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June 18, 2004

Phil Mickelson


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to be joined by Phil Mickelson, Phil rounds of 68 and 66 for a total of 134. Maybe you could start us off with some general comment about your play today.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, with the course not having any wind -- why don't we just open it up to questions.

Q. On the 12th hole it seemed like your ball sort of trickled. Did you think at all back to what happened at Augusta?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I have a little bit deal where I call it being DiMarco'd, and it's a good thing. I gave Triplett the same line, I said, "show me something," and he did. In fact, it was a very similar putt as far as just outside the right edge a few inches.

Q. In looking at the stat sheet, what stat pleases you on there the most at this moment?

PHIL MICKELSON: Minus 6 (laughter).

Q. Can you give us some examples of shots from your round today that were -- (inaudible)?

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought that my approach shot on 18 was a shot I had worked for specifically for Shinnecock because it was a 9-iron shot that I felt if I flew back to the hole, and I could have flown it about five, six yards past the hole if I wanted to, it would have just bounced over the green, but if I landed it two feet short I thought it would stop. So what I did was bring it in a little lower. You saw it landed well short and took a big bounce and got back to the hole, and by just lowering the trajectory a little bit, it allowed the ball to get to a couple of back pins.

Q. The 16th hole let you down a little bit nine years ago. You birdied it today. Did you think, "Hey, I got even a little bit"?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to say. Honestly, I didn't even think about what happened on 16 in the past, I just played it without -- I hadn't reminisced on it during the tournament.

With the pin being front right, I felt really that would be the hardest pin on the hole because there's no room if you're just short, there's no room if you're right; you're in the bunkers. Where the pin was today, it was by far the easiest spot. You could go at the green in two, and if you went long, you were okay. Where I was, pin high in the bunker, was probably the easiest spot other than on green, and I had a pretty easy bunker shot.

The pin I anticipate being more to the right, and it'll be hard, as well, but still, with the shaved area to the right, it just is not anywhere near the shot that it was in '95.

I don't think you'll be getting up-and-down from the right side, but I don't think I'll be making worse than par, either.

Q. You talked about your approach on 18. With the great approach there the crowd went nuts. To have all these people behind you, now that you have The Masters under your belt, is there newfound confidence when you take the course, especially now with all these people behind you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that I certainly have played this tournament with a lot of confidence, and I think that stems from preparation. I think that my preparation heading into Augusta, heading into the U.S. Open, has been different this year, and I feel that when I'm playing tournament rounds, I feel as though I'm not having any surprises. I know that if I hit it over here, I'm okay. If I hit it over here, I don't have a chance, and so forth.

I think that that has given me a lot of confidence playing the course.

Q. (Inaudible) -- not have as many birdies or eagles and bogeys or doubles. Now it's par, par, par, middle of the fairway, middle of the green. Has your game become boring?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes (laughter), but the outcome is okay.

Q. Beyond the extra preparation, how much more relaxed have you found yourself the last two days?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have said in the past that I've always believed that I would have had one major by age 34, and now that I have, I really haven't felt that sense of relief that you're talking about. What I have felt is a sense of excitement and anticipation. I can't wait for the upcoming majors now because I feel like I'm onto something to play well in the big tournaments.

The style of golf needed in major championships is significantly different, I feel, than a regular Tour event, which seems to be more attack, attack, attack, and the majors seem to be something different.

I feel like after winning Augusta, I feel like the preparation I had, the style of shots and so forth I have worked on, seem to be allowing me to play and score well in majors, and now I look forward to and can't wait for them to come.

Q. In the past you sometimes built your momentum on the golf course with a mistake on the greens, and you came back and made birdie on 17. In that circumstance how are you different mechanically, how are you different mentally, or do you think you're not different at all in that circumstance?

PHIL MICKELSON: You're talking about short putts?

Q. Yes.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, everybody is going to miss short putts. Statistics show that. From six feet, the best Tour player only makes 70 percent and still misses three out of ten, and I don't even know if it's that high. Actually I think that's from four or five feet. So I don't worry about if I miss short putts. But I have worked extensively at that this year. I've worked very hard on it.

My own personal statistics from short range has gone up quite a bit, and my confidence level has gone up quite a bit. So although I don't feel I do anything different mechanically, I certainly don't do anything psychologically. Because I worked on them so hard this year and hit so many short putts, I feel very confident with them.

Q. How often have you done the 100 in a row this week, making 100 in a row from three feet?

PHIL MICKELSON: I probably do it -- I average about probably four. I try to do it every day, but I average about four or five days a week, and I think I've done it three days this week. We've only had four or five days this week, so a couple or three times.

Q. Does this place remind you of the British Open?

PHIL MICKELSON: Some parts of it remind me of the British Open, of Shinnecock. But some parts still remind me of U.S. style courses.

Q. What parts are British Open-like?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the look of the first hole as you approach a green where you have the bunker that rolls off to the left, the area up front, that reminds me of a British Open.

But holes like 14, where we hit back up the hill, although I'm sure it looks like a British Open, to me it doesn't feel like it because it's more of a shot you want to fly around over the corner as opposed to chasing one low off the tee, and you want to bring the shot in soft as opposed to hitting a low runner. I don't know, there's just parts that remind me of both.

Q. So it looks like one more than it plays like one?

PHIL MICKELSON: I would say that. That's a good way to put it, yes.

Q. A couple questions about your round. Starting with No. 7, it looked like you were in position where bogey wasn't a half bad score. I was wondering if you could talk about what happened there, and also the stretch between say 5 through 10, it seemed like -- (inaudible).

PHIL MICKELSON: You were talking about the lie on the chip shot on 7 this morning? Yeah, it was not a very good lie, and I knew when I missed that green right there that I didn't have a shot. You're not going to hit the green, although a lot of guys have, without the wind, with it being a little softer. But I kind of went into 7 thinking that I wouldn't hit the green, hit the left bunkers and come back up the hill and make par. I had an awful lie and I was thankful to make 4. I hit what turned out to be what I thought a really good shot out of the rough, bumping it into the hill and ended up 15, 20 feet and made 4. It could have very easily have been worse. So I was very pleased to make bogey there.

As far as 5 through 10, I didn't really think about making a number of short putts, but I certainly made a lot of short putts in the first two rounds, and without wind, it is astronomically easier. With wind, it is so much more difficult because outside of three feet, you start getting into four, five, six feet and the wind moves it a couple of inches, depending on the strength, especially at the speeds that we have now, it could move it quite a bit. They are a lot easier to hold when there's no wind.

Q. I remember Amy telling us after The Masters that everything felt different that week, just the way you guys hung out at the house, and when you left that Sunday morning you guys said, "This is different." Is it the same vibe this week? How is the off-course thing? Is it different? Does it feel sort of like a new majors atmosphere?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's not different anymore. It was different Sunday at Augusta, but now I'm just trying to get the same feeling.

Q. How much did that fantastic reception from the galleries help today, and also when is the last time you felt that support? I know you've always been popular, but whether that's grown even more since your win at The Masters.

PHIL MICKELSON: It's a great feeling to play here in New York. Walking up the 18th hole there at Shinnecock, I can't imagine what a great feeling Corey Pavin had in '95, to have that amphitheater effect and to have that type of ovation, it's a great feeling. I was able to experience that this year at Augusta, and it's awesome, and the people here in New York have given us a wonderful ovation, and it's just been a lot of fun playing in front of everyone.

Q. Talking about the confidence you've gained in preparation, (inaudible) -- before The Masters did you decide that would you take that approach or did you just decide to do that in all the majors this year?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was an idea that both Rick and Dave had to head in early and do some work on the course and map out some strategies, hit some certain shots and so forth, and it worked well at Augusta, so I certainly plan on instilling it in future majors, and I like the way it's been working here at the Open.

Q. After you missed about a 15-footer on 15, you walked off the green and you were sort of laughing to yourself. Were you amused or upset about that putt or -- (inaudible), and also, did you feel that you did leave some shots out there?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I don't feel like I left a lot of shots out there. There were certainly opportunities that I had that I didn't capitalize on, but they were putts -- like on 11, that was a defensive putt. If I was going to get aggressive with that, it was going to go a lot further than the three or four feet by the hole that it did go, and I still thought I made it.

I haven't worried about if I miss a few putts. It's going to happen to everybody, and I've actually made a lot, so I'm very pleased with that.

What was the first part again? Oh, walked off on 15? I don't remember what I was laughing at, but Bones and I had a good time all day. He would say some funny things about jokes or whatever, but you have to kind of laugh off some good breaks with the bad because you're going to have some bad bounces and you're going to have some good bounces. I had an unbelievable break on No. 5 yesterday, the par 5.

In the past, Bones and I have a little ongoing joke where I'll hit a pin with an iron shot throughout the year and it'll come back and it will cost me a shot because it ends up much further away from the hole than it would have. But on that particular shot yesterday, I hit a nice little wedge shot, I thought, took a huge bounce and it nailed the pin, ended up eight feet and I made it for birdie, and if it doesn't hit the pin it goes down the swale and I'm struggling to make -- I most likely would have made 5 and I could have made 6. It was a two-shot swing right there hitting that pin. Although I may have had a couple of bad breaks, that was a tremendous break right there, so I've had some good breaks, too.

Q. Do you think you needed to go through some of the times you went through on the golf course last year to influence you to make some of the changes and approaches you've made, or do you think you have evolved since taking a different approach anyway?

PHIL MICKELSON: That's a good question because I had not thought of it like that, but there's a very good chance that having a year as rough as last year has forced me to sit down, reevaluate things and change things, and had I gone along having so many close opportunities and not capitalized, I may have continued without making the necessary changes.

But having such a tough last year certainly forced me to reevaluate lots of things and wanting to make '04 a special year, and winning at Augusta certainly made the year special and nothing will take away from that. But being able to play well here, having a chance to win and hopefully coming out on top on Sunday, but if not, having that experience of competing for a U.S. Open Championship has continued to make this a wonderful year, and I'm glad I reevaluated certain things, and last year was tough and it seems to be better now.

RAND JERRIS: Thanks, Phil.

End of FastScripts.

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