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March 24, 2005

Phil Mickelson


Q. When you're 4-under through 6, what kind of round do you think is ahead of you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wasn't really thinking about a score. I know that this course is very penalizing if you mis-hit shots, and certainly that's what happened. It's hard to go all 18 holes without missing any shots.

I got off to a good start. I could tell I was rusty, though. I didn't really get any good practice sessions in in the last week. I did a lot of work on the course Saturday, Sunday, did a lot of work at the course at Augusta Monday and Tuesday. The weather yesterday prohibited me from getting a good session in, and the early tee time didn't allow me to really come out sharp.

Tomorrow I'll get out here three, four hours before I tee off and see if I can enter the round a little bit more ready with the execution part of my game.

But if you had given me 2-under I would have taken it gladly at the start of the round because I knew I was susceptible to a couple of squirrely shots.

Q. What was the lie like for you on 8? Looked like you couldn't really knock it underneath the tree, right?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the lie was fine, the swing was fine, I just didn't have a shot. I couldn't go under the tree because of the rough and the bunker so I tried to give it a try and tried to go through it and it didn't quite make it.

Q. What did you do on 18, you hit it in?

PHIL MICKELSON: That would be an understatement, yes.

Q. Describe the shot, you just came off the ball?

PHIL MICKELSON: I took a 4-wood out and just hit it left. I don't know what to say. The right to left wind didn't help and it just shot way off into the lake. I mean, it wasn't even close.

Q. 8 and 18, those two shots, you throw those out and you have a pretty good round.

PHIL MICKELSON: We could do that every day. That stuff happens. I was lucky to offset those mistakes with a bunch of birdies. It was feast or famine. Out of the seven birdies the longest putt was three and a half feet, and then I made a couple of squirrely swings.

Q. How long was the putt on 17?

PHIL MICKELSON: About six feet.

Q. How was your stance on 17?

PHIL MICKELSON: No problem. Left-handed I had no problem.

Q. So coming away from this 2-under, for as rusty as you said you felt, that --

PHIL MICKELSON: I would have gladly taken it. Had it looked more solid it would have been better. If I had three birdies and a bogey, it would have been a great round. But because I had so many birdies and so many chances to really turn it into a great round and didn't, that's what's disappointing. I would have gladly taken 2-under starting the round. I knew that I wasn't as sharp with my physical game. I was prepared for the golf course, but I wasn't quite ready to hit all the shots, and hopefully a good practice session tomorrow will tighten things up.

Q. Based on the conditions, what's out there today, we've seen some pretty good numbers.

PHIL MICKELSON: The pins are all in low spots. They're all birdie pins. They're all pretty much the easiest pins that we'll see. The greens are holding shots, and you can really get at all the pins and make a lot of birdies.

If you hit it well, there's a 6, 7, 8, 9-under par round out there, absolutely.

Q. Based on that, do you feel a little like you're catching up at this point or are you okay with where you are?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you need to have a good round like that if you're going to win. You have to have a 6, 7, 8-under par round. Those other rounds you've got to keep at par or better, and I just had one of those at par or better.

Q. You said you practiced but couldn't get a lot of practice in on the course?

PHIL MICKELSON: I got great practice in on the course, I studied the course, knew which way putts and chips were taking and the whole deal, but I just wasn't quite as sharp with the execution part of it yet.

Q. With some of the shaved stuff there's not as much chipping?

PHIL MICKELSON: Chipping is not a big part of TPC Sawgrass.

Q. Does that hurt you because it's a strength of yours?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wish it was a bigger part of it, but putting is a big part because you've got to hit more middle of the greens and maybe not hit at quite so many pins.

Q. Obviously everybody can play, but when you see Steve Jones high on the board at 7-under, we hadn't heard much from him in the big tournaments. Is that surprising to you?

PHIL MICKELSON: He was the assistant captain at the Ryder Cup last year, and he was talking about how he was really inspired to get out and play and practice and work hard, so it's not because he's such a talented player and always has been throughout his career. The biggest things for Steve Jones is motivation. When he's motivated he's tough to beat. He won the U.S. Open, won a number of tournaments, but when he's not he needs to take time off, and it looks like he's motivated right now.

Q. Do you think the Ryder Cup rekindled him a little bit?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it did, yes.

End of FastScripts.

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