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January 25, 2004

Phil Mickelson


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Congratulations on winning the 2004 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Championship.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, thank you, Joan. It was an interesting day and it was a fun day.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Your second victory here in Palm Springs. I guess the most important thing and I'm sure you're excited about, is to be back in the winner's circle.

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a long time since I've won a tournament, and to be able to start the year with a win is very exciting for me. It's also very encouraging because I'm starting to see results very quickly.

Q. Now that you've got this win out of the way, how important was it to get this win out of the way early after what you felt like was all of that work over the off-season? Did you want to win necessarily on the West Coast?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I didn't want to force or press the issue. I felt like if I could play well or play better, it would slowly come around. That's why it's, I don't want to say surprising, but it's very, very rewarding to have it happen so quickly.

I love coming to your hometown here. I love starting the year here. It's a beautiful place. We have great courses, great practice facilities and great weather. It really allows you to work on your fundamentals, mechanics and so forth. You don't have winds to deal with and other challenges.

So, this event is a perfect place to start. It means that much more to me that I'm able to win so quickly.

Q. I know we've asked you a lot this week about all of the work you've done and all that, but when you reflect on it now and what you did well this week, what can you pinpoint as far as the work that you did and how it paid off so quickly? What are some specifics?

PHIL MICKELSON: There are the two areas that I noticed the biggest difference. Well, there are really three areas. One, I thought I drove it exceptionally well. I'm going to miss shots, but the back side, I think I drove it very well. When I hit drivers, they didn't just go in the fairway. They were positioned properly. I was very pleased with that.

I was pleased with the distance control of my irons. I felt like I had very few short iron shots that didn't end up close to pin-high.

The other area was putting. I thought I putted exceptionally well all week. That putt in the playoff that was four feet, it was outside the hole, it had some decent break in it. I knocked that in, and it just felt like I had a lot of confidence with the putter all week long. I was very pleased with that.

Q. Talk about your emotions, the way you started the front nine it looked like 59 was in play and then you scuffled a little bit and then you were behind and you birdied 18 twice, just the ebb and flow of the day.

PHIL MICKELSON: I got off to a great start, birdieing five of the first seven and Kirk Triplett was 3-under through four, as was I. It looked like the race was on and it looked like we were going to be dueling it out trying to shoot 7- or 8-under to win.

In the middle of the round there, 9 and 10 is where it seemed to turn. I don't know what happened with Kirk. He missed a very short putt on 10. It's very unlike him and he struggled the whole back nine with his putter after that.

I bogeyed 9 and 10. I had trouble with 13, a par 5, it's normally a birdie hole. We were coming backwards and the guys in front of us were going forwards. I was a shot back with two to go. And Skip made bogey on 17 and all of a sudden I go from well out in front to trailing, being the chaser. I was fortunate just to get in the playoff, I felt.

Q. Knowing that you have to birdie the last hole to get into a playoff, is that an automatic, or is that difficult to hole? What was your feeling about that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I had a -- I only had a stock 4-iron. I didn't have to kill a 4-iron. It was a nice 4-iron into the green. I also knew there was plenty of area around it to chip from. So I wasn't trying to be overly aggressive. I wanted to give myself a good shot at maybe a putt. But I wanted to favor that right side of the green because I knew could I get up-and-down and make 4.

In regulation, I just wanted to get into the playoff. I felt like I was playing well but I didn't have the confidence to fire at that pin because the wind was coming off the water, I would have had to start out over the water a little bit. I didn't feel like I wanted to think about 3 right there. I wanted to get into playoff and go from there.

When I made birdie, I realized that that was a pretty good spot to be over there. And so when Skip went to the left in the playoff, I knew he had a tough chip, I knew could he get up-and-down but it was a tough one. I wanted to put it in the same spot I was at. I was obviously trying to be close to the hole but if I missed it I wanted to be a touch right of the hole.

Q. It was almost the same spot?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was close. What may or may not come up on television, Skip had a chip shot that was going away from him and he had to get it up over the ridge and it was very quick. I was chipping back into the slope and you can see how quickly my ball stopped. It was a much easier chip from the right of the pin.

Q. You say you're surprised to win. You said a couple of years ago that was nice to win early, but this is the fourth time as a pro you've won your first event of the year, what is it about January or the first event that gets your juices going?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I wish I had an answer for you. The only thing I can say is that I just am so excited to start this year, and the years that I have won, I just couldn't wait for the year to get started. Amy and I just counted the days until New Years. We counted the days until this year started. I really enjoyed working, working out, working on my short game, my driver. I really enjoyed those things in the off-season and just couldn't wait to get out and start playing. I was just itching watching those guys play over in Hawaii. I just couldn't wait to get the year started.

That's the only thing that I can think of, the excitement level.

Q. This win obviously puts you in a positive frame of mind, but were you at a negative frame of mind at all last season or was it just, did you have the confidence that it would just turnaround?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, last year my confidence just slowly, slowly dwindled, and so that's why I really don't even want to think about last year. I started the year with a ton of confidence, with a ton of -- I don't even want to say momentum but just the feeling that I could play well. And I just couldn't wait. I was so excited for the year to start. I can't wait to get back to Phoenix next week with our new title sponsor, FBR and all of the people we get out there. I can't wait to play again. This is the most fun I've had in a long time playing golf.

Q. Watching all of the improvements and disciplines you've exerted externally, can you give us an insight into the mental changes you may have made over the last season?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's interesting. I think that being positive and working on having a direction, knowing what I want to do with mechanics, with short game, with putting, as opposed to searching last year, trying to fix things and working out of the negative. I think that's the biggest area mentally is that I'm working from a more positive frame of mind.

Q. Can you talk about, everything you've talked about so far, you've done in the off-season but today you were in contention and you knew that you had a pretty good chance of winning, which you obviously did. Can you talk about being in contention for the first time in a while and what that was like?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's terrific. I can't wait to do it again. I want it next week. I just have so much fun when I'm playing well.

There's a nervousness or excitement. Things starting to quicker. It's just a lot of fun to be in contention.

And having not been there last year, I realize how much I missed it.

Q. Do you have to slow yourself down during the round?

PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely. Back side, you're always trying to slow down. You can feel your heart race a little bit. Your pace seems to pick up a little bit. So you are constantly trying to slow down, yes.

Q. You have waited awhile for your win, 18 months, and Skip is still waiting for his first one. Any thoughts on ending your drought at the expense of him?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well I've had the chance to go head-to-head with Skip a couple of times now, at The INTERNATIONAL in '97, I believe we played in the final group together and we went head-to-head here. I think he's a very solid player who hits the ball longer than people expect, who is very solid with his irons and excellent around the greens.

I know that his day will come. He's been in contention for it too often for it not to. I'm just fortunate that today it wasn't at my expense.


End of FastScripts.

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