Q. I had read quotes where you suggested your go-for-it style had helped you win so many tournaments hurt you in majors, because the conditions were more severe. The way you played this course, was it part of the new philosophy or was it strictly the course dictating it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think this is very similar to the way I've played. I've certainly played the U.S. Open the last five or six years now very well. I mean my scoring average, I don't know what it is, but I know it's pretty good, because I've had opportunities to win, and I've had good performances, pretty regularly. So the most difficult, most defensive style of golf that we have here is the U.S. Open. To play that well the last five or six years would kind of hinder that or take away from that theory that I'm overly aggressive and can't play that style of golf, because on the most defensive track that we've probably played in an open, which is here at Bethpage I was able to play four rounds at even par.
Q. Obviously everybody will be gunning for Tiger the next two majors, trying to stop him. Do you feel by making a move today, putting a little heat on, that you got a little bit closer to being the guy to do it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Very possibly, very possibly. I feel as though as a player looking extrinsically, looking outside in, I feel as though I'm getting much better. I really do. I really feel the last two years I've made significant strides in my game. There were huge steps to catch up with Tiger. The guy was shooting 18 under at Augusta, 16 under at the U.S. Open at Pebble. I don't know what the par was there, but it was -- he was quite a few under par on an incredible track. So there was a huge gap. And as a player I feel like I'm improving very steadily. I'm driving the ball much better. I'm becoming much more consistent with my irons. My short game is getting better. But just in general my scoring is getting better. And it's difficult to compete with a player of Tiger's caliber, but I've been able to do it the last year or two. And I haven't been able to really win as much as I would like, but I'm closer. And certainly I need to lower my score that I set. Heading in I thought even par would be an incredible score for four rounds. I was able to accomplish that. I have to raise that if I'm going to win tournaments with Tiger in the field. I'm starting to realize that, and I'm continuing to work harder in all areas of my game, not just the facets of the game that I discussed, but also getting physically stronger in areas to support those type of swing changes that allow me to strike it better, as well as better strength to be able to hit shots that might not normally be able to hit. All areas I've got to improve on to compete at the highest level. And I'm enjoying the challenge. It's challenging and I love it. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be as rewarding when I finally do come out on top.
Q. Obviously earlier in the year you got a reputation for gambling, but you played smart this week; are there lessons there for other courses and other contexts that you can take over from here? Looked like you spent a lot of time with Bones on clubs and discussing and playing pretty smartly there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I certainly can understand why you would ask that question now given what happened the last three or four months or discussions that we've had the last three or four months. But I feel as though discussions we had a few months ago weren't necessary, because the style of golf that I played this week I feel is very consistent to the style of golf I played three years ago in '99 at Pinehurst to have a shot at winning. And similar to the style of golf at Southern Hills last year. That was a difficult challenge because the driver was taken out of my hand on a lot of holes. And that got to be frustrating, whereas here everybody had to hit driver because it was playing so long. I feel as though I have been able to play the style of golf I played this week, and have been doing it for the last five or six years. Now, it may not come across that way, I don't know. But to answer your question, I guess, that I don't know if there's any -- I don't think that I picked up any one thing this week that -- where I had an epiphany to play a conservative style of golf. I wasn't playing conservative, I was playing very aggressive. I felt. I made aggressive swings. I was able to keep the ball in the fairway, and I attacked pins and made birdies. I made a ton of birdies, I don't know how to stack to the rest of the field, but I think it was high up in total number of birdies. You can't do that unless you attack pins. I played an attack go style of golf.
I had better control and better execution. I wasn't hitting it very long off the tee, I was hitting a controlled cut, something I've been working on to take off a little bit of distance, but still keep it in play. The reason is these fairways were so tight that I didn't want the ball to run. I wanted it to come in and hit soft. If you noticed a lot of drives would hit and not really roll. That was kind of the goal to help me keep it in play. But I had been doing that for a few years now, too. It was not like that was anything new, either. I would like to say I enjoy the challenge that these style of courses present, that the U.S. Open presents.
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