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January 19, 2005

Phil Mickelson


JOE CHEMYCZ: Status report on your game.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's a little rusty as usual. I had a great time off. It was really a lot of fun to do a couple of things this year that I had not done in the past during my off-season and I'm looking forward to starting the year.

We ended up writing a book, Amy and I did, which is something I've never done before. And we spent a lot of time together, took my oldest skiing for the first time and had a cool off-season.

Last week about ten days ago started working with Rick Smith and spent last four days with Dave Pelz trying to get my game sharp. It's not quite there yet. It's rusty, but I am looking forward to playing this week because I can feel it starting to turn and I'm hoping that a little local knowledge here helps out.

Q. How does it look out there, the course?

PHIL MICKELSON: The golf course looks spectacular. The greens are really rolling true and fast and the fairways are immaculate and the rough is extremely difficult, so it's going to make for a very difficult tests and as we've seen the last few years, the scores are not as low as they have been in years prior, so the course is playing much more difficult than it has.

Q. Working with Rick, what have you been working on?

PHIL MICKELSON: We went over to Callaway test center and hit there -- we went and played 18 holes and the courses were closed. It was beautiful. (Laughter.)

Q. Did you feel like you had to work or could work less in this off-season after all of the work last year, that it was more fine-tuning in the off-season?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I would not feel that way, but with the same program -- in other words, to not touch a club the at the end of the year except for two rounds in Hawaii which was very nice and to not play until January, so I'm fresh and eager and ready and didn't start until the 8th or 9th of January. I have been practicing a lot over the last ten days, but because I haven't played in a while, I really am excited to get back. I find myself working a lot harder than I have, and working on a lot of similar stuff as last year. I'm just eager to get back in it.

Q. With the Buick being the week after Hawaii, would you have gone over to Hawaii had the Buick been pushed back maybe a week or two?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know. This worked out perfect. But I think for me personally, I play six out of seven weeks and would have been a lot. My relationship with Ford now, I fly over to Florida the first week after the West Coast, so I play a lot on the West Coast, where I grew up with a lot of these events and playing in these tournaments so I want to play here and then I play the first week in Florida.

So that makes six of the next seven weeks and if I started earlier this would be too much. So I'll play the next four starting this week.

Q. Last year at the Hope you came in and you had a different approach to the game than the year before. There were a lot of questions about not winning majors and all of that stuff which I'm sure you remember at some point. How is this year different in your approach and your goals?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I know the questions have changed, which is nice. (Laughter.)

My goals are certainly high. I think what makes it so exciting is that we have so many guys now that are playing well and so many guys that are challenging to win tournaments to win majors, but it makes the journey and the challenge of winning tournaments tougher if you can accomplish it.

My desire to practice hard and to work hard and win tournaments is as strong as it's ever been and now because so many guys are playing so well and you feel like there's not necessarily one guy that's beating everybody but a lot of guys that are playing great, you feel like you really have to work hard and push yourself which is what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to develop a process for practicing and a preparation that works for me and allows me to win tournaments. Though I won only twice last year I was in contention and saw results. I'm hoping to improve on the end result this year and turn the seconds and thirds into firsts.

Q. The "Big Four" we have going now, do you think that is good for the game of golf rather than having one person dominate?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to say. I really don't know. Either way you look at it, it's exciting and certainly makes for some exciting golf.

Q. Is there a big four or is there a big six, seven or eight?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. There's a lot of guys that can win outside of just the ten guys in the Top-10. Every week, it used to be 30, 40, 50, 60 and now you feel like anybody in the field can step up and win. There were guys last year not many people knew of that turned around and won.

If you click onto something that works, your game can turn around right away. I look at as a great example of Andre Stolz, he has a year where he was not playing his best golf and he took a week off and he came back and he won Las Vegas. Here is a guy nobody would have picked to win Las Vegas but a quality player that people are not aware of and is very talented.

Right now the focus might be on six or eight people, but the depth of the TOUR is as deep as it's ever been.

Q. Your major preparation, will it be the same, going in early?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don't see any reason to try and change it. It was really close to being an awesome year. It was a great year and I loved it, but it was five shots away from being something very special, and so the preparation plan that worked so well last year I certainly plan on incorporating this year.

Q. Will you continue to do BellSouth -- tournaments before majors inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'll play Booz Allen the week before the U.S. Open and I'll probably play Loch Lomond the week before the British. The tough one for me is The INTERNATIONAL the week before PGA because of the altitude change, but I love that tournament. Missed it last year and I very well may play it this year. And the week before the Masters, Atlanta is a perfect setup. It maps out very well and I tend to do that, yeah.

Q. Is the reason that you play so well on the West Coast because you take all of that time off in the off-season or -- inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think it's a little bit of both because my desire to play is so strong, I'm practicing hard and I really am out there those extra couple of hours to find that extra shot here or there. As the year goes on, I get tired and I need to take a break, and that's why that year-end break for me is so important. It rejuvenates me and gets me excited again.

The other thing is I love these tournaments. I grew up here watching with my dad and it gives me a special feeling to be out here and a strong desire to play well.

Q. There used to be an idea that you could start your season in Florida, but that may change -- inaudible -- is that because players enjoy the West Coast finish so much now or you just can't wait until Florida?

PHIL MICKELSON: That was certainly the case about five or six years ago, when a couple of sponsors -- Bank of America and then St. Paul and now Allianz have stepped up to get the purses up and give the West Coast Swing some credibility. A lot of guys are realizing that the TOUR does not start in Florida.

Now, even the Florida tournaments have stepped up and I know the tournaments in Florida now have done some unique things to get guys to come and play. There's such a strong quality of events now through the year, there's no fall-off or discrepancy.

Q. You've obviously had some great starts at the Hope the last few years, is this a completely different animal --

PHIL MICKELSON: More difficult -- inaudible -- I understand what you're saying -- going to play the Hope, you could get away with misses, the rough wasn't too bad. The pin placements were set up for the amateurs, so it wasn't as penal. We see some really tough pins than we have in the last couple of years. If you hit a few shots, you cannot go by the green, get par -- so you inaudible

But I just I love this course. I love the Hope because I've played so well there. I love going to Phoenix. It gets me excited to play in these events, and although it's a tough course I expect to play pretty well.

Q. Tell us about the book.

PHIL MICKELSON: It's interesting, I really enjoyed doing this. Amy and I had a great time, and it's not -- it's kind of a book of short stories with Don Phillips who is the writer with Mike Shereshefsky (ph) with the couple of books that he's done, he's been on the New York Times Best Seller List. We had a great time just talking about stories. It was stories about childhood, stories about marriage, stories about pranks that we play on the TOUR. It was just short stories that I enjoyed reminiscing and talking about it with Amy. We had a great time doing it. The title is "One Magical Sunday, but Winning Isn't Everything." To combine all of these short stories together we used the final round at Augusta and I talk about every shot, every hole and that's how each chapter starts out so the it's One Magical Sunday but Winning Isn't Everything -- inaudible

I'm excited about it, but I enjoy the other things in life, too, like my family.

Q. Is there any way to quantify -- inaudible -- every week, every month -- inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel -- I didn't feel like this great relief after I won. I feel like it was an amazing experience, but I want to experience that again more. Two things made that such a special experience. One, the challenge and the difficulty that the course calls, and the other one was to be able to share it with so many people who have been in those highs and lows with me, my family especially, but also Rick Smith and Steve, guys who have put in time with me over the years and have been through the ups and downs and to share that together made that so exciting. I want to experience that again and that's why I'm working so hard on the golf course. And I want to win the U.S. Open this year at Pinehurst, I think that will be an awesome feeling -- inaudible -- majors this year, all in the same year.

Q. You and Ernie shared something last year -- inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, the U.S. Open -- and then I won the Masters and if I had to choose -- I'm going to go with winning the Masters than finishing second at the U.S. Open. It was more enjoyable.

I want to tell you something real quick, too. Last year was a wonderful year putting-wise, but off the course, Amy and I did something really cool that we really enjoyed and felt like, we were in some contact with some people and able to impact. One of the greatest thing for me is to be in a position to do -- to help others, whether it's give a golf ball to a kid in the ropes, it gives me a great feeling to see a smile. Last year we did a thing where we helped out children without their fathers in the special operations where they go to school in college. And this year, we want to continue in that and we have a great opportunity here to get involved with John Gonsalves and Captain John McTighe to help our troops, and whether you agree or disagree or whatever you feel on what's taking place right now in Iraq and so forth around the world, we still have these soldiers that are fighting for our lives and some of them come back and have their quality of life altered through disabilities and this provides homes that are wheelchair-friendly or any type of handicap-friendly homes that can help improve the quality of life of these soldiers as well as families.

So we are going to be involved in that this year and it's something that we are very excited about and if it's okay, I'd like to call up John Gonsalves to discuss this.

JOHN GONSALVES: My name is John Gonsalves, and I'd really like to thank Phil and Amy Mickelson for getting behind us.

As you all know, we've all seen the news reports and heard that a lot of the veterans have been injured and I think a lot of people do not understand sometimes what that may mean when you hear that one of our veterans is injured today. They face some really tough issues, and when the homes that most people live in -- it's nearly impossible for a lot of our veterans who have been fighting. I think that we need to do more as a country and that's why we formed Homes For Our Troops and set up the homesforourtroops.org web site for people to get involved. I think Phil has shown the importance of this by his actions, and he's really set a high standard for what we are hoping is going to become a really great grass roots effort and also an effort for other people to follow in Phil's footsteps. There are a lot of people that can really help, and certainly we appreciate what they are trying to do. We really appreciate all you are doing.

JOE CHEMYCZ: We'd like to welcome Captain John McTighe to share with us real quick a message from President Bush.

CAPTAIN JOHN McTIGHE: "Dear Phil, I commend you and Homes For Our Troops for your commitment to improving the quality of life for our disabled veterans who have sacrificed in the fight against the enemies of freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Throughout our nation's history, courageous citizens have willingly assumed the duty of military life and built a strong tradition of honor and patriotism. You're helping to honor these men and women who have fought to preserve our liberty and your efforts reflect the compassionate spirit of America.

"Laura joins me in sending our best wishes. May God bless and you may God continue to bless our great nation. Sincerely, George W. Bush."

PHIL MICKELSON: Amy and I are going to try to recruit some other clubs to match -- inaudible -- give a dollar for a birdie, $5 for an eagle and get other golf clubs involved. It won't be that much, it will be $400 or $500 per club and at the end of the year we'll bring in the four highest GMs of the clubs that have donated to the clubs and we will all play a round of golf together. I also want to thank the club in St. Augustine, Florida for stepping up and being the first club to take part in this and kickstarting this program with me.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: We have high expectations and imagine we will take care of the rest -- inaudible -- again, we don't match what we are hoping to get to, we'll cover it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: We're just getting started in this and so we're meeting with M.G. Orender of the PGA of America. The club -- because of the friendship we have, are spearheading it trying to get other clubs in the area involved. So we hope to meet with M.G. Orender to talk to a couple of the clubs. We'd be honored and flattered to have them, and it's something that Amy and I are proud to be a part of and we hope that others feel the same way to be able to help them.

Q. A question about the new year. Having felt those high expectations all those years of not winning a major, do you set even higher expectations now that you've won a major?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, my expectations are certainly higher because I came so close last year, I was in contention at all four and I had a great opportunity on the 18th hole to win it.

I expect to be in that same situation. I expect to work hard and prepare properly for each event and I expect that come Sunday, I should have a chance to win as well because it was proven that I prepared last year I was able to be in contention.

And obviously the goal is to turn those seconds and thirds into firsts.

Q. Why this particular program?

PHIL MICKELSON: There are millions of great charities and everybody has something that they feel especially tied to. I feel especially tied to diabetes because my dad has diabetes. But Amy and I feel like in the last couple of years, we have felt very patriotic, the fact that we have lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers who are fighting for our freedom, and we have not had another major attack since 2001, that the homeland security has done so much for protecting us, that we just feel very patriotic.

Amy and I want to show -- and the only thing we want out of this, honestly, is we want every solder to know how much we appreciate it, how much we appreciate the freedoms that we have and we just want everybody to know how much we appreciate what they are doing for us.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Some courses are no longer going to be part of the rotation, but I'm not familiar with the rest.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really, no. I don't think it's the course that makes that tournament special. I think it's Bob Hope and his family that gives it the nostalgia and the meaning that tournament will move on throughout time hopefully.

Q. A couple of questions about your last competitive round of last year.

PHIL MICKELSON: Please. (Laughter.)

Q. When you think of all the things you've done, I mean, that was an unofficial round so to speak, but 59, where does that stack up?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's my best round, ever. I never knew. I always wanted to shoot that, whether it was just a practice round or a tournament or whether it's unofficial or not, still, against three players that I was able to finish ahead of. It was one of the best rounds I've ever played, certainly the best putting round I've ever had which is remarkable given my track record on bermudagreens.

Q. Talking to Jason yesterday who had a 58 up in Canada -- inaudible -- what would your take be on that -- the argument that it's only a four-man field, but what about Nationwide events or tour events, do you think that should be recognized equally with PGA TOUR or --

PHIL MICKELSON: In all honesty, I don't even care. If I shot 59 in the PGA Grand Slam or if I shot 59 in the Buick Invitational or if I shot 59 at home or I'm on just my home course, it would not matter to me. The fact that I shot that number is pretty cool.

So I honestly don't care whether it counts in the stat or not. That's not why it's exciting to me. I never knew if I could shoot that number and not many people have for 18 holes. I'm just very lucky.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really, no. I shot 28 one time after nine holes and went out and made bogey and packed it up after 13.

Q. What do you look at in stats?

PHIL MICKELSON: I look at stats because it helps me in areas that I need improvement. It's interesting if you talk about driving accuracy being a problem or so forth, but the four guys that are ahead of me in the World Ranking, whether it's Tiger Vijay, Ernie and Retief, I finished ahead of all four of those in driving accuracy. But yet, they all hit the ball past me in driving distance.

It helps identify the areas of improvement for this year -- even though I was 120th or something in accuracy, that's not identifying the best players right now.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't heard anything. I think three years ago, the South Course was remodeled and I don't know what's going on with that at the North Course. Quite honestly, I don't have a preference either way.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Interesting.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Phil, we appreciate your time today. Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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