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March 27, 1996

Phil Mickelson


WES SEELEY: We switch to Phil Mickelson, currently the Tour's leading money winner. And how did your practice round go?

PHIL MICKELSON: It is a nice course. The course is in great shape. I am sure that is what everybody has been saying. I think it is going to play a little harder and faster if the rain doesn't come, so it is going to be a good event.

Q. How do you feel about the fact that somebody on Sunday could win more money than you have won all year?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, if it's me, it is all right. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER). You know -- but -- well, I don't know. I don't know. You know, there is two sides to that. Should one tournament have that much merit? On the other hand, this is our tournament, it is The Players Championship, it is kind of nice to have that opportunity to play for that kind of money too, so there is a couple of sides to it. I like it, though. I mean, I think every player does. All right? We all set? (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER).

Q. Are you motivated this year to do particularly well here after having a positive experience last year?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'd like to play well here, because if I don't or if any player -- anybody who plays poorly really loses quite a bit, it is a crucial tournament for the money list, and the money list has a huge bearing on eligibility or entrances into other tournaments. Top 30 get into The Masters. You don't need to win to get into the Masters, you just finish top 30 on the money list. Top 30 gets you into the U.S. Open. Top 20 gets you into the British Open, and they all get you into the top 30 in the PGA. So there is a lot of emphasis placed on the money list, and that pretty much starts at this event. This is the big tournament money-wise, and can really kick-start a year for a lot of players.

Q. Phil, I walked with you a bit in practice. I noticed on 16 you were playing those incredible shots over your head like that. Do you play -- do you work a lot on shots, making those kinds of things?

PHIL MICKELSON: That was just for fun. That was just for fun. The opportunity on this golf course is to hit some shots. You are faced with shots or you can find shots on this course that you'd never see any other place, and so it is fun to kind of toy around with those things. I can't -- I hope that I don't ever have to hit that shot. And it has been a lot more difficult under tournament conditions, but -- so that was more just for the gallery, just to kind of play around.

Q. But just general shot-making, I mean, in practice, do you generally -- do you work on --

PHIL MICKELSON: I like to be a little bit more creative rather than just trying to make the same swing and trying to hit it straight down the fairway onto the green. I like to try to move it a little bit into some pins and what have you, yeah.

Q. When you get off to a year to a great start like this year, is it tougher to get let down? It is easier -- does it make any difference at all?

PHIL MICKELSON: The way I have looked at it is that it has been a really -- it is a really good opportunity. I have put myself in a position to have a really good year, a really great year, so I look at it as an opportunity. Three weeks doesn't make a year in my mind, but having finished well those particular -- those three weeks has given me an opportunity to really have a special year. And it is up to me now to keep working hard and play golf with the same intensity, if you will, to capitalize on that opportunity. But again, I look at it as more of an opportunity as opposed to a great year, or anything like that.

Q. Would you wind up being disappointed if you didn't get another win the rest of this year?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'd like to win at least -- I think it is important to win every year. And if I had gone the first two months without winning, I'd feel like I still had the rest of the year, like it was young; so I feel like I have the rest of the year to win. And if I am able to do it, it will be my third one of the year, which is nice. But I guess what I am trying to say, I have an entire year pretty much to win again, and it would be disappointing not to win in that amount of time.

WES SEELEY: We have asked everyone else in here, we can ask you your view on having three first-time winners the last three weeks.

PHIL MICKELSON: Three first-time winners? Well, it has been interesting, you know, you have had a lot of stories this week or the last three weeks. I think that a lot of the older, more established names are moving onto the Senior Tour and slowly dissolving their career on the regular Tour. It is time for some younger players to step up and become the Tour's main attractions. And I think what would be really great for the Tour, if these young players who have been winning can continue to win and continue to be in contention. I think it would be a real asset for the Tour.

Q. Do you think a first-time player could win this week, a non-winner?

PHIL MICKELSON: Have it be their first Tour win? I actually think they have the course set up like a major championship where the greens are going to be firmer. The rough is somewhat up, and it is probably going to be windy. And my point is that with those types of conditions, I think the better top-named players tend to rise to the top, tend to play better because more patience is involved. You are not able to fire at pins. You need to be more patient and settle for pars and capitalize on those four, five or six holes that are actually -- are birdie holes. So because of those types of conditions, I would think that it would favor a better top name.

Q. More experienced player?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, exactly. I don't know, I would think more players in this field have won than have not won. Is that a fair statement?

Q. Yes.

WES SEELEY: I think we upped the count.

Q. 48.

PHIL MICKELSON: If that is the case, straight odds would say past winner would win.

Q. Are you old enough to be patient?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it depends. I'd like to think so, but I feel like I was more patient in last year's Masters and U.S. Open. But I still have not -- I haven't won under those type of conditions, so I don't think that I should ever be considered a favorite yet until I have proved that I can perform in those conditions and win under those conditions. And by the conditions, I mean a big tournament with difficult course conditions.

WES SEELEY: Okay, anything else?

End of FastScripts...

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