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April 3, 2005

Phil Mickelson


JOHN BUSH: The round of tournament so far, Phil, 7-under 75, that had to have been a lot of fun out there.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was very nice to shoot that in such tough conditions with the wind. After that first round of 74 and 2-over with this tournament only being 54 holes, I knew I needed to do something. I was fortunate to be able to do it and at least have a chance going into tomorrow. Being within one of the lead heading into tomorrow should be a fun opportunity to try to win this tournament.

JOHN BUSH: We were in an interview, but we could hot help but hear the roar on 18; obviously some great fan support for you today.

PHIL MICKELSON: The people here are terrific and I look forward to this tournament every year. And it's amazing the way that the people support this tournament with the weather that we've had and the tough conditions for everybody to come out like they did today and support the players was terrific.

Q. What was working so well?

PHIL MICKELSON: I played pretty well the first day, and I hit two shots out-of-bounds, and those four strokes really did it. And I came out today, second round, and got off to a quick start birdieing three of the first four holes. And I was able to just not make too many mistakes and capitalize on some good shots that I hit and make the putt.

Q. Can you pretty much block out next week, even though it's such an exciting time ahead of you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't thought about the Masters yet. I thought about it last week and the week before when I was there scouting the course. But the fact that I went over early, I got all of the work done that I needed to on the course. I was only going to play one practice round on Tuesday, so going into Monday doesn't really affect me much.

I enjoy being able to play a competitive round closer to the start of the Masters, closer to the Thursday start. I only had two days in between, as opposed to three, as opposed to 10 or 11, as opposed to if I would have skipped the event.

Q. A lot of players skip the event before a major, or would be dubious about playing this extra day. What is it about this course or this event that keeps bringing you back?

PHIL MICKELSON: I love playing the week before a major and I love how this tournament has set the course up as close as Augusta as possible. The greens are the same, the areas around the greens are the same. I think that it's a great place to start hitting the shots that I will need to hit at the Masters.

Q. I know it's not quite as firm as it normally would be, but the speed of the greens is still there.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, the toughest of the golf course is putting these greens with wind, and if it's windy at Augusta, it's going to be great preparation. The last two or three years, it has not been windy, but I remember 2000 when Vijay won, it was really windy the first couple of rounds; and to get a bit of preparation and see how the wind affects it on these fast greens, it's surprising how much it does affect it.

Q. Both days have been tough obviously, but how would you compare the conditions today to yesterday, a little bit easier today, wind-wise and such?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that it was very similar. It might have been just a couple miles an hour less wind today, but after having played it now in that wind, and having the same direction of wind, it's a lot easier because you know club selection, where the ball is going to land, what you're going to have in, what holes are birdie holes and how to attack it. We haven't seen that wind certainly at that strength before.

Q. Following up on you playing this week, you like to play the week before a major, but by the same point do you feel an obligation at all when you come into an event and you don't go back on that commitment?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think it's different for everybody in that certainly you want to win the tournament. When you don't have a chance to practice for a couple of days, I understand why some guys pulled out. It's individual preference. I was able to go down and hit indoor out of an indoor hitting bay, so I didn't go those days without practicing and I was able to get some work done. Again, I like playing competitive golf to prepare for majors, rather than just practicing, so it's all personal I think. I wouldn't say that that obligation would apply as strongly to the week before a major as it would normally.

Q. How much of a factor was the wind on those two shots yesterday?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I made the mistake of trying to hit the ball hard on those two shots and getting the ball up in the air and it just blew out. I made a conscious effort today to keep the ball, down and when I did miss a shot, it wasn't nearly as bad.

Q. Did you try to get over to Augusta on Wednesday?

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought about it, but the weather was moving east, so it was going to be there when I got there.

Q. How would you compare your game now to the Phil Mickelson of 2003, what's been added?

PHIL MICKELSON: To compare to 2003 that was the worst year of my career, I know what you're saying, so I'd have to say it's better.

But starting last year, starting in January of last year when I started to have much better direction in my practice, with the help of Dave Pelz and Rick Smith giving me much better guidance, my scores translated into lower scores. That's been the biggest area from January of '04 I feel like I progressively got better as I continued to work on the drills and practice and prepare properly.

Q. You said you understood people leaving. Can you say why that would be?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, not being able to practice on Thursday or Friday and having some of their practice rounds be taken away, and guys were going to go in and play Monday and now they can't; they feel like they would overdo it on Tuesday Wednesday, and ultimately be tired when Thursday came around, I certainly understand that. But it's also the reason why I go in a couple of weeks early, get all of my work done, so that I don't have to worry about it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Q. Did you have any conversations with sponsors about how tough a week it's been for them?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we've certainly all as players have gone and apologized the last few months, actually, we've had such a tough year with weather, and it affects the sponsors the most. The players kind of roll with the punches because we all have to play it and the conditions are fair for everyone.

But from the sponsors' point of view, it's much nicer to have everybody be able to come out and enjoy the final round on Sunday, and that has not been the case. They are enjoying the second round, but it gets more exciting when it's a finish.

Q. Have you had any conversations with the sponsors about how difficult the tournament has been for them, these sponsors, BellSouth or -- or them thanking you for saying?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I thank them for staying, for hanging in there. It's just as much from the players' point of view; we are very fortunate that they are staying in and giving us a tournament to play in, because this has not been their best way to entertain their clients.

Q. Were you at all concerned about playing 36 tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I had no problem with it. Again, I was scheduled to take the day off; so it didn't really affect me much.

Q. Such a demanding course physically in such conditions, no worries at all?

PHIL MICKELSON: They give us a lot of cart rides between the tees and greens; it's not a problem.

Q. Next week, you're going to fly over there Monday night?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'll just drive over.

Q. And you'll play nine on Tuesday morning or a full practice round?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'll play a practice round Tuesday. I have a press interview set up for Tuesday, and then Wednesday I'll just go out and practice and play the par 3 and go home.

Q. Tuesday your practice round on Tuesday includes Ryan Moore. You've talked a little bit about his game in the past, what is it that you like about him as a person, as a player?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm looking forward to seeing a little bit more of it up close. I've only seen it from television when I watched him win the U.S. Amateur at Winged Foot and watched a little bit of him winning the NCAA Championship in gosh, he won, what, the Western, the Porter Cup, he's just an incredibly talented player. I'm looking forward to finding out more about his game.

Q. Any chance he could win?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't doubt it, I wouldn't doubt it at all. I think the toughest thing that -- the reason why it happens so rarely, I think last time was Fuzzy Zoeller in '79, first-time player to win, is that there are certain spots on the course that you don't want to miss it, and it will ultimately affect you by a shot or maybe two. And it's easier to learn that over the course of a few years, but, you could pick that up pretty easily through some practice rounds, and he certainly has the game to do it, I wouldn't doubt it.

Q. What are your thoughts about moving this event to like a May date or possibly even later on the calendar?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't care for it. I like having it the week before the Masters. I think it works out great. We get a lot of foreign players who are playing in the tournament, Olazabal and other guys, who like to play the week before and get over here.

I don't particularly care for that. I think it's the perfect TOUR event that we have for the week before the Masters, especially the way they tried to set it up.

Q. Sugarloaf, any spots where you say, this really does make me think of Augusta, whether it's the slope or the trees?

PHIL MICKELSON: That's an interesting question. I think 7, the green at 7 reminds me the most of it because it has a lot of similarities to 14 and 5 but without the bunkers and the swale and the hollows. I think that when we get to 7, it remind me of No. 5 and No. 14 at Augusta without the bunkers.

JOHN BUSH: Take us through, starting with a birdie on 1.

PHIL MICKELSON: I hit a driver and a little cut 6-iron on the first hole, only 150, but I had to slice it back into the wind and it ended up hitting an eight feet behind the hole and made the putt.

Second hole, I hit a little 8-iron to ten feet and made the putt.

4, I hit driver, 3-wood, that must have been 50 yards from the hole, 53 yards from the hole and ended up hitting a nice chip to about three feet and made it.

Then No. 10, I hit driver, 3-wood to 12 feet and missed it for eagle and made birdie.

Made a long putt on 11. I hit a pitching wedge to probably 35 feet and made that for birdie.

On the 13, I chipped in from just off the green from 26 yards, a little L-wedge from 26 yards for eagle.

3-putted the next. I hit a good drive and great 4-iron carving it on about 35 feet. Left the first putt 3 1/2 feet short and missed it and that was the only bogey.

Parred the rest of the way until 18. I hit a driver left. I missed the hollow, missed it a little left, could not get there, chipped a 6-iron down, hit a 9-iron to 40 feet and made it.

Q. Are you concerned at all about the left drives you're getting; your misses have been a little bit more left?

PHIL MICKELSON: Most of those were with right-to-left wind, so I'll address that. I'll probably play for more wind, but I feel the most part, the only time I've missed it has been with a big right-to-left wind.

JOHN BUSH: Thanks for coming by. Play well tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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