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June 3, 2016

Phil Mickelson

Dublin, Ohio

Q. (No microphone) salvage what I imagine was a frustrating day at times?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was. I feel like I'm playing better than I'm scoring, but I had a lot of fun today and I was able to finish up with three birdies, which kept me within striking distance.

I feel like there's a hot round out there, and I hit a lot of good iron shots these past two days and I hit a lot of good iron shots this past week. I feel like I'm going to give myself a lot more birdie opportunities on the weekend.

Q. Talk to me about the putting surfaces because they're receptive, and yet they do have some speed if you do get on the wrong side of the slope.
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought the speed picked up fractionally today, and the pins were a little more tough. So it made it difficult to be aggressive at some of the pins. But because they're receptive and somewhat soft, you're able to attack it and make some birdies. I think there's some low scores out there.

Q. Do you have to be overly aggressive when it's this benign? Do you come in thinking, you know you have to go relatively low?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think you -- because the greens are receptive, you don't have to be overly aggressive off the tee. I think you need to be a little bit more attacking into the greens. But you have to be careful because there's big numbers out there with as much water as we have, and as difficult as the rough is around the greens and as fast as the greens are, you can make a double pretty quick. So you want to be somewhat conservative off the tee, get it in play, and then you can attack the pins because the greens are receptive.

Q. Is it the most receptive you've seen here, overall conditions?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably. It's the best condition I've seen the golf course. It's just spectacular. But the slight softness of the greens has allowed us to score. I don't think they're going to be this soft on the weekend. I think the scores are going to be a little bit higher, not quite as low as they've been.

Q. Brendan Steele is leading right now. I know you played some golf with him last week. Was it even last week?
PHIL MICKELSON: We play a lot because he lives in Irvine, he's only about an hour away. I'll go up to his course at Shady, and he'll come down to mine. We'll spend some time practicing.

Q. Have you seen this coming before?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the guy is one of the longest, straightest drivers out here on Tour, and he's really become a solid putter. So when his iron play is on -- and oftentimes it is -- when his iron play is on, he will score like he's scoring this week.

Last week when we played, his iron game wasn't quite as sharp and his driver was. So he knew that area in his game that he had to work on was his irons. So he called Rick Smith, who he's been working with, and they spent a few days out here this week and got that dialed in. And now it looks like he's firing on all cylinders.

Q. He said that you drummed him. Was that in some way maybe to inspire someone like him?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's hard in an off week to find out where your game is at unless you play against good competition. So we -- you know, it identified the area that he needed to work on. He called up Rick. He came out and worked on it, and now here's the result. I think that's -- I think that was kind of the benefit.

Q. Is drummed accurate?
PHIL MICKELSON: I mean, I use a little bit more flamboyant term, but that's fine. You can use that.

Q. Phil, he said he's been working on his attitude not to be hard on himself, and you're obviously one of the more positive guys out here on Tour. Have you influenced him at all with that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't attempted to or anything. He's just -- he's a very talented player, and he's -- I think he's realizing how good his potential is. So when he doesn't play that level of potential, it's frustrating, you know. But he's played some very solid golf the last two years, and this is a course that is suited well for him.

Q. Do you like where your game is? Or at least where it may be headed.
PHIL MICKELSON: I really do. I just -- these two days -- a week ago was the first time where it kind of clicked with my iron play, and I hit iron shots these first two days like I used to hit four or five years ago, when I was playing some of my better golf. And that's really encouraging to me because I believe I'm going to make a lot more birdies this weekend going forward because my iron play seemed to finally click in.

Q. Phil, we're looking at maybe some bad weather this weekend. How would that change the course up the next two days?
PHIL MICKELSON: If we get rain, it will be soft, and the scores will be just as low. We're looking at 22, 24 under potentially winning. That's if the rain comes.

Q. Is that okay? Some people think low scoring is bad for golf. Some people think it's good. I think you've been on record saying the more birdies, the better for fans.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think you don't want to be one dimensional on Tour. You want to have a mixture. So we have tournaments like in Palm Springs at the Career Builder, we have low scoring. Then we have some challenging play at Charlotte at Quail Hollow. And this course, we've had a mixture of both based on the course setup. I think that's a sign of a great golf course.

But when you have the best players in the world coming out, it is not disrespectful at all to shoot 20 under par. That doesn't mean anything. We're supposed to do that. If you set up a course like normal amateurs are going to play it, we're going to shoot in the mid-20s, under par, over four rounds most likely. You don't have to trick it up. There's going to be a winner. The lowest score is still going to win.

I think it's fun to watch, but I also think the U.S. Open style is fun to watch too. So I like a mixture.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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