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February 24, 1999

Phil Mickelson


GORDON SIMPSON: Phil, good playing again today. Not bad for the local boy.


Q. What was the score?

PHIL MICKELSON: 3-2 was the final.

Q. How did it go? You were 1-up at the turn?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I was 1-up at the turn and had a chance -- I wasn't looking good on 10. I drove it in the trees and ended up getting to the front bunker and making a good up-and-down in the bunker to stay 1-up. That was the point where the match could have turned because I was 2-up through 8, and he would have won -- had he won 10, we would have been even. I ended up birdieing 12 and 13 to go 3-up and we parred the next three holes and I ended up winning 3-2. I ended up getting off to a quick start which helped. I ended up birdieing it, and he missed a 4-footer on 3; that put me 2-up, but that was the most that I was able to get early on. He kept fighting back and made a number of good birdies. The real difference was the two mistakes that he made the 4-footer on No.3; he drove it in the water on No. 5 and gave me two holes. That was what really turned out to be the difference because we both ended up making four or five birdies.

Q. Being from San Diego, is it an advantage playing these three weeks of golf in Southern California?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if it's an advantage, but it is certainly enjoyable to be able to drive to these tournaments, go from San Diego; drive up to L.A. and just come right back. Playing the TOUR, we end up flying every single week, and it is nice when we are in the same proximity. I enjoy playing the Byron Nelson and Colonial because the two tournaments are so close together and we are scheduling them together; so, I don't know if it's such an advantage, but it is certainly more enjoyable.

Q. How would you describe Ozaki's style of play?

PHIL MICKELSON: Joe is a very good ball-striker and a very solid putter. I think those are his two strengths. He tends to hit the ball high, pretty far and awfully straight. And he putts it extremely well. Today he didn't -- he didn't hit it as long as I have seen him hit it. I don't know if he just wasn't feeling well or if things just weren't clicking, but distance-wise I had an advantage. I tried to take advantage of it on the par 5s, and I did on 2 and 12 and won those holes.

Q. Did you reach any of those?

PHIL MICKELSON: I did. I had 3-iron into both.

Q. So the course must be playing pretty short?

PHIL MICKELSON: I hit it pretty good.

Q. Shorter than January; you are not going in there with 3-iron in January?

PHIL MICKELSON: Right, we are getting a little bit of roll, but --

Q. Any thoughts going in here that you are playing one of these guys from The Presidents Cup, it was one of those heroes again --

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, well, I wasn't overly excited about being paired against Joe for the simple reason that he has the ability to light it up. I played him in a match at The Presidents Cup in the best-ball format. He ended up birdieing the first three holes; and so, I have seen what he is capable of doing, and I knew that I needed to play well to have any -- to have a chance at beating him. I played well. I didn't do anything exceptional. It is not like I shot 8-under, but I was 4-under through 13 holes and that was all it took.

Q. Any thoughts back to the Presidents Cup? Did you draw on that at all for today's match?

PHIL MICKELSON: Just what I just said. Yeah, nothing more than that.

Q. What about 12 and 13, did you say you birdied those two?

PHIL MICKELSON: I did. I hit 3-iron into 12 and I was in the right bunker, but only about 30 feet from the hole. And got up-and-downed; hit it two feet. Joe had some trouble -- was short left; chipped over and was struggling for par. So it wasn't -- all I needed to do was make 4 there. 13, though, I was only 2-up. That had been the most I had been at that point, and Joe hit a good shot into the green. I couldn't see how close he was. It could have been four feet or 15 feet. It turned out it was about 12 feet. And I hit a really good shot in there, landed it three feet from the cup and it hit a huge bounce and went to the back about 18 feet; so Joe has got a really good look at it and he has been making these -- he has made a couple of them all day. He made a 15-footer on 1 for par that started the match and I saw him make a bunch of these. Anyway, I know he is going to make this. I had to roll that one in to keep my 2-up lead. As it turned out, I ended up making it and his didn't go; so that is where the match took a big turn into my favor and gave me enough momentum with so few holes left.

Q. A lot of the average golf fans probably say, wow, a million dollars. How do the players look at it, or is that something you don't even look at?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I think it is great, but you have to understand, we are entertainers just like we are in any other sport. And we are only -- our value is only what we are able to generate what people are willing to pay. If we can only generate and play for $100,000, I would still play golf for a living because that is what I enjoy doing. If we are able to generate the type of revenues that this tournament creates and have a $5 million purse, that is certainly exciting, but what is exciting is that more people are taking an interest in the game of golf. That is what allows us to play for these types of purses.

Q. Nick Price spoke about tension that he felt today and said that no one wants to lose in the first round. Did you feel any of that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I feel that every Match Play tournament that I have, for the reason that in Match Play between matches or before a match the anxiety that builds before that match knowing who you are playing, but not knowing what you have to shoot. That, to me, is the most difficult thing to deal with, and whether it is a first match or the fourth match or whichever, that anxiety is the same. You don't want to lose and you don't know what you need to shoot. See, in stroke-play, 72 holes, you say, well, there are 25 guys who can win. I have got to shoot a 66 and I will have a chance. So you -- it is much easier in stroke-play to pick a number and play against the course and try and score low. In Match Play, that is not always the case. Like I said, today, I played well and shot 4-under but that could have easily been overtook if somebody shot 6 or 7. So, that is the most difficult to me the most difficult thing about Match Play.

Q. How do you feel about being able to play in Tucson this week and --

PHIL MICKELSON: Disappointing. I think it is disappointing that Tucson is one of our best weather tournaments in the first two months of the year and yet we still go to places like Monterey and deal with the rain every single year and we still struggle with bad weather at other cites, but Tucson never seems to have a problem this time of year. So I would liked to have seen that tournament remain on its own not conflicting, but there were good reasons as to why that happened. Obviously winning the tournament three times, it is special to me, but I think that they had some problems creating revenue. I am not positive, but I think that the TOUR had to subsidize it quite a bit and that is why they ended up conflicting -- having an event that conflicted with this.

Q. Seven rounds in five days. Does that favor the younger players who have possibly more stamina?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think so. You know who I think it favors is a guy that plays with feel, a guy that can get into a good feel and rhythm for the golf course and his own game has an advantage. I think that it is difficult -- see, any player is going to have trouble playing well over seven rounds. It is difficult enough playing four rounds of stroke-play well. So a guy who is very mechanical, well, he is going to have a few breakdowns, just like a feel-player is going to hit some wild shots, but the guy who plays with rhythm and who makes a few mistakes but doesn't worry about it, who still has a lot of confidence in the way he is playing, is going to be able to overcome that a little bit easier over seven rounds. I remember when I played well at the Amateur in 1990, I just felt good about my game. I felt good about the way I was driving it. I felt good on the greens. I felt good chipping. I had a few close matches, but that carried me through because I didn't play well every single match. And the times that I have not played well in Match Play were the times that I was working on things with my golf swing.

Q. How do you feel this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you are not really asking me that. You are asking me to look into the future, but I feel okay. I feel pretty good about my game, but I am not projecting that into anymore matches.

Q. Are you more of a feel-player or mechanical player in your mind?

PHIL MICKELSON: I have always been a feel-player with some mechanics involved. Everybody has some mechanics, but I have always been a feel-player and I am trying not to work too much on mechanics for the simple reason that I am trying to find that rhythm or that groove that we are talking about. This was a good start, but there is still -- over six rounds. The next couple of rounds will be crucial for some momentum.

Q. Having this Match Play Championship right here in your own hometown --

PHIL MICKELSON: It is great. It is great for me.

Q. Do you have feel any pressure to stay alive each day?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not pressure. I feel excitement coming in because I get to play on a golf course where I have won twice and in front of people where I have had a lot of support in the past. That tends to be a big factor in Match Play because momentum can mean a lot over 4-, 5-, 6-foot putts; a lot of times if you think about it, it is much easier to make a 4-footer for a win than it is to make a 4-footer for a tie knowing that if you miss it, you lose. It is much easier to think about the negatives if you have to make it to tie. When you have people supporting you, it is easier to develop some momentum and feel confident about certain putts or shots. Okay? Thanks.

End of FastScripts....

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