July 7, 2001
NELSON LUIS: Thanks for joining us today. Got to 9-under, obviously must be pretty happy with the results. Maybe you can just give us a quick recap of your round.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, today was a day where I shot 5-under. There were a lot of low scores. It was just playing a lot easier. It was a day where I really needed to go quite a bit lower. But all the short putts that I thought I would make I ended up missing and all the long putts that I would be happy to 2-putt, I ended up making. It was kind of a fluke day, but all and all, I am not going to complain about 5-under par but if I were going to get myself in better position to win this tournament tomorrow, I needed to make a few more, especially given the fact that Davis is making a bunch of birdies.
Q. Why was it so much easier?
PHIL MICKELSON: The rain -- two things happened, before the rain it was very windy and the greens were a little bit firmer and then when the rains came, the wind died down and the greens were much more susceptible - or receptive, I guess, susceptible for birdies.
Q. Can you talk about the way you finished down the stretch with a couple of birdies?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I birdied 15, 16 and 17, so I was just kind of floating along at 2-under not really doing too much. When I birdied those three, got myself in a position where a real low round tomorrow may get it done.
Q. A number you think you need tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: At least 8, probably 9 or 10. Obviously depending upon conditions but if they are similar to the way they are right now.
Q. Hoping nobody else in front of you --
PHIL MICKELSON: Besides Davis nobody else is really what, two shots ahead of me.
Q. Based on your recent play as of late, stellar as it is, tell me your mindset skipping ahead for tomorrow, no matter what happens, win, second, tough day, whatever the case maybe, heading to the British Open?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, obviously I have played very well this year. Week-in and week-out that has been a goal of mine to become more consistent and getting in contention. Nice thing about that is that when I head into the British Open, I don't feel as though it is a hit-or-miss thing. Gosh, I hope I play well and have a shot at winning. I have the confidence that if I just play the way I have been and don't have to do anything exceptional I am going to have a shot on Sunday. That's a nice feeling to have.
Q. How important is it for you right now inside considering your recent play to go into this major and really want to have it on your resume because you are the hottest player in golf without that major, tell me how important this upcoming British is to you to try to relieve that syndrome?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it would -- it would be awfully nice, don't get me wrong. And it is a very historical event and it's got a lot of history behind it and it is one of our four major Championships. It is the same field though that we see pretty much week-in and week-out, if not in the U.S., we probably see a little bit stronger because we don't have the Open qualifying. I think a tournament like THE PLAYERS Championship almost has as much credibility just because the field is so strong. I haven't won that either. (Laughs) but I guess I would -- it would be nice to win because the last year and a half I have been working very hard on my game to get in into position where I can win those tournaments. To play well at the British Open and to play well at the other major Championships you have to have total control of your game. By that, I mean, you have to be able to control trajectory and spin rate as well as direction. That's something that I have been working hard on and that I haven't been as effective with until this last year, year and a half. You will see me hit shots that are lot lower not just at the British but today, a lot lower that have no spin that release back-to-back pins or shots that come in high and backup quite a bit. And I feel that working on those shots will give me a very good shot at winning the British Open. Obviously it would mean a lot to me but I really don't want to get into that too much other than what I have already said.
Q. You have said before the British is probably your toughest major, but given your last year, high level of consistency, do you feel better about the British this year than you have ever have?
PHIL MICKELSON: Much better. Much better. And the real reason is that I have been working from underneath the pin back to the pin all year. By that I mean I am hitting lower shots with less spin and letting the ball land short and release back and I feel very comfortable with those shots now. I don't know if they had it on the telecast but the par 3, 14, I hit a little -- took little extra club landed it 60 feet, you know, 15 yards, 20 yards short of the pin let it release back. That's something that I haven't done in the past. I would always try to fly it to the pin and get it stopped. So going to the British where you have to play from short of the pin and let the ball work back there I feel much more comfortable with that shot now. Whether it is into the wind or downwind.
Q. On the West Coast with the ProV1 you guys were all landing it past the hole and spinning it back on a wet West Coast?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure, but that's more the conditions as opposed to the ball. The ball will react how you hit it.
Q. With the recent state of your game the way you have stepped up things mentally, do you think where you are right now you could be the ultimate challenger we have been waiting for for a Tiger Woods' battle? You seem to have a lot of things going for you right now.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you know, I don't know really how to answer that. I don't know who else has done anything. But I think that my head-to-head with him is pretty good and he brings the best out in me. So I very much want to go head-to-head with him.
Q. With Davis being out so long any surprise that he is playing as well as he is?
PHIL MICKELSON: He played this well before he got injured. He was playing this well in San Diego when we played together and earlier this year when he won at AT&T driving the ball a ton, very straight and hitting great iron shots in and making a lot of putts. It is not surprising, but it is difficult to do what he did. It doesn't totally surprise me but I am impressed with the way he was able to take so much time off and jump right back in the thick of it.
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