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February 4, 2017

Phil Mickelson

Scottsdale, Arizona

Q. Just narrowly missed that birdie at 18. The crowd would have gone bonkers. Good round of golf.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I would have loved that to drop, but I would have loved any of them to drop. And I had a lot that did. I had a couple of great up-and-downs to salvage some critical strokes. Thought I played pretty well today. It was a good round.

That round is out there. There are a lot of guys shooting it. There was potential for a couple more, probably by myself and some others. I'm in a good spot. I'm in a spot where nobody's really looking at me. I'm far enough back, but I am within striking distance. If I get off to a good start, that back 9 can provide some opportunities. If can get 3-, 4-, 5-under that front 9 and put myself in position, that back 9 will offer some birdies and eagles.

Q. I've followed you the last few weeks. The putting stroke, wow, Phil, looks super. Does it feel that good?
PHIL MICKELSON: It does. It actually felt off the first couple of weeks, but now it feels on. The touch, reading the green, trusting it and so forth, I've made a lot of good putts, but now it's really starting to feel tight. The rhythm of the stroke, if you look at it today relative to the previous two weeks, it's a lot softer, slower roll. The sensitivity of the face is there now. I'm starting to really putt well.

Q. The atmosphere here. I mean, obviously they are really supporting you. You have to feel that. You feel it everywhere, but especially here.
PHIL MICKELSON: Incredible. I love it here. I can't believe how many people are out here. I can't believe how many people this tournament, this course holds.

What a great job the Thunderbirds do accommodating this many people. I mean, that's a lot of beer you have to sell for this many people. They seem to be able to do it just fine.

Q. Can I get a Super Bowl pick from you? You know your football. Who's going to win this thing tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm a little biased. I'm pulling for the Patriots because of a relationship I have with Tom Brady and how much I really like him. I find myself pulling for him. I don't know if I have an unbiased opinion.

I do think both defenses are really impressive and probably underrated. I think it's going to be a very tight, fun game to watch.

Q. Third round 65, 10-under. Do you feel comfortable going into the final round in that position?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited about tomorrow's round. Obviously I'm far enough back where nobody's really paying any attention, but if I can get off to a good start and shoot 3-, 4-, 5-under the front 9, that back 9 has so much excitement and opportunity that I would love to play those final six holes with a chance, because there is a lot of birdies and eagles out there.

The front 9 will be important for me to get off to a good start.

Q. Lower scores today. Pin positions making it a little bit easier?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, the weather. There is not a breath of wind. The greens are pristine. There were a few more back pins. You know, the greens are firm. The ball is not stopping. They are taking a huge skip. The front pins are very tough.

But there were a lot of back pins today, and we could skids some balls back there and get to those pins. I think that's why you may have seen some more birdies. But the weather is really the big factor.

Q. You were here when 16 was kind of like on the edge, back in the late '90s, early 2000s. Can you talk about the evolution of the hole, what it was and what it's become today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I guess it's really over 25 years it's undergone a pretty good change. It's exciting where it is now, because there is a feel there that you just can't get anywhere else.

I think when you come play TPC Scottsdale and all the stuff is left up, and you start to go through the tunnel and you get to feel what it's like for us as players to go through it, it's something special, although no one can replicate the crowd. The crowd and the people here are second to none.

Q. Did you have a number heading into today in your mind?
PHIL MICKELSON: I always think it's 7-under in my head, and I had a chance on the last hole to have done that. I thought that would put me within striking distance. 6-under is right there, too.

I played a really good ground round. I feel like my game is starting to come around. Tomorrow provides another great opportunity to get a hot round. It's going to take a low one, but this course, somebody will shoot low tomorrow. There will be four or five scores of 63, 64, 65 around there. I just hope I'm one of them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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