Q. Which facets of your game have you really tried to accentuate in practice recently and, and are any of them specific to Augusta?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've said for about a year and a half now, the one area that I really want to focus on is about 150 yards in, and that really has not changed. That's an area that needs to be effective for me to score well.
Driving the ball is going to be a factor here, as well. We talk about it, as though it's an open golf course, but it's not. There are a lot of very tight holes and it's important to hit the gaps. It's important to hit it just left of the bunker on 1 so that you have a reasonable shot to the green. You can't really get there from the bunker and you don't want to blow it left in the trees; it's a pretty tight area. There are a lot of holes like that. So driving will be a factor and that's something I've been working on.
Q. Is there a specific shot that you have worked on for this course and no other?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, there's not. I find that this golf course, one of it's great features is that you have to maneuver the ball both ways, right-to-left and left-to-right. I think that's a strength of this course, and so one particular shot here won't get the job done; you have to be able to hit all kind of shots.
Q. When you talk about the driving, the accuracy statistic is the one that's kind of down the list for you. On the golf course how has that converted this year as far as mistakes you've made or trouble you've gotten into, has it been a big bugaboo?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. I just think that it's just plain physics that I'm not going to hit as many fairways as the guy that hits it 30 yards behind me. We hit it two degrees off line, mine is going to find the rough and his isn't. The wedges is my strength and if I have to hit a few shots out of the rough, so be it.
Q. Is it less of an issue here?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's really no rough that's not so penal you don't have a shot.
Q. And how much will you use driver on this course, how many holes do you think?
PHIL MICKELSON: Almost exclusively.
Q. From a preparation standpoint last week you had an opportunity to play a course that is as close to similar to this with hard greens and windy conditions. Do you feel like that got you into maybe the best preparation coming into Augusta in the times you've come here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I do.
Q. With all of these close calls you've had --
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know what else to say. I agree with him. (Laughter.)
Q. Huge close call last year and at the PGA Championship, and you've become a crowd favorite; do you acknowledge that? There seems to be a huge reservoir of cheers and sentiment and goodwill and all that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've always made a real strong effort to treat the fans and the volunteers with the utmost respect and they have done the same with me. It's been a wonderful relationship.
Q. You talked before about hitting 10 to 11 fairways per round and those are your chances to go at the pins. Are there any holes out there that you no longer can go at the pin, even from the fairway because of the changes?
PHIL MICKELSON: Every hole has a pin placement we cannot get to. It just depends on where the pins are located as to what holes we can attack and what holes we can play for par and it varies from day-to-day.
Q. In the last couple of tournaments that I've covered that you've played, you've had some putting problems on one specific green at some point in time, like the 4-putt in Atlanta. Do you think about that and say you've got to eliminate that, people usually say they have got to eliminate the 3-putts and you had a 4-putt and I can't remember what it was at THE PLAYERS Championship. It looks like, yes, I've had this and yes I'm going on, but do you ever think about saying, gee, I've got to eliminate this?
PHIL MICKELSON: (Laughter.) It would be nice. (Laughter.)
Q. Is there anything that you can do to eliminate that 4-putt?
PHIL MICKELSON: I could make the first one. That would help. (Laughter.)
Q. Or the second or the third?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.
Let me just say this: When you putt on greens that are this slick, it's very difficult, and I certainly don't expect anybody to understand or relate to how it is, because nobody will ever play on greens that are this hard and this fast where the ball won't stop rolling and will trickle 50 feet by the hole, just like Jeff Sluman's 4-foot putt on No. 2 lipped out and went 50 feet behind him.
It's a surface that we saw last week, that we saw at
THE PLAYERS Championship, that is a rarety, and when you miss a 4-footer it will go four feet by, no matter how soft you hit it. Last week I missed a 3-footer and it was straight downhill, and I hit it at a speed on any other normal course would have gone 6 or 8 inches and I tap-in. But it went six or eight feet by. It's just the way the golf courses are and there's not much you can do about it, unless it's straight uphill. None of those putts were necessarily straight uphill, the first ones were almost always downhill and ran four or five feet by.
It would be -- it's very easy to just look at the one mishap as opposed to the 12 or 13 good putts that I made from 4- or 5-feet. I actually putted very well last week but the perception is that I was struggling there. Last week the greens were very difficult, and I made countless 4- and 6-footers for pars and birdies and was very pleased with the way I putted.
Now you have to be very careful on this golf course especially because that is very likely to happen, a 3- or 4-putt. It's something that I have to -- it's not that I'm going to try to avoid, I'm not going to have happen, but it's not as though I'm going to putt with the fear that it will. That's a sure fire way to 3- or 4-putt.
Q. Do you think because of your aggressive nature, just generally and including the putting that you're probably more susceptible to having a possibility of a 3- or 4- or 5-putt green?
PHIL MICKELSON: Apparently. (Laughter.) Because it's been happening more often to me than most. But I saw it -- I wasn't the only one that had a four or five putt at THE PLAYERS Championship. I just seem to be the one that gets singled out.
Q. But that's not going to change your style on these greens or any other greens, is it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably not, no.
P. DAN YATES: Thanks, very much.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you.
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