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February 11, 2019

Phil Mickelson

Pebble Beach, California

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome the 2019 champion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Phil Mickelson. Your fifth win at this tournament, just comment on being in the winner's circle here once again.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, this is a special place here at Pebble Beach, it's special to win and I have so many incredible memories and recollections over the years that to add to it is something special and to play some of my best golf on a Sunday and be able to catch such a good player in Paul Casey and it men's a lot to me.

JOHN BUSH: Your 44th win on the TOUR, you move up to No. 6 in the FedExCup standings. Talk a little bit about how this sets you up really well now for the rest of the season.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's -- I'm not so worried about the season long stuff, I just enjoy having an opportunity on Sundays and I had every bit the amount of joy in Palm Springs where I didn't finish it off as I did this week where I was able to, because having those opportunities on Sunday, being in the final group, that's what is so enjoyable about competing on the PGA TOUR and to have these opportunities is what's special and finishing it off the way I did and playing the way I did really means a lot to me.

JOHN BUSH: Let's go right into questions.

Q. Does winning now like you did in Mexico last year at this stage in your career, do you find that as satisfying as more as maybe earlier?
PHIL MICKELSON: I do because it's a lot more work and effort to play at this level and I have believed for some time that if I play at my best it will be good enough to win tournaments here. The challenge is getting myself to play my best. It's a lot more work off the course, it's more time in the gym, it's more time eating, it's more time focusing, it's all these things that go into it and so it's very gratifying to see the results and to finish it off the way I did.

Q. You and Tiger have won more recently than Jordan and Rory. What does that say, how do you explain that and what does that say about golf?
PHIL MICKELSON: I just, I believe that when even today if I play my best, if Tiger plays his best, it's good enough to win on any week. And the challenges there are so many great young players and so many great players in the game today that it takes our best to win. I just think that both myself and Tiger are going to have a really, really good year this year.

Q. When you won here in 2012 you talked about having no mechanical thoughts on your putting. It looked like that, especially in this final round. Is that a good reading of where your putting's at?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's very accurate because when I'm putting my best I don't have thoughts on the stroke, it's not a mechanical thing, it's much more into the feel and when I putted so well in 2012 on the final round it was very similar, just like you noticed.

Q. I think Muirfield will always stand out as one of your great closing rounds but I would be curious where you put this one. You didn't hole every shot out there today but what was your biggest miss out there the last two days, was this one?
PHIL MICKELSON: I played really well. I've been playing really well and obviously to go bogey-free the final round, that's a big thing for me, the conditions were challenging at times throughout the round and to put together that round was pretty special. I don't think anything will be able to surpass the final round at Muirfield because it was probably my greatest accomplishment in my career, a tournament that I'm not sure I was ever going to win to be able to win it and shoot 66 in those conditions, but I don't want to compare anything to that because I don't want to demean what this means to me, this is a special victory and I played some of my best golf this weekend or on Sunday to be able to do it.

Q. Can you just describe the two closing holes that you played today, just your approach to them, what they mean and if you can take anything away from today over to the U.S. Open.
PHIL MICKELSON: I really don't think there's any carryover from here to the U.S. Open. It's a totally different golf course, the greens will be firm, the rough will be high, here I'm trying to hit the ball as far as I can, not worry too much about the rough, ball's plugging and we're able to clean it and so there's really no carryover, other than I just really enjoy this place. I seem to play some of my best golf here and that's probably about it.

Q. I hate to make you look ahead already, but just wondering, this obviously has to bode well for a return here. How do you look at that?
PHIL MICKELSON: So I have such great memories here, I would love to add to it. So adding to it this week, being able to have another memory, another experience here at Pebble Beach is very special to me. I would love nothing more to add to it five months from now, but that's so far down the road, like all I'm focused on right now is the Masters, that's all is in my mind and what I'm thinking about. So this adds to my opportunity at Augusta and that's kind of where I'm at right now mentally.

Q. Listening to you earlier it sounds like you had a change of heart about trying to finish off last night as opposed to coming back today. Could you explain that to us?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well it was the right decision and Paul made the tough call, but it was the right decision in that he protected himself and myself for the competition. So we would have been at a severe disadvantage last night where you can't see the targets, the greens were pretty rough, and this morning we came out and the greens were much better after they have been mode and the you can see the targets visually beautifully and also the wind happened to change a little bit and 17 and 18 were playing a lot shorter. So it worked out really well for us both and he made that tough call and sometimes I just get in my own little bubble and I don't see the big picture and I just, I wanted to finish, I was playing well, and I just didn't take all the factors into account. So I ended up thanking him this morning for making that tough call because I made it tougher for him and but he did the right thing in protecting both of us.

Q. You spoke on the green about your grandfather being pulled out of school in the fourth grade to support the family. Was his first job then the caddie, so was he that young when he began caddieing here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure if that's his first job, but he was -- let's see, I got to do the math here. Yeah, I think he was nine or 10 years old when he was caddieing, so very well could have been his first job and, yeah, right out of fourth grade.

Q. You mentioned 50 wins as maybe a benchmark, you kind of have gone back and forth with that goal. Where do you stand right now on that as you got to 44?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well Doug asked me that right after I won in Mexico I remember it vividly and I was so confident that I had found things, I had just played great the three weeks before and I was like, absolutely this is going to happen. But the fact is it's very difficult to win out here and to win seven more times, now it's only six, but is not going to be easy. It's still a goal of mine, it's still something I'm going to continue to strive for until I get there, but I also need to be realistic is that that's going to be a tough goal to attain, but that's why it's such a fun challenge.

Q. You have won multiple times at various courses, would you say Pebble Beach is the course that fits your game perhaps better than any other?
PHIL MICKELSON: I would have a hard time arguing another course does. Maybe Augusta. But the thing about Pebble Beach is that when it rains and when it's wet and that spongy poa annua you have to put the pins on a higher spot because water will collect and so those high spots are sometimes tough to get close with your iron shots. My ability to hit some of these little low, no spinning shots, for example, number 13, I had 136 yards, I could have hit a wedge back to the hole I end up hitting a 7-iron to try to get the ball to chase up the green. And those are hard shots that a lot of guys don't practice and I've become very proficient at that and it's become a strength of my game and that's why I'm able to get to some of these pins and it gives me a good advantage over the course of a week.

Q. You talked about the extra work off the course at this age and just now you said you set these tough goals, but also trying to be realistic. How good can you be? How productive can you be this year in a year you turn 49. You look at history and even great players such as yourself have struggled in their late 40s. What's different, what can you do?
PHIL MICKELSON: So historically guys when they get in their 40s two things decline, their putting and their swing speed. And my putting is increased in the last three years and the best it's been in my 25, 28 year career, and my swing speed is as fast as it's ever been. It's been a lot of work to get there but I had a five, six mile an hour jump in the last year. So and in really the last three or four months. Those two things are why most people decline and because I've had an increase in those, there's no reason why I couldn't play my best, but again I'm playing, competing against so many great young players that any victory and every opportunity to win I cherish.

Q. Two things, along those lines how did you pick up five to six miles an hour?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a lot of work. It's been along process.

Q. It's unusual, isn't it?

Q. Just curious if there was a secret you could share.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's not really a secret it was nine months of hard work and then overnight I was swinging six miles an hour faster. Knowing that I, trusting I would get there but not seeing the results until a significant time period. It was biometric swing studies of my swing, taking weaknesses making them strengths, it was time in the gym, it was a whole workout process, it's been a lot of work, but days like this make it worthwhile.

Q. Secondly, you passed 90 million in career earnings. Has a hundred ever crossed your mind?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't. I just need one more match with Tiger and I should get there.


Q. You passed Sam Snead in wins here and to join Mark. Curious being a student of history when you were young did you look at Sam Snead and how he was winning so late in his life as crazy and now do you see yourself as potentially the Sam Snead of your generation?
PHIL MICKELSON: The science is so much better nowadays than it was in his time. The medicines, the fitness knowledge, the nutritional knowledge in all these areas, we're able to take advantage of and get our bodes to recover, get our bodies to perform to function much more efficiently. So there's no reason why players of this generation could not play to a longer time period and have a longer career.

Q. You said that this kind of helps you with Augusta and going forward to Augusta. What does this do for you in regards to Augusta?

Q. Thank you. But is there, I mean, is it any, just the fact that you won?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the area, the two areas of Augusta that I think are critical are chipping, putting and driving long. Those are the two areas to me. I mean iron play is always important there but it's important anywhere, but I think the two areas that you have to be at your best to play well at Augusta is you got to hit the ball long and have a really good short game. And those were two areas that were very helpful here, my short irons were great and I hit the ball a long ways. And that's why I'm optimistic heading into April.

Q. What were you thinking coming into the day?
PHIL MICKELSON: What was I thinking coming into the day? I wanted to hit a good shot on 17 because I really wanted a three-shot lead going into 18. That allowed me to hit iron and play for par just in case he had eagle. It was going to be downwind, he was going to probably have a mid iron in and I wanted to have that three-shot lead and so I actually played that hole in my mind aggressively and when Paul did not make 2, there was a three shot lead and so I ended up not having to make that putt, but and consequently I hit it a little bit easy.

JOHN BUSH: Phil, thanks for your time, congratulations.

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