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April 1, 2006

Phil Mickelson


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Phil is the winner of this week's AstraZeneca Charity Challenge as the leader entering the final round of the BellSouth Classic and in Phil's name, $100,000 will be donated to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Congratulations. Any thoughts about that? Charity is the name of the PGA TOUR.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's nice. I mean, it's weird to get an award after Saturday's round, but I'll certainly take it. The tournament is not over, but it's nice to have that, thank you.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Today you started off, five birdies in the first seven holes, shoot 67 and you've got an eight shot lead going into tomorrow. A couple thoughts about your round today.

PHIL MICKELSON: I played well. It was fun to hit shots and have them end up where I wanted them to and end up making the putts. It was a fun first three rounds.

I came out a little early today, about 3 1/2 hours before I played and I got a little bit tired and I hit some sloppy shots there at the end, 16 and 18. Tomorrow I'll probably not come out quite so early. It just shows that this tournament is not over; that we've got Zach Johnson and Jonathan Byrd firing at birdies tomorrow and I've got to hit some good, solid shots. I certainly like the position that I'm in.

Q. Apart from the sloppy shots at the end, you've been playing amazing golf the last three rounds. When did you last feel this in control of your all around game?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know. I mean, I don't really dwell on it. I've been trying to prepare and get my game sharp get heading into next week. I played very well at THE PLAYERS Championship. I felt like it was coming together. I had a good two practice days over at Augusta Monday and Tuesday and felt like my game was getting really sharp. I played three very good rounds here, which is nice, because I finally got some scores to reflect the way I felt I was playing, or actually a little bit lower.

I still have one more round tomorrow and I want to play that, not just smart, but solid. I want to keep the ball in play off the tee, still make some birdies and take that momentum of a good solid round tomorrow and a good week into Augusta next week.

Q. Were you on the range working on something special?

PHIL MICKELSON: I went out to one of the other holes on one of the other courses to work on some iron play, and ended up spending some time on the putting green as well. I'll minimize that tomorrow. I've been a little bit tired. It's been a good ten I guess ten hours now. So it was a little bit much there at the end of the day. I just could feel myself slacking a little bit.

Q. Was there anything wrong that you wanted to fix?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. I just want to continue with the preparation for next week and continue getting my iron play sharp as well as putting and lag putting, which I worked on this morning.

Q. I'm just wondering, you were in some weighty historical territory when you got to 24 under; we write a lot about records. Any disappointment in the way you finished up the last three holes?

PHIL MICKELSON: Actually, no. It's probably a positive because the last thing I want to do is have a record or be thinking about it. That's not my goal right now; it's to get my game sharp and to get some momentum, not just to hopefully finish tomorrow properly, but to get some momentum for next week.

It was probably a good thing, because you know, the record is going to be pretty much out of reach. I'm not going to be thinking about it. And I'm just going to be worried about keeping the ball in play and hitting some good shots and making some birdies so that even if Zach and Jonathan do make a run, I want to make sure that I try to create a little more space.

Q. You're playing so well, is it possible that we talk about momentum for Augusta and so forth, can a single hole or two derail that at all, or is it something that you've forgotten by the time you hit the pillow tonight?

PHIL MICKELSON: Are you talking about 18?

Q. Will that in any way affect the momentum you've been building?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. Actually, again, it's probably going to be a positive because it kind of slaps me in the face and says, look, this tournament is not over and you've got to play smart and hit every shot smart. And it's great for Augusta because we have holes that will come up and bite you just like 18 bit me today. It tells me I've got to be sharp on every single shot, or else that will happen, no matter how good you're playing.

Q. Is this situation on the last three holes, kind of typical of modern golfer that with the emphasis on conditioning, you're tired. It's been ten hours a long day, is conditioning something that you have to watch?

PHIL MICKELSON: It could be. I think that conditioning could be a big factor in allowing you to practice harder. I probably overdid it hopping on the StairMaster for 40 minutes today. I probably just pushed myself a little bit more than I should have today. That was before I went and played.

So I'll just be a little more cautious tomorrow.

Q. Do you do those things at Augusta, as well? Would you work out physically on a StairMaster the morning before a round?

PHIL MICKELSON: Sometimes, yeah. A lot of times. Depends what time I tee off, but yeah.

Q. Would you expand on what that does for you, as opposed to the energy it might take from you that you can use in the round?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's not a bad idea, first of all (laughter) to do that. I just find that it gives me a little bit better metabolism and a little bit better endurance and a lot of times when I play this late, I just won't have an opportunity tonight to do that. So I want to get it in in the morning.

Q. Was it a problem for you not having your third wedge in the bag at 18?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. It was a 90 yard shot which was a perfect sand wedge. I would have flown it about six, seven yards past the hole with a sand wedge and it would have been just about right. So it was in between an L, which would have spun back in the water, and I got a little bit too cute with a gap wedge trying to side spin it closer to the hole.

Although I needed a sand wedge there and I needed a sand wedge a couple of other times, I think that the strokes that I have gained with having another driver this week has off set that, because the other driver has gotten me down in the fairway more often and I've been able to attack a lot of pins because of it.

Q. Will you carry two drivers next week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's why I did it this week because I'm going to do it next week.

Q. You'll leave the sand wedge out again?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah. There's no sand wedges at Augusta. Have you seen how long that thing is? (Laughter).

No, I don't know where I would ever hit a sand wedge there. I've played it however many times the last couple of days, played it however many times the last few years, and there's just no need for a sand wedge if they have lengthened it.

Q. Is it the first time you've used that longer driver since AT&T or something, isn't it?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I used it one or two rounds at AT&T. And it's actually a different one, that's not the same one I'm using.

Q. Speaking of a little subtle change, did you go away from doing the clock face reversal stroke around the hole in tournament rounds? Did you stop during that and come back to it?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I've been doing it for however many years, almost since '99, five, six, seven years. I don't understand why because I didn't do it today or you didn't see me do it?

Q. I walked some rounds with you earlier this year where you were not making practice strokes in that little rotation.

PHIL MICKELSON: That's when I was not putting that well and I was trying to find something.

Q. Did you go back to it this week or TPC?

PHIL MICKELSON: I've actually been doing it all year, but you saw me a few times where I didn't do it.

Q. When you get it rolling like you did today, you were 8 under after 14 and playing perfectly, is anything going through your head to the point can I keep this up all day, or are you waiting for something bad to happen? It looked like you were on the verge of shooting a 62 until the last couple of holes.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I felt like that was possible but I didn't really think about a number. When I birdied 14, I just felt like I felt like I could birdie just about any hole. I was hitting it in the fairway off the tee and my irons were all over the pin and the putts were going in. So it was a fun day.

Q. Back to the positive, when you are dialed in so well and playing so well, is this what athletes in other sports refer to as the zone in are you thinking or are you just feeling it or how is that combination between your body and your minds, or are you just in a zone that takes over? Does that make sense?

PHIL MICKELSON: I know where you're going with that, but it's just not an area that I really work on or what have you. All I know is that when I went out today and I did my iron drills, I was hitting my irons great, flying them the right distance at the target and it just carried over to the course.

You know, it's not like I had this I don't know how you phrased it, but it wasn't like that. It was just I was hitting the ball well and it carried over to the course.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thanks, Phil. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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