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March 4, 2004

Phil Mickelson


JOHN BUSH: We've got Phil Mickelson, 5 under par 67. Thanks for coming by and spending a few minutes with us. If we could get some comments on your round. Nice start to the tournament.

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a good start to the event. It was certainly windy and difficult, but we saw a lot of low scores. I think that the par 5s, 1 played downwind, 10 played downwind, we saw a lot of birdies there, and that seemed to give guys a few shots to par.

Some of the par 4s that were straight downwind, played short and were birdieable. The cross wind holes, very tough to hit the fairway. Into the wind was playing very difficult. 18 certainly was tough. So it wasn't I didn't think, the easiest day. It was one of the windier days that I've seen here.

JOHN BUSH: Take us through your birdies, starting on No. 10.

PHIL MICKELSON: I hit 3 wood, 3 iron just right of the green, about 40 yards from the hole and chipped up to five feet and made it.

I birdied 14. I hit driver and a sand wedge to three feet and made it.

On 15, the par 3, I hit it over the green with a 9 iron and holed the bunker shot, so that put me at 3 under.

I bogeyed 18. It was a heck of a bogey, given that I drove it straight into the water and had to play up for my third and hit a sand wedge to about six feet and made it for bogey.

I birdied No. 1. Hit a driver, left rough, 8 iron 35 feet just on the fringe and 2 putted for birdie.

On No. 2, I hit driver just left and L wedged it to about 30 feet and made it for birdie. So I was 4 under there.

On the 5th hole, I hit a driver and L wedge to about six feet and made that for birdie.

I bogeyed 7. I hit driver, 6 iron to about 45 feet and 3 putted it, missing about a 5 footer for my comeback.

Birdied the next hole with a driver and L wedge to about eight feet and made that.

Q. How far back; you had to drop pretty far back on 18 and probably had 200 something still?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I had 250 or 260 front edge. Tommy Armour hit a good drive in our group and had 220 front and barely got a 3 wood on.

I think if it blows like that again I'll just lay up off the tee with an iron and another iron and play it like a par 5. Even with a par 5, you don't want to hit a second shot in there.

Q. Where were the tees?


Q. Did they move them up some?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they weren't on the edge.

Q. Retief said he thought they moved them up like 15 yards?

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't notice that. I'd have to look.

I love the back tee, don't get me wrong, it's perfect for when we get wind like last year when it's downwind. It makes the hole exciting because the second shot is what's so exciting on the hole. When you add those 30 yards when it's downwind you still have now a shot of 150, 160 yards and it's a tough shot.

But into the wind, I don't think that it's probably the best place to be. But everybody had to play.

Q. Is making a transition from West Coast greens to straight up bermuda a tough thing, or is that something that you have done for so many years that you can just flick the switch and you are right back in the groove?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I grew up on bent and poa annua and it certainly is easier for me to read, given that there is no grain in either of those greens. Bermuda can be more difficult with the grain.

I've had some success, winning Bay Hill and a couple of tournaments on bermuda. Those are events I typically let Bones read the greens. I have not read a putt out here. During a normal round he might read six or eight of them. But he reads all 18 and he'll read from three or four footers here.

He grew up in Columbus, Georgia where Green Island is where they have some of the grainiest greens that we play on TOUR.

Q. You talk about you were 150 yards in, how much is did that play a role in playing well today?

PHIL MICKELSON: It had a big factor because when I had those short wedges in and the holes that I could make birdie, I ultimately did. It was also very important on No. 18 to salvage bogey there. I hit a good shot with a little gap wedge, sand wedge, gap wedge to about six feet.

I didn't drive it as well as I have been, with those cross winds. I had a stretch of four holes in a row that I missed fairways left. I kind of straightened it out there in the end.

If you drive the ball well and get the ball in the fairway, those little half shots that I've been working on can be very effective.

Q. Are you playing more of a cut now off the tee?

PHIL MICKELSON: Majority of the time.

Q. Is that a change?

PHIL MICKELSON: I've been talking all year about how I've been cutting the ball mostly off the tee. I'll try to turn probably 3 or 4 over per round. I tried to turn the 1 over on 18 that went in the water and blocked it. I hit one good drive on 8, the par 5, coming in. That was my 17th. It turned it over. It didn't catch the fairway but it was a good drive. It adds a little bit of length when I hit a draw with it.

Q. Players describe today as windy and somewhat difficult, yet there are a lot of scores in that 5 under, 4 under, 6 under range; how does that mesh with each other?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the par 5s are turning out to be playing so short, the ones that are downwind, like No. 1 and 10, they are playing like par 4s. There are a number of short par 4s that are playing like birdie holes. Number would is a driver and a little flip L wedge:

So is, say, No. 5 and there's a bunch on the back. 14 was playing very short. 16 is playing very short. So those holes give players a great chance at birdie. I think that because the greens are fairly flat without too much movement, if you do happen to hit in the rough and have a long putt at par or a tough up and down, it's not overly difficult to salvage par.

Q. How good of a player is Jim, your caddie?

PHIL MICKELSON: He's about a scratch player.

Q. Have you ever played with him?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, we play together all the time.

Q. Is he neck and neck with you generally, a shot or two when you guys are playing?

PHIL MICKELSON: Ah, no. (Laughter.)

He's a scratch player, I give him six shots. It's a fair bet.

Q. Wasn't meant as an insult. Just trying to figure out how good he is.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, because the numbers, I wouldn't be a scratch player. I'd have to be I'd have to add a few. Yeah, but I give him three a side as a fair bet.

Q. Tim Finchem yesterday was critical of the Tour security staff in not heading off the heckling incident before Davis felt he had to take action. Are you satisfied in general with the security on TOUR and all its different aspects?


Q. You don't have any problem with anything? You don't think the TOUR needs to look at anything?

PHIL MICKELSON: Nothing that if I ever have had a question or something, I've been able to go to them and have it rectified, sure. They have been really good.

JOHN BUSH: Thank you, Phil.

End of FastScripts.

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