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June 23, 2002

Phil Mickelson


TODD BUDNICK: Welcome your back-to-back champion of the Canon Greater Hartford Open. Phil Mickelson, final round 64, does it again. Phil, why don't we just start with some comments on winning the tournament for the 2nd year in a row.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's been a very fun week. It's been a lot of fun for my family and I. We have had a great time in Hartford. We celebrated our oldest daughter, Amanda's, 3rd birthday, had birthday parties and went to a space museum or planetarium and had a really great time.

To win this tournament the last 2 years is a cool feeling. I don't know. To be the first one to win it twice is something very special, but there's nothing greater than the feeling walking up 18 and feeling the support from the crowd and the community and everyone who is involved with this tournament. All players thought that with the effect of the ampitheatre on 18. So, to be able to experience that from a player's perspective is an incredible feeling and it's something we don't have week in and week out on the Tour like we have here on 18 with all of the people engulfing 18 the way TPC River Highlands does.

TODD BUDNICK: We will go ahead and take some questions.

Q. Phil, with you and Jonathan and Davis being so close, can you talk about trying to keep your concentration trying to play 15, 16 and 17? Were you watching?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I snuck peaks, sure. I like to know what's going on and how I stood. I saw Jonathan miss about a 10- or 12-footer on 15 because I knew -- 15 was a really good birdie opportunity, the last great birdie opportunity the last four or five holes. And when I saw him miss that, I knew I was a shot ahead with a few holes to go. And I watched where Davis hit his shot on 17, on 16, and I waved him through on 15, so, I obviously saw his tee shot there. And when I bogeyed 17, knowing they were a shot behind and knowing the way 17 was, really a birdie hole the way that pin was, but more importantly 18 was too. 18 had a bit of a backstop, and if you can hit the fairway on 18, it really set up well for a birdie. I felt after I bogeyed 17, I needed one to most likely or possibly get into a playoff.

So, I hit a real good sand wedge. I had 108 yards, same shot as I had on No. 7. I had to take about 10 yards off because there was a little downwind, and both of them landed about 2 yards left of the hole, went past it and the one on 7 came back in, and the one on 18 I thought might have a chance, but it ended up 3 feet away and it was important to make that birdie and have that win by 1.

Q. Did that then change your approach, making you more aggressive on 18? Did you feel you had to birdie to stay alive or did you think at any point that --

PHIL MICKELSON: I did. I felt that 14 was most likely going to be in a place of -- I felt like 13 had a 10- or 20-percent chance of being in a playoff, so I guess -- yeah. I felt like I needed to get to 14. I did not think that 14 would win outright the way it did, especially after I saw Davis hit such a great drive on 18.

I felt like -- I knew that, at worst, he was going to have a 15-footer, but most likely a 6-footer, and I didn't see his shot, but I heard it was about 10 feet and the putt did not go in.

And same thing with Jonathan. Even though he didn't hit a great drive, he had a good putt at it, so it should have been a playoff, but I was just fortunate to have won.

Q. You were saying yesterday you may have left a couple out there yesterday and you said you may have to go low today, 6, 7, 8, 9 under. At that point did you feel like you actually left a few out there, in spite of the good round you had?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I played very well, and when you get a break like on 7, where the shot goes into the hole, it's hard to complain. I had one moment, on No. 8, following the hole on 7, where I attacked the pin, had a shot from 218 yards to 6 feet from the hole and was really wanting to go make some noise. If I make that putt, I'm tied for the lead and I'm a couple holes ahead and I start putting pressure on guys to keep the pace, and I 3-putt. It's just unbelievable. I was so heated. I was able to come back and birdie 10. When I made that putt on 10, that was a big putt for me, because after what had gone on on 8, to come back 2 holes later and birdie, get myself off to a good back side, that was a critical birdie.

7 was my number that I was shooting for, and I knew I could birdie 13 and 15, which I ultimately did. And when I birdied 10, I felt like I only needed one more now. The bogey on 17 was a slight setback, and I came in 1 under my target score but I felt like birdieing 18 made up for it and fortunately, it was enough.

Q. With what happened the drive on 14, were you sort of hacking it out of the junk, you made a good it 4 and never see the fairway?

PHIL MICKELSON: That was a pretty good 4. After the drive, I blocked it a little bit. I was trying to hit a low runner because that fairway runs away, it goes down. I got out ahead of it a little bit and blocked it just a touch. Didn't have much of a shot because with the ball above my feet, it wants the ball to hook and it was going to go down where the people were, which I didn't want to do. I hit a good shot from 140. I played a good shot, because it was kind of fluffy. It hit the trees and fell vertical. I was sitting on a sandy divot on a great downhill lie, but fortunately there was fairway that I could bounce it into. I took a pitching wedge and drove it into the ground and let it release.

Now, ironically, Governor Rowland had that same shot in the Pro Am, and he didn't play it too effectively and I showed him how to play it. And I thought, "Boy, I need to get that up and down if I want to be credible as a teacher."

Q. You'd be getting a phone call.

PHIL MICKELSON: So, the Governor strategically placed his -- no, I'm kidding.

Q. Phil, what are your emotions as you're waiting for Jonathan and Davis to finish?

PHIL MICKELSON: I try to stay on edge. I try to stay in a competitive frame of mind. I don't want to take away my mind-set of I need to play golf, I need to make another birdie. Because the second I do that and they knock a birdie putt in, now I've lost my train of thought and my focus. So I tried to stay on edge until the last putt was in and until I had the tournament.

I fully expected to be in a playoff. If you give Davis and Jonathan that 18th hole, they're going to make birdie 7 times out of 10.

Q. Is that why you don't watch?

PHIL MICKELSON: I would have loved to have watched. I just didn't have a monitor.

Q. Did you hear the groan then when Jonathan missed? Could you hear it?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I could tell -- I didn't really hear much, but I could tell -- somebody told me it didn't go in. I would have heard a larger -- you know, people clapping had it gone in.

Q. What did you hit on 7?

PHIL MICKELSON: Sand wedge, 108 yards, same as on 18.

Q. Phil, seemed like you struggled a little bit on the first round, and I think it was 1-under par you were on the first round. Could you talk a little bit about that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I had just played with Jim Smith and Governor Rowland, and it took me a day or two to recuperate after some of the shots I saw, so fortunately I got by with 1 under and -- no.

The first day was a day where I teed off in the morning. The course was very susceptible because there wasn't any wind, and I just didn't hit it well. I double-bogeyed the 4th hole, just making poor decisions and poor execution. But that round was really the round that allowed me to win because I was able to get up and down and keep my bad shots within reason to a point where I could make pars. I holed a bunker shot on 8 and made a birdie or 2 coming in to get me to 1 under. I think I birdied 16 and -- no. I forget. Two of the last three, I think, 16 and 17, I birdied to get 1 under, and I was in a position where I could go low rather in the week, I could still have the lead today. Had I let that round go really low, I couldn't have won, no matter how low I scored.

Q. Phil, it's pretty obvious the crowd love you. Can you explain why have the galleries taken you to heart so much, you think?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I mean, I don't know. I think that I tried my best to treat them with respect, and I understand that it's the people in the gallery who come out and support the game of golf that allow myself and other players to play golf for a living. If we didn't have that type of support, well, as entertainers, we wouldn't be able to play golf for a living, so I try to take the time and show that I respect them, whether it be to sign autographs or just acknowledge that they're there, I think it's a sign of respect. I understand and acknowledge that they allow me to play golf for a living, which is a wonderful way to make a living, and consequently, I try to do the same and just show how much I expect them. They've given me a lot of respect as well as all players.

Q. Phil with the up on 7, the down on 8, the up to 10, down to eleven, trying to keep the even keel, how difficult was that?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a very roller coaster round because I had a lot of ground to make up, and I would make a bunch of birdies and make a move and as soon as I got in the lead, I'd 3-putt and go to go 2 back. I get 1 ahead in the lead, and I give it back. I followed the bogey on 8 with a birdie on 10, and I followed the bogey on 17 with a birdie on 18. So that allowed me to win. Not thinking too much about the bad breaks and not let it affect the way I was playing allowed me to make those birdies. I never would have had a shot on 18, I would have let the round solid away, instead of came back with some birdies.

Q. There were several times it could have gotten away from you.

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, sure, sure. Starting at the 1st hole being 5 back. Had I not come back and made a couple birdies and closed the ground, it would have slipped right away.

TODD BUDNICK: Speaking of your birdies, Phil, let's go ahead and get in your others.

PHIL MICKELSON: Birdied 2, driver, L-wedge from 76 yards to 15 feet and made that.

Birdied 4, hit 3-wood, wedge to 12 feet, and made that.

And eagled 7, we talked about that, driver, sand wedge from 108. Bogeyed No. 8, hit 6-iron to 3 feet and 3-putted. Bogey, 10, hit driver pitching wedge from 155 to 15 feet and made that.

Birdied 13, the par 5, hit 3-iron to the right of the green, chipped up to a foot-and-a-half and tapped in.

We talked about 14, the par save. That was every bit as important as a birdie.

Birdied 15 hitting 3-wood over the green, chipped up to about 4 feet and made that for a birdie.

Bogeyed 17, hit 3-iron into left bunker, hit 9-iron over the green, chipped up to 8 feet and missed it.

And birdied 18 which we talked about, which was a driver sand wedge as well that came back to 3 feet.

Q. Phil, it looked like on 13 you might have considered going for it. You and your caddie discussed that for a long time?

PHIL MICKELSON: That was a unique situation. I was definitely going to go for it. I didn't have the club in my bag for it. I had 231 to carry the water, and had there been no wind, I could have gotten a 3-iron there but into the wind, I couldn't get the 3-iron there. What we were going to do is go at the right front of the green, but that's hitting a very small target when I wanted to hit a left-to-right shot. It's working away from the way the green is angling, so I couldn't feel comfortable in my preshot routine. So what we decided was hit it just right of the green, use that contour to give me a larger margin of error on the shot to bring the ball back down to the bottom of the hill so I was aiming at the right of that bunker and let it feed back where it did, and it gave me a larger area to hit. I had a chip from behind the green, chipping downhill. It's tough to get it stopped and from where I was, I was hitting a cross it and played about 15, 20 feet of break and ended up going there to a tap in.

Q. Wouldn't you have usually hit your 2-iron there?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I have to take one out, I have 4 wedges, so I have to take out a wedge or an iron. I took out the 2-iron. That was the only time all week I would have needed it, and a 3-iron has been working fine. It I not hit the drive as well, I would have hit a 3-wood and would have been fine.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, surprisingly it wasn't as difficult as it looked because the back of the green pitched away. Typically, greens pitch from back to front and so it's tough to get the ball stopped, but I was hitting back up the hill so I hit a basic chip that pulled up about 4 feet short.

Q. I've always wanted to ask you how come you wear a watch playing golf, is it an endorsement thing?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. A long time ago when I was a junior, what I found was there are a lot of swings that throw my rhythm off, so that's how it started when I was 15, and I've always done it. I don't wear this thick watch, I wear a thin leather banded one.

Q. You basically got annoyed watching the other guys or you didn't want to watch it?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wanted a distraction. I wouldn't say is the way you just quoted it. I wanted a distraction to keep my mind on my own golf swing, my own rhythm and give me something to take my attention away from watching other players play.

TODD BUDNICK: On that note, Phil, congratulations again.

End of FastScripts....

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