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April 14, 2002

Phil Mickelson


BILLY MORRIS: Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to have Phil Mickelson with us this afternoon. Phil had a 71 today, finished eight shots under par, third place for the 2002 Masters Golf Tournament.

Phil give us some general comments, please and then we'll have questions.

PHIL MICKELSON: Before I get started I'd just like to say something really quick.

It has been a very awkward past 12 or 15 months in that I've not had the most popular or positive stuff written about me, but this week, a lot of you came up to me, my wife, Amy and my family members and showed a lot of encouragement and I appreciate those kind words. That was very nice of you and I appreciate what many of you said. So thank you first of all.

This week was a very enjoyable week. I know that a lot of people have been very supportive of me, and I really appreciate the support that I've felt in my, I guess you could call it, almost a quest, to try to winning my first major.

This week, even though I did not win, this was a very fun and enjoyable week. I know it's hard to believe. I saw a wonderful movie this week, and it seemed to put a lot of things in perspective. It was the movie The Rookie. And he said one line that hit home with me about how he was very excited about how today he's very lucky to be able to play baseball. And today I thought I was very lucky to be able to play the final round of the Masters here at Augusta, play the back nine and be on the leaderboard and play this game for a living and be very fortunate.

That being said, I obviously would like to have played better this week, but I saw a lot of progress in my game, more consistency, no big numbers, nothing higher than a bogey and I was very pleased with that. Even though I never really had that stretch of nine holes, say, that vaulted me up on top of the leaderboard.

Starting the round, I got off to a great start birdieing 1 or 2, and hit a couple of good shots on 3 and 4 that unfortunately led to bogeys, just missing the green by a couple of inches caused the ball to hit a downslope and deflect quite a ways away from the hole leaving me a very difficult shot. And I made two bogeys that stalled my momentum.

I tried to be patient and made a birdie on 6 and followed it with a bogey on 7. So I played with all pars and one birdie coming in for a 71. Played somewhat solid today but obviously not good enough to win.

BILLY MORRIS: Questions?

Q. Do you feel like today was kind of a missed opportunity for you? It seems like Tiger was not shooting lights out and you had chances with birdie putts?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, had I shot 67 or 66 I would have had a very good chance today, as it turned out. That's not the easiest thing to do Sunday at Augusta. It was probably possible today, but it would have taken an incredible round and a lot of good breaks, because to make, to, make the putts that you're going to have here with these pin placements on Sunday you're going to have to make some curling, downhill, 20, 30 foot birdie putts. I had a few of them, they looked like they were going to go and just didn't quite go in. I thought I made it on 11, I thought I made it on 12, and those would have given me a little bit of momentum heading into the par 5s and unfortunately those didn't go.

I even thought I had the one on 10 on line. 13 was right in the heart, stopped short. From there on out, 17 could have gone either way, obviously then it was too late.

I don't feel as though it was a missed opportunity, per se. I felt like it was -- every tournament, every major is an opportunity, and throughout the four days, I played very solid golf, but I didn't have that explosive spurt to, again, vault me up on the leaderboard, which you need to have here at Augusta, because it seems as though 10- to 15-under par wins every year, and you have to have a 4- or 5-under stretch there for nine holes to get you going, unlike the U.S. Open, let's say, where you have a lot more rough and it seems to be around par a little bit more.

Q. Last couple of days you talked about the course being susceptible to birdies, was it less so today and did the course reflect that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I thought that it was less susceptible to birdies today because of the more difficult pin placements. They were a lot higher and towards the edges of greens. 5, 4, 3, those pin placements are just very difficult to get to and make birdies. You can hit some good shots. 1 was a very difficult pin placement. I took an aggressive line out of the bunker and hit a great shot and had a tap-in birdie and you can do it. With just a touch of wind, if it flew the ball three or four yards off, that's enough to miss the crown.

So, it was very difficult and penalizing if you did miss it.

Q. With six of the top seven players in the World Rankings on the leaderboard at the end of Saturday, were you surprised that somebody did not come out of there and make a charge?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I thought that some people did on the front nine. I thought that Vijay played very solid and did not, I would not say made a charge, but was 1-under and was right there at the turn. And I thought Ernie was 3-under through eight, made a bit of a move.

So, I guess not the charge that you were thinking, but it's very difficult to shoot 5-, or 6-under par on this course.

Q. Amen Corner, seemed more like a graveyard than the way it normally is; nobody did anything there.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, and I don't know why that is.

Q. With the great start, did you think it was going to be your day?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, that's not my thought process. Again, I felt like the first two holes, I played well and made birdies. I was going to continue to need to get good breaks. I hit a very good shot on 3 a little wedge from 131, very similar to the shot that I had on hole 1 and hit it well and it flew just four yards too far, three yards too far and hit the downslope.

The reason why I'm thinking this might not be my day I know for the next 16 holes I need to hit good shots and be fortunate, too, on how far the ball flies.

That was not what I was thinking, no, but I thought if I could making a bit of a move, I might be able to make some noise and unfortunately it stalled a little quicker than I would have liked.

Q. Were these the usual Sunday pin positions? And also, can you talk about the ones that just missed that perfect spot?

PHIL MICKELSON: They are the usual Sunday pins. 3, there is really no bail-out on 3 because the bail-out would be 45 feet to the right of the pin, 15 yards right and that's a very difficult 2-putt. So the way you look at that pin is you just have to hit a great shot and hope that it turns out the right distance. If it comes up short, obviously you are fighting for par and if it goes long you are where I was and you're fighting for par.

I just went a little bit long. It landed two inches past the fringe, about six inches off the green, and had it landed on the green it still would have kicked over, but not have kicked as far and given me an uphill lie and had a much easier shot.

4, where the pin was top right, usual Sunday pin now, I thought I hit a really good shot that was going to be a few feet from the hole and it was just about a yard or two right of the pin, but it flew a yard or two to far, hit a downslope and kicked the ball back up to the grass, by the bushes and I had a very difficult up-and-down.

Q. Talked about momentum, like to ask you, the Tiger factor. When he went 3-up on the field after six holes today, did it go through your mind that, here we go again, with Tiger at Augusta?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. I think the thing about Tiger is that he's the only leader that you don't have the hope that he'll falter. When other guys are up there, you know that if you can just stay around there, there's a good chance they might come back two or three shots, but Tiger doesn't ever seem to do that. So with that being the case, you know that you have to go after him to make birdies to catch him which is why I think we saw guys taking aggressive plays and making bogeys and doubles because of it.

Q. You mentioned several holes where you had putts just right there. It looked like your putting stroke was nice and fine all day and you felt comfortable over the ball; is that accurate?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. I've putted well all year, even though, if you believe what you read, that would not be the case, but I'm 18th in putting this year. I was second on the Tour out of 200 guys last year; it's not like I had a horrific putting year. I've been putting really well last year and a half. I've worked hard on it and I felt comfortable this week. I felt comfortable last week with green that is were equally as fast and firm, much firmer.

So, it's been -- it's been a much better year and a half with the blade.

Q. You talked at the TPC about the reluctance of other guys to go head-to-head with Tiger, when you look at the scoring on the international leaderboard do you feel that bears out?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really recall what I said there, but I don't think that that really had anything to do with today. I just think that we were all trying to make birdies. When you do that, you're going to open the door to bogeys.

I opened the door to a bogey on 1, trying to get to that pin out of the bunker. Probably was not the smartest shot, but I wanted to get a little momentum hit a great shot and make birdie. I tried to do the same thing on 3 and 4 and missed it by a yard and it ends up in a bogey spot. If you try to do that on 13 and 15, you're going to make something higher than bogey.

BILLY MORRIS: Phil, thank you very much and good luck the rest of this year.

End of FastScripts....

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