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March 17, 2002

Phil Mickelson


PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would have loved to have pitched out on 16. I just didn't have that option. I didn't have a shot into the fairway I didn't felt I could get it in the short grass, if I tried to go to lay up, more than likely it was going to get stuck short of the fairway. The only shot I felt I had was to go at the green. That was the only opening going right at the majority of trees and try to put it in the back part of the green, back bunker. I had to catch it a little thin to keep it underneath the branches, and I caught it a little too thin and it went in the water. But, I don't feel like the play was bad. I just didn't execute it.

Q. How hard was that, to pull that off?

PHIL MICKELSON: It wasn't easy, but it wasn't impossible. It was only 180 to the front, 200 to the hole and I tried to hit a 4-iron.

Q. How deflating was that?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's not that deflating. I played well this week and I made a bunch of bogeys this week that really took me out of the position I wanted to be in heading into today, but I got off to a good start, got in the lead there for a while, and surprisingly, the bogeys started with perfectly struck shots. I hit a shot at good as I could on 14, a 6-iron that landed a couple of feet from the hole, and a moment or two later, it's 30 yards over the green. I don't know what else I could have done there. If I land it short, it stays short of the green. I guess that probably would have been an easier up-and-down; so I probably would have liked to have done that differently.

17 and 18, I don't know what to say. I hit decent shots where I had to. 18 I needed to hit it a little farther. And I could not get a short iron close to the pin; I had to go left, or else it goes over the green, and now I've got to chip with water and swale, as well.

I don't know what else to say. I made good bogeys on 17 and 18 with those tee shots, although 17 I missed a short putt. But I felt 14 was really the turning point because I had been playing so steady and to hit a perfectly-struck shot and have it hop over the green and make bogey was disappointing. If I had missed it some what I would have felt a little better about it, but instead I hit it as well as I could and still made 4.

I was just sitting down in the rough in a lot of grain and over a ridge and just came out a little fluffy.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: No, it was trees and rough. I could not hit it underneath the trees and over the rough and get it to stop in the fairway; it would have gone right on through, just like what Tiger and McCarron did yesterday.

So rather than be in the rough and have a shot over the water that I could not stop, I went for the green. It was not a bad decision. I just didn't execute as well as I could.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: That's not what goes through my mind, no. I'm not thinking, "Ball game" but I'm thinking I'd like to pull this off.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I hit a straight shot. I was just trying to hit it straight. Maybe a little cut to hold it into the wind, but I had a straight shot right at the green. So it was not hard, I had to catch it a little thin to keep it underneath the branches. Otherwise, if I go in and take a divot, the leaves cause it to jump in, a little less spin and jump up. I needed to catch it thin and I caught it a little too thin.

Q. Did you think birdie was imperative at 16 to win the tournament?

PHIL MICKELSON: To have a chance, yes because you can't birdie 17 and 18.

Q. It came down to you and Tiger last year and this year, is one year more frustrating than the last?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, this tournament is never really mine to have the way it was for Tiger after two rounds. Tiger had such a big lead that it was his tournament to control or not. He opened the door for a lot of players, and I got really close and just didn't capitalize or finish it off.

But I'm playing well and I'm looking forward to next week's PLAYERS Championship. That's a tournament that I would very much like to play well in. I haven't played as well as I could in the past, and so I'd like to play well there. I'm not going to use this as a negative. I felt like I played some good golf today and just didn't finish it.

End of FastScripts....

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