June 18, 1999
PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA
LES UNGER: Phil, thank you for coming in, and we chatted a little bit before with David. Was it a little bit like a match play feeling out there with you two guys?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. No, because it's the second round and I feel, and I think David feels that -- and we all know that even par seems to win all the U.S. Opens. I think we were just both trying to get a few shots in hand before the weekend, because we know the golf course is going to play much more difficult on the weekend and we're probably going to give a few shots back, so it's important to keep the round par. It's difficult in the U.S. Open to care about what somebody else is doing. In a regular Tour event, it's easy to look back over your shoulder and see if anybody is tearing it up, shooting 6, 7 under. But that's not the case here. Par is ultimately the person that you want to compare yourself to or the score you want to compare yourself to. And I don't have enough energy to worry about what other players are shooting. I'm sure that's the case with David and the other guys in the field.
LES UNGER: Are you pleased with the day?
PHIL MICKELSON: I felt starting the day that 70 was going to be an exceptional score for the reasons the winds were stronger, the greens weren't nearly as soft. Because of that, I would have taken 70 at the start. I'm very pleased with 70 at the end.
LES UNGER: Please give us a rundown on all the holes that are not just routine pars.
PHIL MICKELSON: Okay. I bogeyed No. 6 today. I hit it just short, just in the rough by the right bunker and did not get up-and-down, missing a 12-footer. I birdied 10. I hit driver, driver to the right of the green pin-high in some rough, but only about 30 yards from the hole and chipped up to about 6 feet and made it for birdie. I birdied 12, I hit driver, 8-iron to about 30 feet behind the hole and I made the putt. I bogeyed 16, I drove in the left rough, hit it in the right front bunker, wedged onto about 10 feet and missed it.
Q. Which of your adventure shots should be most remembered? You made difficult recovery shots today.
PHIL MICKELSON: Before I say that, answer that, that I'm really pleased with the opportunity that this golf course presents. If I or another player misses a shot, we have an opportunity to hit a great recovery and get up-and-down. I think that No. 5 was probably the best up-and-down that I had. I hit a really good 3-wood off the tee and hit 6-iron right into the middle of the green. And it's virtually impossible, I think, to hit that green. It went over. And I had a chip that I was faced with where if I came up short it was going to roll off the green again to the left, and if I hit it just past the hole it was going to roll off the green in front. So it had to be just right. And I ended up bumping it into the hill. It skipped up onto the tier with the pin and checked up about five feet from the hole and I ended up making it. The reason I bring that one out is because the penalty for a miss was much more severe. It would have been off the green either side.
Q. David, are you just planning on just playing in the Majors the rest of the year once the baby gets here?
PHIL MICKELSON: Schedule-wise let's say the baby comes on time, June 30th, and I have one or two weeks of Tour events before the British Open, so I would plan on staying home and not playing until the British Open. That's kind of the plan right now. In fact, that is the plan. I don't anticipate it changing any way. And after the British, there's only, what? Two or three weeks before the PGA. So that would make sense to not really play until the PGA. So it looks like my summer schedule will be just the three Majors. And then after the PGA, that will be the earliest that my wife and child can travel. So we're going to try traveling to the PGA International and the World Championship of Golf and Firestone, those three tournaments.
Q. You addressed a situation with respect to the pager going off. What are the chances of your wife, Amy, not making the call Sunday, if nature calls about noon on Sunday, until after your round is complete?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm sure she'll call because we've already talked about that. But she's doing everything she can, and she saw the doctor again today. It looks like it's still going to be another week and a half. I'm really not overly concerned. I really think that it will be June 30th or later.
Q. Phil, was driver, driver on 10 part of your plan for the week, and did you hit a flop shot on 15? Was that part of your plan?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, 15 wasn't really a flop shot. It was more of just a spinning wedge shot. It's not like I tried -- a flop shot really requires indirect contact. By that I mean not hitting the ball first, kind of like a bunker shot. That wasn't the case there. I opened up the face and tried to spin it, landed it on and it just grabbed, pulled up about six feet short. That is in the works quite a bit here. A lot of times it will have to bump the hill, skipped up top and then checked. That one I had enough green where I felt I could fly it onto the flat surface and have it check up. As far as No. 10, I'm not planning on reaching ten in two, but today there was a little bit of help and it was warm and it was reachable. So I went ahead and hit a good tee shot. Actually I think driver might have been not the play. I probably could have gotten 3-wood to the front part, anyway. But I ended up hitting it pin-high right and it ended up okay, I made birdie.
Q. Phil, besides the obvious answer of shooting the lowest score, in your opinion what is it going to take to win this golf tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: A lot of pars. I really think that that's going to require patience, but the goal is to make pars as you stand on each tee box. And to do that it takes a lot of patience. It takes patience not to fire at pins and try and make something happen. The front 9 I really didn't have any birdie opportunities. I ended up making a bogey on 1-over. I want to get it back to even. But there were really no birdie opportunities that presented itself. And I ended up making one on 10, and a 30-footer on one hole. You just don't know when you're going to make birdie. You want to try to give yourself a 30-footer, but it's still not easy to make a 30-footer here. It's important not to try to make things happen, just keep making pars and let things happen.
Q. Phil, the fact that you knew that these greens were going to allow some creativity that other U.S. Opens don't, did that give you a better attitude than you've ever had coming into a U.S. Open?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was very excited about the golf course when I saw it. I heard it was going to be this way, it was wide. My wife and I really wanted me to come and play here. I've spent the past month working on my short game that I feel I have not worked on my short game in the past few years and it has somewhat deteriorated. I worked hard the last months, and I feel it's as good as it's been in the past few years. The fact that I'm able to have the short game be an integral part of the game this week is awfully nice and exciting for me. The opportunity to save par after a slightly missed -- miss-hit shot is also exciting, whether it be off the tee or a second shot. The ability to advance the ball up by the green is an added bonus. And I think that the golf course and the USGA really -- it said a lot for the golf course and the USGA this week in that 3-under is leading after two days, and it's probably laying as easy as it could.
Q. Looking to Sunday, the four finishing holes, two of them are par-3s, which is unusual, do you find that easier, will it be harder, how do you think that will work out?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, anytime you have an opportunity to put a 3 on your score card, that's the goal. So it's going to be very difficult to make up shots to par on those two holes. Par on those two will be a good score, and if you have to make it up with the leader, you're going to hope the leader falters, rather than trying to make something happen. Of course, that's kind of the case on every hole, isn't it, though?
Q. What club did you chip with on that save on 5, and second, are you using a different putter this week, what kind of putter are you using?
PHIL MICKELSON: On 5 it was an L-wedge, and that's pretty much what I'm chipping with throughout around the greens. It's either an L-wedge or putter, that bump shot with a little bit of spin most often. The putter I've had since just prior to The Masters, I used it there, so it's not entirely new. It's about three months old. It's a Scotty Cameron that he made, designed after obviously some older style putters, Calamity Jane, per se, but just a few design features that we've seen in classic putters. There's 7 degrees of loft, which all my putters have, because I put my hands so far forward. But it is a Scotty Cameron.
Q. You've been in this position before in Majors, and how is this weekend going to be different from weekends past? You're talking about patience. Were there certain spots on the course that you know you'll play differently now than you might have two years ago?
PHIL MICKELSON: Heading into the weekend, I have a different feeling. I am not nearly as -- I guess I'm much more relaxed heading into the weekend for the reason that I don't feel like I have to hit every shot perfect. I feel like there is enough margin of error where my short game can make up for it. If I were to miss a fairway, it's not the end of the world. It's not a definite bogey. I can advance the ball up by the green and let my short game try and make something happen and save par. That happened a lot today in that I didn't strike it great the front 9, but I was able to keep it around par. And when I did hit a few good shots, I made some birdies. Because of that, I don't feel nearly the amount of tenseness that I have typically going into the weekend of a normal U.S. Open where I feel like I cannot miss a shot. Don't get me wrong. It's not easy, but I just feel like the short game is a factor again, and I can save par.
Q. Phil, as you kind of get more into the battle and this weekend, are you thinking less about the beeper?
PHIL MICKELSON: I really haven't worried about it. Bones has it and if it goes off I'm out of here. It's not something I need to worry about, the decision has been made. We're doing everything this week to have the beeper not go off. It looks like it won't. I spoke with her, and the doctor said again her cervix is tight and it will be a few more weeks. I'm really not worried about that, no.
Q. I asked David Duval the same question. This is the U.S. Open and I don't think America would like a battle or showdown on Sunday better than between you and he, what do you think about that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've had an opportunity to play against David a number of times. We've been playing junior golf tournaments together, a bunch in college, and quite a few years now on Tour, so anytime that we've had some matches, they've been enjoyable. I have a lot of respect for his game. And I think the same goes the other way. I don't know. But I really enjoy playing with David in the Presidents Cup team and looking forward to playing with him in the Ryder Cup this year if I can get enough points. So I don't really look at it so much as a head-to-head competition as this being such an oddity, because we've done it a number of times. And again I think the competition really is against each player and as Bobby Jones would say old man par, because as we know, even par usually wins U.S. Opens.
Q. Phil, knowing your confidence and ability in the game and your knowledge of the other players, who do you think is going to finish this weekend second behind you?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know what, I wasn't listening, could you say that again?
Q. Knowing your confidence and ability in the game and this course the way it sets up for you, who do you think is going to finish second this weekend behind you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I appreciate that, I take that question as a compliment. It's not one I'm able to answer, because I would be confirming it, but I appreciate you saying it, thanks.
Q. Phil, was the pace of play slower today, and how did it affect you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think it was slower today because we just teed off later, I think there was probably the same problems yesterday. 5 and 6 present a lot of challenges, it's very difficult to hit that green, and subsequently everyone is trying to get up-and-down from all over. That's probably why we saw two or three groups on each tee box there. It's not fun, it's a challenge that we typically have at each U.S. Open on some hole or another, so it's something that we're able to prepare for and expect heading in.
Q. Phil, Jose Maria broke his hand punching the wall because he was so frustrated by his play. What's the most angry you've been on a course, have you ever decided to punch the wall or break a club?
PHIL MICKELSON: I used to have to buy my clubs if I ever broke them so I learned not to break them. I can't imagine trying to break a bone over it, it doesn't make sense, let alone a club.
Q. Phil, before his round today Rocco said there was absolutely no chance that anybody was going to break par over the weekend.
PHIL MICKELSON: Who said that?
Q. Rocco Mediate. What are your thoughts on that and what do you think the odds are of someone breaking par?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that statement could hold a lot of truth if the course and weather conditions continue like they've been, drying out and being sunny. If it rains, I think we will see guys under par. Of course rain is not likely. If the course played like it did on Monday, we guessed that 5 to 8 over would win the tournament. Obviously the rains came, the greens got a little softer, and par became realistic again. If it dries out like it was on Monday we won't see anybody break par.
Q. Phil, you talked about working on your short game pretty hard in recent weeks, months. You've been down to visit Jackie Burke a little bit. Did he give you any good tips you've been able to utilize here. Have you, with your imagination, been able to manufacture any special new shot to cope with this course?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's not any shot that has been a new shot, like you see guys putting with a 3-wood. No, I haven't done anything different. It's the same L-wedge shot I've hit, kind of a bump with spin, and it seems to be working okay at this course. I've spent a lot of time now with Jackie Burke and I have not felt this good or had this much confidence with the putter or the wedge than I've had in years. We've spent a lot of time talking about putting, that was the first step last year just before the Open and I led the week in putting statistics. So I think that there's a lot to be said for some of the things that he has been saying and what we've been working on. Subsequently, after I saw the progress I made in putting, I wanted to spend a bunch of time with him on long game and short game. And we've been doing that, I feel like he's helped me immensely. I've enjoyed the time I've spent with him and the knowledge he's acquired over the years with the time he spent with a number of great players over the past few decades, I really enjoyed listening to him speak. Anytime he speaks I just love hearing what he has to say. He's a man who has an incredible amount of knowledge. It's not so much that he needs to say anything directly as far as do this or do that. If I can just listen to him speak, I can then take what he has said and try to apply it to my game as well.
Q. Phil, you spoke a little bit about patience to the greens a little earlier. Do you find yourself out there at all by your competitive nature to want to fire at any of the pins on your approach shots?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, and the reason is I can't see my parameters from the fairway. I can't see what the left edge of my target is and what the right edge is. Everything is just rounded and it's all green. I can't tell what edge to edge I have to hit from. You look down a fairway, you can see the left edge and the right edge. If you go left of that, left of the left edge, you're in the rough. I can't see how I can go left or right on the greens, subsequently I feel like I need to aim for the middle of them.
Q. David mentioned that the Ryder Cup was mentioned out there today. How big a factor is that in your situation right now?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was more of a joke. I told him that he had made so many putts early on I was going to break that thing. But we talked about how we were going to try to partner up in September, so I let it go. We have a good relationship and we enjoy playing in team competitions. I really enjoy playing with David at the Presidents Cup, and we're looking forward to playing together at the Ryder Cup. It's not so much we're out to win the Ryder Cup back, it's just that we enjoy playing together in team competitions, and that's really the only one during the year we'll have.
Q. Phil, how many times did you save par from off the green today, how many of those were sand saves?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's a good question. I got up-and-down from 2, on No. 2, that was not from the sand. I couldn't tell you. You really want me to go through it all? It says I missed six greens. And I made two bogeys, I must have gotten up-and-down four out of six times, that would probably make sense. One out of the sand on 16 I did not get up-and-down. And I can't think of another bunker shot.
LES UNGER: Thank you, Phil, and good luck.
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