July 1, 2001
NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome Phil Mickelson. Congratulations on becoming the 50th winner here at the Canon Greater Hartford Open. Obviously, a great moment for you.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you. It has been certainly a special week for me starting the week to see all the past champions gather and to see what this tournament has meant to the PGA TOUR and the history that it's created. It's very special for me to be a part of that now. Thank you.
NELSON LUIS: Let's open it up to some questions.
Q. Talk about the history and now you are part of it. What does that mean to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it is just a special feeling. To see the names that have been a part of this leaderboard and past champions, to be a part of that and be included in that is something very special.
Q. Were you able to visualize well today, obviously? Especially the front nine?
PHIL MICKELSON: I felt like I did. I think that the critical shots were 16 and 17 where there was a lot of trouble and it was windy. It is very easy to get some negative thoughts and make tentative swings but I was able to see what I wanted to do and hit the shot when I needed it.
Q. What were you feeling when you hit that shot on 17? Went right past the hole, were you a little bit surprised when it spun back --
PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit. I expected it to fly about 4, 5 yards behind the hole then come back. When it flew right at the hole, I thought it was a chance it would come back off but it looked like it was going to stay. It wasn't a hard chip. Probably took away a good birdie opportunity.
Q. Could you take me through your round, first the front nine then the back just things that you remembered as the galleries?
PHIL MICKELSON: Let's do that at the end.
Q. How do you feel your caddie contributed to your round to helping out to went tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, my caddie and I have a very special relationship. We get along extremely well on the golf course. We get along extremely well off the golf course. The great thing about my man is that when it is crunch time, when it is the last few holes, he thinks clear. He pulls the right club. He knows what the wind is doing and he says it in a very confident way. A lot of times a caddie will get a little tentative and be unsure of what club and so forth to pull. But he is very confident and he pulls the right club almost every single time. So, I have a lot of confidence in him as well as reading the greens. He read the greens incredibly well this week and this being the first time that I have been here in the last 6, seven years, I am not too familiar with the greens. So it was a nice team effort.
Q. Are you a leaderboard watcher and did you notice that one was really making a run at you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I try to watch the leaderboard. I had a tough time finding any out there. I saw one on the front nine and that was really the only time that I knew how I stood until I turned. But I did see that there were some low rounds. There were some 7 under and 9-under par rounds. There were some low rounds but nobody that started very close. I thought that the two-hour time difference from the first group to the last made a big difference. The wind started to pick up and it was just difficult to get to some of the pins with the wind.
Q. Did you feel like you got the monkey off your back today if you want to call it a monkey, the Sunday --
PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. That's really not the feeling that I have. The feeling that I have is a feeling of confidence where by changing my mental approach and my outlook heading into the round as well as during the round, has allowed me to perform at a higher level, at a -- to perform at my best. I feel like if I can start to work on that and refine that and get better at it, I should be able to close more on the opportunities that I have been giving myself.
Q. Standing on 10 you probably saw a leaderboard at that point you were up 3. Does it change the way you are going to play the back?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. I played it the same as I always have this week; in that I went for 13 in two even though it was difficult shot into the wind. I just didn't make birdie there. I went at 15 with an aggressive shot and I didn't really have a choice on 15 because I was going to have to attack the water at one time or another. If I blew it right and into the bunker now I have got a very difficult bunker shot with water right behind the greens. So, I choose to attack it more from the tee and try to knock it on as opposed to leaving myself a very difficult shot from the right side. But, it's basically the same way that I have been playing the course, try not to get too aggressive on 16 because the wind there you just can't judge right it seems to swirl during the shot.
Q. How about on 17?
PHIL MICKELSON: 17 wasn't too tough because it was downwind. The tee shot was more difficult than the second shot because if you bail out left, you just don't have anything. So, had to be more aggressive on the tee shot but second shot wasn't that hard.
Q. That was a point where you probably know you are up two or three strokes if you were thinking of each change, one off the tee on 17 that would have been the spot to do it, but you weren't thinking like that at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit a 3-iron so it is not like I was trying to be aggressive. I hit a 3-iron and just tried to put it in the fairway. I had a sand wedge in and it wasn't overly difficult. When I saw that Billy Andrade made par on 17, I figured well, if I parred the last two he will probably birdie 18 and I will still have a one-shot lead. That's ultimately what happened. With David Berganio an Chris DiMarco birdieing 17 as well they could birdie 18 to get to 15, but if I could just par the last two, I should have won by one.
Q. Is having the two-stroke thing, is that such a big edge on the last hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: Better than one. (Laughter).
Q. You are thinking par the last hole and then business --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, the critical shot for me on 18 was the drive. If I hit a good drive there it sets up the hole well and I had a sand wedge in and it wasn't overly hard, overly difficult.
Q. As soon as you cracked the ball off the tee you knew it was a good shot good drive?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.
Q. Did the tee ball on 15, did it just get away or what -- did the wind blow it, I mean, what happened on that drive actually?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the wind, it was supposed to be down and left-to-right so it should have pushed it away from the water. I tried to aim right at the pin and let it just push it to the middle of the green. It just kind of hung out there; didn't miss it by much, no more than 8 or 10 yards but it just hung out there and the grounds are so hard over there that it just bounded in.
Q. What did you hit there, Phil?
PHIL MICKELSON: 3-wood.
Q. Did you have a number in mind this morning coming out here?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. No. I played the front 9 basically the same way all four days in that seemed to be 1-under heading into the par 5 and birdied 6 then either birdied seven or eight to get to 3-under and kind of turned at 3-under. Nothing too irregular, just seemed -- I seemed to play that front nine pretty solid, no bogeys it was nice. I didn't have a particular number in mind though. I felt like I could shoot a couple under the back side. But I just -- the birdie opportunities that I had I didn't make.
Q. Billy Andrade birdie at 18, did that change your strategy at all on that hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, because I had already anticipated him birdieing and me needing a par.
Q. You mentioned that the drive was critical shot there. How far was the drive?
PHIL MICKELSON: 315.
Q. Yesterday gave you some confidence on the drive?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a nice one yesterday, wasn't it? (Laughs).
Q. That was the big stick, wasn't it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I just hit 2-iron today. (Laughs). I did drive it well on 18 the last couple of days. Yesterday's drive really didn't affect the way I was looking at it today. But the wind was the same and I think that being downwind, it tends to reduce some of the side spin. So if I could just get it started somewhat straight, I didn't think that it would continue to curve off-line and I hit a pretty good one.
Q. Talk about just the feeling of accomplishment of finishing clean and getting a win here today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was -- it was certainly nice to win today; especially after having let the opportunity slide the way I have this year and I think that by changing the approach that I took heading into the tournament, during the tournament, gives me some excitement and some confidence for tournaments in the future because I felt much more comfortable, much more relaxed and worked from a positive frame of mind today, and didn't let what other players were doing or not doing affect the way I played and that was something that I have had difficulty overcoming this year. I felt like this week was a good starting point.
Q. Did the mental rehearsals, as you call them, change the way you felt, physically playing the game?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not necessarily. But I was in -- much more relaxed. Because I wasn't worried about what shots I didn't want to hit or where not to go. I was only focused on where I wanted to hit it, the swings that I needed to create that shot and so working out after positive frame of mind allowed me to be much more relaxed during the round.
Q. You have answered this before, but the answer might be different now. When did you decide to play in this tournament, officially for sure and why?
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably the week before the Open and typically I don't play for two weeks after a major and I just felt that I am going to play a lot more this summer because after the Ryder Cup I won't play again until January because of my wife's pregnancy. I will basically play the same number of tournaments this year, but just in a more condensed period of time.
Q. With that in mind, would you come back here next year, the week after the Open?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, that's not a question. Yeah.
Q. Your on 18 I was wondering if that was because you knew you won the GHO or did you hear your daughter say something to you throughout that gallery?
PHIL MICKELSON: I heard her yell "Daddy"when it was quiet. It was just funny.
Q. As the galleries grew how was it walking that final round?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't understand how a gallery would affect --
Q. I mean, you said you felt the emotion of the tradition of this tournament. As you came up 15, 16, 17 --
PHIL MICKELSON: I will say this, the spectators here, the fans, are as big as any I have seen at any tournament. I couldn't believe the support from the local community and it was a very special feeling to feel their encouragement.
Q. This and Phoenix would be the two biggest crowds?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. Phoenix and Dallas for the Nelson have always been very large, but this golf course holds people so well because of the mounding that you don't really notice how many people really are here.
Q. So you are used to playing in these weather conditions. Looked like you got a good score in this type of weather.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's turned out today. I enjoy the heat. I like playing in the warmth because it seems to loosen up my muscles and I feel a little bit more flexible and the ball seems to fly straighter in the heat as opposed to the cold and so I enjoy playing in the heat.
Q. Plus you got great fans support here?
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you, that was nice, people here have been wonderful.
Q. You had that one hiccup on 15. How hard was it to regroup then after cruising, getting through the last three holes as best you can, how tough was it to regroup?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think we are being a little nitpicky because I had one bogey over the weekend so that to kind of draw that out (laughter) for the fifth time is probably a little much. But it really wasn't a problem again because although I hit a bad shot I am going to hit bad shots. I understand and accept that, but the next shot I wasn't trying to fix that one. I was in a positive frame of mind. I hit a solid 7-iron 25 feet behind the hole on 16 and made par.
Q. You have been asked some of the hardest questions any athlete can be asked about how come you blew the big one, things like this. People in this room have seen you probably 6, 8 press conferences and your sincerity and your composure in extremely difficult situations has always come through. I am wondering where that comes from.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's nice of you to say that. Thank you. I don't know what to say on that. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful family, not just my immediate family with my wife and child but also my parents and my in-laws, they are just -- I have wonderful people around me. It -- I think -- as I look on my career, it is a process that I really enjoy and the challenge that I enjoy and so when I faulter or have difficulties in tournaments, that is part of the challenge. If I were to win every won, then it wouldn't be as rewarding and fulfilling when I do win. It's also challenging or part of the challenge to overcome that and start to try to win regularly. So those obstacles are certainly difficulties, but again, without those difficulties I wouldn't appreciate the times that I have been successful.
Q. How does this round compare to other final rounds; particularly the 3 other ones where you came up short, obviously different result, but how do you compare and contrast that feeling?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was just my mindset. That was the only difference. I didn't hit it any better or putt any better than I have earlier this week or in any other tournament, but just the way I approached each individual shot was from a much more positive frame of mind and I was able to see what I wanted to do and feel in my golf swing what I needed to do to create that shot.
Q. Didn't have that sort of mindset?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't. Not in the past. I was letting my mind wander a little bit and get down on myself at times, or just not focused on what I want to do; sometimes what I didn't want to do would creep in.
Q. Obviously you are not using this course as a prep for the British or the PGA, but are you using this tournament and --
PHIL MICKELSON: In a sense there were a couple of shots that I have worked tremendously hard on the last two months, to really control my trajectory and my spin rate. One of the best shots that I have hit all week was the shot into 14. It was 130-yard wedge downhill with a back pin that you can't miss long and I hit penetrating low shot in there without much spin. Those are the shots that I will be playing at the British Open quite a bit. But to be able to pull those off when I needed to gives me a lot of confidence with that shot because it is a different swing than my normal swing. So to be able to have some feedback on that is nice going into the British.
Q. The goal is to take the visualizations that you have been working on?
PHIL MICKELSON: Exactly.
Q. You have been playing your way into the first two majors, will you play your way into the British.
PHIL MICKELSON: The reason I am not going to play Loch Lomond the week before is I didn't feel like the golf course was similar enough to the British-Open style golf courses. What I will do is head over early and play a bunch of the courses in Ireland in an effort to prepare for that style of shots -- style of shots I will be playing there.
Q. Bally Bunion on the schedule?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. I am a member at Lahinch, it's an old-style course there that old Tom Morris still has a couple of his original designs that we will play.
Q. Will they ring a bell at Whisper Rock when you win?
PHIL MICKELSON: Drinks are on the house at Grayhawk and Whisper Rock. Free drinks.
Q. And I am doing what here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know. But you don't go to Phoenix much anyways.
Q. Well, I will now.
PHIL MICKELSON: It is only for that day though.
Q. Closed on Sunday, I am over there.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well you would be wasting your time this year.
Q. Are there some demons that only winning can exorcise?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not necessarily because even in winning those negative thoughts can still be there. If you back-door it in you still have those -- those negative thoughts. So certainly it helps, but what I find gives me more confidence is not necessarily the outcome of the event whether or not I have won or not, but what has allowed me to shoot a low round. If I can get in the frame of mind that allows me to shoot a low round as opposed to having a bunch of negative thoughts pop in and then hitting bad shots, that is what gives me confidence and allows me to think better.
Q. You may really have found something here as far as a frame of mind and visualizing stuff, you might have found something this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so.
Q. Say you went to the British Open, say you get really hot there, you might think back and say geez I might have found something there at the GHO?
PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. It is hard to say but I will say this, this is the first week in my own little experiment, this is the first week that I have really worked on my mental approach heading into a tournament. It has always been just physical approach. How am I hitting it how is my chipping and putting. I really didn't care because I didn't practice that heading in. So this was a very good stepping stone to work on the way I prepare mentally for tournaments.
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