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March 3, 2016

Phil Mickelson

Miami, Florida

Q. Good round today?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a good day. I hit a lot of good shots, and made some good putts, and just drove it well, enjoyed the day. It was a good day.

Q. A start like this, first round like this, is that a portend to how the week will go for you, in your history, seems like you are --
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. I think so. I think it's a key round because I knew I've been playing well, and the only place I struggled last week were on the greens reading them. So I knew I had been playing well, and you want to get off to a quick start so you don't have to force the issue later on.

And getting off to a 5-under par round today, allows me to just go out and play the way I've been playing and not have to try to press the issue and go really low to get in contention for the weekend.

Q. Do you have a recollection of a history when you've done well in opening rounds and kept it going, particularly when you're feeling as good as you are with the swing?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I haven't really thought about the past tournaments where that's been the case, but I certainly feel as though tomorrow's round will be good, and the next round will be good, because I'm just striking the ball well again.

I feel good with the putter and my short game is okay. It is very difficult chipping around Doral with the bermudarough, as well as the fairways. The fairways are every bit as tough as the rough because you can't get the wedge underneath it; the lies are so tight. So if you can't putt it from off the green, it's challenging.

Ball-striking will be key, because you've got to hit a lot of greens. But because I feel like I'm striking it well, I'm looking forward to the upcoming rounds. I don't feel stressed. It's nice.

Q. Was there something about the re-design, looking at your record the last two years, about a learning curve, learning the golf course again?
PHIL MICKELSON: There is a bit of a learning curve on some of the contours and where you have to go and where you want to go and the best place to be, because it's not like I came in here weeks before and mapped it out like a major, so you're here only the week of.

But this is our third year here now and it continues to get better each year. Soft little changes here and there, little subtle changes they made to holes 6 and 7 I think are really nice additions. And a little bit more fairway on 2 was a nice addition.

It's year three, pretty darned good.

Q. Jack Nicklaus used to come to play at the Doral tournament every year and he said one reason he did is because he knew the course so well, he could test his game on the way to Augusta. Since the course has been changed, I don't know if that still holds true for you --
PHIL MICKELSON: Prior to the Masters, I'll go there for a couple of weeks, and that's really the best place to work on the shots that I'll have at Augusta.

This is totally different shot-making because of the severe crosswinds that we're working with, and very flat, different -- whereas Augusta has got elevation changes and we're trying to keep the ball down a little bit more here.

It's different shots, so I wouldn't relate it to Augusta. But it is a World Golf Championships event and one of our premiere events with one of the strongest fields in the game. It's exciting to play well here, and you really want to focus in on that tournament and not look too far ahead.

Q. Are the things that you've been working on, have they come together quicker than you might have thought.
PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't say that because it's been really months in the off-season of trying to get this right. Fortunately, I wasn't playing in tournaments when I was going through it, but because the path had changed so much, my face awareness was not very good and I ended up hitting terrible shots for a couple of months. But as long as I knew the path was coming, the sensitivity for where the clubface is and the head and hitting all those little nuances so forth, those little shots, that sorted to come back.

But I had been so manipulative through impact because the plane had been off, and now, it's very subtle. Because the plane is on, I have to do very little through impact to get the ball to fade or draw.

Q. Was there a shot or a hole today that really kind of got you in a good mood?
PHIL MICKELSON: There wasn't one in particular. I was looking forward to -- I was excited about each hole and each opportunity today, and I ended up taking advantage on a lot of opportunities and let a few good. But there wasn't one that stood out, per se.

Q. There's some questions about sponsorships next year and the future of this event, can you talk about why it's important for this area to have this event?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not familiar with you the negotiations and the ins and outs of this tournament and some of the others.

But I've always looked forward to this tournament, thought it's a premiere event. Going back to when I started playing the TOUR 24 years ago, a lot of guys would start here. The TOUR started in Florida. They would skip the West Coast.

There were some things done to make the West Coast relevant, and I think this that's great, but this tournament still is looked upon as one of the premiere events. We have one of the best fields, and an international field. And Miami is such an international city that it's just a perfect place to host this great event.

Q. How do you feel about being the 40-something guy playing against all these 20-somethings?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, the ball, the scorecard, they don't know the difference in age (laughter). It's a fun challenge for me to get back to competing at the highest level.

Q. You switched putter grips a couple times today. Is there a rhyme or reason to that? Is there certain situations where you felt comfortable with a different grip?
PHIL MICKELSON: I believe that the claw grip is a better grip for short putts. I just have always believed that. I've continued to work on it in the off-season. I believe there's a key to it. I just haven't quite figured it out yet, and I spent the last couple of days working on it.

I start every ball on line and I feel like the short putts, it's more effective. My speed and touch on a little bit longer strokes, once the stroke gets a little bit longer than a certain point, I start to lose some of that feel and touch. But there's so much better extension and it's such a softer hit without having that bottom hand on the club that I like it for short putts, and will probably use it -- or I would like to use it on short putts, and a regular grip on longer ones for a better feel.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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