April 9, 2021
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Q. Phil, we spoke earlier this week, and you sounded positive about your game, optimistic for this week. After two rounds, how would you categorize it?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a lot of the same, where I've hit a lot of good shots and just not quite scoring. I'm enjoying the challenge, though. I'm enjoying playing. I love playing this tournament. I actually am very optimistic in the progress I'm making in my game. I'm just not quite shooting the numbers yet, but I'm making a lot of progress.
Q. You flushed it on the back nine. Do you feel like you're this close to putting together a low one?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. I mean, it could have easily been today. It could have been yesterday. I'm just making a lot of scoring errors that I just haven't done. I played a great back nine, right? Hit every green, every par 5, but I two-putted every hole. Yeah, I shot 2 under, but I've got to make some putts and got to start capitalizing on some of the shots I hit in there close. It's little things like that, but that's part of the challenge of the game of golf. It's part of what I love.
When it clicks, everything feels easy. Right now it feels like a struggle even though physically, tee to green and whatnot, it feels pretty good.
Q. You did make a pretty good putt on 6. Did you sort of need that at that point?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I made two good par putts on 5 and 6. Those were the two good putts. I have a 6 iron into 2, and not only do I birdie, I make bogey. You can't do those things. So I'm making errors that are not allowing me to be in contention, but I'm playing at a level that I could be in contention when I put it together. Not necessarily this week, but soon.
Q. What will you do now post-round, and are you scoreboard watching at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I would think 3 over would make it. I know it's softer conditions and it's a lot easier, but I would think that would make it.
Then go out early tomorrow and have some fun and try to shoot a low one. Like I say, I've got to focus on the fact that I've made a lot of progress. The game is close. It's getting closer each day. I had a couple of good strides, a couple of good things happen that are getting me closer, but there's nothing holding me back from playing well physically. There's no reason why I can't shoot low scores. I just have to get back to scoring the way I used to.
Q. I think you're going to go up a spot on the cuts made for the weekend. I think you go up to fifth or sixth on that list. Do the longevity things resonate much with you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think about the cuts. I think, okay, coming into this tournament, am I playing well enough to give myself a chance to win? And from a physical standpoint, I was doing that, or I've been doing that, haven't shot the scores. So I have to say how many times will I come into this tournament playing well enough to compete, contend, and win? That's what I'm looking at.
Do I think I'll have a few more opportunities? Yeah, I do, but barring injury and so forth. But I'm seeing a lot of progress, and it's time I start shooting the scores now.
Q. Along the same lines, you seem just as motivated as you've ever been, if not more so. Is that a fair assessment?
PHIL MICKELSON: I would say so for the simple reason that the greater the challenge, the more motivated I am. Right now it's been a great challenge. Although I'm seeing a lot of progress, I haven't played to the level I expect to, and that challenge motivates me.
Q. I was thinking of Mark's question from the other day about Champions Tour versus PGA TOUR. Of the PGA TOUR events, is this the one maybe you're best still suited to win or contend or mean the most? Anything different just about this particular stop?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's not so much the tournament, the venue. It's just putting it together and scoring. It's just hitting the shots, making the putts, and shooting the low scores. It's just not a hard formula. I'm hitting the shots, I'm just not putting it all together. Hit a great little wedge into 7, carve it around the bunker, six feet uphill, and I just miss it. Like it just takes momentum out, those little things. I've got to start doing the little things a little bit better.
Q. Going back to the motivation question. Your place in history, legacy was secured long ago obviously. Why is the motivation, why is it still there? Where does it come from?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've never really been motivated extrinsically, like material things, outside, that doesn't motivate me. Intrinsically is what I'm motivated by, my own challenges, trying to do things that others can't or haven't or those type of challenges are what motivate me. I've always been more -- been motivated, like I say, internally, intrinsically, however you want to say it.
Q. The short game miscues is that because the green is too firm and you're trying to be perfect?
PHIL MICKELSON: Missed in the wrong spot on 2 and went underneath it. Was trying to judge how soft that ground was going to be and went underneath it. Those are the mistakes you just can't do.
Yesterday I hit it on 8 just behind the green, and okay, get it on the green first and then try to get up and down. Get it on the green, and then I three-putt. I make a 6 on a couple of par 5s now that I've reached, and those are the scoring errors that I'm making. I don't know if it's mental, probably, but those are the things you can't do to contend.
I'm working on it. Like I say, it doesn't feel like it's far off. I'm not searching in the golf swing. I'm not searching from a technical standpoint. Andrew's got me hitting it well, but there's a lot more to it to win out here.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports