March 31, 2001
MODERATOR: We'd like to go ahead and welcome Phil Mickelson into the interview room. Obviously got off to a good start today with an eagle on your 1st hole, finished off pretty strong. Why don't you give us some thoughts on your round today.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a round where the Front 9 I played very well and the Back 9 I just kind of hung on. I didn't strike it very well the backside. But I got off to a great start, hit a good drive and 2-iron to two feet on No. 10, had a tap-in eagle. Ended up shooting 5-under that side, then 1-under the Front 9, which was my back. I feel like I'm in good position for tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get all 36 holes in.
MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.
Q. What are your thoughts on 36 in one day?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's tremendous. I think in the early stages of the tour, especially the US Open, they used to play 36 holes on Saturday, culminate the event. I think it will be a great opportunity for THE TOUR players of today to have an opportunity to experience what it was like then. We rarely play 36 holes in one day. I think when television started getting involved in the game, we spread the final day over two rounds, two days. We really haven't had a chance to play 36. But I love it. I think if you get into a good rhythm, you can really play well not for one round, 18 holes, you can play well for two rounds, 36, and make up a lot of ground.
Q. Pretty physically demanding for a lot of guys that don't spend a lot of time in the fitness center.
PHIL MICKELSON: We're walking. It's not like we're jogging. The pace of play won't be exceptionally fast. I don't think it will be a problem for anybody.
PHIL MICKELSON: No. This will be the first time. I'm kidding (laughter). We played 36 a bunch, especially in college, junior golf.
Q. Not on THE TOUR?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think that would be accurate. I've certainly played 30, 31 holes, stuff like that, where rain has inhibited play. I don't think we've had a scheduled 36-hole day that I can remember.
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think I played that year. I missed the cut or something. I don't remember doing that.
Q. THE TOUR's policy now is to go to Monday, if necessary. Some players say you should still finish on Sunday, whatever happens. What is your view on that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that THE TOUR needs to make every effort to get 72 holes in. I think as a player, we need to keep Monday open and realize that there's a good chance, due to weather, we may be playing Monday. I think the tournament, and I think the volunteers, the sponsors that have been involved in this event, we owe it to them to do everything we can to get 72 holes in. But more importantly, every TOUR event now has become a very big event, meaning if you win, you have a couple of years' exemption, you get into many tournaments. There's a lot of perks that come with winning a TOUR event. I just think it needs to be more credible. It shouldn't be 36- or 54-hole rain-out type deal. Granted, I've been a beneficiary last year of the rain-out, won in a playoff. Certainly it feels great to win, but I just think with as much that comes along with winning, I think that it needs to be a more credible deal and we need to get 72 holes in, if possible.
Q. Changing the subject, how many chip-ins did you have today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had two. I chipped in on 1 and I chipped in on 7, both on the backside for me, my round.
Q. Is it drying out at all there so you are getting that firmness?
PHIL MICKELSON: The course is in great shape, yes. The fairways are firm. The greens are playing perfect. They're not wet by any means. They're just very receptive. The wettest place on the course is the rough. I think that's an incredible drainage system. I don't know how they did it. The fairways are firm. The ball's rolling. It's in great shape. You wouldn't even know that two days ago we had a rain delay. I think that we'll be able to withstand some sporadic showers tomorrow and hopefully we'll get all 36 holes in.
Q. Can you go over the chip-ins that you had?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was about five or six yards over the green on No. 1, which was about 50, 60 feet from the hole, I would say, 60 feet, 70 feet. Actually, I could figure it out. I was about 20 yards, so about 60, 70 feet. On No. 1, there was a pretty severe slope. I didn't want to just knock it on the green and let it release down to the hole. I felt like it would gain too much momentum and race by. I tried to hit a shot that flew it a little bit past some of the hill and had a little bit of spin on it so it checked up. It looked like it would be about five or six feet short, but it kept rolling and rolling, went in. Then 7 wasn't a very difficult shot. I was about eight or nine yards just left of the green. I was about 15 yards from the hole, 45 feet. It just landed on the front fringe and it rolled in.
Q. With the other guys on the leaderboard there, your experience is a little more vast than some of those guys. Do you feel coming into a final round like this, especially with a comfort zone on this course, that it works better for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, one of the guys, Scott McCarron, has won this tournament here. Chris DiMarco has played well here just about every year that he's played. I think that those two individuals seem to play this golf course very well. I have not looked at who is behind us. I haven't seen any of the players that are right behind us. But I think that those two players really enjoy this golf course. I think that we've seen their name every year up there. Whatever reason, they play well here. Consequently, I've played well here, the last two years I've played, finishing eighth two years ago when Duval won, then winning last year. I think I don't particularly feel like there's any advantage, but I do feel good about where I'm at. I like being close to the lead heading into the third round. If we have a chance to play 36 holes, I think I like that opportunity better than just an 18-hole shoot-out. I hope we get both rounds in.
Q. Is there any philosophy, you haven't done 36 much to have a trend working, but is there a philosophy to it?
PHIL MICKELSON: The way I'm looking at tomorrow, there's two things I want to do. I want to get into a good rhythm with my golf swing. Over 36 holes, it's basically rhythm and tempo that carries you through that many shots. You're going to hit some good ones, you're going to hit some bad ones. The most important thing is trying not to fix bad shots, it's going to be trying to get a good rhythm and hit good shots. The other thing is I'm going to try to get in a good pace of play. One, it's going to be a long day. Two, we're really not going to play that fast. With the format, I think we're still looking at five plus hours. I don't want to be in a race to get to my ball and then have to wait every shot. Rhythm walking and rhythm with my golf swing will be the two things I'm working on tomorrow.
Q. On TV they said on your chip-in on No. 1, they thought you purposely hit the ball fat.
PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean?
Q. You hit behind it almost like a bunker shot.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes.
Q. You did?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's how I hit my lob shot.
Q. (Inaudible) some where you have your troubles. You talked about 18 at the TPC last week, looking at water. What fits for you here?
PHIL MICKELSON: Around the greens, there's no rough. It's given me an opportunity to get away with some poor swings and get up and down. Last holes, I didn't shoot particularly well, ended up shooting under par. I think the fact that there's no rough around the green is a huge benefit. I think the length of the golf course is a great benefit. All four par-5's are marginally reachable. A lot of the -- the top third of the longest hitters can get there, and a lot of guys can't. Also 13 is drivable for the longest of hitters. Although I haven't hit the green, I've been close enough where I've had little easy ups and downs, birdied both days. That's five holes that we can almost get to in less than regulation. I think that this course sets up well for guys who hit the ball a long ways. Scott McCarron certainly fits in that bill. Davis Love certainly fits that bill. I didn't see what he shot, but he always plays well. Look at the past winners, Tiger, Duval. It's a great asset. Those two things allow me to go ahead and try to hit the ball hard. If I do make a mistake, I feel like I can recover.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thanks, guys.
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