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February 2, 2018

Phil Mickelson

Scottsdale, Arizona

Q. I'm still not sure I understand the relationship, do you feed off the gallery or does the gallery feed off you, because it was fun out there on the inward nine?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's no question that I play better down the stretch with people here because I can feel their energy and it helps me focus, it helps me get a little bit of strength and I seem to play better when I'm around them, I can feel the energy.

Q. There's several birdies we could talk about, but just tell me about the 2 you made on 16, because 20,000 people you're going to get cheered, you're going to get booed. They would have booed you if you missed the green, instead you got the standing ovation for the birdie.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's always a hole you want to hit one of your best shots of the day there and the last two days I hit two really good ones. But to see that putt go in was really cool and it was a lot of it had to do with Jon having a putt on a similar line, because that ball really snapped a little bit more than I was seeing. And watching his ball snap while still going three or four feet by the hole it allowed me to play a little bit more break and get that one to go in. There's nothing better than making a 2 on that hole.

Q. I know you've been a little bit frustrated in the last two weeks, I thought you handled the frustration very well. You kept telling me my game's not that far off, you proved it today.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a, there's a fine line between getting your mind in a mindset to go out and score and go out and play and have fun and getting away from the technical aspect of it. I've been working hard the last few months of getting the technical aspect down and it's been hard for me to kind of transition my focus into play, to have fun and go hit shots and enjoy the day. Today it kind of turned. Today it kind of flipped a little bit. Yesterday I was still struggling getting into the round, if you will, getting focused on the score and how to play each hole the most effective. But today especially on the back nine I made a lot of good birdies.

Q. What was the energy like in your group, hometown crowd?
PHIL MICKELSON: It a really cool to come down those last five, six holes, feel the crowd and feel that energy. It definitely has helped me in the past in my successes here and I felt it today. It's a big element in getting me to focus and getting me to hit some of my best shots. I just loved it and to make a 2 on 16 the last two days, both days, was awesome.

Q. Take us through the putt on 18. What that was like?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that was, I really, I made a lot of good putts inside six, eight feet. I didn't really have too many go in outside of 15 feet. And that last one of 25 feet or so to finish the day was awesome. It had to be kind of perfect speed and come in side door and it did and it felt great to have that one go in.

Q. Rickie dropped back a shot, you made those two birdies coming in. How does that change your mindset going into the weekend?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well there's a good grouping of a lot of guys within probably four, five shots of the lead and I'm happy that I'm one of them. I'm happy to be in contention. My goal starting this tournament was just to play two good solid rounds and get in it for the weekend and that's where I'm at. So now I'll go one step further and see if I can get in that final group on Sunday.

Q. Being with Jon the last couple days, what's that been like?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been terrific playing with Jon. I love it. He's one of my favorite guys to be around and for him to give me a high five on that putt on 16. And he's just got great energy, he's fun to be around and he's a fun guy to watch play because he's got a lot of game.

Q. What did you think of his Pat Tillman jersey?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's cool. It's cool. He represents Arizona State really well and it's great to see the way the people get behind him here. It's been fun for us. Fun for us to be paired together.

Q. Jon put it in the water on 17 twice in a row now. Is there a trick or is there anything you do to make sure that what somebody in your group is doing doesn't affect you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I've got enough issues of my own to worry about other people, so I didn't really even notice. I just tried to play the hole as effective as I can. For me that, yeah, I missed it right, I want to miss it right because my short game -- it's a hard up-and-down over there, but I've been able to do it in the past, I did it again today. So you want to be more aggressive, you want to try to make 2, I get it, but for me I have to play a little bit more conservative and play over to the right. So I didn't really see -- Jon hit after I hit so I didn't get to see it.

Q. What was you strategy there, did you go with a 3-wood or driver?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well driver would have flown on the green and gone way over, so it was a 3-wood and even the 3-wood was well past pin high. So I would have been over the green probably with 3-wood if I hit it at the pin. But anything right there I feel like even though it's a hard up-and-down I feel like I can do it.

Q. You stay conservative regardless of pin placements or does that factor in?
PHIL MICKELSON: That back left pin I'm happy with 4. Other pins I'm trying to make 3. If I get lucky, try to make 2. But the front, short of the green there really doesn't help you get on the green. If you hit it up the center, it's either going to kick left or it's going to kick right, it doesn't really kick forward on the green very easily unless it's just perfect, so I just try to make 3.

Q. Do you think playing this way and getting to the third round in contention is a stepping stone of getting back to where you want to be?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. I had signs last year at Napa, finishing third, my only tournament for this wraparound season and at the Presidents Cup where I played very well, where I handled pressure. But after three months off, for me to get into contention I was certainly rusty the first two days. I felt like my game was good but I wasn't as dialed in mentally on seeing the shot. I started to see what I didn't want to have happen. You can't do that out here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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