July 4, 2001
NELSON LUIS: Congratulations again on a great win last week, and maybe just give us some opening thoughts here on the Pro-Am round today.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, today was a fun day and the golf course -- Gave me a chance to see the golf course. It's in great shape again as usual. Always in phenomenal shape with the greens rolling perfect and the fairways very closely cut. Rough isn't too high, but it's still very difficult, and should be a good test. I noticed that the tees are back on a lot of holes which is nice because with the technology now we can certainly afford to add a few extra yards here or there. It looks good.
Q. Coming off a win, is it a mental boost? A lot went into winning last week. Do you feel refreshed by it?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a very enjoyable week and it was very nice to have won given the fact that I had only won one time before that and had let a few tournaments side. But in golf it seems as though you are only as good as your last performance. So although it's a fun week to reminisce on it's kind of time to move on and get back to work. Yesterday Rick Smith flew into town and we were able to spend a little time working together yesterday as well as this morning. And when we get done I will go spend a little more time with him too. What is really nice about this tournament is that the practice facilities are excellent. You have got a great back of the range where you can get away and practice in some peace and quiet. You have great chipping greens, putting greens as well as driving range. So you can get a lot of things done here. A lot of work done. That is a big reason why I enjoy playing here so much.
Q. What exactly are you working on?
PHIL MICKELSON: Trying to improve. Nothing specific. But just little things here or there.
Q. Changes on the course catch your eye, 2nd hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well there was a different 2nd hole obviously. It really wasn't too different than what the original hole was. I just think it accommodates the spectators more, apparently. But the hole was fine. It wasn't -- nothing out of the ordinary to say about it. It was just a good par 3.
Q. What do you think about going all the way back on 13?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it is a great idea. We have been playing the uptees and we are hitting wedges into a tough par 4. Which makes it not very tough. And this morning into the wind and playing long it was still a drive, 7-iron from the back tee so I just don't see how it is too long from back there.
Q. You had not been to Hartford for quite a while, right?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's correct.
Q. Changing your schedule this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I have played a lot of tournaments this year but I will play the same number of tournaments that I have in years past but just in a more condensed schedule. I won't play a tournament after the Ryder Cup because my wife is expecting in October and so I will end up missing a lot of the season-ending events and won't be able to start playing again until January. So I have been playing and adding some tournaments here or there that I don't normally play because I am going to possibly be missing some tournaments that I do normally play.
Q. On the subject of your schedule when you do bunch them together do you have to be careful about not overextending yourself as far as getting mentally ahead of yourself?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure, sometimes it is a consideration, but the level of desire that I have right now is extremely high. I want to be playing. I don't feel tired. I don't feel burnt out. When I do feel that way I will take sometime off but I really want to be playing and I have really enjoyed working on my game this year. And it has been a difficult year for my wife because she is pregnant and we are travelling with a two year old and it is not always the easiest thing. But she's made a huge effort to keep us together as a family and accommodate the change in schedule.
Q. You talk about it last week working on mental time aspects of your game going back to some Arizona State techniques. Can you sort of describe a little more in depth on what you are doing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really want to get too in-depth other than it is just thinking about what I want to do as opposed to what I don't want to do. And seeing it happen. For instance, on 18, second shot into 18 it is very easy to think, gosh, I don't want to go left. Well that's not a very good thought. You want to think: I am going to hit this right at the right center and see the ball actually flying there. And that's basically the difference.
Q. Did that help in Hartford last week?
PHIL MICKELSON: It didn't hurt.
Q. Obviously, but how did it incorporate itself on Sunday?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, allowed me to not have as much physical practice time, to still achieve the same level of play or better. And so by using some of those techniques to create shots as opposed to actually just standing on the range hitting balls allowed me to be a little fresher physically and mentally.
Q. What sort of made you go back to that? Was it just --
PHIL MICKELSON: It was just time. I have spent a lot of time on the physical part of my game to get that right, get the ball-striking right, to get the trajectory control and spin control right. That the final piece of the puzzle, that I feel I need to incorporate in my game is seeing those shots to pull them out. But if I wasn't -- if I didn't have the physical skills to hit them then what good is visualizing them if I can't hit them. So that was -- that's why it is kind of the last piece of the puzzle.
Q. British Open going to be sort of the big test of this?
PHIL MICKELSON: It will certainly be a big part of it, yes, because a lot of the shots I have been working on are designed to control the ball in wind primarily and the British Open seems to be the epitome of a good test into the wind.
Q. What do you remember of Lytham from the last time you played there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I remember the holes well. I don't think that there was anything that stood out about Lytham that was different from any of the other courses that we play in the British Open rotation. But I like the way the golf course sets up because the first four, five holes were downwind, left-to-right, with railroad tracks to the right, and I thought that as a left-handed player it was easier to control the ball in a left-to-right wind as opposed to being right-handed where you can let that fade get away and ride the wind and you are fighting that all the time. So I liked the start of the golf course, the first four holes. I felt set up well for me to get off to a good start. Then coming back even though the wind was right-to-left then, there wasn't the out-of-bounds.
Q. Sometimes you have been kind of pegged as the guy to challenge Tiger by the media and probably in the locker room. Does that get tiresome? Is that more pressure and also do you think that would be good for the game if someone came out of the pack and kind of challenged Tiger?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly it would be good for the game in my opinion. I feel like I have done a decent job so far certainly I could improve to a greater extent. But to be able to win in a head to head competition last year at the Buick Invitational this year, at the Buick Invitational last year, at THE TOUR Championship I have a decent record head-to-head against him. I know he beat me at Augusta. I can't beat him every time, he is pretty good. But I have had some success head-to-head against him and I enjoy those opportunities, and it seems as though we haven't played many of the same tournaments this year because I have been up in contention quite a bit as he has and it seems like we have only had a few opportunities to really play against each other.
Q. You said earlier that your desire right now to work on your game is real strong. Any particular reason why now your desire is so strong to get out?
PHIL MICKELSON: I have just been really enjoying playing. I don't know how else to say it. I have really enjoyed the challenge of what has been created here on Tour, trying to play at different levels to compete week-in and week-out and to be able to win big tournaments with the type of competition that we have now, especially with one individual player playing so well.
Q. Pro bowling they talk about an advantage that lefthanders have because of the side of the lane and the groove. Any lefthanded advantages in golf that you can touch on? Any similarity anything like that that you can think of?
PHIL MICKELSON: Cog Hill is a perfect example of how a lefthanded player has a huge advantage over the players. (Laughter).
Q. Based on your record...
PHIL MICKELSON: I saw you writing that down, I should probably tell you I am kidding. (Laughter) I don't know how standing on one side of the ball or the other makes a big difference. I can see it in bowling, but the fact is in golf the ball needs to travel right-to-left or left-to-right and great golf courses really do a good job of requiring both in equal amount of time. What received the ball you stand on really doesn't make curving it one way or the other easier or harder. So I just don't see how it would make a difference in golf.
Q. How important was last Sunday to you maybe squelching anymore talk of this year and not being able to close out on Sunday?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think it's really squelched talk. I think it's postponed it for a week or two. What I need to do really is to come through in a major championship and I realize that and I have been working hard towards that. I know that I did not win the Masters and U.S. Open where I had good opportunities too. But in instead of seeing that as failure and not winning I see it as a success in that last year I didn't even have those chances and for me to improve enough to get to a level where I have a great opportunity to win, I see that as a significant accomplishment. Last year Tiger ran away with a -- with two majors and won in a playoff in the third. At The Masters, he was -- even though he won he didn't run away with it. To me having a chance like that meant that I played at a higher level than I did the previous year and so I feel as though I keep getting closer. Last week certainly helped for me personally because it gave me a direction on how to prepare mentally and how to perform during the round mentally for me to play my best golf.
Q. Have you made use of that Titleist computer down there and if you have, is it kind of mind-boggling where technology has gone?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is amazing what technology -- how far it has come. We are able to create equipment now to accommodate the player. Whereas in the past the player has always had to accommodate the equipment. That has been a significant enhancement for my game because I have very unique characteristics that don't fit the normal mold. I launch the ball higher and with more spin than every player out here, and because of that, I need a whole different club. Until I have that, I cannot ever perform at my best and fortunately I have had the chance to work with the people at Titleist to accomplish that this year and I think that that's a big reason why my performances increased significantly. Now specifically this week, no, I haven't used it because I am at the test center quite a bit in San Diego where they have that at will.
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