. I like the little birdie on the last hole. That will help make dinner taste a little better and get out there on the North Course and attack a little.
PHIL MICKELSON: It does. After a good drive I was able to reach 18 and hooked it right. Didn't hit a great bunker shot, but you can make up for a lot with a good putter and I was able to make that putt on the last.

Q. Really nice opening round for Phil. And Phil, you didn't get off to the best start, you double bogied the second hole and some players could have gone off the rails there. But you did not. How were you able to flip that bad start into such a positive number?
PHIL MICKELSON: I really didn't feel the stress. I knew that I made double and it's never a great start in that way, but I knew that I've been playing so well.

When I walked from the driving range down, Andrew and I were talking, and I said the hard thing for me now is to just be patient, because I feel like I'm going to try to force the issue, because it's starting to click a little bit. I tried to be patient and I made a birdie three holes later, I birdied the 6th hole and was able to get one back. And birdie 8. I got it back to even. And the round just slowly progressed. I just kept hitting a lot more good shots on the back and had a few tap-in birdies. It was a good start.

Q. Talk about that patience. We talked yesterday and you said because you played so well last week in the desert that you were excited about your game, but you didn't want to become too excited. Do you think you managed that well today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think after the start I did. I think that was the real challenge for me, because you could easily press the issue after making a double. I was very patient and knew that we had a couple of tough holes, I played them smart and then took advantage of the birdie holes.

So I felt like it was a good carryover from last week, even though I had a mistake here or there. But I'm having a lot of fun. I'm having a lot of fun playing because I feel like I've got control of the ball, I feel like the driver feels easy to hit, I'm looking forward to every drive and my irons are starting to click. They were a little bit off last week, they're starting to click a little bit this week. So hopefully on the North Course I'll be able to put together a good score.

Q. One week ago, when you put a good opening round in at the CareerBuilder Challenge, I asked you, how close do you think your swing is. You said, it's a week away. It's been a week, is it where you want it?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. That just puts more pressure on me, I shouldn't say that, but it is. I feel like we corrected the slight issue that I had with the short irons that was throwing some of my feel off, and I hit a lot of good iron shots today. Doesn't mean that win or lose is the definition of success or failure. It means that I'm starting to swing the way I want to, the way I have intended to months ago, and I'm starting to hit shots again like I used to. I don't know when the results will come, very possibly this week, or it could be later, but I feel like the swing, the shot making, the game, is finally where I want it.

Q. That's an exciting way to come in on 18.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was fun to make that putt on 18. I kind of was making a mess of the hole. I had a good chance to hit it to the green in two, and then I didn't have a bunker shot that was as hard as I made it look and hit it 20 feet. But a putter just covers up a lot of mistakes and it was a great way to finish the round off with that putt.

Q. Six birdies on the South Course is certainly something very impressive. What does it say about the state of your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: It says something about the iron play that I said last week was fractionally off and it started to click. I hit an iron shot on 14 and 15 to within four or five feet both times. And having shows short birdie putts is really a critical element here on the South Course. You got to hit some great iron shots because the pin placements are very difficult.

Q. Your confidence level up?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. I think it was a good solid start on the South Course. I'm looking forward to getting on the North Course. It's a different golf course than it's been in years past, because the fairways are tight, the rough is thick, the greens are fast and undulated. It's not as easy or a pushover likes it's been in the past. However, there's a low score out there and I'm hoping to capture it tomorrow.

Q. You said you stayed calm after the double bogey on 2. Where do you feel like your round really clicked in?
PHIL MICKELSON: It clicked in on probably 13, 14. That stretch where I birdied three in a row. 13, 14, 15. I was very patient and made a couple of good pars on 11 and 12. I made a very good par putt on 11 from probably 18, 20 feet. And that was where I got through the tough holes. Those two holes are brutal. I got to the par-5 and hit a great drive, was able to get home and get on the green and 2-putt for birdie. That's where I started to get under par.

But after making a double on 2, I was very patient throughout the round, made a couple of birdies to get it to even until I made that nice little run.

Q. When were the clubs on 14 and 15?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit a wedge on 14, I hit 8-iron on 15.

Q. Has there already been an improvement off the tee in terms of lack of the big misses off the tee, like if you miss it's not by that much?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. I think that I drove it better today than I have in the past, but not as well as I expect to. I feel like there's some better driving in me. I feel like it's starting to click and become easy. And on some critical drives, like 13 is really a critical drive and so is 12. If you hit it in the fairway there, you're able to get it on the green and make a four on both of those holes. If you hit it in the rough you're just fighting. You're not able to reach those holes out of the rough. And I hit great drives on those holes. That's really a key element.

Q. Is a good round on the South Course make you feel like you don't have to absolutely go bonkers on the North Course. Maybe ease up the strategy a little bit?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don't think there's that, as you put it, bonkers round in there. I don't think there's that 9- or 10-under par round like there's been a decade ago. It's a much more difficult golf course the way it's been setup in years past. But a good round is still 6- or 7-under.

Q. On the double bogey, is it hard not to get rattled by that or frustrated?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've had so many of them over the years, it just, you just kind of learn to live with it.

Q. What do you think led to that one? Was it just early round jitters?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit a bad drive to a poor spot into the bunker and I wasn't able to get a wedge over the lip. It caught the lip and stayed in the rough. So it just kind of kept going from there. But I just over cut, tried to hit a little cut into that fairway and I over cut it into that left bunker.

Q. What did you tell yourself after that hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: I honestly I was pretty calm, I wasn't -- I just needed to be patient. I know I'll make some birdies out here, I didn't know if I would make six, but I knew I would make some birdies and I just needed to be patient. It's a hard golf course, you try to force it to some of these pins, you're going to put it in bad spots. So, I tried to just make pars on the hard holes and take advantage of the easy ones.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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