March 7, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Just share your thoughts about today and going into the weekend.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's an interesting day today. I thought it was playing a little tougher than yesterday, but there were still a few 66's this morning. I thought I played pretty well and I shot 4-under, so I was pleased with that. But I saw some guys taking it low out there was pretty impressive. The wind was up and it didn't seem to be playing very easy to me. But I don't know how the afternoon score is going to be today, but I'm very pleased, obviously, to be somewhere in contention. And I'm looking forward to the weekend.
Q. Just talk about your year so far. I guess for you it's kind of a slow start, talk about the west coast?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I feel like I've been playing well, but I feel like I haven't played very smart. And I've made a couple of dumb mistakes that have hurt me in a lot of tournaments. I seem to have one poor round a tournament where I don't think on every shot and it's cost me. But I feel like I've struck the ball well, and I've been putting better than I have in years. And my confidence, it's starting to come back, so if I could just play smart, you know, and not -- miss the ball in the right spot, I think that I could put myself in contention a lot more often the next few events.
Q. Phil, did you come in this year with a different mindset, in other words to do better in Florida, I guess, leading into Augusta, not exactly at the expense of the west coast?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's funny, because normally I can't wait for the west coast to start. And I'm looking forward to every event there and want to go win and get off to a quick start. And my mindset was a little bit different. I took quite a bit of time off and it took me a while really to get motivated because I kept looking at the Florida tournaments and The Masters as being kind of the important area as opposed to the first two months. I don't really know what that means, but I wasn't quite ready to play the west coast as I had been in a few years past.
Q. Are you going to play all four Florida tournaments?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm going to miss next week. I had originally planned to play all four. But I'm going to end up taking next week off. I'll come back for Bay Hill and THE PLAYERS.
Q. You just got married, right?
PHIL MICKELSON: I got married in the middle of November.
Q. Was that a pleasant distraction?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was really a great off-season for me. We got married, we had a fun honeymoon. We moved -- when we got back from our honeymoon we moved into a new home. So we've had a lot of exciting things going on in Phoenix.
Q. Is this a new home in Phoenix?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's right. It's my first house.
Q. Where is it?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's in a town called Paradise Valley. It's right by the -- probably about a mile from Paradise Valley Country Club, I would say.
Q. How many square feet?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's about 6,000, I would guess, roughly.
Q. How many bedrooms?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's got five.
Q. Where did you go for the honeymoon?
PHIL MICKELSON: We stayed in Hawaii, we stayed in Hawaii. We hopped over to another island. So we stayed there so we didn't have to travel too far. It was fun.
Q. Phil, what were some of the mistakes you said you made where you would just have a little blank out during the round?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll give you a perfect example, I'm 9 under at Pebble Beach in the second round, which was either leading or tied follow the lead, you know, midway through the second round. And I get to the 14th tee, wind's in, so I can't reach it. The smart play is just to hit driver, 3-wood down the left side. Well, I try and go after this driver and rip, turn it around the corner, and I ended up hitting a tree 50 yards off the tee box and it knocks it out-of-bounds and I make triple. That's what I'm talking about, just a dumb thinking error that created a bad shot. I'm trying to think of another example --
Q. San Diego, didn't you down the stretch?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm at 8-under in the third round, and I just eagled the 13th to go 8-under. And just hit a poor tee shot on 14 off to the left ice plant and made double. It's just that kind of stuff that if I'm thinking smart I'm going to take a club that doesn't quite get me to that ice plant, have a 7-iron in, try and make birdie. And I just haven't -- and it's normally happened a little bit later in the round, 14th hole both cases, a little bit later. And I think it might be -- I'm guessing, but it might be because I took so much time off that I wasn't really prepared mentally. So that's kind of something I've been working on is later in the round really trying to stay focused on what I'm doing, because I've slacked off a little bit on the first few events of the year.
Q. You did say, though, that your putting, you're pleased with the way you've been putting?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've putted better than I have in years, as far as the ball starting on-line every time and it's rolling the way it should. Now the last ingredient is just reading it right. But I'm really excited with the way I have been putting this year.
Q. What happened to the bogey on 15?
PHIL MICKELSON: Today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I had about a 35-footer and I lipped it out. I thought I was going to make it, but I was a little aggressive, lipped it out and went about four or five feet by. And I ended up missing that. As my confidence gets up I see myself racing them by like that. That caught a lot of lip, did a 90-degree turn and it still went 5 feet by it. I hit a couple more that I ran 6, 8 feet by and made those coming back. So I need to be a little careful on the speed sometimes. As my confidence has gotten up I'm trying to make longer putts as opposed to making sure I get the speed right. But I'm really excited with the way the ball has been rolling.
Q. Could you just do the birdies?
PHIL MICKELSON: I birdied 10, 11. I hit 3-wood, 3-wood on 10 into the front bunker and blasted out to 6 feet. And I hit 3-wood, 9-iron on 11 to about 10 feet. So those were those two. And then on 1 I hit a driver, 3-iron to about 35 feet and 2-putted. On 8 I hit driver, 3-wood to about 35 feet and 2-putted. 9 I hit a 6-iron three feet.
Q. What did you play at 18 today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit driver just right and it was kind of -- it was short of the bunker, but my stance was in. I had a little wedge in and I hit it over the green right into the bunker and hit it up there a couple of inches, so it was an easy par. I had to be a little careful there just because with that lie I'm not sure how the ball was going to squirt off.
Q. Which bunker were you short on?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was the last one down there, yeah. I had 118 to the hole, so it had to be I think the last one down there.
Q. What do you think of that hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I like it. It's obviously very difficult. A lot depends -- I think the difficulty in the course is -- a lot of it has to do with the softness of the sand because --
Q. The bunkers on the right?
PHIL MICKELSON: The fairway bunker, 50/50 getting a lie that you could actually go for the green. And around the green the balls are plugging unless they hit on the side slope, but the majority of plugging, so it's very difficult to get them up-and-down.
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