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March 27, 2004

Phil Mickelson


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Phil, for joining us for a few minutes. Interesting day out there of golf. The course was set up pretty tough. The conditions were tough. Talk about your round today and then we'll go into questions.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I shot 2-under. I had some birdies, had some birdies, had some bogeys, had some high points, had some low points. It was just a good day. I don't really know what to say about it.

Q. Three strokes doesn't feel like a whole lot. You've got to like where you are, especially with 2-under today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I feel like I'm playing well, and it's been a fun year, where I feel like I've played well consistently throughout the course of four days. My scores have been very consistent this week, 2-under, 3-under, 2-under, and I feel like I've been able to get the ball in play okay. And I feel pretty confident that I can play a solid round tomorrow. I don't know what exactly it will take or how many under I have to shoot, but I feel like I'll put myself in a position at some point in the round to get it going.

Q. On 18, Phil, you were talking to Bones back and forth a little bit about what to do on the second shot. We could hear on the audio that he was trying to talk you into laying up a little bit there.

PHIL MICKELSON: I love how TV does that. Isn't that great (laughter)? So I get to come back and answer to that.

Q. Is that an illustration of how you're managing the game a little bit more now than maybe you were prior?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's interesting because a lot of the shots that I'll try are based on the lie out of the rough. For instance, I was in the rough yesterday on 11 and it looked like I would just hack out a wedge and try to lay up. Instead it was a good enough lie to take a 4-wood and play to the left fairway and make a birdie and could probably have flown it on the green.

The shot that I had today was a marginal lie. I thought it was good enough to get an 8-iron and run it on. The problem was the course is set up differently this year than it's ever been. Yesterday I hit a drive that landed in the fairway and bounced into the water. They shaved all the rough and first cut of rough along the left edge. If I tried to run a shot up, there was a good chance it ran into the water. Bones was telling me the rough in those mounds is the worst at any point on the course.

So I was going to attempt the shot, but as I got over it, that was when I could tell it wasn't going to come off. So I made the decision to give myself a wedge, and a lot of it has to do with, to be honest, the fact that I feel so much more confident with my wedges, because I've been working from that area. Last year I felt like I needed to get it up on the green to get it up-and-down.

Q. Does that make you feel good where you could execute it, where a year or two you would bang it up with an 8-iron or whatever?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, again the biggest difference is my confidence level from that yardage point, from 120 yards in. I feel like I'm going to give myself a 6-footer, it should have been, if the greens were more receptive. Making that putt was a big boost, because now I look back on it and I say now I can lay back and still make par. If the putt doesn't go in, I say I should have tried to knock it in.

Q. How long was it?

PHIL MICKELSON: Maybe 12 or 15.

Q. I know this is not classified as a major, but could you talk about what it would mean to you if things work out for you tomorrow and you were to win this tournament?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, there are at least 1.4 very important things (laughter). I think that there is a certain feel amongst the players of the prestige of this tournament, and you feel it when you're in the locker rooms. You see guys who have won and their clubs and their plaques up on the wall. From a player's point of view, this is as prestigious as any of the four majors amongst our peers, and that's why it's so important.

Q. Can you talk about your round, where you'd get a bogey and you put it behind you and kind of moved on and worked off of that and were able to build off of that?

PHIL MICKELSON: It seemed when I had a bogey I was able to follow it up fairly quickly with a birdie. And that was -- that made it much easier to stay patient throughout the round.

When I put myself in a situation on 10 where I wasn't going to be able to make par where I was at, I accepted bogey and had a good chance at birdie on the next hole and got a little bonus by making eagle. So it seemed like I was able to get the shots back when I lost them.

Q. We saw some very low scoring early, Tiger for one, Craig Parry, nothing late. You're 2-under stands --

PHIL MICKELSON: It's a whole different course.

Q. I asked Henry, they said they probably put a little water on it, it was turning a little brown. Where are we going into Sunday?

PHIL MICKELSON: In the morning, I came out early, I don't want to say they were receptive, but much more receptive than what the leaders saw. The wind was nonexistent early, but it picked up in the round. That gives everybody who made the cut an opportunity to compete for the championship, like Craig Parry and Tiger and so forth, and it was a different course.

Q. What can you tell us about Adam Scott's game and personality?

PHIL MICKELSON: I've always liked him. He's just a classy kid. I shouldn't say kid; he's a classy individual.

Q. 23?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, but he's a classy individual. He's a great player, solid fundamentals. And I think the people around him have seen his talent level sooner than I think he even knew himself because we have been talking amongst players for a number of years now about what a talent this guy is and how good he's going to be, and to have his first win on Tour be only last year was a surprise to everyone. And I think we're going to start seeing him contend week in and week out in the biggest tournaments.

Q. I don't want to make too much of this, but it seems when you talk about accepting bogey, realizing that that's the best you can do in the situation you're in, you seem like you're a swashbuckler out there. Is this part of an evolutionary process or are we making too much of it?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the conditions here just don't allow me to try shots. I would love to try salvage pars or what have you, but I just don't have a shot that I can get close to some of these pin placements with the conditions. So it's not as though I really have a choice. I can't stand accepting bogeys, it's very tough to do, but when there are no other alternatives, it's much better than the other alternative of double.

So I don't know if I would say evolutionary or what have you, but I think my confidence level in my ability to make birdies and get the shots back now is much greater to where I don't mind giving a shot or two up if I make a mistake throughout the round.

Q. What do you think about tomorrow's hole locations, and what do you expect from the greens generally tomorrow in terms of speed?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've had a chance to play a number of final rounds here, and I expect the greens to be brick hard and when the wind picks up, just to say difficult is hard to explain, but with the greens being so firm and small they're just very difficult to hit. When the wind picks up you cannot hit a low shot in the wind to get the ball to stop on the green because it bounces over, so you have to hit a shot throwing it up in the wind and hope you judge it correctly. It's going to be a tough test because the pins will be tough and it will be hard to make birdies.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies and bogeys.

PHIL MICKELSON: I bogeyed 1, I hit driver and L-wedge to the front fringe and three-putted from off the edge. Technically it's a two-putt, but three-putted.

I birdied 3, hit a 9-iron to about 18 feet.

I bogeyed 6. I pulled a 3-iron in the rough, had a horrible lie and knocked it down close to the green, wedged just over and two-putted from 30 feet.

Birdied 7, hit a driver and wedge two feet.

Bogeyed 10, hit driver in the right rough, hit a wedge to the left rough, chipped on 40 feet and two-putted.

Hit a driver and a 6-iron on 11 about 40 feet and made it for eagle.

I bogeyed 13. I hit a 7-iron, pin-high just off the green and chipped up about seven feet and missed it.

I birdied 15. I hit a driver in the left rough, but I got lucky it was in the pine needles, hit a 6-iron about 12 feet and made it.

16, I drove it in the right rough. I hit an 8-iron down there just short of the green, chipped up to five feet and made it.

Q. Are you feeling okay? Your voice sounds kind of funny.

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm just losing my voice. And I feel fine, I just -- I don't know what it is.

Q. Coming through the stadium at 17, you got clearly the loudest ovation. How does that make you feel? Is that important that the fans are behind you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think everybody felt the ovation. It's a cool walk up 17. There are so many people there, it's just got a great feel to it. And it's such an exciting hole that it makes the walk much more enjoyable, once you're on the dry land. But the people have made everybody feel very welcome here. The community has just been wonderful to all the players here.

End of FastScripts.

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