August 6, 2000
CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO
LEE PATTERSON: You made a nice run at it today. Maybe just a couple of thoughts about it, then we will open it up for questions.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a fun day. I had felt like I had pretty good shots all day, even until the last hole. And the last shot, I felt like I had a good opportunity, which was a minor victory, because after 36 holes, I was so far back that just to have an opportunity on Sunday was pretty exciting for me. I thought that Ernie played extremely well today and made it difficult to make up those 8 points. But he birdied 16 and 17, and those turned out to be pretty critical points.
LEE PATTERSON: Questions.
Q. His two big shots, the birdie putt on 14 and 16, are those the shots of the day?
PHIL MICKELSON: The putt he made on 14 was pretty crucial, because that kept him with a 5-point lead, which was more than two birdies. Two birdies would have caught him otherwise. It was a big momentum putt as well. Being 5 back, I felt like that was the most that I wanted to be back, because I felt like I could make that up in the last two holes. I could eagle 17, and even if he birdies, I could birdie 18 and tie him. When he birdied 16, that was another critical shot. I don't see how the tee shot on 15 was all that critical, because I ended up making pars, not like it was costly.
Q. His tee shot on 16.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I am sorry, I absolutely agree. To knock it as close as he did, that 4-footer was a very easy softly right-to-left putt. The kind you just -- you almost can't miss unless you just ease into them.
Q. How hard was the wind blowing? 17, if we understand it correctly, you played that 3-wood wedge; is that correct?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.
Q. Was there a lot of wind or did you just crush it?
PHIL MICKELSON: You just give me no length credit. (Laughter.)
Q. Supposed to be a par 5.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that certainly there was a lot of help, and typically a 3-wood could not go through the fairway straightaway. Mine would have gone through about 25, 30 yards through straightaway, had it not gone up the left side. So there certainly was a lot of wind. It started blowing right around 13 or 14, I thought. Actually, it started blowing around 11 and made it play difficult, because I don't recall it ever playing with much wind up here. Seems like it is always pretty calm or just a slight breeze either way. But no, that ball went -- certainly went a long ways.
Q. Ever hit wedge to that hole before?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, but typically I have to hit driver off the tee to do that. I don't ever hit driver because I don't try to go up that narrow slot.
Q. How far did you have second shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: 160. It actually wasn't a hard wedge. I had to take something off it too.
Q. 3-wood off 18 too?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, pretty good one there.
Q. Big wind behind you there (laughter)?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was softly quartering. It was a pretty good help there. I crushed it. Hard 3-wood. I felt if I could get it down there with L-wedge distance, I could give it a decent shot at going in. Obviously, making it from 110 yards, the odds aren't good, but I felt like I could have a chance -- much more so than if I were coming in with an 8-iron and having trouble stopping it. I hit a good L-wedge. Boy, it looked like it was right on the pin. It landed about a yard, yard and a half too far.
Q. Looking back, you didn't make your first birdie 'til 5. Any shots out there that you felt you left out on the golf course early and maybe some shots that. . .
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't -- really don't think that. Obviously, I needed to birdie one, but that is so far removed. I feel like this week I scored way better than I played. And as we saw today, certainly, I hit some good shots, and I am very proud of that. But I also hit some shots that were way off-line, and something that I was able to scramble around and salvage pars from. It wasn't a week where I felt very confident with where the ball was going. I missed the ball quite a bit both left and to the right, but -- and I felt like I didn't really putt the best. But for whatever reason, I was able to at times hit some really good shots, hit it close, take advantage of the par 5s and take advantage of the Stableford format; make enough birdies to offset a lot of my mistakes. So I don't look back and think that, boy, this was my tournament. I gave it away. I felt like I worked really hard just to get to this position just to have a chance the last few holes. That was an accomplishment in itself, because I didn't feel like I was firing on all cylinders this week. But I got a lot out of my round, and most often, of the time, you hear -- saying just the opposite, when I am playing really well and just not getting anything out of it. Just the opposite for me this week.
Q. Tough to finish second, but today you're really happy that you moved up to where --
PHIL MICKELSON: I am not ecstatic, don't get me wrong. But I am ecstatic about having a chance at winning, because I was 16 points back at the halfway mark, and I wasn't giving myself 10-footers every single hole either. So to have gotten myself in a position to have a chance to win, I thought that that was a pretty good accomplishment. Even going into the last hole, I had a shot, and I thought that that made for this day to be pretty fun.
Q. Ernie looks to us anyway to be like completely unflappable in a round like today. What is it like to play with him in this situation? He doesn't look like he is going to give anything back.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that is true. And because he strikes it so well and putts it so well, you have to give him almost 8 points right from the start with the par 5s. And so to catch up 8 points means I have got to go make 16. That is very difficult. That is a 64. So it becomes almost an insurmountable task. But there is -- with the format and the eagles, so forth, I felt like there was a pretty good chance if I could capitalize on that.
Q. You have been a father about a year. He has been a father a few months. Have you talked to each other about how that has changed your life?
PHIL MICKELSON: We do. They are very similar in ages, only a couple weeks apart. So we do a lot of things -- we will bring the kids together and let them play together, and so it is interesting. We do talk about what stages they are going through and so forth. It has been amazing the similarities; how they are starting to walk at the same age and say words at the same age. It has been interesting. But there are a lot of kids out on Tour, so it is actually pretty fun for them to come out, because they see all their friends, and they have a day-care set up where the same people go around week-to-week, and so you are familiar with the teachers and you are familiar with all the kids, and so it is actually pretty fun. Granted, our daughter is not quite old enough to be in that, but when she is, I think she will enjoy it.
Q. Is Ernie fun to play with? Does he drag you along?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that he plays at a wonderful pace. He doesn't play at a slow pace and not a fast pace, so it is very easy to get into a nice rhythm playing with him. I think it is difficult sometimes when guys take forever to hit a shot, because you are trying to get in a rhythm, so forth. You are just standing at a standstill. But no -- and we are easy to club off of. We are not looking really too much at what we are hitting, but we are very similar distance off the tee, as well as irons into the green.
Q. You said that you weren't completely satisfied, obviously, with the way you hit the ball a lot of times. Now, looking to the PGA, is there something that you need to look or to work on next week? Are you playing the Buick?
PHIL MICKELSON: I am. I will play next week. And it is Rick Smith, who I work with, is going to be at Flint. I will spend time with him. His resort area is not too far away from there. I will see him the next week. But the golf course here is very similar to Valhalla, and the shots that are required into the greens. The greens are very similar; bunkers are very similar. So the shots that I was trying to hit this week were a lot of left-to-right shots, and I played hitting a draw basically.
Q. Which you will need.
PHIL MICKELSON: Which I will need there. So even though I didn't necessarily hit it exactly the way I wanted to, I think that that shot will be what I will need at Valhalla. I am starting to feel a little more comfortable with that. The other thing I take away from this week is I hit some sand and L-wedges this week extremely well. I hit them very close to the hole, and so play from inside 120 yards was pretty proficient for me, so I am excited about that.
Q. Do you think Tiger could have stayed with you two this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you know, if he played well, I am sure he could have. Yeah, I think he is a pretty good player. I really do. (Laughter).
Q. You think he made a mistake not coming here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't. I don't know what his thinking is. He is going to play next week, so that is why I think he probably didn't play this week. I haven't talked to him.
Q. Same kind of course, Nicklaus course?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, Nicklaus design you mean?
PHIL MICKELSON: Exactly. I think that the bunkering is very similar. The greens are very similar. The angles into the greens are very similar and the -- a lot of his greens tend to run length -- let's see, left-to-right as opposed to front-to-back. So it is a very shallow landing area, and you need to bring the ball in high and soft. Typically, at Valhalla, if I remember right, like 9, 10, 11, shots into the green needed to be moving left to right to take advantage of the full amount of green. So it is very similar here, and shots like the and 8 and 7, even 6, all those shots are better off moving left-to-right. So I think that with me playing well, hitting that shot this week, I have some confidence going into Valhalla.
Q. Are you surprised at all that Ernie hasn't won more, or has gone almost 18 months without winning on this Tour?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't really thought about it. I didn't really realize that that was the case. I know he had a bunch of seconds this year, but I really haven't thought about that.
Q. Do you play all these tournaments this month so you can get the hell out of Phoenix? (Laughter).
PHIL MICKELSON: Were you there last night for the game?
Q. It is 128 at 11 P.M.
PHIL MICKELSON: You didn't care for that?
Q. You obviously don't.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we have actually been spending the summers in San Diego, so it hasn't -- it hasn't been too bad. Well, obviously I left Phoenix in the summer for the same reason --
Q. I was just giving you some shit.
PHIL MICKELSON: Broncos won last night. That was a nice little deal. You guys played well.
Q. Cardinals sucked.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, well that too. (Laughter). Who QB'd last night? I didn't see the game for the Broncos?
Q. All of them.
PHIL MICKELSON: Griese.
Q. Griese started and Frerotte played two quarters.
PHIL MICKELSON: Is Griese the projected starter?
PHIL MICKELSON: No more Brister. What happened to Bubby?
BUDDY MARTIN: Traded.
Q. Have you got anymore questions, Phil?
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else.
PHIL MICKELSON: I do have a question. What is the word on Ryan Leaf last night? Because he certainly played well. I didn't see the San Diego paper. Was it pretty positive comments?
Q. Yeah, he threw a touchdown pass.
PHIL MICKELSON: How did he do after the game?
Q. Stayed out of jail.
PHIL MICKELSON: His locker is okay, still intact. All right. (laughter).
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you.
PHIL MICKELSON: Okay, guys, thank you very much. I had a good week, I enjoyed it.
End of FastScripts....