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June 13, 2002

Phil Mickelson


Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a round of 70 and I'll take it.

Q. Great start, you had to start on the most difficult part of the golf course.

PHIL MICKELSON: I got off to a good start, birdieing 10 and 11. You don't know where your birdies are going to come out here, you just kind of hope you get a few of them throughout the course of the day. I hit a 3-iron on 10, that came to within tap in distance, and made that. And made a 15, 20-footer on 11 to get to 2-under. And I was fortunate, I ended up making a double on 15, and turning it even -- and shooting even on my backside, which was my front, and shot even par. But it's hard to really say what a good score is.

I thought the course was playing as soft as it could; because there was no wind, the course conditions were pretty soft. The greens were holding. And still it's one of the most difficult tests of golf that I've played in the Open, one of the more difficult setups that the Open has had. And if the greens were to get firm and the rough -- the wind were to pick up, it's going to be quite a few over par that would ultimately win. Even under these conditions, over par will most likely win.

Q. Do you think the rains slowed down the greens?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, they didn't slow down. They're faster than any U.S. Open. I remember them being roughly this fast at Hazeltine in '91. And the greens there are a little softer contours, as well. But it's difficult to make putts, because the subtleties of these greens come through when they're rolling 14 on the stimpmeter. To say 14 on the stimpmeter is hard to comprehend or put on terms. If the average player has a 7-foot putt, it would roll 7 feet by. Out here, a putt rolls 6, 8 feet by without even thinking about it. It's difficult to make putts or feel like you can be aggressive on the greens.

Q. Do you feel like you have a good feel for the greens right now?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm working on it, I'm certainly working on it along with everyone else. And it's -- the greens are so true, they're the best rolling poa annua greens that I've ever seen. You can make a lot of putts if you read them right. But you have to be careful not to give too much speed, you have to get a good feel for the touch and speed of these.

Q. Can you tell me what was going through your mind on 15, the shot that came back to you?

PHIL MICKELSON: When I saw my lie on 15, it was sitting so far down, and the grass had wrapped around it, that 4 was out of the question. I was trying to make 5 and get it up on the top tier. I didn't hit a bad shot, but it came back down at me. The pin wasn't the best, because it was on a crown, and I hit a good putt to three or four feet that ended up going 15 feet.

Q. On the drive on that, 2-iron, did you leave yourself too much?

PHIL MICKELSON: I did leave myself too much, because I hit a good 2-iron and didn't get there. The problem on 15 is that the hole doglegs left, and it angles to right. So, although the fairway is 24-yards wide, you only have, effectively, 12 to 15 yards to land the ball, if you expect to keep it in the fairway. It's a very difficult fairway to hit. So if I get a little bit of help, I'll hit 2-iron again, and typically have a 4-iron in. I don't see myself hitting driver, although I wouldn't rule it out. If it plays without any help, I may hit driver. I'm not really sure, it just kind of depends on temperature, I'll play it by ear. But I do need to be a little farther down than I was. Maybe hit the 2-iron a little harder. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do there.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I had a lie on 7 that I hadn't seen in the practice rounds. I could actually get a club on it with -- and move it maybe 150 yards. And I thought if I took a 3-wood and kind of chased it, let it pop up out of there, and run down the fairway, I thought it would get up by the green, but if I didn't hit it straight, I would be in the thick rough and I felt I'd have a better chance if I were to hit a 6-iron and leave myself 50 yards. So, I hit a 6-iron out of there and it came out pretty good, and I had 55 yards left and was able to get that up-and-down. I hit a good shot that came very close to going in and stopped about three feet away.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly, yeah, that could be it. I'll give you a better example. A better example is No. 4. I drove it into the left rough, missed it by a couple of yards. I hit a good drive, but I cut off too much of the corner. And I had a lie where I thought I might be able to get it up over that bunker. If I could do that, I'd be able to have an eight or 9-iron in, and stop the ball close to the pin. But if I layup, I'm not going to be able to hold the green or keep it close, anyways, with a long iron. But if I go for the top fairway and don't make it, I'm looking at 6. So there's a two shot -- a shot and a half risk reward. And I felt I'd be better off making a 5. And I wedged out and hit a good 4-iron that was able to hold the green, because that shot was playing into the wind as opposed to downwind like we had in the practice rounds. Because it was into the wind, I was able to hold a 4-iron about 35, 40 feet and get down to 2 for par. That's what you're talking about major championship golf, not going for it to save a shot.

Q. (Inaudible.) Is this about the kind of score you expected?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I played very well. You saw it, you were out there, I drove the ball very well. The wind was not up. The greens were pretty soft. And I played extremely well, to shoot even par. I think that if it stays like this, if the conditions stay without any wind, greens stay soft, I think four or five over has a good shot at winning it. If the wind picks up and the greens dry out I think we're looking at probably 9, 10 or 11 over.

Q. There are a lot of golfers that call this course "home."

PHIL MICKELSON: I love the golf course, but I'm okay with only four rounds under these conditions.

Q. That was the best part of your day today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Driving it. I drove the ball very well today. And if I could drive the ball like I did today, I should be able to keep my score within a couple of par.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: About half the time, I would say, seven or eight times.

Q. Can you talk about starting off on 10, there was a lot of discussion about that; what were your thoughts there?

PHIL MICKELSON: It turned out to be not too difficult, because I got off to a birdie, birdie start. Starting off on 10, you have to hit a good drive. I did, but still had a 3-iron in. So the holes 10, 11 and 12 are extremely long and extremely difficult to start out with par. You've got to drive it straight and hit a long iron on the green, and be able to 2-putt from a pretty good distance, typically. But I think that because there was no wind, and because the greens were holding somewhat, it was not as penalizing as we thought it might be. Certainly starting there in the afternoon should be a lot more difficult.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. And it's interesting because The Memorial, when we play the tournament, the fairways are pretty soft and because of that, we were able to hold the fairways; as the afternoon comes around, the wind picks up, the fairways firm up a little bit, it's harder to hit those -- I lost my train of thought.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, exactly. Not if it stays like this, because the fairways are staying soft. That's what I was trying to get at. The fairways on 10, 11, 12 were staying soft. On 12, I was able to take a farther right line and get the ball stopped from going through, because there was a little bit of moisture. Had I taken that line in the practice round, it was bouncing into the rough. So, it gave me a little wider fairway. And I think that's going to help make 10, 11 and 12 more playable, still having to hit a long iron in.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I had 217 on 10. And I had 172 on 11. I hit a 6-iron on 11 and a 3-iron on 10. We did the birdies and bogeys earlier. Not here, but we have them with the USGA.

End of FastScripts....

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