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August 12, 2000

Phil Mickelson


PHIL MICKELSON: I really enjoy playing with Tiger. It was a fun day today. I got off to a good start, birdied four holes. First 4 holes, had a little bit of momentum and I have been working on some things in my swing this week and last week and it started to feel A little bit more comfortable. I still hit some errant shots today. As I did yesterday, but I was able to recover from those today, make pars and move on and capitalize on some better swings. I am very pleased with 7-under. I was thinking a lot lower there after the turn, after I turned in 5, I felt like I could get it going through 11 through 14. I missed a straight 8-footer uphill on 11; did not birdie 12 or 14, which hurt. Those were three shots that I gave back, but they were the only three shots that I gave back and not for birdie. They were not for bogey. They made par. So birdied both par 5s back side and shot 7-under. I think that still is quite a ways back from the lead. I understand that, but, again, it is in a position where a low round on Sunday may catch the leaders. Colonial I shot 63 and caught them. Last week I think I shot 65 and didn't catch them. So it may or may not be enough. I am looking at trying to shoot 7-, 8-, 9-under par tomorrow and try and catch the leaders. But again, it may or may not have been enough, but by shooting today's round I at least gave myself that chance.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: I enjoy playing with Tiger. I think that he is one of just a couple of guys that I actually watch them swing, which a lot of swings out here are different and sometimes will throw me off rhythm, what have you. But I enjoy watching him swing. I think he is -- obviously he is very talented, but I have a lot of respect for him even as a peer for his game and the type of individual he is. I just enjoy it. But what is interesting is that what he goes through every day, I can take in small doses. I mean, a day here or there, every other month or so, it is plenty. I don't know how he does it. What he has meant to the game of golf, has been amazing. I told him -- I thanked him for all that he has done and all that he continues to do because he is in a very difficult situation. I don't know how he handles it. It is amazing.

Q. How many more distractions are there in a round playing with him than a regular round just from the gallery and everything else?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it is not that there are more distractions, it is just that -- it is almost -- it is so loud and there is so much hoopla that I can't even hear -- I can't even dissect what somebody is saying. It is just all a blur there is so much. If somebody says it during a normal round, says something, or comments, I can hear distinctly what it is they are saying. It was just all a blur. I don't know how he does it. It is amazing. It took me on the first hole five minutes after hitting it in the tree to get the people out of the way so that they were not in danger to hit another shot. They just -- there is so many people to move when you hit it in the trees and you basically just need to keep it in play when you play with him.

Q. What are you working on (inaudible) --

PHIL MICKELSON: It is hard to explain. I am just -- I am trying to simplify it and been working a lot with Rick Smith on getting my swing to be a little less complicated. I don't know how to say it. If you will notice, if you look at my swing today compared to the start of the year or compared to two years ago, you see a little bit less movement going back. You will see more balance and just a simpler swing, I think. That is what I am trying to work on. It is just that when -- it is just not as natural for me because I have always been so long and so movey (sic), if you will.

Q. What did you want to get out of making a point of playing before the majors this year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wanted to get in a competitive frame of mind heading into the majors and by that -- by playing Sunday, there is only -- only three days where I haven't played in a competition by the time I teed up Thursday. If I take the week off, I am looking at 11 days of having no competition and when I tee up on Thursday in a major, a lot of times if I am not competitively ready, that first nine holes will just kill me because the conditions are so difficult that it is hard for me to just work into the tournament. I have to be ready come the first tee. And a lot of times I will be a little bit lax if I haven't been in a competition prior.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit, yeah.

Q. (inaudible) Notice the results, obviously haven't won a major but --

PHIL MICKELSON: I played well in the majors. I have had an opportunity in all of them. I finished right around - I don't know what my worst finish is - but I think it is no worse than, what, 15th or so. I forget what exactly, but I have been in the Top-10, I think, going into Sunday in all three days which is an accomplishment. I don't know if that is an accurate statement, but close. Anyway.... I played well. I am not disappointed at all. I think that this year it would be extremely difficult to have won the U.S. or British Open. Fair enough? So that is a -- it would be difficult to judge based solely on wins on whether or not it has been effective playing the week before.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: The misses -- when I first start -- whenever I make a change, my misses are just sporadic. Yesterday on 15, the pin is back right. So the green is 35, 40 yards wide. I had missed it left in the -- out-of-bounds left; left of the green; left of the bunker; out-of-bounds with a 4-iron. So that is just -- the point is that the misses are much larger. But today, I didn't hit it great, but my misses were more within the realm of playability. It was a fun day because I played a bunch of putts. That is the real critical thing is that the first four holes, I made a bunch of putts and got my score down.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: 17, I didn't hit a great putt and I missed it low. It was just -- easy putt uphill right-to-left. I could be aggressive with it; which I was, just didn't get it on line. 18, I hit a decent putt. I thought it had a 50/50 chance. It just peeled off low. Came really close to going in. But two good opportunities.

Q. When you are changing something in your swing, how do you resist the natural temptation to going back to what felt comfortable a week or two --

PHIL MICKELSON: I think long-term. The end justifies the means. I think one week here or there, or one month throughout an entire career is irrelevant in the scheme of things. I think that -- I have been trying to make an effort to continue to improve and so forth, and I think that these were necessary improvements. I think the finished product will be a simpler swing; a swing that I will be able to control the speeds a little bit better, but when I increase it, hit it further, or so forth, or take some off and hit it a little softer, I will have more consistent contact. So I think that when I get through this, I will be able to have a wider variety of shots than when I started. I think I will be more effective under pressure. It is just simplification. You will see that there is not as much movement going back; not as much body movement; the club is more on plane; not as long; a little better rhythm.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: Remember we talked at the start of year how I sat back and thought about how I could improve. (inaudible) long game, and Golf swing-wise, there were two things that I wanted to do, that was just basically have less moving parts; keep the swing more on plane, and it was difficult to do. So it has taken me the year to figure out how I want to go about changing it.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean at Pebble? No, we just started at Tree Top. We started at Tree Top for that par-3-deal two weeks ago.

Q. Playing with Tiger, specifically, tell us about one or two things - what is -- why do you like playing with him?

PHIL MICKELSON: I enjoy his company. I think he is a fun guy. I think he is an interesting guy. He is very intelligent and I enjoy watching him hit some of the shots that he hits. I think that he can do some things with a golf ball that are pretty special and I enjoy seeing it.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: Birdied the first four. I hit driver in the right rough on 1, but hit 3-wood short left of the green, chipped up to about ten feet, made that. I hit 3-wood and a little 119 pitching wedge on 2 to about twelve feet, made that. On 3, I hit -- I had 188. I hit -- let's see, 188, hit 7-iron to about -- oh, about eight feet, made that. And I hit 3-wood, sand wedge. Sand wedge was from 103 on No. 4 and hit that to about ten feet, made that. So I made four pretty good putts and I birdied No. 8. I hit 5-iron to about eight feet. I birdied the two par 5s on the back No. 13, I hit driver, 6-iron about 40 feet, 2-putted. And No. 16, I hit driver, 3-wood green-side bunker, chipped up about -- hit a good bunker shot to about four feet, made that.

LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?

Q. What did you hit on that par 3?

PHIL MICKELSON: Last week? 6-iron.

Q. How close?

PHIL MICKELSON: About twelve feet.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: (inaudible) Just hit it. Slight wind in. (inaudible). I hit a really good drive on 16. I thought I might be able do hang with him a little bit. He was 25 yards by me, so -- he hit 2-iron in there. He brought that 2-iron in so high and soft that it just clunked right by its divot. There is nobody else that could have hit that.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: Drove it by him, yeah. He hit a high one. I just hit a low one. It ran right down the hill. Put it 15 by him. (laughter) It is true. I don't know what to say. Of course, he kind of popped it up and all that, but he hit driver, I did too.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I put 3-wood over the green yesterday, so hit 3-wood today. I think Tiger needed driver, but he put it on, good shot. He had to hit driver there because if he cut a 3-wood, it would not have run up. On 14, if I hit 3-wood and draw it, it hits downslope and just chases up by the green. So it fits perfectly, but I have to hit it straight or else I end up in the bunker which is where I was today.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: I had a difficult shot because the green was tucked. Pin was tucked. It was a downslope.

Q. (inaudible)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, hit a great shot with spin on it. I put it 15 feet.


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