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February 25, 2016

Phil Mickelson

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Q. 69, how tough was it out there?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was very, very challenging, and the wind was strong, and so it was difficult to get the right club selection. And the crosswinds off a lot of the tees were very challenging. But the greens were soft and that made the course playable. If the greens were firm, some of these holes, I don't know if we would have really been able to hit them. But they were soft, they were receptive and that allowed us to if we judged the wind right, have a few putts at birdies.

Q. The changes with Andrew seem to be working very quickly.
PHIL MICKELSON: It does feel a lot easier striking the golf ball and into crosswinds like this, I felt very confident working it back into the wind and did it a number of times today, and the ball-striking took a lot of pressure off my short game to keep it around par, and it was a good first day.

Q. At 45 years old, 42 wins, five majors, what's the motivation?
PHIL MICKELSON: I just love playing golf and competing. I love every aspect of the game. I love going home and practicing in solitude or playing late in the evening by myself or with my kids, having a competition, or playing with my dad or brother, or the little games with some of the fellow TOUR players. I love the smack talk and the fun that we have amongst each other, but then I also really enjoy the opportunity to play against the best players in the world and see if I can compete and to win at the highest level. That's a great feeling of accomplishment.

Golf has really been a good thing for me because it's allowed me -- it's been kind of a meditative thing where it allows my mind to quiet down and it forces me to focus and relax. It's been a very good thing for me in my life.

Q. Listening to the pressers this week, the excitement in your voice, it's refreshing to me, and the results are showing.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been really fun for me to come out and play, because I just know that I'm going to strike it well. I have control of the misses but I'm hitting a lot of good shots, as well.

On my back nine, I let a few shots go and I just can't wait to get back out there tomorrow because I know I can get it back under par. I'm having a lot of fun playing right now, because I'm starting to play with ease and hit some shots that I'm trying to hit.

Q. And it's difficult to get the ball close to the hole here, so many crosswinds on these holes?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was very windy. Crosswinds off the tee, crosswinds into the green, and the quartering would change from being directly across to maybe helping a fraction or even hurting a fraction. It was very difficult to judge clubs. Bones did a great job today.

But the greens were soft and that gave us a chance, because if we could fly it somewhere close or on the green, the ball was stopping very quickly and it made the golf course very playable.

Q. How difficult is it to putt when the wind is this strong?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's very difficult. The speed downwind or into the wind, when the greens are this fast, is significant. It's very significant, and the crosswinds will actually push a ball from breaking an inch or two one way to breaking an inch or two another way. So you are constantly having to gauge the break, as well as the wind. Those four-, five-, six-footers, it makes it very challenging.

Q. 1-under par today, tough conditions out there, just get some comments on the round?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a good start to the day, or to the tournament, good start to the event. Got off to a great start with a birdie on my first hole and played fairly solid golf throughout. Let a couple slide on the back, and can't wait to get back out there and play again tomorrow, because the course is fun to play in these conditions.

Q. Just talk about the first hole, coming out, tough hole.
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit a really good drive and had 200 left but it was back into the wind a little bit quartering and hit 4-iron to about ten feet and made it. So that was a good way to start. I don't think there's going to be too many 3s on that hole. Might be a skin today. But it was fun to play today. The greens were soft and receptive. That made the golf course playable. Had they been firm, I don't think anybody would have shot under par. But they were receptive and allowed us to have birdie opportunities if we were able to judge the wind right.

Q. How would you characterize your game and your swing, as opposed to maybe a year ago?
PHIL MICKELSON: The last year or two, I would show up at a course and I just was trying to find something, and I would be out on the course, I didn't know which way the miss was going to be; it could be left, it could be right. It caused a lot of frustration knowing that I'm able to hit these shots and not pulling it off.

Caused a lot of anxiety not knowing which way I was going to miss it, and now I show up to the course and I'm very relaxed. I'm calm and fairly confident because I'm able to hit a good one number -- a number of really good shots and then the ones that I do miss a little bit, I'm able to control and know which way I'm going to miss it, and usually it's okay.

Q. Is this a good test of all that you've been working on and being able to deal with that?
PHIL MICKELSON: It really is a good test because it forces to you work it back into the wind on certain shots and the fifth hole is a tough little par 3 with the wind, for me it's a slice wind blowing into the water. To be able to know that I'm going to turn it back into it, I've got to start it out left and turn it back into the wind. If I don't, it's going to catch the wind and go in the water. So having the confidence to be able to hit those shots, it's a nice feeling.

Q. A lot of players say this event feels like a major with the precision required to hit shots. What do you think?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's certainly a demanding golf course and it plays much like the most challenging events that we play. The field is very strong, as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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