November 4, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: Looks like we have got a tight race as we head into Sunday. Maybe a couple of thoughts about that, then we will open it up for questions.
PHIL MICKELSON: I am looking forward to tomorrow. I think that it will be a fun day for a few guys and I am really looking forward to it.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. I think this round has been building up in you for a long time. I just wonder your thoughts about your play and what was key to the round today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I putted very well today. I had a couple of long ones go in, but I think most importantly, it was very similar to the first three rounds, especially yesterday's where I got off to a good start, made a number of birdies, but yesterday the last three holes I gave 3 shots back. Whereas today I made a long putt on 17 for par, about 25 feet, and a 15-footer for par on 18. Saving those two shots kept me right by, near the leaders.
Q. You had kind of a smile on your face as you walked off 18. Was that just relief or --
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, yeah, I have really struggled out of the rough around the greens here. I just -- I haven't spent much time on my short game and with the greens as hard and fast as they are, the ball seems to race away from the hole. It is very difficult to get it close. I had probably as easy a chip as I will have on 18. It was straight uphill, plenty of green to work with, and judging the lie has been very difficult this week for a lot of players. I didn't hit a great shot, about 15 feet and to walk out of there with par was a minor victory because that 18th hole is a very difficult hole and you are just wanting to make par from the tee and to walk away there with par after missing -- hitting such a poor shot left was a nice feeling.
Q. You had a couple of things to contend with, the fence and the cameras....
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I actually didn't want relief. I wanted to move the fence and move the camera because I had a pretty good lie. In fact I had as good a lie as I could have asked for. When I had to drop it, I dropped it into a much worse lie, as it turned out. The camera was as immovable as was the fence.
Q. You had a couple of pretty good front runners up there ahead of you. Vijay is playing very, very steadily. When he is like that, he is tough. As you know, Tiger is tough sometimes. But any particular strategy or is there any place on this course where you can actually attack and make a move?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you can attack just about every hole. If you hit a good tee shot you are thinking birdie. And that is the case for every single hole out there. For me, I need to go out tomorrow, get off to a good start just as I had yesterday and today. If I can make just a couple of birdies early, being the group in front, I think will have its advantages. But if I don't get off to a good start, then being in front will be a negative.
Q. Would you just as soon rather be playing with them instead of one group in front?
PHIL MICKELSON: I actually really like where I am at tomorrow, I really do.
Q. You were mentioning on TV something, you had done a little tweak with your putter or rearranged it or something. Could you just go over that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I made a new putter basically. I went down to Scotty Cameron's workshop and made a few new putters with him. This is the first time that I have ever been able to hit that terrelium (phonetic) inserted putter. For whatever reason, the combination of that with this new ball is putting a very good roll on it to the point where I don't even try to think about rolling it. I just try to get it on line because the ball is coming off the face the way I want it to.
Q. When and where was that, where you made the putter?
PHIL MICKELSON: Last two months. I took six weeks off in September and October. So it was right in there.
Q. Did you actually, like, do the gluing or --
PHIL MICKELSON: We took the basic head and we -- I don't want to say grind it, it was kind of like buffed and soft on the edges, weighted it and drilled out weight in the middle, and bent the hosel back. The problem that I have with a lot of the heal toe weighted putters is that the hosel is vertical. So it forces a player's stroke to be more straight back straight through where I like to have it more rounded like the blade so I flowed the hosel back, so that the putter now swings like a blade. It is hard to explain, until you see it. When you see it, you can see what I am talking about. But it is hard to put into words. The hosel, instead of coming up vertical from the putter is flowed back.
Q. Also are you looking for something a little bit more compatible feel-wise with the new Titleist ball or is it some different issue?
PHIL MICKELSON: I just wanted to try some of the new technology. I had used a blade for so long that for years now insert technology has been hot and I have never really tried it or taken advantage of it. It has been a nice experience, I have really enjoyed it. I think there is some real technological advantages in putting. Normally you think you are just hitting it with a stick, but I think there is some real differences. What I did was on this particular one, because those putters when you put inserts in, the face is very thick because you have to have room to put the insert in and screw it together. The putter is very heavy. We play such fast greens that you don't want that heavy putter because the ball just comes off too hot. So I drilled -- we drilled out all the face. There is a lot of weight that was taken away. So on these greens, as fast as they are, still feel like I can play an aggressive stroke and not have the ball take off on me.
Q. (inaudible) Is tomorrow a really important day for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is a really important day for me because if I win, I don't have to go to Spain and I don't want to go. I don't want to go to Spain. Nothing to knock the country, I just don't want to travel. I'd like to go home, hang-up the clubs for a few weeks, and get into the holiday season. And if I don't, if I don't go out tomorrow and play a good round, then I feel like I need to go play Spain to hold my position on the money list.
Q. You are talking about time off, talking about money, but you haven't talked about whether it is important for you to win this tournament on this course against the two guys who are ahead of you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it would be great. I mean, let me say this: I have not ever played well in this tournament. My best finish is 12th. This is the first time that I said that for two, three weeks before this tournament, I am going to really work to play well here. I spent a lot of time ball-striking and putting, trying to get ready for this event, playing Vegas trying to get into a competitive frame of mind which, by the way, I had never played well there with the exception of one year, for the same reason, is that I don't know why I just take these last few events and I really haven't prepared for them, and I wanted to put a stop to that. So if I could prove to myself that I am able to gear up for an event, playing in two or three weeks prior, work on my game and prepare for that one specific event and win, that would be pretty cool because it would give me the confidence that I can do that next year for the four big ones.
Q. Presidents Cup a factor in that at all, two weeks before, gearing up for that or just late season surge?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I wanted to play well there too, but I really wanted to play well here.
Q. You have finished a few groups in front of the last group. They said there was a little change in the greens just from that little soaking rain. If we get anymore rain on this course and it does slow up a little bit, to your advantage or disadvantage?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that -- I don't think it will favor or -- I don't think it will favor anybody, I really don't. I don't think that it will hurt anybody either. I think that it just plays a little different. It doesn't quite have as much run-out and it is actually a little bit easier to get the ball closer to the hole because it doesn't have that extra few feet of roll. The balls stop a little quicker, which means basically you will have the -- the average score for the field will probably be a shot or so lower.
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