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January 24, 2004

Phil Mickelson


TODD BUDNICK: Nice job again today. 5-under 67 today has you at 26-under and at the moment tied for the lead heading into tomorrow.

It looks like you had 33 on the front and just a couple of problems there on the back side today.

PHIL MICKELSON: I shot 3-under on the front and 2-under on the back for 67. It probably could have been a little bit lower, as I'm sure everybody's round could, but I'll certainly take it.

TODD BUDNICK: Thoughts going into tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I haven't been in contention. I obviously have not won a tournament in a while but I have not been in contention to win a tournament into while. I've very pleased to have the opportunity to play in the final group and I hope that I'm able to play well.

Q. Did you think a 67 might keep you in the lead today or were you thinking about a lower number at Bermuda Dunes, given the scoring this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I didn't think that 67 would stay in the lead. I thought it would be around the lead and give myself a good shot at it tomorrow.

With guys having a chance to play Indian Wells and PGA West, I thought that I needed to shoot 7- or 8-under if I wanted to maintain a two-shot lead and it seemed to be about right. But it's not a bad position.

Q. Kenny Perry was talking about how you worked on your short game during the off-season. Do you think that's been one of the keys so far?

PHIL MICKELSON: I do think it's been an important part of playing well. I've noticed that my iron play has been much, much better. I'm certainly pleased with the way that that has come around.

Q. You're leading by two going into today, you have a good round and yet you probably or may not be leading after two. Any level of frustration at all when you play as well as you have after four days but you may not be ahead?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that everybody is in the same boat. There are a lot of guys that have played well that are at 22-under and they find themselves four shots back. So I'm certainly okay with being where I'm at.

But I think that the biggest thing for me is not whether I'm two or three shots ahead or two or three shots behind. It's that I have a great opportunity to compete for a championship tomorrow, which is something I have not been able to do in a while.

Q. You mentioned not having been in contention in a while. Being in contention, is that kind of like muscle memory, you can kind of revert to it and draw from past experiences?

PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. The more you're in contention, the more comfortable you feel in those surroundings or in that situation. But the less you are in contention, the harder it seems to be to break through for the first time.

I'm hoping that maybe the experience that I had in 2002 will help out and give me some positive momentum for tomorrow.

TODD BUDNICK: If you can just go through the birdies, please, starting on 2.

PHIL MICKELSON: 2, I hit driver, 9-iron to 40 feet and made a 40-footer which was nice.

I birdied the 5th hole, which was a short par 4. I hit driver, 8-iron to three feet and made that for birdie.

I birdied the par 5 eighth hole. I hit driver, 4-iron to 30 feet and 2-putted.

Then on the 10th hole, I made bogey. I drove it in the water there on the right. Hit an 8-iron to 20 feet and 2-putted for bogey.

I birdied the next hole. I hit a driver and a 60-yard L-wedge to four feet and made that for birdie.

And I birdied the par, 13. I hit driver, 4-wood to pin-high right about ten yards and got up-and-down and hit it to a foot.

I birdied the following hole. I hit driver, L-wedge to 15 feet and made birdie.

I bogeyed 16. I hit a nice drive in the fairway and I blocked a 9-iron into the bunker. Hit a poor bunker shot short of the green and chipped up to a couple feet and made that for bogey.

On 17, I hit one of the best shots I've hit all week. I hit a 4-iron to about four feet and made that for birdie. Unfortunately I didn't birdie the last.

So, that was 5-under.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you very much, Phil, and hopefully we'll see you tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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