July 23, 2003
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We have 2-time defending champion, Phil Mickelson. Thanks for joining us.
If you can talk about coming back to Hartford to play and defend your championship for the third time here, just some opening thoughts.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well thanks, Joel. I love this place. It's been good to me in the last couple of years and has been very good, and this year has been an interesting year without a sponsorship. I think it's very commendable the way the community and the local businesses here have stepped in to keep this tournament going and hopefully will have sponsorship to keep this tournament running for quite some time.
Q. What is it about the golf course you like, obviously you played well the last two years here and had some good battles with Davis and Jonathan Kaye last year?
PHIL MICKELSON: What I love about this golf course is the great risk reward it has, especially on the backside. It's started with the par-5, 13th and on 15th, par-4 is also a hole that you can make eagle, but you also can make double. 13 is the same way, so those are two holes that you can make up some ground, but you could also give ground back. Coming down on the finish with 16 and 17, with the water, it just provides a great finish and it requires great course management by the player to decide how aggressive I want to be.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We will take some questions.
Q. Phil, how do you feel coming over so close to the British Open, how is your physical state right now?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, actually it's not that hard to just stop by. It's right on the way back. Actually it's pretty easy. I think that in the future we will probably try to get a little bit better date because I think we missed some really top players who would like to play here and are just are used to taking the week off after a major.
I was sorry to see that The Open champion withdrew yesterday. But still it should provide a fun stop event.
Q. Phil, you talked in the spring about how your driving wasn't as good as you liked it to be and your wedge game; has it improved, gotten worse since then?
PHIL MICKELSON: I started to drive the ball much better than I have throughout the course of the year. Statistics aren't going to be very accurate at the British Open because of the way the fairways are. But for the most part I feel like I have been driving it much better.
And wedge play will be critical this week. This will be a good test for it because there are a lot of wedges into some of these holes. If I am able to hit driver, and you have to make birdies here. It always takes very low scores to win. You have to make birdies. And last year one of the strengths that I had was that I gave myself a lot of good opportunities because of good wedge play, and I will need to do that again this week.
Q. Do you feel good about coming in here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I do feel good about coming in here. I played well in the past and I feel like I started to play better. So this is a great opportunity for me to get things turned around.
Q. Phil, how much adjustment, coming from a place like last week, where everything is bouncing 90 million yards, how much do you have to regear?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the biggest difference is into the greens as you can imagine, watching balls now comeback, as opposed to going forward quite aways. That does take some adjustment. But for the most part the shots are the same. You just are trying to land a little different. It's actually a lot more rewarding to hit good shots here because the ball does not have to have great bounces to end up where you want it. Here where the ball lands is pretty much where it ends up, so you can see instant feedback, or instant positive feedback if you hit it well.
Q. Phil, I don't know if this is a repeat, but coming back here, the site of your last win, is it nice to come back here, or do you feel more pressure?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't see it as pressure. I see it as a place where I played well in the past and it brings back some very fine memories and it also provides an opportunity to get things turned around for this year as opposed to feeling pressure to try to win a three-peat.
It brings back a lot of fond memories and hopefully will help me play well.
Q. Phil, do you feel pressure to get in the win column this year, or are you staying patient?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't feel like there is pressure to get a win right away. What I feel is I want to get in contention more. I really haven't put myself in contention this year. I want to just start playing better as opposed to worrying about the result. I just want to start playing a little better and put myself in contention more.
Q. There have been a dozen different theories of what is wrong, is there anything that you, Phil Mickelson, can pinpoint, as to why you haven't won a tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: I just haven't played that well. I just haven't played that well.
Q. Reports here that Buick might step up and sponsor the GHO, is there talk among the players?
PHIL MICKELSON: As players we haven't heard who is interested. We know there are some potential sponsors. I think that this provides a very unique opportunity for a sponsorship because of the amazing support the community gives this tournament. We get some of largest galleries. I think top 3 in overall attendance takes place here in Hartford. So to have that type of attendance, that type of recognition and name brand, the consumers up here are very loyal to their products. I think it provides a great opportunity for a sponsor to come in and see rewards from it.
Q. What real difference do you see between the majors and the other tournaments, do you think that it's fair to make that differentiation from the point of view of the golfer's ability?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, it's not for me to say whether or not it is fair or not. Certainly the style of play no, for those championships are different. The U.S. Open is much different than what we see week to week. The British Open is a lot different that what we see week to week. Augusta National is a golf course in itself. One of a kind. Those 3 have separated itself to provide and express a certain part of the game; Augusta with length. The U.S. Open with accuracy and the British Open with bump and run and trajectory control. The PGA is still always a stern test. It's always provides a great challenge but it always varies. Sometimes it's a U.S. Open set up. Sometimes it's a regular TOUR set up. So it seems to vary. But the personalities of each major, I think, are such that it warrants putting them above other tournaments.
Q. Phil, were you at Colonial?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes.
Q. What do you think Suzy has to do from watching Annika, what do you think Suzy needs to do to stay focused in between the ropes?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think this is a fun week. Let's just have fun with it. You know, the people that have qualified -- that have won the qualifying spot that she won, they have always had trouble making the cut. So let's not put any expectations. Let's just enjoy the fact that she did this great feat, qualified for this tournament and let's have her enjoy it. But I don't think that we should worry about how she plays, or what her score is. I think that we should just cherish the fact that she qualified and enjoy the fact that this is a unique circumstance on TOUR.
Q. Have you talked to her, do you plan on talking to her?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't. No, I haven't seen her. Of course I just got here, too.
Q. Anything about coming to a tournament that you already won, obviously twice in the past, that might make you feel that you can kind of have a breakthrough with a victory?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's a course that I always played well on whether I was playing well coming in or not. And here at the TPC I feel like it is a course that is well suited for my game because I like to play aggressively. It has a number of holes that rewards aggressive play. And also the fairways do not bottleneck any certain distance. You are able to hit driver, drivers are encouraged, and so if I drive it well, I typically have a lot of wedges in and I am able to make a lot of birdies. So it's a course that has been suited or fits my game well.
Q. Is it the wetter the better for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think it really matters. I think having it a be a little wetter certainly makes it play longer, I like that. But having it play a little faster makes it play harder, and I look that, too.
Q. Phil, temperature-wise can you recall what is the best temperature you played in and got your best scores?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know the scores often vary with temperature. The higher the temperature, the lower the scores for the most part. When it's colder it's harder to score well. When it's hotter it's a little easier to score well. I don't think about a specific number in relation to what the temperature was, but in the past I probably would have played my best when it is a little warmer.
Q. Phil, being a father now of what, 3 children, how do you manage to balance that with, you know, continuing to play at a high level and could that be maybe a reason that you haven't broken through for a win in a while?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that would be a pretty lame excuse. I played well having a couple of children, and they're actually helping me play better, the fact that they travel with me and that we stay together as a family it allows me to play golf and enjoy what I'm doing as opposed to always wanting to be back home.
So having them out on the road, having a family has really enabled me to play better. I played well the last 3 years since the birth of our first child and as we have had more kids. But it's also made life much more rewarding, much more fulfilling.
And I think that I get more enjoyment out of being with them than I ever would winning tournaments. But I still love to win tournaments and compete.
Q. When you come to New England do you ever go out to dinner in public or anything like that, and if you do, do you get recognized less or more than anywhere else?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really think about it much. I do go out quite a bit. I took my kids to Chucky Cheese, they love Chucky, so we typically scope one of those places out every week because they are at an age where they really enjoy it. But my wife and I we go on dinner dates all the time. We might try to go a little later or a little earlier than the busy times. But for the most part it's fine.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you.
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