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June 11, 2004

Phil Mickelson


Q. Feelings on the round?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I shot 3-under par, and the course with the way the wind was playing I don't want to say easy, but you could make a lot of birdies, so there was a good chance for me to get a 6- or 7-under par round but I made a couple bogeys starting off so it was a good comeback to get back to 3-under.

Q. How many drivers are you hitting out there?

PHIL MICKELSON: A decent amount. I hit driver or 3-wood every hole it seems like. It just depends what feels more comfortable.

Q. How did you find the pins today?

PHIL MICKELSON: There were a couple that were accessible, I thought, and then there were a lot that were tough. But for the most part, you know, it doesn't matter where they put them, everybody has got to play them.

Q. What's the atmosphere out there?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a very fun tournament. This is a great golf course, it's got a great historical feel to it, and the people here are very sports knowledgeable and it's very fun to play in front of everyone here.

Q. Do you feel like 5-under at least at this point is at least in the hunt there where you want to be?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think 5-under is within striking distance. It's certainly trailing by more than I would like, but with 36 holes, if I can get a good round -- to win a golf tournament you've got to be one of the four rounds at 6, 7, 8-under par, so that's what I'll be fighting for tomorrow to see if I can get it because it'll be a lot more difficult on Sunday.

Q. You're a guy who appreciates sports. Is it fun for you to play in front of New York sports fans? You've mentioned that a few times.

PHIL MICKELSON: It is fun. I'm looking forward to going to the Yankee game. Unfortunately they're playing my Padres, which obviously living in San Diego we obviously support as a family.

But I love going to the Yankee park and watching the Yankees play. There's no better feeling than the atmosphere that the fans give baseball here. With the pennant race going on with Boston being close; it's been fun.

Q. Did the course play any different today than it did yesterday?

PHIL MICKELSON: The course really didn't play any different than yesterday. I felt the greens were fairly receptive on a lot of holes. It played about the same.

Q. Did you play any differently?

PHIL MICKELSON: I played about the same.

It was about the same round.

Q. Even though the courses are very different is there anything you will take out of this week for next week; maybe greens or...

PHIL MICKELSON: I think the biggest thing to take out this week is the greens are so similar to Shinnecock, the course management is similar that you have to attack certain pin placements on certain holes and you've got to play to the center and make par on others. Number 1 is a perfect example; yesterday you could get to that pin for birdie and today you really couldn't. So just hit the middle of the green, make your par and try to birdie 2 which was an accessible pin today; yesterday it wasn't. So just the opposite.

Q. So less from a course look and more from the greens and managing?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think the course management will be similar to Shinnecock and what we'll see there. There are a lot of pins at Shinnecock you can't get near and then ones you can attack.

Q. When you took stock of things in the off season, how much faith did you put in Rick Smith and Dave Pelz and how instrumental have they been in what you've been able to do?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Rick Smith and Dave Pelz have been very instrumental in the success that I've had this year because they've given me the proper direction in my practice. Last year I practiced very hard but it was on the wrong things and I never got any better and my scores reflected it. This year the things that I've been working on, the direction that I've been given has been directly affecting my scores, as well. They've been getting lower and my game has been getting better, and overall I've been playing better.

Q. When you went into Augusta before The Masters and then Shinnecock this past week, they were with you, right?

PHIL MICKELSON: They were, yes. It was a little bit different preparation for Augusta bringing Rick and Dave in and spending some time with them at Augusta and picking their brain on seeing what they thought on certain holes, certain shots, and it was successful at Augusta, so I had them come and do it again at Shinnecock.

Q. Does it help just to have another set of eyes sometimes?

PHIL MICKELSON: Just another set of ideas.

Q. Is your game where you want it to be heading into next week?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to tell, but it's pretty close. I hadn't played the last couple of weeks so I thought that I might be a little rustier starting off this tournament, but I feel like I've had pretty good control over most of my shots, and had a fairly easy 5-under. I didn't really feel like I was struggling on a lot of holes, I just didn't make quite as many birdies as I'd like.

Q. Are you spending a fair amount of time working on your trajectory?

PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely, trajectory is critical, absolutely.

Q. Is that something you've struggled with in the past or do you feel like you have pretty good control?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel I struggled with it in the past but I haven't been as effective probably as I am now with it.

Q. You've always kind of been tentative at a British Open with all the wind and everything.

PHIL MICKELSON: But this isn't a British; we're at Shinnecock.

Q. Well, I know that, but we're in that kind of wind.

PHIL MICKELSON: It's not similar, no. We face wind on a regular basis out on Tour, and Shinnecock is nothing like a British Open course in my opinion, even though it may have the same look. The fairways are soft, the greens are soft. The British Open you can't fly a 6-iron on the green and expect it to hold. You can certainly fly a 6-iron on at Shinnecock and get it to stop.

Q. With the way they have the greens shaved back in the chipping area at Shinnecock, do you think short game will be very important there?

PHIL MICKELSON: Very important, absolutely. Most of the balls are running through to the first cut, so you'll be chipping out of the first cut. They very rarely are staying in the fairway, but I think that you'll have at least a very good shot at getting it up-and-down if you put it in the right spot.

Q. Is that an advantage for someone like yourself who has those shots?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'd like to think so because it certainly helped me at Pinehurst. One of the few times that we've had short game instilled in the U.S. Open. Most of the time the rough is so thick that it's a guessing game out of there, but I think this year like Pinehurst, short game will be very effective.

The thing is, though, it's a lot harder, too, now that the ball is being pulled 15, 20 yards away from the hole. That's a lot more difficult shot than if you were right off the edge.

Q. Are all the greens like that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, they are.

Q. So all 18 are like they were at Pinehurst?

PHIL MICKELSON: All of them, yes.

Q. Will you use putter like you did at Augusta?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, Augusta is a unique feel. When they mow it, they mow away from the green, so when you chip it catches the grain and just grabs it, and then if you try to skip one in there, it doesn't stop. But here they mow normal. So you can chip and hit those -- I'll hit a bump and run with an L-wedge, land it short and have a little spin.

Q. But you wouldn't do as many flops out of those tight lies, though?

PHIL MICKELSON: Certainly if I put myself in the wrong spot, but there's always a spot or two on each hole for each pin that you don't need to hit a flop shot, and I'll be trying to find those spots.

Q. How much in these last two days has Shinnecock been in your mind as opposed to just winning the tournament?

PHIL MICKELSON: I go over my notes every night to make sure what I want to do and my game plan for the course. Not much; 10, 15 minutes, but I spend a little time remembering it, sure.

Q. When you've been out there these past two days you've been thinking about winning this?

PHIL MICKELSON: Sure. I want to get in contention and have a shot at it, sure.

Q. You physically are taking -- Bones and the yardage book, taking notes when you were out playing Shinnecock, or stuff beyond making marks in the yardage books?

PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean, taking down yardages? They already have all that.

Q. When you say you're taking notes, what kind of stuff --

PHIL MICKELSON: What kind of notes are you writing there (laughter)? Same thing.

Q. The USGA is making more of an effort to set up the course where it tests everybody's game, not just --

PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. I think Tom Meeks is really excited about this year's Open for good reason. I think it's one of the best setups that we've had, one of the best that I've seen. I thought Pinehurst was the best. I think this is the equivalent.

Q. In '95 they had some chipping areas, though, in '95, didn't they? It wasn't all rough around the greens?

PHIL MICKELSON: Can you name a hole besides short of the green that it was mowed down? I can't, either. It was tough everywhere if I remember right.

End of FastScripts.

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