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September 23, 2016

Phil Mickelson

Atlanta, Georgia

Q. [ No microphone] on the drive?
PHIL MICKELSON: I drove it a lot better today. I actually should have a good weekend because I've been experimenting a little bit these first few days or this past week. So today went much, much better. Even though the numbers don't warrant it, all my misses were within a yard or two of the fairway. But you just can't play this course like that.

Q. Were you experimenting because you weren't happy with where it was at coming in here?
PHIL MICKELSON: This year I've been using a driver that's an inch and a half shorter, and when I went to Hazeltine and saw how long of a golf course it was, I went to a longer driver again. So I hit this driver 18, 20 yards longer. That's a significant difference. I carry it a lot farther, and I think it's going to be an advantage at Hazeltine if I drive it well, but I needed to get some play with it. I can't just show up and expect to drive it.

Yesterday was a different one. Today was the one I'm going to end up going with. I drove it great on the back nine. I hit cuts like I did in 2004, when I drove it well, and they were soft cuts. I was able to swing it to the target, and the ball went there. It was great.

So I expect this weekend I'll drive it well. I think I'm going to play well because the other holes, everything is fine with my game. It's just you can't play -- this is the hardest rough I've played in in many years, not just here, but anywhere.

Q. You're not concerned at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not now. I was concerned yesterday. Yeah, I was concerned yesterday. But after the last nine, ten holes, I feel a lot better with it. I think I'll be fine.

Q. Wednesday you were grinding pretty hard. Is that what you were trying to figure out?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. I was experimenting -- exactly. I had three different ones. I was trying to get the right settings. I settled on two, and yesterday the first one didn't work out and this one did.

Q. You've had this one in play in years past, like a shaft?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've used it my whole career until this year. So I sacrificed a lot of distance here in an effort to get the ball in the fairway. I drove it a little bit straighter, but I needed the length, and I've picked that back up. And I'm starting to, after today, feel pretty good with it. I hit a lot of good drives.

The stats don't always say yesterday the misses were huge. Today the misses were miniscule. On a normal length fairway, I probably would have hit 10, 11 fairways. But these things are tight, they're tilted, and they're very difficult to hit.

Q. Can you expand a little bit on why it is so difficult?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they're narrow. They're tilted so the ball -- you might hit the fairway, but it seems to bounce off.

Q. I meant the whole course.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the rough is the hardest rough we've played in years. But the bunkers are difficult. If you play perfect golf, like you hit the fairway, you hit the green, it's in pristine shape, you can shoot low scores, reasonable scores, but you can't play -- you can't miss it here. There's no recovery.

Q. It must be a good move that you're feeling about having gone to Hazeltine because you wouldn't have wanted to be working this out Monday and Tuesday obviously.
PHIL MICKELSON: Exactly right. That's why playing a practice round is so critical because you realize what your course setup, your bag setup, your club setup needs to be. You work on the shots you've been hitting, you need to hit. You have time to prepare for those -- for that. Had I not gone and seen it, I'd be showing up there on Monday or Tuesday with a short driver panicking like I need that extra 20 yards. So it was a good thing.

Q. It seems like a dilemma, though, if you don't mind, trying to work out a driver for the Ryder Cup. This is a pretty important tournament too. How do you justify to work that through?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've won two Tour championships, and I've only been a part of two winning Ryder Cups. I'd like to be a part of a third. So I'd rather -- not to diminish this, but I'd rather win next week. I think that's a little bit -- for me, at this stage in my career, it means a little more to me.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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