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April 5, 2002

Phil Mickelson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Welcome 2000 BellSouth Classic Champion Phil Mickelson to the media center. Thanks for coming in for a couple of minutes. Phil shot a second round 68 and is tied for the lead at 11-under par. Get us started with your round today, how you feel and everything like that.

PHIL MICKELSON: I played well. And shot 68 and that's basically it. The golf course is playing a little bit harder, I thought, because the greens are getting just a little slicker, the ball is running a little bit farther past the hole. But a very fair test, and I am not disappointed with 4-under. I thought in the morning I could see why yesterday the afternoon's scores were lower. In the morning it was tougher to get off to a quick start with it being cold, but very pleased to be up near the top of the leader.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over your birdies and bogeys. Birdie on No. 1.

PHIL MICKELSON: Birdied 1. Driver, 5-iron about 25 feet, made that from behind the hole.

Birdied the par 5, 4th, hit driver and 3-wood, in the left bunker but hit a pretty good shot out to 15 feet; made that for birdie.

The other par 5, No. 6 birdie, driver that I didn't hit it the best. I was in the fairway but couldn't get there really. Hit a 7-iron down and then L-wedge to about five feet, made that.

So those were my three birdies on the front.

Was able to birdie 12 and 13 on the back. I hit 3-wood and a wedge on 12 to about 15 feet below the hole; made it. Then I drove 13 driving it to about 35 feet and made that. Then I had two bogeys on 15 and 17 both of them were 3-putts. I hit a 3-wood, wedge on 15 to about 15 feet above the hole and it went by the hole about eight feet and missed it.

On 17, I hit a driver and a sand wedge to about 30 feet, not a very good shot, and it hit that to about four feet, missed it.

Came back with a birdie on 18. Driver, 4-iron to the back bunker there, wedged out to about ten feet and made that.


Q. You seem to be thinking a lot on the second shot 18. What were you thinking?

PHIL MICKELSON: The wind there was not straight down like it was yesterday. It was right-to-left and helping or just right to left. If I got a little bit of help I could get a 5-iron there. So I had a 5-iron. As I was standing over it, it started to not help me, the water started to be more just right-to-left and I could feel it in my face, it was more just right-to-left, so I didn't think it would be enough. So I hit 4-iron and it was probably the right club. What I was trying to do was put it just in that back bunker where I was. If I get too far in the bunker it is too long of a shot, very difficult to stop. But if you just trickle in it, it's a pretty easy bunker shot. I hit it about as bad as I could, to hit it ten feet. So that's basically where I wanted it. If I hit 5-iron it could have been really good or could have fallen back in the water. It would have been right at the front of the green.

Q. You have talked about your aggressive approach and how that's the way you play your best golf. Is this the kind of course that you can be aggressive on and you like that?

PHIL MICKELSON: I do very much so. Fairways are generous so I am able to hit a lot of drivers off the tee and capitalize on having short irons in and because I am hitting a lot of short irons into the greens I feel like I can attack the pin.

Now, they are not the easiest greens to get the ball close to because they are starting to get a little firmer so the ball is hopping a bit, but it's much easier to get it close with a wedge on firm greens than it is a 6- or 7-iron.

Q. Next week a lot of what you do there is not necessarily all just putting, but what quadrant you hit it to and the putt you leave yourself. How do you feel about your putting in general just coming in there with it being pretty important?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you really can't shoot 11-under par without making a lot of putts and I have made a ton of putts this week, a lot of 6 -, 8-footers, the greens are so good that 4- and 5-footers are almost automatic. I may have missed one. So I have been making a lot, so it feels very good. I have putted well pretty well all year for the most part. But on these greens I feel like I have putted them well.

Q. When you are over a putt on these greens it is the same kind of feeling that you get after where you just have to really be concerned you are not leaving yourself a five or six footer?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's getting there. There were a few holes today and I can see as they are get firmer it's going to be the case this weekend. There were a couple of pins that were right on -- not on ridges, but that it was very difficult to keep it three or four feet to stop the ball close to the hole without going three or four feet by. I think this weekend we're going to have a lot more of that. That's great. There's nothing wrong with that. It's fun. Really what the challenge of this golf courts is because there's no real thick rough and it's fairly generous fairways, so the challenge or the difficulties are on and around the greens much like Augusta.

Q. I know a win is a win is a win but when you had to do a one hole playoff a couple of years ago, did you in any way wish that it had been a little different that it was a whole 72 hole event, anything that makes you want to have a hole complete 72 --

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought my chances may have been a little bit better over an 18-hole round as opposed to one-hole type crapshoot where you hit a good shot or you don't, it could be over. I thought that my chances would have been better had we played 18 holes but I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

Q. How much do you think guys that haven't gone to Augusta ahead of time have maybe made a -- do you think they made a mistake of not going to see that?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's the same course. It doesn't look any different off the tees. It may play a little bit longer but it's not really going to matter. One practice round you can pretty much pick it up. Some holes where you may have hit 3-wood in the past it's just a driver, that's all the changes. The greens are the same on and around the greens are the same and that's really where you try to carry over shots from the past - 'oh, yeah, this putt broke a little more than I thought' or 'break a little less than I thought to this pin' so forth, but off the tee it really doesn't make much difference. The par 3s really haven't changed yet.

Q. Maybe with a guy of your distance there is not much of a transition?

PHIL MICKELSON: It plays the same for me as it did in 1991 when I first played there before all the technological advancements, and I thought that it really isn't going to play that different for me because a lot of the holes that were lengthened were holes that were just as difficult to get to with an eight or nine iron as it will be with a 5- or a 6-iron. 11 you can give me a wedge and I have had wedged into that hole and I still haven't been able to go at the pin. So it doesn't really make a difference to me if I am hitting a short iron into 11 or not, I am going to be playing to the right trying to make and a 4 and birdie the other holes. So although it is a little tougher par, it's not going to change my mindset that much. There really isn't a birdie hole that's become a par-hole now. 18 is going to play more difficult certainly, but instead of hitting 3-wood maybe it's just a bust a drive and I can get to level with the bunkers and hit an 8-iron in.

Q. Do you have a favorite hole out here at all? One hole that --

PHIL MICKELSON: I love 18. I think 18 reminds me of 15 at Augusta. It requires a lot of thinking as far as where you want to leave it, what type of shot you want to have next, do you want to go after the pin. I think it is a wonderful finishing hole because eagle is a reality or a possibility. Birdie is very likely, and bogey and double are very possible, so it's a wonderful finishing hole great - risk/reward, I love it.

End of FastScripts....

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