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February 9, 2018

Phil Mickelson

Pebble Beach, California

Q. That was a fun day, fun to watch, solid from tee to green and made some putts as well. Is that as good as it's been for awhile?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a fun day and I love Monterey Peninsula. The fairways are wide and they feel pretty easy to hit. I hit a number of fairways and was able to make a lot of birdies. It's fun to be in the mix, it's fun to go over to Pebble Beach now and play two rounds on the weekend knowing that I have a chance and being in the thick of it. It's just a fun place to play well.

Q. I'll jump ahead, because that was going to be my final question. You're 9-under par, in the hunt, you get to go Pebble back it back, do you think that's a bit of an advantage considering now that you've put yourself in position that you have that in front of you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think it's an advantage because I played the course, Monterey Peninsula here, that, it's probably the easiest to go low on, I think Pebble's a little bit tougher because the greens are a little firmer and smaller. But if you play well, you can birdie and score low on all three. I just love the feeling and the ambience of playing Pebble. I love being in the hunt playing that golf course and I get to play two rounds now it's fun.

Q. I want to go back to number 7, or excuse me, 6, the par-5, only par-5 on that side, your third. Negotiating that ridge that dissects the green, you went through the back door, was that always the play, was that the only play there for the third?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's the much higher percentage play because if I get cute with that ridge it could easily come down, if I try to just creep it over the top there. There's a huge back stop there and if -- I didn't need to spin it, I just needed to hit it high up enough on the hill that it would come all the way back to the hole. My partner had just done the exact same thing and the idea from the fairway was to get it far enough up so I have an angle straight up the green to use that back stop on the third to make it a lot easier. So that was the play, even from the fairway 250 yards back, that was the idea.

Q. Are you having as much fun as you're looking like out there, because I even saw you poking a little bit with Colton on some of the tees when you were -- I love it when he hit the 3-wood on the short par-4 you said, cute.
PHIL MICKELSON: I am having fun. Colton is one of the best smack talkers on TOUR, he has my number for sure, and any time I can get a little jab in here or there it always makes me feel good. But this environment here, you have to embrace the fact that it's going to be a slow day, it's going to take a little while, but enjoy the people you're with. And I've got great partners and it makes for a fun, special day and this tournament is very unique, it's unique from what we have on TOUR, so enjoy it, enjoy the fact that we get to interact with some very special people.

Q. How much -- what was really your focus coming into this here and how much are we seeing that these last couple weeks?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was expecting to play like this the first couple of weeks so the first couple of weeks was a little disappointing. But now the scores are starting to come out, I'm able to get out of the mechanics of it and just start playing the round and hitting shots. I'm very optimistic about this weekend and I'm optimistic about the year.

Q. How important was it to get in the hunt as quick as you could this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was very important. I had finished or started the wrap around schedule in Napa with a nice third place finish where I was in contention the last few holes and was able to feel the pressure; and had a great and fun Presidents Cup, so I wanted to get off to a good start this year. I have made it known that one of my goals is to get on the Ryder Cup team again and go to Paris and I need to get off to a good start. So last week was a good kick start and carrying the momentum over to a place here that I love and have had some success is a lot of fun.

Q. As good as this round was, did you feel like it could have been a little lower with a few putts there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure, it always is. But everybody's going to have the same issue here because with this much traffic and so on, some of those 4-, 5-, 6-footers are not the easiest, we're not going to make them all, they don't track perfectly. But if you hit them solid you can make a number of putts and I made my fair share.

Q. How happy were you with your iron play today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you, it was -- my ball striking overall has been really good and my iron play's always been a strength of my game, but it was, you saw more of it because I was in the fairway a lot more often. That's kind of been the goal is not only hit fairways, but I'm also getting my speed back up. I'm not able to keep it up with Rory yet, I don't know if I ever will, but I'm able to get it out there now where I can be competitive.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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