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March 30, 1996

Phil Mickelson


WES SEELEY: Phil Mickelson 71, 72; 64 today for 207. 9-under-par and ties the back nine record with 30. What was different today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I got off to kind of a slow start. I was one under through 8. I had a good opportunity on 1 and 2, and didn't do anything. It looked like it was going to be a slow day, and I tried to be patient. I knocked a sand wedge to about six feet on 9 and turned in 2-under. But I played the last ten holes in 7-under. I just kept it going and made a few putts. That was really the key. There is not too much wind out there, and grant it, I am very pleased with 8-under, and I am pleased to be at 9 total and everything, but with the leaders teeing off here now for the next hour, and without there being any wind, they are going to take it pretty low as well, and I'm going to be quite a ways back come the end of the day. So the thing I am pleased about is that I have an outside chance tomorrow if I can get the play going again and shoot a duplicate 64, I might have a shot.

Q. Is this the round you thought you had going on Thursday?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. That was the funny thing, I was playing really well, and I wasn't really thinking or trying too hard. The putts just fell, and when I had doubled 18, it kind of crashed. I went and played the next five holes in 5-over, and I just played real sloppy. So I was very fortunate to make the cut. I birdied two of the last three yesterday, so I feel like I have been playing well. But I wasn't as focused, I think, the first couple of days because I did have it going, but I didn't capitalize on it. I made a lot of dumb mistakes, and I gave quite a few shots back because of mental errors.

Q. Did that double at 18 trigger yesterday's total, then --

PHIL MICKELSON: That was two days ago, actually; that was on Thursday.

Q. Right. And then you finished up yesterday morning?


Q. Did it kind of just --

PHIL MICKELSON: Carry-over you mean?

Q. Yeah.

PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit. Yeah, a little bit.

Q. Kind of blah?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, because the scores were low all day, and I put myself in a good position early on Thursday. And the way I look at it is, there is only a couple of rounds that a player really gets it going, and if you are going to win a tournament to win tournaments, you need to take advantage of those rounds that you do get going, and on the other days when you don't quite have it all there, be real patient and make those key birdies on those few holes and just not make the mistakes. Well, I looked at Thursday as being my opportunity to go low, and I turned it into a 71. So that is why I was disappointed. And at the break, as you had said, I had turned a potential 6 or 7-under through 11 holes into a 3-under. So it was a little disappointing. I don't think it really affected the way I came out and played. Hit a poor shot; had made a double and then parred the rest, but it wasn't the best note to leave the course on.

Q. Is that tempered by the fact that this is that kind of a golf course, although you went in the water you could miss a shot by ten feet and kind of be dead --

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that is true. I found a couple of situations that I haven't seen for a long time with these mountings, you have the ball at eye level. It is a difficult course, but right now -- it is a very forgiving course in the sense that the fairways are decent sized, the greens are decent sized, and right now they are soft, so they are not too difficult to hit and/or get it close.

Q. You had a shot at eye level?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, where the ball's -- yeah, at eye level. That would be -- yeah.

Q. How did you hit it?

PHIL MICKELSON: I just choked up on my -- it was just right on the green -- right by the green; just choked up on an L-wedge.

Q. Doubled the left?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. It wasn't that bad.

Q. Was that today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Actually, I have probably had one or two everyday, yeah.

Q. So the conditions --

PHIL MICKELSON: I have put myself in some pretty poor positions, that is what I was getting at. But right now the course is really susceptible to birdies because the greens are so soft that you can get to all these little tiers and valleys that they put the pins in. It is not very difficult.

Q. What was the mistake at 18 Thursday that - you know, of all the shots, what was the one that ticks you off the most?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it wasn't really a shot so much as it was not really thinking clearly on what I wanted to accomplish. So it is kind of hard to explain, but it started with a 6-iron. If I missed it right, I don't want to miss it long. Well, I missed it long right and then the chip, well, it is uphill, so go ahead and be aggressive. Well, I wasn't aggressive. And then the putt, you know, try and make it, I rammed it five feet by, so it was just a combination of not really thinking any shot through. It is not like any one was just horrendous, and I knocked it in the water and had no chance, but...

Q. Your attitude kind of -- in the paper today you said you are sure people are going to pass you in this money list thing, and you probably sounded like you thought you had no shot.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it is March, and the money list doesn't really matter until October. So, I am not really all that worried about it. But -- and to be honest, I haven't thought too much about the money list, you know, I have put myself in a position now where I am probably going to be top 30 without even playing another tournament, which gets you into all the other tournaments, which is a big criteria of -- you know, but that is not really a thought. I feel like what I have done this year is given myself an opportunity to have a really great year, and what I am trying to do is capitalize on those opportunities.

Q. I just meant Friday night, last night, you figured you had no shot to win this or thought it was over.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I wasn't in the best position. Is that what you mean?

Q. Yes.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that would be fair to say. In the way I was looking at it last night, I have an opportunity to go out in today early. Hopefully it will be calm. The wind would pick up in the afternoon, that is what I was hoping. And if I can get it going early, I might have a shot on Sunday to shoot another low round and catch it. I feel like even if they shoot -- score low today, if I can duplicate a 64, I think 17-under is a good target score to win this tournament.

Q. What is the feeling when, you know, like at 18 on Thursday, I mean, does it just take the wind out of you?

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, that was a long time ago. I really don't even remember. I just birdied it and I am kind of thinking more on that note as opposed to what happened, you know --

Q. Or just any --

PHIL MICKELSON: -- while ago.

Q. Or any kind of thing like that?

PHIL MICKELSON: That does -- especially middle of the round it does hurt quite a bit having something like that happen to you. Not so much because it is 2-over-par, but because it takes a little momentum away and it hurts your confidence level at the time.

Q. Do you have any idea what your numbers are like on the back side this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they have got to be pretty good. Because I played the front side over par.

Q. Yeah, you have got to be, somewhere around. 12-under on the back.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, is that right? See -- I was 10 -- what was I yesterday, 2-under? I don't remember. Yeah, about 10, 9, 10-under.

Q. 11-under?


Q. Are you getting to the point in your career where you are just pissed if you are not in the final two or three groups every Sunday? (LAUGHTER). You are just pissed?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that is an interesting question, Ray. And it was well phrased too. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER.)

Q. Were you angry that you are not in the last two groups?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I am very grateful that right now I believe I will have a shot to shoot a duplicate score tomorrow and that is all I wanted was an opportunity to take it low and win. I don't know if another 64 will be enough. It will depend on the conditions, but....

Q. You said you have given yourself an opportunity to have a really big year. What is a really big year?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know. What would you classify a big year?

Q. $2 million.

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't really set like a target on so many wins and so much money and stuff. But I think that it is a good start to a really great year; wouldn't you, two wins; and a close win?

Q. Where do the Majors fall in the really big year?

PHIL MICKELSON: That is the key. Yeah, the Majors are the key. It is a not a great year unless you have won one at least one major. I don't think so, anyway.

Q. The scores get pretty nasty. The leaders might have to come back and play 26, 27 holes tomorrow. Could that be an advantage?

PHIL MICKELSON: It just depends -- it really depends on what the weather is like when they come back. If it starts raining and it is really calm, it will be to their advantage to keep playing because the greens will be soft, the spike marks will be patted down from the rain; be perfect conditions. And if they come back in the wind and, well, that would be an advantage for me. But you know, it just depends like you know, the difference in conditions. The only thing that -- what can really make this golf course tough is wind because the trees cause the wind to swirl and it will -- in the practice round, it blew one way where I was at and 180 degrees at the pin. Well, that gets difficult to pull clubs. Then when you stand on a hole like 17 and you have that happen, it is a very scary hole, but if it is just dead calm, you have got the pin -- today up in front, now if the wind swirls and it feels down, but it really is in -- it is easily to leave it in the water. Today, it was just pretty calm and it was just a little 132 yard wedge or 9-iron with a back stop, so it just changes the whole you know, the whole golf course.

Q. Phil, when you got -- yesterday when you got to No. 16, did you know you probably needed to play those last three, 2-under and wasn't the pin on 17 yesterday tough?


Q. I mean, that is --

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I figured I needed to birdie at least two of the last three, sure. What are you--

Q. Is that as much pressure as you are going to face this week to perform --

PHIL MICKELSON: Actually not. Here is the reason why: On 17 the pin was back with the wind in. I need a birdie to make the cut. If I don't birdie it, I don't make the cut, so I can be aggressive and fire at the pin; whereas, the guy who is leading the tournament can't really have that -- doesn't have the opportunity to go ahead and hit a shot aggressive at the pin, because if the wind happens to die down at that second or not hit the ball just right, he is going to go three or four yards over too far and go over in the water. So I had -- I had kind of a no-lose situation. Now, tomorrow if I have a good round going, and the pin is over there to the right, I am going to have a different thought process. I have got to play that smart; hit a smart shot in there. By that, I mean, instead of taking it right at it; try and use the slope and the contour of the green giving myself more margin of error. All right?

WES SEELEY: Could we do birdies and bogeys?

PHIL MICKELSON: I birdied 4. Hit a wedge to six feet. Birdied 9, sand wedge to six feet. Birdied 10, chipped in from behind the hole 40 feet. 11, I hit pin-high in the bunker to the right; hit a bunker shot to about eight feet; made it for birdie. Then I didn't birdie again until -- eagled 16; hit a 2-iron to a foot. It hit the pin; almost went in.

Q. How far?

PHIL MICKELSON: 17, hit a 9-iron to four feet. And 18 hit a 6-iron to six feet.

Q. What was the distance on that 2-iron?




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