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April 2, 2006

Phil Mickelson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Congratulations on winning the BellSouth class in this case record breaking style. Maybe just opening comes on an incredible week for you heading into Masters, could not be a better way to do it.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was certainly a fun week. I was very pleased with the way I played obviously and I felt like I was playing well at THE PLAYERS Championship. I had some good practice days but it really means a lot to actually have the scores reflect the way I felt I was playing. In fact, maybe even a little bit lower. So that was nice.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'm sure you don't really think about records when you're out there playing, but to win by 13 strokes, that's something that happens once every ten or 15 years. Can you put that in any kind of perspective?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I didn't really you know, I didn't really think about trying to win by X number of shots. I just had really a great day with two great guys. Zach and Jonathan are great guys and we went around and had a fun day.

I was happy to see Zach birdie the last four holes to help his Ryder Cup chances, he would be a real asset to the team if he could make.

It it was a fun day but I didn't try to think about winning by 11 or 13. I wanted to make sure I was able to come through today because anything can happen, and even though I had an eight shot lead, I just didn't want to get things going sideways on a golf course like this that can be so penalizing.

Q. You've won a million tournaments out here, when was the last time you had a week like this; can you recall a specific week that everything seemed to be going well?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't think that anything would come close to this as far as winning by a certain number of shots.

At AT&T last year, I think I had an eight or nine shot lead going into the last round and that was certainly enjoyable. This is only the second time I've had a big lead like that heading into the final round. Sure would like to do it a few more times.

Q. Retief said something, let's hope he didn't use it all up out here this week. Can this be anything but momentum to take down there or are you worried that this is a perfect storm?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm not worried at all. I felt like when my game came together last week at Phoenix I was able to come back the next week and play well at AT&T. I feel as though I'm starting to get really sharp as far as distance control and some of the areas I've been working on. I think those areas are going to be critical next week for a good performance at Augusta, especially given the changes and how difficult it's playing.

But I can promise you, the scores will not be anywhere near.

Q. Players talk about competing against each other and great courses and competing against history and maybe Tiger and a few others compete against themselves. Talk about having it all together; can you recall like at age 35 it's all coming together and getting everything you can out of your game right now or getting close to that level?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know if I could answer that directly. But I've been trying to get ready and get prepared for Masters. I mean, that's a tournament that really means a lot and I don't want to undermine a tournament like this because it's a really great event and a quality event. I'm very proud to be the champion.

I started playing very well at THE PLAYERS and didn't quite get out of it in the scores. I had a great Monday and Tuesday with Pelz over at Augusta and I could feel things starting to come together. I didn't know that I was going to score so low or play so well here at Sugarloaf, but I felt like over four days, I could continue to play better.

I think what was important was playing well today, hitting a lot of good, solid shots and playing to some spots, middle of the green, like 11 and some other pins, maybe even 17, as opposed to taking on right at it, staying a little right.

The reason that was important is I need to carry over good play. I didn't want to have one lethargic round. And, at Augusta, you can't fire at a lot of those pins, and so I wanted to have a round today where I hit a lot of the shots like I would hit at Augusta. The 12th hole today, that par 4 I hit driver, just like I would at the 13th at Augusta, a big, hard slice. I tried to work on some of the shots that I'll have next week to get ready and to try to peak next week.

Q. You've had decent results all the way this year, nothing great but pretty solid every week. What changed in your game, if anything?

PHIL MICKELSON: This kind of makes up for it, don't you think? (Laughter).

Q. But anything in particular that you either were not doing all that great coming up to now that you did this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I think that certainly every area was a little bit better. I hit a few more fairways, I had better distance control with the irons and I made a lot of putts.

It wasn't one particular area that was lacking but I do just got a little better at each and it all came together this week and hopefully I'll be able to carry that over to next week. The nice thing is the golf course is very similar, same grass and same greens. Although it will be a little quicker, I think that they break the same.

Q. Jack used to always love hear people in the locker rooms complain because those are the guys he was going to beat. Are you feeling that way going into Augusta? I haven't heard a whole lot of positive comments about the changes.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know whether I don't know how the changes are, whether they are good, bad or what. I just know they are harder. They make the golf course a lot harder. I thought that it would play about one to one and a half shots harder a round than it did the previous years, because 7 is going to play so much more difficult, as is 11.

Is it didn't matter if it plays easy and we win with 15 under or it plays hard and even par wins. Whatever the lowest score I want to adapt to, whether it's making pars or attacking and trying to make birdies. I would like to do both and it will probably depend on the conditions.

Q. What prompted you to do that this week? (The second driver) is that something you've been thinking about doing?

PHIL MICKELSON: Our new slogan at Callaway is the only thing better than an FT3 drivers is two FT3 drivers. I knew I was going to do that at Augusta, after playing there on Monday and Tuesday, I decided there were too many shots off the tee where I needed different distances and these drivers are different distances. All of the right to left holes, I didn't have to hit it very hard and all of the left to right holes I had to hit it pretty far. I hit a driver I hit a long ways that draws and I have a driver that fades and stays in play. I wanted a week where I did this before The Masters, to see if I could go from one driver to the other and still hit fairways and not have it be a big change.

It has worked out really well. The way the internal weighting of the club; one draws it and takes the left side out of play and one fades it and takes the right side out of play. It's great because I only have to play with half the trouble.

Q. I think you probably answered this a couple of times in a number of different ways, but last week at Sawgrass you were talking about trying to get your game in shape for the two weeks down the road. Do you have the feeling that you may have peaked too soon?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think so. It was a great week, don't get me wrong, but I didn't feel like I didn't feel like it couldn't be repeated. I didn't feel like I don't have more made putts or more iron shots in me or more drives in the fairway. I feel like I'm starting to play well and just as though last year I played well at Phoenix and carried over the next week into AT&T, I expect to do the same, or I hope to do the same, at least.

Q. You said Wednesday that you haven't planned 2007 so you could not really say your plans that this would no longer be the lead in for The Masters; can you imagine as a two time defending champion not being back?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no, I'll be back. It's disappointing for me it's not the week before the Masters. But if it's best for the tournament, if we'll get better weather, if we'll be able to get crowds like we had this week and the support in May, then that's great for the event.

Q. (Inaudible.) do you just let it happen?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't dissect it. It would be difficult for me to play well if I did that. I've had some good practice sessions and it carried over to the course. With the way some of my iron sessions went, some of my putting drills went, I knew I was starting to putt well and hit some good iron shots and starting to drive it well and it just kind of came together to some low scores. But I don't feel like this is not repeatable. I mean, I'm certainly not going to shoot this many under par at Augusta, that course is brutally difficult. But I should be able to play well.

Q. Can you talk about finishing with the long eagle putt and what that was like?

PHIL MICKELSON: It wasn't like it was a crucial putt. I think I had a little room to spare. (Laughter).

But it was fun to get a little redemption after yesterday, making double and knocking that one in for eagle and get that those two shots back. It wasn't like I was thinking about that. It was just nice to see it go in. It wasn't any meaning in it, just padding the stats.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Phil Mickelson, congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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