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August 25, 1996

Phil Mickelson


WES SEELEY: Phil Mickelson, 70, 66, 68, 72, 274, 6 under par. And a 3-stroke victory. Your fourth of the year. Congratulations.


WES SEELEY: Tell us about it.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a day that I was very anxious to have come around. It was very difficult to sleep last night because I kept thinking about all the things that playing well today could mean and I tried to get those thoughts out of my mind, but getting four wins for the year and having a good shot at the Byron Nelson Award and hopping up in the race for the money title and, most importantly, that 10-year exemption, those things were very important to me and it was very important to play well today - not to mention the fact that this golf course is a major championship golf course and for me to perform well on that -- on that style of course is a big step in my performance in future Majors.

WES SEELEY: Let us do birdies and bogeys.

PHIL MICKELSON: Okay, well, I birdied 4. I actually -- my -- on two, I consider kind of a bogey. I 3-putted from about 25 feet and didn't get off to the great start that I wanted to, but on four, I hit probably the best shot that I have hit all year. I was in the bunker on the right and I had 205 yards up the hill, but I had two trees in my way, and I had to split the trees with only having about a four, five foot gap between them. And I took out a 3-iron and ripped it and it went right through the gap, barely cleared the bunker; trickled on the green about eight feet past the hole and I made that for birdie. And I kept thinking about what could have happened, had it hit one of the trees, if I didn't pull it off. Because those are one of those spruce trees that were very thick, so it could have been a large number. It was a gamble that I took early on that paid off. I ended up bogeying 8 after missing the fairway to the right and hitting a good shot just short of the green, I putted it down there to five feet and missed it. So we moved on to a bogey on 12, where I tried to cut a 6-iron into the pin. I ended up drawing it and it just had too much club then. It would have been about right if I faded it, but by coming over it, I hooked it over the green and made bogey. And I let it slip again, the next hole, after driving into the bunker off to the left of the fairway. I didn't really have much of a shot to the green and hit an okay shot short of green and missed 15, 20-footer. So I was kind of slipping a little bit there and not really sure what I was thinking on some of those shots. They were just poor mistakes. Fortunately, I was able to kind of get things together and make a few steady pars and then we got to 16 and I had 88 yards to the hole and a little wind helping, I hit a good L-wedge that flew behind the hole and spun back to about two feet and that really gave me a lot of confidence because I hadn't made a birdie since the 4th hole and although I had been trying to be patient, it is very difficult when you are running out of holes and I was very pleased to see that ball end up that close. Which gave me some confidence going into 17 where I hit a 6-iron from the left edge of the fairway, 172 yards to six feet from the hole. Made birdie there. So that was -- those were really the two key shots.

Q. This your biggest win ever, Phil?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it is really tough to say that any win is bigger than my first one at Tucson as an amateur. But this one had a lot of meaning or a lot of things that went along with this that I said earlier about being a major championship course and having the 10-year exemption and all the other things that are winding down as the year comes to an end, so it was a very important victory for me and it was something that I kept thinking about and wanted so bad last night.

Q. Were you thinking about it on the course today too while you were struggling a little bit?

PHIL MICKELSON: I really tried not to, because -- I tried not to. I am not saying things didn't enter my mind, but if I am going to perform and play well, I have got to get rid of those thoughts and try and work on my game.

Q. How far did the shot, the wedge shot back up on 16 and were you concerned that it might back up if you were short --

PHIL MICKELSON: That wasn't really my concern. My concern was flying it too far to where it would kick over the green and the spin wouldn't have a chance to take effect. That is more what I was worried about because I had plenty of club because some wind was helping. So when I saw the ball land on the green it ended up spinning back about 15 feet and it turned out to be about the right amount.

Q. You talked about how that shot restored your confidence. It seemed your confidence began to slide on the 11th for the next few holes; your drives kept driving it into the rough. Why were you missing the fairway and was it a mental thing, a physical thing?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that is, you know, that is a good question. I think it was a little bit of both. I didn't get off to the jump or the quick start that I wanted. I didn't get it going quick. I wanted to try and pull away and separate myself and I was -- after bogeying 8, my confidence went down just a little bit and I made a couple of hesitant or reluctant swings as opposed to aggressive, and hit some poor tee shots that put me in a bind, and 11, I felt like that was going to be a crucial hole because I could birdie it. You know, good drive; just a little L-wedge in there and ended up hitting a horrendous tee shot well right and was very fortunate to make par.

Q. You spoke about 16, 17 but did you actually win it with the saves at 11 and 14?

PHIL MICKELSON: 11 not so much because I had 2-shot lead at the time. Possibly 14, it was important to get that one up-and-down after bogeying the two previous holes I needed to put an end to the slide there, so I would say that up-and-down out of the bunker kept me in it for me to have the opportunity to turn around later on.

Q. How close was that finish on 14, looked like about 18 inches, maybe?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, it was under two feet.

Q. Talk about that shot. That is a very high bunker. May not be the hardest shot in the world, but there is no green to work with virtually.

PHIL MICKELSON: You are right. It came off very good. I had a good lie, but I still had to open up the face quite a bit and get the ball as high and soft as possible because the green did run away over there. But it was a shot there where I just wasn't thinking of -- what could have gone wrong because I didn't really have an option. I had to get it up-and-down to stop the slide.

Q. A quick followup, how big is this after what happened at PGA 27 holes to go, looked like you were able to win and it got away from you. Today it looked like it might get away from you, but you went back and got it.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, again, I mean, it is important, but it is important for a player's confidence to close the deal and, you know, having a 3-shot lead, it was a tournament where I had to play poorly to give it away, really. Not that a 3-shot lead is so much, but on a golf course like this, where it is very difficult to score low on, I would have to be coming back to the field and that is pretty much what I did. So having not played the best at the PGA, the final two rounds, it was very important for me to finish the year right and to close strongly.

Q. Of all the things that you got by winning, which is the most important to you, a fourth win? A 10-year exemption?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that having a 10-year exemption is incredibly important. Carries into a lot of other areas, especially performance. When a player knows for ten years they won't have to worry about making the top 125 on the money list, gives me or anybody else the opportunity to attack and play just for winning golf tournaments, so I would probably stress that one. But for this year, in particular, it means a lot to me to try and win the Byron Nelson Award for most wins in a year, and that is something that I am going to -- that I am shooting for, and winning this one sure boosted my chances.

Q. Curious on 16, how risky of a shot was it to go for that, you know, risky going over the green and how close were you to going over and not having it having a chance to spin back?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, you know, there was -- I mean, there is always risk involved, but it wasn't that risky. I had an L-wedge in my hands. I am not going to be playing from the middle of the green, but I did play a little bit left of the pin and let the slope kind of bring it back to the hole, so I had a little bit more green to play with.

Q. How close was it that you were going over --

PHIL MICKELSON: I had another four, five yards, probably. But I hit it 6 yards past the hole too, so there was plenty of room.

Q. At 15 when Mayfair missed that short put, did you concede that putt to him almost in your mind when he was taking it? Were you thinking ahead, I am down one now before he took the putt?

PHIL MICKELSON: I can't really say that that is what I was thinking, no, but I had a good feeling he was going to make it. What I tried to do or what I was thinking was I needed to make my put and if I could make my put, it would -- I thought we would be even with three holes to go. That was my thinking. So I didn't really think about, you know, whatever, but 8 feet, pretty much figure he is going to make it.

Q. On that same green you had about 25 feet and when that singed out and Billy missed his, you kind of looked up at Amy shaking your head. What were you thinking?

PHIL MICKELSON: I just couldn't believe another putt lipped out or just went over the edge. Seemed like it had been doing that all day, starting at 1 I thought I made it, and there was a putt on 6 that I gave -- started walking after it -- like it was in the hole for sure and it lipped out. Then on the par-putt on 12 lipped out. I just kept lipping everything out. I started thinking, well, gosh, maybe this isn't meant to be and that was kind of the key one on 15, I just thought, gosh, when is a putt going to go in because that looked so perfect in my eyes. It was right on the slope that I wanted; with the speed I wanted and yet I just couldn't believe it didn't go in. So I started wondering whether or not it was going to be my time to win, and I am glad I knocked it a foot and a half, 2 feet on 16.

Q. 25 feet or 30?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I would say, about.

Q. Going into today, did you think even par would get it, the final round even par?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I thought that -- I thought if I shot 2 under par I would win for sure, was my thinking going in, because I thought it would be very difficult for anybody to shoot five under out here. I thought that even had a chance, I mean, it is not a golf course that you concede 67s to players; it is very difficult. I really didn't think about what would win other than I wanted to shoot 2 under because I believed that would have done the job.

Q. Did you have a bet with McCord at 16?

PHIL MICKELSON: I tried, but he wouldn't take it.

Q. And how about winning for the first time east of the Mississippi?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, oh, what a feeling. (LAUGHTER.)

Q. Is that a new endorsement?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know how to answer that because I haven't really thought about it - "gee, if I can finally win one east of the Mississippi;" that wasn't my thinking. What was nice was winning on a golf course that was of this style, these type of grasses, long bent rough, tight fairways, smaller greens, difficult to hit. It was really a golf course that required good ball striking, and I felt like my game has improved for me to win on a course like this.

Q. Before your shot on 16, you said your confidence was going down some, and did you feel all those things -- with all those reasons you found this tournament important today, did you feel those things slipping away from you? Did you think about that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really because I was never out of the lead, but I was a little worried, sure.

Q. This would definitely be the toughest golf course that you have won on?

PHIL MICKELSON: I believe so, yes, sir.

Q. And the other thing real quick, what is your schedule up to THE TOUR Championship.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I am not going to be playing any U.S. Events.

Q. 'til THE TOUR Championship.

PHIL MICKELSON: Right, except for the Presidents Cup, obviously. I am going to be playing overseas a little bit this year, before November I am going to take November, December off, but I am going to play the Dunhill Cup and the World matchplay in Europe. I am going to play the Presidents Cup and an event in Japan, the Suntory Open, and I will probably play Las Vegas - I am planning on playing Las Vegas because it is so close to Phoenix.

Q. Are you the kind of player who starts a year with goals specifically in mind and if so did you meet them this year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I am going to say no to the first question, so I don't have to answer that.

Q. What you wanted to do this year, being ready to play Thursday, have you been able to consistently maintain that this year (Inaudible.)?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, consistently, probably, I would say no, but a lot more than in the past. I have had a lot more opportunities to win than I have in years past, and I think it was kind of evident this week on Thursday when I was a couple over quick -- we had a rain delay. I was able to think what am I doing here; why am I giving shots away. I need to stay or maintain around par if I am going to have a shot on the weekend and so that was my thinking earlier in the round. I was able to make a couple of birdies and shoot even par and not shoot myself out of the tournament after the first round. I think that was as big a key to wining this week.

Q. Do you think you would have been able to correct yourself if you had stayed on the golf course without the delay?

PHIL MICKELSON: I would like to think so. But who knows because it didn't happen.

Q. Can you talk about playing with Billy today, what effect that had on your mood throughout the day and your position and everything?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, it was very -- it was a very difficult round because I wanted him to play well and perform well and I felt like I missed the put on 17 when he missed that 5-footer, that I couldn't believe that thing lipped out. And it was difficult because I really felt like he was pulling for me and I know I was pulling for him and it is tough to be going at it head-to-head, yet, you know, really care about the other person and want him to do well. I really want him to make that Presidents Cup team. I think he is going to be a huge asset for the tournament, for the event, and I just-- I hope it is enough.

Q. He said you guys talked about football. Is that all or what else specifically did you guys talk about?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, we ended up talking about a lot of stuff. We spent a lot of time together this year and he has become a good friend of mine.

Q. Today.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we just -- I don't really remember. It was a long day.

Q. Billy talked in here about why he played from the middle of the green on 16 mainly because he hit it in the water there last year. But after you stuck it though, were you surprised he didn't go for the flag?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I didn't know that. The way he was playing, I thought he just pulled it a little bit, which is where you want to miss it. You don't want to short side yourself on that hole because you can easily go through the green in the rough and have a slick downhill chip shot with water behind, so I didn't know that he was playing there. I thought he just pulled it a touch. Okay?

End of FastScripts....

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