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March 31, 2006

Phil Mickelson


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Phil, you follow 63 up with 65, and 128 is the new BellSouth Classic tournament record for 36 holes. Great playing, a couple thoughts about your round today.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a fun round. I enjoyed coming out this morning when the greens were fresh and making a couple of putts early. It was fun to keep the ball in play and feel like I was trying to make birdie every hole rather than fighting for par. Those rounds are few and far between for me, but I love them when they occur.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Course conditions similar to yesterday?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, very similar conditions.

Q. You sometimes hear players say it's difficult to follow a low round with another low round. Obviously that wasn't the case with you today. What was it?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's not the easiest thing to do. On the other hand, when you're playing well and you have some confidence, if you just get a couple of putts to go in, it sets the tone for the day.

I think there are two big things, I ended up making two good putts the first two holes on 10 and 11, made two birdies quick, and kept the ball in play off the tee, missing I think maybe one or two fairways. And I was able to attack a lot of pins and get the ball close and play for birdies, rather than fighting for pars.

Q. Do you allow yourself to look at scoring records and that kind of thing at this point?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I didn't know that that was the scoring record. But it's nice to have that. I certainly enjoy it.

But I think right now what I want to do is hopefully continue to play well this weekend and take that momentum over to Augusta next week. I felt like I played well at THE PLAYERS Championship, and maybe didn't get out of the round what I would have liked. I was playing well and hit some good shots in some practice rounds Monday and Tuesday and felt like I was playing well, and you never know until you try to shoot a low score.

So playing well the first two days means a lot to me. If I can continue it this weekend, I'd like to take that momentum over to Augusta.

Q. 29 under, the TOUR record for 72 holes, did that enter your mind at all?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the way that the course is continually getting more difficult, I think that's unrealistic. Certainly hitting, keeping the ball in play and trying to make some birdies and making birdies on the par 5s and stuff is realistic. What you're talking about is not in my mind, no.

Q. You said you played well last week and didn't get out of the rounds what you wanted. Did you see this coming or did it surprise you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think I go into any round expecting to shoot 63 or 65. I felt I was hitting good shots. I felt like if I could just be patient and get the ball in play I could get the ball close and make some putts.

But again, you never know if the putts are going to fall. You never know if you're going to read them right. It kind of came together. I had a lot of putts that went in.

Q. Just wondering, I followed you around again, you just seemed extremely relaxed out there, chatting with Davis and everybody. Is that part of it, being here or just your play of late, just being relaxed? It looks like you're having a good time.

PHIL MICKELSON: I love playing golf. I get to play golf for a living. It's just terrific. I had rounds the last two days with two really great guys. I think Olin and Davis are two, not just great players, but great people and very interesting, smart guys, who have been on the policy board, been on the pack and just have some great ideas on the TOUR, about golf, just about a lot of things. So we had some great conversation. It was really fun.

Q. How does this course prepare are you for Augusta and does it disappoint you that you won't be able to use the BellSouth as a tune up for the Masters?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I'm disappointed that the weeks of the tournament have changed. I think that this tournament is such a great place to prepare for Augusta because of the similarity in shots styles, the way they shave around the greens, a lot of chip shots, the way the greens are fast and undulated; trying to get the right read with the right speed is a challenge here just as it is at Augusta. You can use length, you can hit driver. There might be a little bit of rough, but it's not U.S. Open rough; it's very playable, and so you can go ahead and step on the driver like you can Augusta. Although, Augusta is making the course a lot tighter now. But for the most part, they are very similar.

Q. You talk about putting the ball in the fairway and keeping it in play, that's got to be a positive sign knowing that next week that's going to really be your advantage if you put it in there, is that the best part of your round so far today that you like?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that it is probably the best part in that that I felt very comfortable with the driver. I didn't feel like I was fighting it and it was going in play, and then I was able to get the ball close enough to where I can make some putts. I didn't make them all, but I certainly made a lot of them.

Q. Any chance you might be heading to Phillips Arena tonight to watch the Nets?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. But I'm thinking tomorrow about going to the hockey game. I know the Thrashers are making a run at the playoffs and that's enjoyable. I'm actually going to drive down to Athens tonight and have dinner with a friend of mine.

Q. How do you like the Thrashers' chances? They are seven points out of the playoffs.

PHIL MICKELSON: They probably need to win eight out of next ten but they have ten tough games. I think that it will be a challenge, but it's fun, that's what we love about sports, those challenges.

Q. Is there any smart part of you saying, "Don't play too well this weekend?"

PHIL MICKELSON: No. Good heavens, no. Are you kidding me? No. I want to play as well as I can. It only breeds it only breeds more confidence. It's not as though anyway.

End of FastScripts.

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