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February 5, 2005

Phil Mickelson


JOHN BUSH: Phil Mickelson, our 54-hole leader, welcome to the interview room. First of all, we'll get started by congratulating Phil. You are this week's winner of the Crestor Charity Challenge, and in your name Crestor will donate $50,000 to the healthcare charity of your choice, and I think you'd like to name that.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Amy and myself, we have our charitable fund, so we'd like to put it there. We'll probably put it in with the Exxon Mobil Foundation, which we've been working with to help education across America. We're setting up a math and science teachers academy, so we'll be putting it towards that.

JOHN BUSH: Also Crestor will donate $50,000 to the American Heart Association on behalf of the FBR. Congratulations on that. Great round today, and awful tough to follow up with that, but 5-under 66 had to have been a lot of fun coming down the stretch today.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a fun round. There was a lot of people out there, it was pretty interesting, and a lot of fun to play in front of, especially for Amy and myself to come back to the people here in Scottsdale, the people are tremendous and the people treat us so well. That's the thing we miss so much about here is the people.

But it was a fun round, and it felt like I shot over par compared to yesterday (laughter), but it was good enough to get in the lead, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's round. It's so much fun to play in the last group in this event.

Q. Six birdies and just one bogey, if you'd take us through those.

PHIL MICKELSON: No. 1, I hit 3-wood, sand wedge to 15 feet, made it.

I birdied 5, hit driver off the tee, a pitching wedge to 12 feet, made that.

I hit driver off the tee at 6 and hit a sand wedge just on the edge of the fringe about 14 feet, made that.

I bogeyed 10, hit a good drive in the fairway, 50 yards from the hole, and I ended up knocking it about 30 feet past, left the first putt five feet short and missed that.

Birdied 13, had a nice drive, hit 7-iron to about 30 feet, two-putted.

Birdied 17, hit 3-wood just to the right of the pin, just short of pin high, chipped up to two and a half feet.

18, hit a 3-wood and a little 9-iron to about 15 feet, made that.

Q. Phil, Kevin said that 16 was quite intimidating for him today obviously with you being the home crowd favorite. You don't play with those kind of crowds on most Tour stops, with this one being the biggest as far as the crowds.

How did it help you on 16 to come back and get that par?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was an important putt for me to make, and when I made it, it felt so great to hear the people around the green. It's an awesome feeling.

You always want to hit a great shot there. After my tee shot, it was disappointing because it was such a poorly struck shot in the wrong spot. I didn't have a very good chance to get it close. I ended up making that putt for par, which was awesome.

You can't describe the feeling from a player's point of view to have that many people around one hole and to hit a good shot or make a good putt. It was cool.

Q. Did you get preferential treatment? Because they really didn't boo your tee shot. Is that a hometown thing do you think?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was worthy of a boo because it was pretty poor, but I was able to salvage par, so I was obviously pleased with that.

Q. You've been putting extremely well. Would it be fair to say that the conditions of the greens have been different each day?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the greens are immaculate and they're very quick, so the first day they were extremely tough to putt because the wind played such a big part of the putt. I had one putt where the wind took it 15 feet off the edge, and so did a lot of guys. So you have to factor that in.

But when the wind died down, because they roll so true, you know when the putt is four or five feet away if it's going to go in or not. It's a nice feeling to watch and see that ball track right in.

Q. Can you talk about your impressions of Kevin for as young as he is and kind of holding his own?

PHIL MICKELSON: Kevin is a very solid player and at 21 very impressive, very good ball striker, good putter. He played very well, started out with birdie on the 1st hole. There wasn't any nerves, he was ready to play.

Tomorrow I expect him to make a great run. He's playing really well and I expect him to make a lot of birdies. I'm going to have to play well tomorrow to stay ahead of him and the rest of the field.

Whether he plays well tomorrow or not, whether he plays well next week or not, he's a very talented player and I think he's going to have a wonderful career.

Q. I guess we'll know tomorrow, but can you talk about the birdies on the last two holes, how big those may or may not prove to be?

PHIL MICKELSON: The birdie on 17 for me was the biggest one because I can drive the green. You feel like you need to make birdie there, so I don't feel like I gave a shot back. You feel like you give one back if you don't make a birdie. If I don't birdie on 18, you feel like you give one back. It was sort of a bonus. I made the putt. It doesn't change my mindset any, if I was three ahead or four ahead, if I made it or not, but it's nice to have that extra shot in hand. Every shot is important.

Tomorrow, though, I want to start out even. I want to look at it as all square and pull away, and they're going to be trying to catch me.

Q. You've got a pretty big lead at four shots. When was the last time you had that kind of a margin going into the last round?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a while because the last time I've been in the lead heading into Sunday was Augusta and I was tied with DiMarco because I have not ever won one of these right here, which is the Saturday leader.

Q. Have you ever been up by four going into the last round?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. Probably, but I don't know.

Q. What about the -- just the sheer size of this gathering tomorrow?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's awesome, isn't it?

Q. Have you ever been cheered on by so many people, maybe at Augusta?

PHIL MICKELSON: Every year here it's an amazing experience for all the players because of how many people we get here. We average 35,000, 40,000 a week, and here we had 165,000, five times what we normally get. It just was amazing.

I remember in 96 when I won here and played Justin in a playoff. That was something I'll never forget because I've never had a reaction like that. It really meant a lot to me.

Q. Steve Flesch was in here, and we asked him if he minded being the other left-hander out here, and he said he didn't mind playing in your shadow because you are the desert son. I don't know if he spelled it s-o-n or s-u-n, but do you feel like you are kind of the people's choice out here, so to speak?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know, Bill. Amy and I miss Scottsdale. We miss the people here. We miss seeing everyone. Whether we are or aren't, we certainly are very flattered and really appreciate all the support we've received.

Q. Did you see the guys wearing the green jackets on 18?

PHIL MICKELSON: Wasn't that kind of funny? Pretty cool.

Q. Did you know who they were?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I saw about a dozen or so guys doing that and I thought it was pretty funny.

Q. You saw them yesterday for the first time?

PHIL MICKELSON: I saw them on Thursday. There were a few of them, and they had a bio. They had pages this thick on every player, no matter who it was, Johnny Huston, Auburn, you guys got screwed in the BCS, just stuff like that, it was funny.

JOHN BUSH: Phil, good luck tomorrow. Thanks for coming by.

End of FastScripts.

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