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February 2, 2005

Phil Mickelson


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Phil Mickelson into the interview room. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us. Obviously, a tournament, a city, that you love and have a love affair with the fans here, as well.

Just comment on being here this week and how it's going for you in your preparations.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I enjoyed playing the Phoenix Open and it's going to be a tough test this week. The rough is up, the course is playing longer and it's going to be a very difficult task, but I enjoy this course and this tournament a lot, especially since I spent some years living here.

Q. Playing your third time this season, and last week, just talk about how the season is going for you so far.

PHIL MICKELSON: Progressively, the season has been getting better. I knew starting out in San Diego I was a little rusty. I started playing better last week, I could feel it coming around, and hopefully this is going to be a good week.

Q. Talk about the rough. Compare the rough here so what you've been able to see with the way it played at Torrey because that's a notoriously penalizing rough, as well?

PHIL MICKELSON: Torrey is rough and tough, but this seems to be a little thicker and a little bit more consistent. Torrey's rough was a little sporadic. It is very difficult here. It's very hard to get the ball on the green if you are off the fairway.

Q. Normally when people come here they think low score, low score, low score. Is that going to be the same this week with the changes or is it going to be differently?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think the scores are going to be that low. If it's cold like we had this morning, anything around 1, 2, 3-under par is a pretty good score. We'll still see 5, 6-under par rounds because if you hit the ball in the fairway, there are some birdie holes out there, but the par 5s are very tough to reach now in two. They're nowhere near as short as they were in the past, and the par 4s have gotten much longer with much greater penalty for a mis-hit tee shot and the fairways are a lot tighter, so it's become a real difficult test as opposed to who can make the most birdies.

Q. Could you just reiterate why you like it here?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I like it here because I've won, and that's a big part of it. I can come back to the course and reminisce and remember playing head to head in the playoff against Justin who just won last week and is playing some great golf.

I enjoy the fact that I played a lot of golf here in college, we came out here and practiced a lot. I lived very close to here, and playing this course brings back a lot of memories, and so I really enjoy playing here.

Q. What's the best part of your game right now?

PHIL MICKELSON: The best part of my game right now would probably be my iron play. I seem to be hitting some good irons, although I have some pretty big misses. But it seems to be coming together and I'm hitting the ball close a number of times to make some birdies, and I hope that this week is going to be a good one.

Q. When you shoot a 59, obviously all parts of your game are working. I mean, what is that feeling where it's just like every putt is going in?

PHIL MICKELSON: That was the feeling, and it was an amazing one. I had never shot 59, I had never broken 60. So to putt like that, I had never really putted great on Bermuda greens, and I got a little bit of a tip or tried something different that day from Pelz, and all of a sudden the ball starts rolling in the cup, and I just didn't stop. I don't know what to say. It was an amazing feeling.

Q. This is your first day back here since The Masters. Just talk about the Masters and the magic of it.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was an awesome tournament for it and an awesome Sunday and something I'll never forget. I love reliving it and seeing the highlights. The Masters is a wonderful memory in my career, and right now the highlight. So I certainly have gotten a taste of success in the Majors and I want to expand on that. I was so close in the other three majors that heading into this year I want to make sure I'm ready and prepared for them because the greatest thing about last year was being in contention in all four and having a chance on Sundays. To break through and win on Sunday at The Masters was a feeling like I've never had in the game.

Q. This early in the season what's your barometer for success? Is it strictly bottom line score finishes or a swing thought or something like that that you lock in and say, okay, progress is happening on where I want to be.

PHIL MICKELSON: Starting the first couple tournaments of the year you use that as a barometer as to what you want to improve on, so I look at the Hope and San Diego and say I didn't putt well, I need to spend more time on the greens.

My chipping, I didn't get within a three-foot circle with my chips, they were within six feet, so I need to get those closer. So it's easier to identify after playing a couple of events now, and hopefully I'll put that to good work here this week.

JOHN BUSH: Short and sweet today. Thanks for coming by.

End of FastScripts.

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