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February 12, 2003

Phil Mickelson


Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. You were right, and I was surprised, too, but it was an area that I just never should have gone. So I certainly, as you read, it did not mean anything mean or malicious by it, or I was not trying to make a derogatory statement towards anybody, but I still should not have gone in that area.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, it certainly was not meant to be a slap by any means. It was just not a well thought out statement and an area that I just shouldn't have gone.

Q. Have you spoken to Tiger about it?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've called him a few times and we'll talk. I'd like to keep that between us. I believe he would probably say the same, but I'll leave that up to him.

Q. Were you surprised at the reaction that Nike had?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I was just surprised at the reaction overall. But again, when I started to look from their point of view, I wasn't surprised at their reaction and I don't blame them for doing something with what I said and it was fine.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it certainly has taken a lot of my thought process, sure, but I I'd like to think or try to think that when I'm on the course, I need to let that stuff go. I did not play well last week. But even the first two weeks, I did finish in the Top-10, I did not feel I played that well.

Consequently, Rick Smith is coming to town these last few days and we spent some time working on it, to see if I could get it ironed out and it seems to be coming around.

But the start of the year, I've noticed that my swing has not been in sync timing-wise, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that -- actually yesterday, when I was at the test center, I did a test, a biomechanical test, and noticed that my swing speed, my core, was moving much faster than it had been last year, which is what I had suspected. So I've got to work on my timing.

I think that some of the off-season workout has sped up my body motion and I've got to correlate it now with the clubhead a little bit better than I did the first few tournaments this year.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it just seems to have crossed over a line where it has been offensive to a lot of people, which certainly was not my intent and not something I want to do, and an area that I don't want to explore again.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it had nothing to do with Tiger. As the statement said, he was clearly the exception. So it had nothing to do with our head-to-head competition or anything like that.

But again, it's an area that I shouldn't have gone then and I don't really want to go now.

Q. Why is this tournament something that you always try to win?

PHIL MICKELSON: This is a tournament that means a lot to me, because growing up from here, I was on the outside of the ropes looking in and dreamed of being a TOUR player. Whenever I play here, I always feel as though I am a 16-year-old kid looking from the outside in, wanting to be doing what I am. It gives me a great feeling that I'm realizing those dreams of playing the TOUR.

Q. Have you talked to Tiger about this or will you talk to him?

PHIL MICKELSON: I've called him a few times and we will hopefully hook up in person. Other than that, it's been just through the phones, messages.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: We have lost all of our home course advantage. The greens are brand new, every one of them. They don't break the same. We have lost all of the knowledge we have gained on some of the tricky putts that break opposite of the way it looks.

I think that the course will evolve over the next few years. I think it's a wonderful course that will hold a U.S. Open very well. I think there will be some subtleties that will slowly evolve over time that all golf courses have. I don't think it will be as extensive as Augusta National where they change it every year.

I think you'll see some softer chipping areas on holes 3 and 4, as opposed to having the ball go directly in the canyon. Also, I think that will happen on 14. There are just some areas that are a little abrupt, and that I think that as the course -- or the people see how it plays, it will just be softened a little bit around the edges, but I love it.

Q. What do you think of Annika Sorenstam playing in a PGA TOUR event?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's great. Now, I heard they are adding tees, 20, 30 yards back on every hole which I don't think they should -- I'm just kidding. (Laughter.)

I think it's great. I'm curious as anybody to see how the best LPGA player of today, and possibly of all time, will play against the men. And I think that Colonial is a wonderful course for her to do it on because the holes have a lot of dog-legs where players, a lot of the men have to hit irons, and we might be able to hit from the same spot as Annika, or she might be able to hit from the same spot as us into the greens. I think it will be interesting to see how she plays there.

Q. Will you play the Colonial?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I've always played in the past. I anticipate playing again, but I don't know what will come up after March, after the Masters, with the birth of our third child. I'm not sure how things will go with that. But as far as I know, I plan on it. I really enjoy the tournament.

Q. How many players see Annika playing as taking a spot away from them --

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think anybody sees it as she's taking a spot. I think we all feel like we have plenty of opportunity to get into tournaments. Although Colonial is an Invitational, there are only 70 exempt from last year's money list. We feel there's plenty of opportunity to play well if you get a spot. This is great for the tournament. I think it could be very good for the LPGA because I anticipate her playing well.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I would not call it pressure. There will be ribs a little bit, but I don't think it will be pressure.

She's the greatest player on the LPGA TOUR. It's not like she's a slouch. She's one of the best ball-strikers in the game today, and putters. I don't see it as being derogatory to finish behind her at all.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I think she will definitely make the cut. I think she'll finish around 20th would be my guess.

Q. How will you do?

PHIL MICKELSON: How did I do at Colonial? I hope 19th or better, but I don't know. (Laughter.)

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't think that she's going to have that much of a length disadvantage there. Maybe the par 5s, but there's only two of them, which plays to her advantage.

And also, because the holes dog-leg, we could go through just about every one, most TOUR players hit a 2-iron, 3-wood off the tee, which will be where her driver is. So she'll just hit driver and come in from the same spot. I don't think she's going to be at much disadvantage at all.

And given how straight she hits it, and the fairways there are always very fast, so, it's not like she has to fly it a long ways. I think this is a perfect venue for her to start.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not going to go there, but thanks, that's nice of you. (Laughter.)

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think that we will have many more female players in tournaments through sponsors exemptions. We might see some ladies try the PGA TOUR qualifying school, but I don't think that this is going to be a recurring theme. I think that after it's done a few times, it will kind of lose some of it's interest. Unless she competes to win, and wins, I don't know how many tournaments she will play out here.

The PGA TOUR, show though, in generally has always wanted to be the competition with all the best players, regardless of gender, race or any type of discrimination. So we welcome the opportunity for any player to compete, and I haven't heard from any player any type of negativity coming from us.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: He's pretty busy. I would say this: My relationship with he and I are -- I'd like to keep between us, and I think that he would, too.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I finished on 9, that was the problem.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I got off to a poor start with two doubles, and I had fun. I had fun for the day. I had one hole that was -- the fourth hole, one of most fun holes that I've ever had. I tried to drive the green and blocked it left on the edge of a bunker had to hit a right-handed shot and turned the sand wedge over, hit it very flush and landed it on the green.

The greens were so firm, it one-hopped over into the back edge of the bunker. It was the perfect situation for me to hit the backwards shot, and I did, and it came off perfectly; it landed three feet from the hole. And had the greens been like they had been in years past, I think it would have ended up a few feet, but they were firm and it rolled off the front about 45, 50 feet away.

I cannot remember in competition, certainly in practice rounds, certainly for fun, just staging the scenario. But I can't remember in competition having the ideal situation, but that was it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, yeah, I think that certainly having not won in three events, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to say I have gotten off to a poor start. It's been a poor start off the course, no question, hence this great gathering today. But I played okay and scored okay the first two tournaments, finishing 9th and 6th, but I wanted to improve on that.

You're right, because I'm not satisfied with the start, that's why I've got Rick here and that's why I'm working on it. This tournament means a lot to me, La Costa means a lot to me and I'm hoping to finish the way that I believe I can.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. I think the biggest change was the physical change, becoming a little bit stronger, a little bit faster. Once I implement that in with better timing, I think I'll be able to take advantage of it and play better than I have in the past few years.

Q. How will you catch up --

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the training is golf specific. So I will work on the areas that are a little bit slow, let's say and try to match up, which my arms are, let's say a little bit slower than my body rotation. So biomechanically I found out yesterday some of the areas I need to work on, and I'll do that off the course and see if I can match it up that way, as well.

Q. Inaudible?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's an interesting question. I don't know how other people feel about whether they want us to be close or not. We certainly, as I said in the past, don't have many common interests. We live on opposite parts of the country. But I feel like we get along very well. I don't feel like this will stress our relationship. It is certainly stressed my relationship with his company he represents, in Nike, and they have handled -- I think they have handled it very well. I appreciate the fact that they have said what they wanted to say in not too derogatory a way. I think they handled it pretty classy, and I have made attempts and have apologized to them for going in this direction which I shouldn't have gone.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Just want to stir things up, don't you? (Laughter.)

I think they are competitors, too. (Laughter.)

Q. Can you talk about what happened at the Bob Hope, was there any discussion with --

PHIL MICKELSON: We did. We discussed it last night at the players meeting. There was no threats to pull out.

What was said was I had made attempts to contact the tournament and opt out of the celebrity rotation, which I had done every year that I had played, and which every player of the in the field has the right to do.

Those messages were not received until after the pairings were made, and when their response was, had we had this, we would have been happy to let you out of the celebrity pairing, and the TOUR, based on what they had said and based on the efforts I had made prior, took me out of the celebrity rotation. That was all that occurred.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly a lot of people think that I did have an obligation to play in the pairing. I felt an obligation, yes, but I felt that given the fact that Bob Hope and the Presidents have not played in the last three years, I also felt an obligation to myself to give myself every opportunity to compete, and I went with that decision.

Q. Do you think at 40, Charles Barkley will be able to change his swing?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, he's only 40, huh? He looks a little bit older than that.

I think Charles is hopeless on the course, no matter what he plays with. His golf swing will not be affected. (Laughter.) And I have seen many people attempt to fix a swing and it goes right back to what it is.

He was a pretty good basketball player, but when he tried to transition into golf, it just didn't work out.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I do wish him a happy birthday. He has a wonderful family and his wife, Marie, is a neat lady. So I think that Charles is a very lucky man.

Q. Have you tried to speak to Tiger?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have left a couple of messages. We haven't talked yet, yeah.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, hopefully not too long. Hopefully in a couple of days. It's just a matter of a feel element, getting the right tempo and timing.

I had Rick come into town so that we could get the positions, make sure that the plane of the club, make sure that the ache take away, the balance and everything is in check, but just that the body and the club are just a little out of sync right now.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Phil, for joining us today and good luck this week.

PHIL MICKELSON: Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts....

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