January 20, 2004
LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Phil, thank you for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thanks.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Happy New Year.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Why don't we begin with a few comments from you for your outlook for 2004.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, first of all, Happy New Year, everyone. I had a wonderful time off the last couple of months. I'm really looking toward to 2004. Really excited about the year. I feel like I'm in for a great year.
Q. How do you feel it's going to be a great year?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, last year was a really difficult year for me. I didn't really get into it too much, but Amy, my wife, had a very dangerous delivery with the birth of Evan. He had a very difficult delivery, too. He didn't breathe for seven minutes, and had the nurses not been there with the equipment ready, the emergency nurses, he might have had some severe brain damage or other circumstances. Instead he's 100% healthy.
Amy was two or three minutes away from losing her, and had the radiologist specialist not been driving to go see a friend and been two minutes away to have an emergency procedure to stop a six-inch tear in a major artery, I would have been without my wife.
It was just a hard year all around, not to mention the fact that I was experimenting around with some mechanical things in my golf swing that turned not to pan out. I am so excited about 2004 because my wife's health is 100%, my son's health is 100%, my two daughters are doing great and I have entrusted my game with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz.
In fact, I was working with Dave this morning, spent a lot of time in the off-season with Rick Smith, and I've put a lot of trust into my trainer, Sean Cochran to get me into a physical state that's ready for the year. I'm very much looking forward to 2004 and I expect a lot of great things.
Q. Given all that, when you have read or heard, as I assume you might have or probably have been people questioning your motivation because of the way things worked out last year, what was your feeling and how much does that play in motivating?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't really -- I have heard a lot of people question my heart, question my motivation. When I did not win in '99, I came back strong in 2000 with four wins.
I think that I still have the same heart, the same desire, same motivation that has led to 21 TOUR wins and I expect it to carry through this year, too.
Q. I don't know with you if you want to get into it or not, but was there a medical term for the issue Amy was having during her pregnancy?
PHIL MICKELSON: She just had a six-inch tear in the artery that supplied the nutrients to her uterus and it was very difficult to stop it from bleeding. Should went through five units of blood shortly thereafter.
Q. Two years ago, this was your first tournament of the year, and you talked about how this was a good place to start because there's a small driving range, it's quiet and stuff like that, and you ended up winning. What is it about starting here that you like particularly?
PHIL MICKELSON: I love starting here at the Hope because it's five days of competitive golf, first of all. It's almost always perfect weather. I have a tough time in windy conditions. In windy conditions, I make accommodations to accommodate for the wind. It gets me into bad habits. We don't have that problem here in Palm Springs. Also, I got off the celebrity rotation and when I did that I have a very quiet environment to get the year started with wonderful practice facilities. Here at PGA West, we have incredible practice facilities to really get our game start, because we always tee off early in the morning, which allows me ample time afterwards to practice on things that I didn't do well during the round.
Q. What was your off-season like? How hard did you work and what specifically did you work on, was there one thing that you focused on more than anything else?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a great two months off. It was tremendous. I spent a lot of time with my family. I worked out six days a week and did not hit a ball. All I did was chip-and-putt. I wanted to get my short game sharp. I wanted to forget all of the bad swing mechanics that I had incorporated in 2003.
And I had Rick come out right around New Year's and we spent four or five days together getting the swing and the mechanics back to where I wanted. So I started off on a fresh note.
And then I've been spending a lot of time with Dave Pelz to help me with my wedge play. As we know, last year I was pathetic from 130 yards in, whereas the previous your years when I was No. 2 in the world, I was one of the best, so I need to get back to being one of the best from that area.
Q. When you talk about working out six days a week, was there a physical conditioning involved, as well, and what kind of a program?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we did a lot. We did a lot of -- we did a lot of things. Right now, the fad or thing we are talking about is a lot of core exercise which is physio ball work. We did a lot of that. We did a lot of medicine ball work which is a lot of the heavy ball, throwing to create speed; as well as those bands, TheraBand, or cords, to create speed and strength, as well. We did a lot of tai kwan do because I enjoy it and it's kind of a reward after the workout. We did a lot of stretching.
There's something that my fitness trainer has keyed into, it's called myofacial tissue release. They are little basic stretches that basically has made my back feel better than it's ever felt. I've been able to get into certain positions and hold them. It should really help accommodate my golf swing. So in general I feel like we covered a variety of areas.
Q. Being the equipment buff that you are, I wanted to get your take on the TOUR's new testing procedures for drivers and whether you think it will have an impact this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the new testing methods will make not one bit of difference because I don't believe there's one individual out here who is dumb enough to use an illegal driver. Nor would any manufacturer want a player to use one because of the bad reputation it could create.
Q. You said are on or off the celebrity rotation this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm off it, I believe.
Q. Do you enjoy that or how do you -- what is it like to play with celebrities, and in this case if you're not, how does it make your week different?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a little difficulty in the early 90s playing in that rotation. I had a few instances occur. So I ended up not coming back for five or six years. And then I got a call from the tournament director at the time who said, listen, every player in the field has the right to opt out of the celebrity rotation; and I did, and that's when I started coming back and really enjoying it. It's just it's very hard to get into good competitive frame of mind. It's just quieter.
Q. This is the first time in this event in half a century that Bob Hope has not been here on site. Can you tell me some of the stories that you felt, either getting close to him, meeting him and playing with him if you did, and what's the feeling now as far as his absence is concerned?
PHIL MICKELSON: Bob Hope has certainly been missed here at this event. I first met him in 1990 when I played in New York. He supported the All-American Foundation which was for college golf All-Americans and had a chance to meet him. I was just really impressed, not so much by what he did in the entertainment world, but by the fact that he really took the responsibility to bring golf up because he enjoyed the game so much.
By associating his name with the event at a time when golf wasn't as popular he really helped bring it to the masses much like Arnold Palmer did when television came along.
I'd like to say something, too, real quick. The reason why we ended up spending some time here today is Amy and I had, as I said, a wonderful off-season. We had some wonderful discussions and one of the things that amazed Amy and I the most in the last couple of years is that despite so many threats that have occurred after 9/11, we have not had one attack here in the United States, knock on wood. And a lot of the security that we feel as Americans is due to what many in the special operations soldiers have done with the war, the war in Iraq with things going on in Afghanistan and so forth, that a lot of American soldiers have lost their lives. Amy and I have never felt more patriotic than we do right now.
So we wanted to do something this year. We wanted to do something that's kind of cool I think, kind of fun. We are going to have a special contribution to the Special Operations Warrior Fund. What we are going to do is donate $100 for every birdie and $500 for every eagle. I'm also hoping that this might help encourage my aggressive play rather than want me to play more conservative.
So we think that this is a fun way for us to do something patriotic, and what it does is all of the soldiers that lost lives this, gives their children a college education. These soldiers are giving their lives so that we have a safe place to live, and I feel as a fellow American, it's my duty to see if I can help take care of their children.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: On that note, Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA TOUR would like to make a few comments.
HENRY HUGHES: Thank you, Joan. On behalf of the Tour, we just want to congratulate Phil and Amy for establishing this fund and contributing these dollars, and we just think it's a wonderful gesture on the Mickelsons' part, but also a continuation of what goes on on the PGA TOUR every week.
I've been fortunate to know Phil and his family since his amateur days, and as you heard him talk a few moments ago, there's no one more devoted to family values than Phil. This gesture today is just further testimony to that statement that besides playing golf at the highest level and being one of our world-class athletes, that the idea of giving back is very important to him.
This is a continuation of, as I said, what happens every week in the PGA TOUR, not only the efforts of our tournaments but the individual athletes who are doing Pro-Ams and raising dollars for worthy causes.
As far as the warrior foundation, you ought to feel pretty confident with this guy on your side because you don't win 21 tournaments and be a leader in birdies and charities every year without making an awful lot of them.
So, Phil, congratulations on this effort. It's going to be tremendous.
To tell us more about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, I'd like to have retired Admiral George Worthington come up. Admiral?
ADMIRAL WORTHINGTON: Happy New Year, all. I'm delighted to be here, and I want to thank the Mickelsons for your gracious support for this Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The foundation began around 1980 at the -- after Desert One left us with so many casualties, and it spread from Air Force to Army Navy, Air Force and the few Marines that are assigned to the special operations commands in Tampa.
What the foundation does is it provides college scholarships for orphans, children left behind for service men who are killed either in combat or in training, and the special ops people, the green berets, the seals and air commandos, lose unfortunately quite a significant number of soldiers, sailors and air men in training accidents.
Right now, we have close to 500 children that we are monitoring. When an orphan occurs, the child is picked up, we track them right through secondary school through high school and let them know their families know that they have a scholarship waiting for them.
Since 9/11, 99 orphans in training and combat accidents, that includes Afghanistan, that includes what's going on in Iraq right now and of course the training that leads up to that. We are so happy to be able to assist these children and we think it's a great foundation, and unfortunately we think still going to require our assistance.
So again, from the Mickelson family, appreciate it and wish you all the best. Someone might say if you miss a birdie, you might have to drop down and do some push-ups for us.
I'd like to introduce now Stephanie Mattos, who's father, Sergeant Major Mattos was killed in a parachute accident in 1991. She's a junior in South Florida and Tampa and she'll welcome you and give you a Happy New Year, too.
STEPHANIE MATTOS: Hello. I am honored and happy to be here to help get the word out about this foundation.
As the Admiral said, I lost my father when I was 13, and it was definitely the worst thing that ever happened to me. For years after that, I was just in a bad -- you know, it's just a very sad time. On the flipside of that, the best thing that ever happened to me was when the Special Operations Warrior Foundation came to me is and said, you know, you lost your father and he was serving our country; and they recognize that and they are paying for everything for me now. They are paying for all my school, all my books, everything that I need is taken care of and that's all because of them.
I'm just really proud to be here and be able to represent the almost 500 children that are in the same shoes that I'm in. And I just hope that everyone out there takes note of this organization, just because it's so -- it's just an amazing, amazing organization with amazing people working for it, and they definitely come to you when you're in a time of need.
If you guys ever want to check it out, it's on the Web site, Specialops.org. That's about it. Thank you.
End of FastScripts.