April 10, 2021
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Q. How did you feel about your day?
PHIL MICKELSON: This was a round, first time in a long time, where I scored, where I just kept saving shots and putting it in the right spot. I didn't really strike it as well as I did the first few days, but I scored. I put it in the right spot. I got up and down a lot, and it felt good to shoot a number at least. It wasn't the easiest, but it felt good to shoot a number.
Q. What was the challenge like today compared to the first two days?
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel like there's about six birdie pins, and then there's some hard pins. You have to make longer putts, and I didn't quite make those 30, 40-footers to get the round really low, but you're going to have to make some of those to score low because there aren't as many birdie pins today as there was yesterday.
Q. You said earlier in the week that you liked the idea of the greens being firm, the course being firm and fast. Has it played out the way that you expected?
PHIL MICKELSON: So in my opinion, it's set up perfect to identify kind of the best player, and the guys that are striking it well are up on the leaderboard, the guys that are putting it well. And I think it's very fair because we're making divots, the balls are stopping. It's not like the '90s where we weren't, but you have to have quality shots. You've got to hit angles into the pins. You've got to be smart.
I think it's perfectly done, and it punishes you, like it did me the first couple of days, when you make mistakes or don't put it in the right spot or hit poor chips. I love seeing it like this because you can score low, but you also need to respect it.
Q. You got to 15, you had the iron into the green. You kind of had the momentum going after that. Take us through that.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly, that was disappointing to go in the water, but I'll take a 5 there. It's not like par on 15 is going to kill you, but I hit a great drive. I can't believe it was in the rough. I just can't believe it. It looked like it was in the center of the fairway to me. You have to be right of those left trees to have an angle to that left pin. I thought I hit it perfect. I mean, I just couldn't believe it was in the rough. I was looking 15 yards left of that when I got down there, and that made a big difference because that ball comes out sticky out of that first cut.
I only had 191. I tried to hit a 7 iron, and I was playing for help, and I got hurt. That's kind of the bottom line. I was playing to the right, and it should have covered easily. I was worried about going over the green, and it got up in the air, and it came back at me. So it happens. But when you have a downhill shot like that, the wind is going to affect it more than a level shot. So the ball is in the air longer, it's going to affect it 1 1/2 times. If you're getting a 10-yard helping wind, it's going to help it 15, 16 yards on that hole. If you get a little hurt, it's going to do the same. So it's going to make me look stupid. That thing wasn't even close to where I thought it was going to land, but it happens.
Q. You're at even right now, seven off right now. A lot of weather potentially in. How do you feel about your spot right now?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't play well enough the first two days and threw too many shots away to really give myself a legitimate opportunity, but sometimes you get lucky and you come out in the morning, today, and it was playable, and I made some birdies. Then the wind picks up, and leaders don't go anywhere, and you end up having a chance on Sunday, which is certainly what I'm hoping for.
I'll need to shoot something in the mid to low 60s, which is still fun to have a chance. You want that opportunity to do what Nicklaus did in '86 and shoot 65 and have a chance. I don't know if that will be good enought, but I'm having a lot of fun. For the first time in a long time, I finally scored, like I shot a number that was equivalent or even better than the way I was hitting it.
Q. Your thoughts on what happened to your playing partner on 13. Up on the green.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, well, he hit one of the best shots I've ever seen. There were two balls in the water that I was looking at, one was half submerged, one was fully submerged. I thought for sure his ball was the one half submerged. Unh-unh, he went after that ball fully submerged and got that thing out. It was an incredible golf shot. That's not easy. Sometimes that thing comes out kind of blah. I'm curious how he hit that.
But certainly down that bank he slipped, and fortunately he wasn't hurt. It's a pretty steep bank and that wet rye makes a difference.
Q. Who played it better, him or you at Whistling Straits?
PHIL MICKELSON: So, Whistling Straits, mine was intentional to slide down the hill. The slip that I had really was at Pebble on 18 at the rocks. I had this great idea, here, I'm going to go down there and check it out. That wasn't a great idea. I ended up slipping on the moss on those rocks and fell right on my tailbone.
Q. José María made the cut this week, first time since '14. How impressed are you with him being able to do that at 55?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's pretty cool. His short game is one of the best that's ever been. What's so great about his short game over here is he gets the ball running on the ground. Today, because the rye grass is wet, you'll see balls skip, and on 3 I drove it down there in front of the green, I bumped it into the hill, and it skips. But when it's dry, you can't hit that shot, and Olazábal is able to get that ball rolling through better than I've ever seen. He chips with a 4-iron, 6-iron, 8-iron, whatever he needs to get the ball chasing through the grass.
If I try to hit that shot on 3 when it's dry, it just grabs it, pops the ball straight up, and it comes right back down on my feet. He would be able to hit that shot with 5, 6, 7-iron and get it running up with incredible touch. I've always enjoyed watching his skill because I'm really not great at that shot, and he is the best in the world. It helped him score well this week.
Q. Do you think it was a matter of time before Jordan was going to kind of get things turned around? It had been a pretty long gap there for him?
PHIL MICKELSON: We seem to play golf in cycles. Like we have these up cycles and downward cycles. It was just a matter of time before he was on an upward cycle, and I don't see it stopping any time soon.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports