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July 6, 2016

Phil Mickelson

Inverness, Scotland

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Start us off with thoughts and feelings being back.

PHIL MICKELSON: I love coming back here. I love Castle Stuart. I've loved the golf course even before I played well in 2013. The two years prior, I would see how great a golf course it was, what a wonderful design and how fun it was to play.

2013 was a very special two-week stretch for me: Starting with my first championship on links golf here at the Scottish Open, and then following it up the next week at Muirfield with my Open Championship.

But there were two things that really stood out about that two-week stretch that I still cherish to this day. The first is how my kids looked at me. They were old enough to appreciate what had actually happened those two weeks, and they had a weird look at me, like I was cool. That was really one of the first times that I remember that. They were so young in many of my other victories.

Sunday of the final round here at The Scottish Open where I'm staying again this week, my daughter, she was ten at the time, went into town, and she had bought two rings for my wife and I, unknowing to us. She had gotten online and became an ordained minister, and she ended up having a wedding vow renewal for my wife and I Sunday morning at the place we were staying. It was a very emotional thing. It was one of the coolest things that has ever been done for Amy and I. And going back to that same spot and reminiscing, it's one of the best moments of my life and one of the moments I cherish. I'm very appreciative to have had that experience, but also to be able to come back and relive it.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Just a little on the golf course, being back at Castle Stuart, one of your favourite venues.

PHIL MICKELSON: I golf the course. I think it's got a great mixture of holes, birdie holes, tough pars, great shot-making skills. And it doesn't beat you up like we'll get beat up next week, which is why I love coming here so much. It gives you a chance to get accustomed to the wind, to the air, the fescue grass, the challenge of links golf, playing the ball on the ground, getting it out of the air. But it doesn't beat you up and punish you the way the Open Championship does. So you arrive at The Open Championship fresh and ready to play, as opposed to worn out already.

Q. You've been quoted recently as saying that you're a little concerned that the potential for The Scottish Open to once again be moved around the country. Could this be the last time we see you in the event?
PHIL MICKELSON: I doubt it will be the last time that I play, but I don't know if it will be an every-year occurrence. I know it was difficult to get accustomed to Royal Aberdeen and get accustomed to Gullane, as much as I love those golf courses and thought they were terrific. I hear great things about Dundonald.

I don't know how my schedule is going to play out. I know I've played in The Scottish Open for 15 years or so, and it's been a real treasure for me. I mean, I really enjoy coming over early and playing here. I enjoyed Loch Lomond, too. But when we moved to links golf, I thought it really added a great flavour to this tournament. I thought it was a really great move and one that increased the quality of the field quite a bit. You saw a lot of guys come and play, and I know that the winner of The Open Championship played the week prior for a number of years here at The Scottish Open, and I felt like it was an important part of being successful in the following week's Open Championship.

I don't know what my schedule will bring. I just know it's a lot easier. After playing Castle Stuart three times, the third time I was kind of able to learn the golf course, play it effectively, ultimately won. It takes awhile to really understand the nuances of a links course; there's so many of them.

Q. Just to follow up on that, if we don't see you next year, will you come to Scotland to prepare for The Open Championship?
PHIL MICKELSON: Like I say, I don't know what my schedule is going to be. As much as I love playing this event, most likely I'll end up playing.

I just know it's a lot easier for myself and other players coming across the Atlantic when you get to play the same course a few times or the same few courses a few times, it just makes it easier, because we are also trying to win a tournament, which is a big priority for us.

Q. The chat about the Olympics, a lot of the guys, prominent players pulling out; are you concerned about what you're seeing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not in the Olympics. I wish I was.

Q. Would you play?
PHIL MICKELSON: I would definitely play if I was in the Olympics. I'm not. I think that that would be an incredible life experience and something that I really set out to do. I worked hard in the off-season to try to accomplish that goal, and unfortunately I haven't had the results that year that I needed to to get in.

Q. Would you be concerned about the future of golf in the Olympics, considering so many of the high-profile players in the game are saying they are not going?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably. But who knows. I really don't know what's going to happen. I think it's great for the sport, and I think it's a great opportunity. But I understand -- I don't think the reasons for players not going are Olympic-related as much as they are concerns for where it's at.

Q. The Zika virus, or is it more to it than that, do you think?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I think that's very much it. I think there's security concerns. Now if it were me, I would be there just because I don't anticipate having too many more opportunities, you know. A lot of those players are so good that they will have another chance in four years at a different place, Tokyo.

Q. How do you feel your game shapes up ahead of next week going back to Troon?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's a tough question for me to answer, because I've had such an inconsistent year, I've had some really good finishes and some missed cuts, which I usually have not had that type of fluctuation.

I feel that after six months now of really working hard on my swing, I feel like the swing is where I want it and I can take that final step of trying to score and shoot a number and hit intricate shots and get those little details of flying a ball a couple yards different shorter or longer than I want to and things like that; I think that that's starting to come.

But it's hard to say when it's going to all click. I hope it clicks this week. I don't feel like it's far off but I've been saying that for a while. I don't know how to answer that. But I feel confident with my game, but I also need to start getting the results.

Q. Obviously Muirfield is a place that is beloved to what you did three years ago. What did you make of the decision of the R&A to remove them from the Open rota after they voted to not allow female members? And they are trying to have another vote, but what did you make of that when you heard?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's understandable. It's certainly understandable. And being the last Open winner at Muirfield is not necessarily a bad thing (laughter).

Q. You're good friends with Rickie Fowler. Were you surprised and/or disappointed that he's not coming back to defend his title?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was surprised. So I asked him, and then it made sense. He was required to play Quicken Loans. He's required to play the Canadian Open. It would be five weeks in a row with two or three majors in there, I'm not sure. I guess the U.S. Open would have been in there, five or six weeks in a row, plus going to the Olympics, plus the FedExCup. He needed a week off somewhere. It's unfortunate that the defending champion wasn't able to play but he had other obligations. So when he explained it to me, I understood.

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