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May 15, 2003

Phil Mickelson


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Phil Mickelson for joining us, 5-under 65 today. You got off to a good start on the front, Phil, let's talk about the Cottonwood course this year. Jeff Sluman mentioned it played different.

PHIL MICKELSON: What did he say, how different, how so?

TODD BUDNICK: The rough was up more.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the Cottonwood course has been lengthened in the past few years. The fairway is very tight and the rough is up. It's no pushover, but if you play well and drive it well off the tee you can actually get some good wedges into the tees and make some good birdies. There are only 2 par 5's, I don't want to say give me birdie holes, because they're not. Really easy birdies. The rest you have to hit good shots and make some good putts.

Although it takes good play to shoot -- you don't have to play to well to shoot one or 2-under. It's very difficult to shoot 6 or 7-under.

TODD BUDNICK: Questions?

Q. Phil, how has the year gone with the layoff there and having a new child, how has it gone?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been fine. It's been a fine adjustment for us. We have had an exciting time with the birth of our third child. And Amy and the baby are doing great and should hopefully be able to started traveling again which will put my schedule back to more of a normal way that I like to do it which is playing three or four weeks in a row and taking two or three weeks off. Right now I have been playing two weeks, taking one week off and flying home in between and it's just different than what I am used to.

Q. How will that effect your preparation for the Open, Phil?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it really wouldn't. I always play a week before the open, and I will be playing Capitol, and they will be traveling with me, hopefully that will be the first week they can travel. It won't be any different. I will prepare the way I normally do, play the week before and play maybe one practice round the week of The Open.

Q. Do you change your approach from one course to another when you go to play TPC tomorrow, obviously it's a different course?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's a different course but they are very similar. They are very similar styles of golf. The fairways are the same width, the greens are the same grass, the same contouring, and they play very, very similar. The TPC course is just a couple of hundred yards longer, I think. But you can score everybody bit as low at TPC as you can at Cottonwood, but you just have to do it with an eight or 9-iron instead of a sand wedge. My approach won't be any different when I play TPC tomorrow. It will be that if I can drive the ball somewhat in play, I'll have a lot of short irons that I will be able to attack and make some birdies and try to make pars to other holes because there again you only have two par-5s, so you don't have that many birdie holes to where you can 2 putt or get up and down for birdie. You have to hit good shots, good short irons, good wedges if you expect to make birdies on both courses.

Q. Phil, why only one practice round?

PHIL MICKELSON: I just play one practice round at majors. It's just something that I do. I have a hard time with practice rounds at majors. They seem to be 6, 6 and a half hour rounds, and I find that I don't get as much done. If I want to play extra I will go there before, weeks before.

Q. How do you basically feel about the state of your game at this point of the year because it hasn't been a normal year for you?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it depends how you look at it. I am not thrilled with the way I have played this year. There are 2 areas that I have not put in the time practicing as I have tried to improve a couple of other areas. Those 2 areas really hurt. Driving the golf ball, I have given it must worse than I have as far as accuracy. And my wedge play, I have not put the time into my wedge play. And that is an area that if I let slide falls off very quickly.

On the outside you won't be able to see much difference but there is a big difference between a 3 or 4 foot putt and an eight or 9 foot putt, especially if you do the numbers of statistics on the odds of those balls going in, and it carries over to my 150 yard shots as well. The odds of making a 12 foot putt isn't as good as making a 7 or 8 foot putt. So the fine tuning on the short irons is something that I'm trying to readdress and spend more time on now that I feel I have kind of strengthened a couple of areas that I have been wanting to get better at.

Q. Have you had to modify your short term expectations this year because of the schedule you had?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really I haven't modified anything. I just think that the year is still young, still early. We are just now getting into the heart of the season. This is really where the preparation begins for the final 3 majors, for the 75 percent of the major championships this year. And I thought that I played well at Augusta.

So even though I didn't win, I felt I played well and that to me was very encouraging.

Q. Why haven't you practiced as much on driving wedge play as usual?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have been spending time elsewhere and I just haven't spent the time working on it properly. You can't just go out to the driving range and hit wedges. That doesn't do it. When I get really fine tuned on the wedges I go out to the test center, and I got laser yardages to the pins at different angles because of wind, right-to-left, left-to-right, in, down. And I've got to fly the ball each shot. I have got feedback as to within a yard. Well, actually within inches, but how far each ball flew, how much it spun, where it ended up and so forth.

When I am sharp I am able to use 3 different clubs to hit the ball to the same pin. One is going to release forward. One is going to hit and stop. And one is going to hit past and back up. And I have just been hitting wedges on the range which doesn't give me the distance control that I need.

Q. Phil, you talked about only playing one practice round at majors now, is this a recent decision?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I have been doing that a lot time. Everybody has their own little deal. Tiger goes out at 6:30. A lot of guys go in Saturday, Sunday, the week before. I just like to play. I like to play one practice round that way Thursday, I'm fresh and not worn out.

Q. At Augusta where you know it?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's much easier at Augusta.

Q. Olympia, you haven't seen it, are you comfortable knowing that you know everything that you need to know about a golf course that you haven't seen before?

PHIL MICKELSON: For the most part, yes. The yardages don't change. The wind, you have to identify that anyways. It's not like it's the same wind every day. The greens are the only area that you could use a little bit more time. Again, I would rather be refreshed and ready to play than over prepared and knowing the course so well but being mentally drained or stale.

Q. How good of a driving round was it today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Average. It was average. But average is better than I have the last couple of weeks out on TOUR. I finished the middle of the pack making the cut in Houston and New Orleans and drove it poorly in both tournaments. And today was no different, only my misses were not as bad off the fairway and I hit a number of fairways. The holes I birdied, those were basically from the fairway.

Q. Phil, you made an interesting prediction early in the year when you said Annika may finish 20th in Colonial, a few months later what are your thoughts now?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. I still think it's a perfect course for her. I still think that her game will -- her patience that she exercises will allow her to play well and make the cut. Guy Yokum pointed out an interesting point. I'm not sure how I feel. He pointed out that in the U.S. Open when the women's Open was played at Colonial, 1-under par won at a par 71. So that meant that 3 over would have been the winning score. And then you have to take on another 630 yards, I think, from what they played. It was something like that. And that made me doubt it a little bit. But on the other hand, I don't think Annika played in that U.S. Open, and I think that we have had some astronomical leaps in equipment that have made all players better and I think she makes the cut. I'm obviously in the minority. A lot of people are saying she won't, but I think she will. The course couldn't be set up better for her. The holes dog-leg at 260, 270. Most guys have to hit two or three irons, she will be able to hit whatever club she needs to. It will be like 18 par-3s. I don't think the length will be as big a factor as people think.

Q. Have you been surprised to hear some of the recent criticism of her playing? Do you think that's prevalent?

PHIL MICKELSON: I was surprised actually. I didn't realize that that was the case.

Q. Why do you think there has been so much dissent?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know.

TODD BUDNICK: Go through your card, Phil.


Q. I didn't know if you heard, Michelle playing a Nationwide event?

PHIL MICKELSON: I heard today.

Q. Do you feel some time in the future, 10, 15,20 years from now a woman could possibly compete out here?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, absolutely. My opinions have always been different. I have always had different opinions than just the main stream. I like to think that I have independent thoughts but the PGA TOUR in my mind has never been the men's PGA TOUR. It has been the TOUR of the best players in the world regardless of race, and regardless of gender. And if there is a female that is good enough to compete out here, I've got no problem with her doing it. I think she should do it. There is a lot more money out here than there is on the LPGA and I think if she wants to do really well she should come out and play.

So my thought process is apparently in the minority again, but I have a hard time understanding the other side of it.

Q. Have you ever seen her play?


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