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February 13, 2016

Phil Mickelson

Pebble Beach, California

Q. I got to ask you, three birdies on the par-3s on this golf course right now. Three 2s and the best shot you hit probably all day was the one you hit at 12. And didn't make birdie there.
PHIL MICKELSON: I played the par-3s well. I didn't think the golf course was playing that easy with the greens being firm and the wind picking up. I thought that I had to fight for a lot of pars and was happy to make pars on a lot of holes.

But to make a bunch of 2s on those holes, that 7th hole as short as it is with that pin placement, it was impossible to get close. So I made a really good putt to make that 2.

Q. I think that's one thing that I was so impressed with the smart plays you made, like at 3. You played it out. You played smart. You got out of the position. Explain to the people how hard this golf course is when the greens are firm, because they're such tiny targets?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they are and because they're, the pins, are tucked and they're such small sections and often times the ball's kicking away from the pin or you're landing the ball on a down slope, that first bounce is so big that sometimes you just can't, you just can't play at the pin. In fact you got to hit a great shot to hit the green.

On number 3, for instance, I didn't have a shot to hit the green from where I was at. But if you're patient there's a number of birdie holes out here.

Q. What's your thoughts going into tomorrow? You've been working really hard this off season.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I've -- I actually as good a round as it was score-wise, I didn't strike it the way I have been and the way I expect to. I'm going to have Andrew come in tonight and see if we can get a little, just get sharp tomorrow. I really want tomorrow to be a good day.

It's been awhile since I've been in contention and it would mean a lot to me to be able to play a good final round tomorrow.

And as well as I've been hitting the ball, today wasn't -- the score was great, but the ball striking wasn't indicative of how I've been hitting it. So I would like to get that dialed in for tomorrow's round.

Q. Bogey-free 66 here on Saturday. Phil how would you assess the effort?
PHIL MICKELSON: I fought hard today. I thought the golf course was playing much more difficult with the firm greens and the wind picking up. I was very pleased to shoot that round, obviously, but there were a lot of holes I just had to fight for pars. It wasn't a pushover by any means.

But I played a good round. I didn't probably strike it as well as I have been striking it this year or even the first couple of rounds, but I was able to get up-and-down, miss it in the right spot and salvage a lot of pars on some difficult holes today.

Q. You talked throughout the year that you felt your game was close. And indifferent round today but the score was what you wanted ultimately. How satisfying is it to put it together for back to back rounds?
PHIL MICKELSON: It really does feel good to finally get the scores out of it, to know that I'm playing well and to finally get the number that will get me back in contention. It's fun to just have a chance going into Sunday. It's great that I'm leading, but it's fun to be back in the thick of it, to have a chance like I did at Phoenix or at the Hope, just to be in contention is fun. So, to head into tomorrow's round at Pebble Beach with an opportunity is what I've been waiting for.

Q. Four times a winner here, how much confidence does that give you heading into Sunday, nothing you've got the job done before here in the past?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's -- I know that as I look back on those other victories here how special they were, how much it meant to me to play well here at Pebble on the Monterey Peninsula, but I got a lot of work to do. I got a little bit of work to get my ball striking back to that level that I need it to be for tomorrow's round.

Q. Your first 54 hole lead since the 2013 U.S. Open. What's the most important thing for you on Sunday to get back in the winner's circle?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that being in the last group, guys out in front of me are going to get off to a hot start those first six or seven holes out here. They provide birdie opportunities, and I think some guys are going to get out to a hot start and it's important for me to just be patient. Not try to force the issue, but just hit some good solid shots and make my own birdie when they fall and see. I think the biggest thing is to just not force it.

Q. Talk about it looks like your team's going to make it too. Talk about that as you're trying to win individually but also with the team.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's been really fun playing with John. John Veihmeyer and I have played a lot of golf over the last eight years of our relationship. It actually was first formulated here at Pebble Beach at Spanish Bay, that restaurant where we had dinner last night and kind of celebrated that. So it's been kind of a special week for us.

Q. Pebble gets your juices flowing, doesn't it?
PHIL MICKELSON: It really does. It's such a spiritual place, if you love golf the way we all do, and to have such a beautiful setting and a historic site is fun to play well on.

Q. Having said that, to win for the fifth time tomorrow, what would that mean?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't want to jump ahead and start thinking about the result, but I feel like I've been really playing well this year. And although I didn't strike it today the way I want to, I'm going to hopefully get that dialed in for tomorrow's round and I would love for it to be a good solid round of golf.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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