March 23, 2001
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
Q. Do you have a good feeling going into Saturday?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I'm not overly thrilled though with where I am, for the simple reason that I feel like I've played really well and just not getting anything out of it. I feel like I'm throwing shot after shot away. It's a little disappointing. I had a very good, good round going today. I was 6-under with a 3-footer to go 7(-under) and I ended up shooting 4. It's been a little frustrating for me, but I feel like I'm playing well. If I can just finish a round, I should be able to move up the board. But it's been a little difficult.
Q. How much of that is the course?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think when you play well, it doesn't really matter what the course is like.
Q. Last week you were the same thing, up and down. Are you being too aggressive or is it just inconsistency?
PHIL MICKELSON: Two poor shots. If you have a look of concentration here, it's very difficult to overcome that. I hit a poor 2-iron shot tee shot on one hole and made bogey, and I hit a poor second shot on 9 and made bogey. By missing those fairways, I ended up really not having a chance at par.
Q. What was the hole where you had the 3-footer for birdie?
PHIL MICKELSON: 4.
Q. Did it just slide by?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. It just lipped out. Could have been a really, really good round, but I let it slide away.
Q. Are you happy with your putting overall?
PHIL MICKELSON: So-so. I didn't putt poorly, but I didn't putt great. Most of my birdies were from fairly close range.
Q. With all of that being said, what is your mindset going into Saturday, try ad come out and do the same things?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I need to have a good round tomorrow, obviously. I need to shoot 5-, 6-, 7-under tomorrow to get myself in position for Sunday, but at least I am in position to do that. If I didn't shoot in the 60s today, I would really be hurting.
Q. There are a number of guys near the top of the leaderboard who have never won on the Tour. To be on a course like this, a field like this, is it possible for somebody to make their first win something like this?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is possible, but I would say historically there has always been somebody who has not won a tournament in contention here. It has not happened in the past. I would not rule it out in the future. It just seems, for whatever reason, it has not occurred.
Q. Would you prefer to see things get more difficult on the greens with your ability to hit it so high and land it so soft and eliminate players that can't do that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the course is playing very fair right now. It's a very penalizing course. It is a very manufactured course, so the difficulty is not subtle, like the great courses; it's very extreme. I think that the greens being soft like they are, or receptive, they are not totally soft. They are just receptive, which makes the golf course play fair. And so, I think that to have 9-under leading right now, and really, there's only -- there are not that many people going low. I think it's playing very fair, and difficult. The rough is up. So if you mis-hit shots, it is it tough to get up-and-down around the greens. Tough to salvage par from the fairways. So I think it is playing very fair. I have never been a big advocate of making these greens firm for the simple reason that there's no place to bump-and-run it. It's not like you can land it short. It's designed to fly the ball on the green, and when you make them that firm, as they have been in years past, it does not play the way it was originally designed.
Q. Was it kind of a nice break today to not have battled the big winds, or is it windier on the course?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's windier on the course. When you get in the trees, it seems to subside, but when you get out to 16, 17, 18 the wind is pretty strong. It is not overly difficult. It is not like it's howling. Just up to enough to make that shot on 17 extremely difficult. Not only do you have to pull the right club; you have to hit it the right trajectory. And if you get it high, it's going to come up, not just short of the green but in the water. And if you bore it too much, it could take a big skip and go right in the water. So just that little wind makes 17 play a lot more difficult.
Q. Guys like Nick Price have said this will never be a major because of 17. How do you feel about that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if I disagree or agree with that statement. I just don't have anything to say about it. I don't know.
Q. Do you feel like over and above the little mental lapses, do you feel like you are on target going into Augusta in a couple of weeks?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm pretty close. I think that the area -- I've been spending some good time on areas of importance at Augusta. My short game is starting to come around. When I have reasonable chances at up-and-down here, I've done pretty well. Now, certainly, some shots around these greens are not really -- you can't really expect to get up-and-down. I mean, I'm just -- from 80 yards, I'm trying to make par on a par 5. So sometimes it's not realistic. But my short game has been coming around. I've been driving the ball decent, keeping it somewhat in play and hitting some pretty good irons. So I feel like the style of play that Augusta favors, I'm getting ready for.
Q. The concentration lapses, anything you can put your finger on?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not a concentration lapse, per se, as much as just a poor shot. And I'm going to hit some throughout 18 holes. And I've had some unfortunate breaks, in that I've been unable to recover from some of those mistakes.
Q. Everybody talks 17, 17. Once you are past 17, 18 is not exactly a hole where you can relax?
PHIL MICKELSON: 18 sets up awful for me, because as I address the ball and look up, my eyes go right to the water. At least the right-handed player, their eyes go out to the right side of the fairway. So it is a very difficult hole for me. I hit one in the water yesterday and made double. 17 has played historically very difficult for me. It's a tough finish.
Q. Have you thought about just looking down and not even looking up there at a certain point on 18 so you do not see the water?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. Just today I aimed out in the right rough and hit a big cut, and so I have to get my eyes and my alignment far enough to the right so I see land when I look down the line.
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