June 15, 1995
SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK
LES UNGER: Phil Mickelson, 2 under today. Up to 5 at one
point. Still a fine round and perhaps you can just give us an
overview of how the day went for you.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, opening round at the U.S. Open, 2 under,
I am pleased. I am looking forward to playing tomorrow early
at 8:15. Hopefully, the wind and the course will be somewhat
soft and other than that, you know, I am pleased to be under par.
LES UNGER: Questions for Phil.
Q. When you were at 5 under and you come in with three holes
left; now you are only 2 under. How disappointing is that and
how do you handle that as a golfer?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I wouldn't be too surprised if that was
my -- was not my last double bogey and I think a lot of people
out on the course-- I don't think -- I am not the only one who
is going to make a double out there this week. Those things are
going to happen. You need to offset them with birdies and I did
that throughout the day. Obviously it would have been nice to
be 5 under. It would have been nice to be 6 under. It would
have been better to be 7. The rounds can always be better. I
shot 2 under today and I am pleased with the way I am striking
it. I put the ball in play today. The only one I made double,
I ended up laying it in the rough. It was just one of those things.
The 2 bogeys that I made, I played the hole smart. I just didn't
get down in par, so -- you know, those things are going to happen
out there. I don't know what else to say -- it is just part of
Q. Phil, were you a bit surprised of the conditions of the
golf course given all its previous reputation?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, wasn't really surprised because I had played
it throughout the week. I kind of knew what to expect. But I
was surprised that the wind stopped midway through the round.
It was playing awfully tough starting out. It was make -- very
difficult to go at some pins. If it continued blowing at that
pace, the greens were going to dry out even more; it would have
been very difficult. The wind died down a little bit. It tends
to soften up. We were able to get up at some pins. When I say
get up at some pins, I mean at 15 feet; not 30. So 15 feet is
a reasonable putt at it. I had some of those and was able to make
some. But still even being down, it was still up there. It was
still a factor on every shot. It wasn't like it was just dead
Q. Phil, you were 5 under going to 16. Had do you figure
it was birdie? Can you talk us through what happened, how you
played the hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit 1-iron off the tee to stay short of the
bunker since it's into the wind you can't reach it. There is
no sense hitting driver. I laid up with a 1-iron, but it kind
of caught the wind and went in the rough. It was so deep I could
barely get a sand wedge to it and it wasn't even the hay, you
know, it was just off the fairway. So I laid up just short; tried
to get up and down. I hit a wedge just behind the hole about
20 feet -- 15, 20 feet, and I 3-putted; ended up knocking it 4
feet by. That one didn't go in. A typical double, you know.
Q. Can you just go over the details of all the birdies and
PHIL MICKELSON: Okay. On 3, I made bogey. I hit a 2-iron going
for the middle of the green. I pulled it a little bit to the
right part of the green. And the pin was on the left. I 3-putted.
9, I made birdie. I hit a cut 3-iron in there to about 5 feet
underneath the hole. 11, I hit a 6-iron about 12 feet below the
hole. 12, I hit a good drive. I hit 5-iron in there about 12
feet behind the hole. 13, just hit a 1-iron off the tee and had
9-iron left to about 12 feet. Made that. On 15, I only had 117
yards. I hit a little pitching wedge and it was downwind and
just didn't really go as far as I thought it would. I was 30
feet short on the front fringe and ended up making that. Putted
from the fringe. Putted from the fringe, yeah. 17, I hit a 5-iron
going for the middle of the green. It is -- ran through the green
because the green pitches away. It went just over and was unable
to get that up and down.
Q. Number 4?
PHIL MICKELSON: 9 was a cut 3-iron.
Q. Number 4?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah. I hit a 3-wood off the tee into the
fairway bunker. Had 125 left. Hit a pitching wedge to about
Q. Phil, does a good start in the Open make the rest of
the week a little easier for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: It definitely helps. There is no question.
You get off to a poor start, you are fighting and you are pressing
to make some birdies and get back into it. I feel like having,
you know, a couple of shots under par, I don't need to do that.
I don't need to press. I can play the course. I don't want
to say smartly in the sense when I find myself in trouble, to
try and make the best of it and take what you are getting. If
that is a bogey, so be it. And not have to press for birdies.
I could be a little bit more patient. When I went through the
round today, there were only maybe half of the pins that I was
able to go at; the other half you are trying to play to the proper
part so you have a shot in. So with that in mind, by not getting
too far behind early, I am able to continue with that game plan.
Q. Your overall impression right to left hitters, left to
right hitters, low ball, high ball, so on, the way you are playing
your game right now, how is that fitting the course as you see
it, just overall?
PHIL MICKELSON: If anybody just hits it one way, they are not
going to do very well out here, that's the bottom line. The fairways
are running one way. They are going away from you the next.
The wind is a big factor. You have to maneuver the ball both
ways. You have to hit it high to get some down -- get it down
soft on the downward holes and you have to be able to drive it
low into the wind. If you are just hitting one of those, you
are going to have a real tough time. I feel like I have been
working on all areas, all types of shots. I have been working
a lot on my ball-striking for that reason and the reason that
to win a Major, to win any of The Majors you need to strike the
ball solidly, put the ball in play, and hit the -- hit crisp iron
shots into the green to hole them. With that in mind, I have
been working on a lot of ball-striking and I feel like it is well
suited for the course.
Q. Phil, giving up 3 shots right at the end, how do you
take that and go in tomorrow; I mean, how do you look at it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, gosh, you know, like I said, it is probably
not going to be my last double bogey. I know that other players
in the field are going to make doubles. It is just part of the
game. It is really not that big of a deal. A couple under after
the first round, that is pretty much where I would want to be.
I have been starting out -- I thought even par would be a great
score starting out. So, I am extremely pleased to be a couple
under. Now, to have it going and get to 5, yeah, it's a little
disappointing; there is no question, you would like to continue;
especially with the remaining 3 being possible birdie holes, but
it just goes to show that this golf course --
(PAUSE---- TRAIN PASSING).
PHIL MICKELSON: (Continuing) -- if you hit one shot in the wrong
spot, it will just come up and bite you and basically I just laid
up in the rough. That is just one of those things.
Q. It has been written a lot about how you don't play well
in Florida with the high winds. Was that a concern that you don't
have the best reputation of being a wind player coming here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know-- You know, I have no idea.
Q. You had a decent run in Augusta. Are you really focused
towards The Majors this year; are you ready to take that next
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think everybody is focused towards The
Majors, you know, it is not just me. It is everybody out here.
I would dearly love to win the Open. There is no question.
Everybody in this field would dearly love to win it. I feel like
I am working hard; preparing for The Majors, working hard on my
game to prepare for The Majors; trying to create the shots needed
to win those specific events. But, so is everybody else. So
it is just a matter of shooting a lower number that particular
week, but I guess -- I don't know -- did I answer your question
at all? So, so?
Q. I guess after last year trying to make up for lost time
or do you feel pressure in any way?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I didn't play for three months. That is
not that big a loss, you know? If you factor it in over the three
years that I have been playing professionally, you know, it is
Q. How differently did the course play today after the three
practice rounds? Was it kind of like starting from scratch?
PHIL MICKELSON: It actually played, I would say, a little bit
more difficult in a couple of areas and little bit easier in the
others. It was windy -- I am sorry -- it was rainy in the practice
rounds so the course was playing extremely long; hitting a lot
of long iron shots and couple of holes were very difficult to
reach. Today, the greens dried out dramatically overnight. They
had that shiny glassy look to them, where you could easily get
a putt that would slide five, six feet by on it. But it didn't
quite play as long as it had in the practice rounds. Fairways
were a little bit firmer. You were getting a little bit of a
roll rather than just hitting and stopping, so it was a little
bit of give and take. I think the weather forecast is supposed
to be sunny. I see the USGA making these greens very hard, and
fast and if the wind picks up it is going to be almost impossible
to shoot even.
Q. Phil, Nick Price came in here and said that basically
after he has played the last couple of years that he is going
to have to start saying "no" because of all of the attention;
it has gotten to be too difficult for him to deal with. He also
said as hard as it has been for him, it is going to be really
hard for the good American player to handle all the attention.
You are a good young American player. How much of a hassle do
you find all the attention and all the stuff that goes with going
with playing well?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is not a hassle. It is part of the job and
it is flattering. However, sometimes there is not enough time
to do everything that you'd like, and my personal feeling is that
there is no other sport where there is that much interaction between
the athlete and the fan. If you look at football, basketball,
baseball, all your major sports, I don't see anybody signing practice
round -- signing autographs during their practice in between plays.
I mean, that doesn't happen. But it happens out here every week.
After competition, football, basketball, baseball players go
into their locker room. Golfers stay and sign. There is no other
sport where there is as much interaction between the player and
the fans than in this game, and it is not realistic to expect
more than what is already being done by the player. We do our
best to sign after round and so forth. With that in mind, we
as players have to accept that that is all we can do and then
we have to go on with whatever else we need to do. We need to
go practice; get ready for the next day; catch a plane if it is
Sunday and so forth, so I don't think it is realistic of Nick
to expect it or of anybody to expect to fulfill everybody's desires
of his time. I mean, and he does the best he can. He does way
more than many players out here. With that in mind, tying it
into myself, I am just going to do the best I can, but I still
see a lot of people all upset over me not signing one autograph,
but I think that I have a lot more things to worry about trying
to win an Open than to sign a stranger's autograph.
Q. Phil, you seem to be saying you can't really attack this
course. Does that change your game in any major respects? Club
PHIL MICKELSON: Off the tee, it does, often. It is more important
to put the ball on the fairway than to try to get that extra two
clubs into the green, you know, a 7-iron instead of a 5-iron;
it is more important to put the ball in play. You know, it seems
like -- it does affect the way you play because it is difficult
to make enough birdies to offset the mistakes. I mean, my round
today was a little different than what I am expecting my other
three rounds to be. I happened to make a lot of birdies. But
two, three birdies a round is quite a bit out here and you need
to minimize the mistakes; play from the middle of the green; get
the ball in the fairway and make a number of pars to have a good
Q. Another thing Nick said was that some Americans, he thinks,
might deliberately not want to be as good as they can be because
of all attention that might be thrust upon them. Could you ever
imagine that not wanting to win because it is too much?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I have never really thought like that.
Q. So you wouldn't have a problem with whatever success
brings you; wouldn't have a problem with it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, gosh, if I was successful, I think that
would be pretty good, pretty neat. I wouldn't have a problem
with that at all. Winning a British, two PGA's, you know, like
Nick has done, no, I wouldn't have a problem with that.
LES UNGER: Sounds like a good way to say good luck the rest
of the way.
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