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February 23, 2006

Phil Mickelson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Phil Mickelson, thanks for joining us here after your 2 & 1 win over John Daly. Opening comments about the day.

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a fun day. I look forward to playing against John, and it's fun for me to play with him because he's a quick player, we get in a good rhythm and play a good pace. We had a very enjoyable day.

I knew it was going to be a tough day. I thought I had a couple of chances to make it an easier day. He finds a way to make birdies when he has to, and I was lucky to get it in the end.

Q. Is your strategy any different against him because of the way he hits the ball?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's not as though I'm going to play different; I have to approach it different and accept the fact that I'm going to be behind him off the tee and hitting iron shots first and trying to put pressure on him. I was able to hit a couple of good drives out there to where I was able to hit second, but I thought it would be important for me to hit first and get close and make his iron shot a little more difficult.

Q. Is there any relaxation you could have now that you're into the next round or is there more pressure because you are into the next round?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm looking forward to playing on. I've got a very difficult match now tomorrow with David Howell, a Ryder Cup player, played very well in the Ryder Cup. He's played extremely well the last couple of years, a top player from Europe. We don't hear about him much, but as a player, we know he's a great player. He's in the top 15 or 20 in the world. He's a talented individual, and I have a tough match now.

It wasn't an easy match today. I was even at the turn and I had to make an eagle and a couple of birdies to fend John off. I've got to try to get rested up and get ready for tomorrow's match because it's going to be a tough one.

Q. Have you ever played with Howell before?

PHIL MICKELSON: I believe I have. I don't know specifically when and where, but I believe I have.

Q. He left a big impression?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's just my memory is not that great. I don't remember that well.

Q. Did you hit the flag on 13?

PHIL MICKELSON: I did, yeah.

Q. Unlike stroke play, where you're going along, do you feel not so much pressure, but just an idea that a focus where you take a deep breath type of thing, where each hole is so important in match play that you sort of relax after you've made a putt, oh, got through that type of thing?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really, no (laughter). The tough thing for me about match play is not knowing what you have to shoot. It could be a few under par like today or I may shoot a few under par and lose. You never know what it takes.

Whereas in stroke play you know you have four days to do it and you're going to get hot one of those rounds. But you never quite know when it's going to happen. And there's a huge element of luck involved in match play obviously you've got to play with. But there's always a element of luck, especially on match play, of being successful.

Q. You and John are among the two most popular players out there. Could you get a sense who the fans out there were rooting for more?

PHIL MICKELSON: Doug might, he was out there quite a bit.

Q. I wasn't cheering for anybody.

PHIL MICKELSON: I wasn't really paying attention.

Q. Do you feed off that, when the fans get into it, especially in a match play type format?

PHIL MICKELSON: Like the Ryder Cup in '99, oh, absolutely, that was terrific.

Q. But not something like today?

PHIL MICKELSON: That was a different feel, where it's a team thing. And I think that it was a match that we didn't want to have a loser, we wanted to both be able to go on, which was impossible, so it was an awkward feeling.

Q. Understanding that it's match play and the nuances of it, given how well you've played here and at the Mercedes, are you frustrated at only having advanced deep into this tournament once?

PHIL MICKELSON: I would say yeah. I love the golf course. I'm very sad that we're not playing here anymore. I love coming out here because it brings back so many great memories, not only the wins in '94 and '98 but the experience of spending the day with my dad, spending the day with my friends, coming out and watching guys play, from the outside of the ropes looking in.

Q. As a kid.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, when I come out I have that feeling every time. The last five or six years I haven't played, or finished, at least, well in this tournament. I had a very good chance when I lost to Davis 1 up. I was playing very well in 2004; I had a couple of wins, and I ended up losing the last hole. That was the year I could have gone quite far.

But I love this place and I wish I had played better in the past. It's a tournament that has been difficult for me. But I still enjoy it and look forward to it every year.

Q. Are you as capable this year as you were in '04, in going as far?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think a lot of the drills I was doing in '04 I had just started for maybe two months, if that. And now I've been doing them for two years, and I feel as though some of those shots are much better, easier for me to hit, more consistent. So I do feel as though it's a little bit better chance, yeah.

Q. Were you struggling to read the putts?

PHIL MICKELSON: That's a good question. I didn't make very many of them and struggled a little bit. I don't know exactly what it was. I have a theory I was tentative at impact. But the greens were rolling fine. We were only the third group off; they weren't bumpy, I just didn't make them. It didn't look like they were that difficult to make.

Fortunately on the backside where I needed to make a couple of putts a few went in, on 11, 13 and 14, those were kind of big putts.

Q. Can you talk about 11 and whether or not that was a turning point for you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it was a turning point because John had just birdied 9 and pulled the match to even. I needed to get 1 up. And he chipped up there about a foot or two for birdie. And I ended up giving him his birdie, knowing that I ended up making it and got back ahead. That was a big putt for me.

The next couple of holes, too, were critical and then I was able to make some birdies. But that was really a big turning point, yeah.

Q. How far was your putt?

PHIL MICKELSON: Maybe 20, 25 feet, I would say.

Q. What did you hit it with?


Q. Having played with John today, how well do you think his game would translate into a Ryder Cup format? Can you just talk about whether you think his game would translate into that kind of format?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think to answer that question I have to see how the course is set up. I've never played K Club; I don't know how the rough is going to be. But his length could be a real asset or they could neutralize his entire game by making the fairways tight and the rough up and not allowing him to hit driver and so forth. I think a lot of it would depend on course conditioning.

Q. Does match play make you take more chances?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not necessarily, no, because a lot of my motto or a lot of the thing that I'm thinking of on the course is to force them to make birdies to win, to not make those mistakes. Although today it wasn't a great example of that; knocked the ball in the water on 8 and bogeying the easy 15th hole. The idea is to force them to make birdies to win holes.

Q. How is the weather and the condition of the course affecting your play?

PHIL MICKELSON: The weather is terrific, the course condition is great. In fact, this is the best condition I've ever seen it in all the years that I've been here. I think we're seeing lower scores because of that. The greens are putting much smoother and better. Again, you wouldn't know it by watching me.

Q. You said yesterday in the transcript you were going to the 45 inch driver, the length of the shaft.


Q. What did you have in Phoenix? How long was that driver?

PHIL MICKELSON: Same one I had. I used the same driver today that I use most of last year and so forth.

Q. So the 47 incher was one off yesterday?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a one day trial and it looks like I'll still be tinkering with it, but I didn't have the control over it that I wanted. I actually was pleasantly surprised today with some of the drives I hit, being able to keep up with John, and so maybe I don't need to try to pick up as much yardage as I thought.

Q. Where did you tend to lose it yesterday? Was there a trend there of left or right?

PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit of both, just timing was off, timing on it was off.

Q. Do you think that if you had the time in your off season or whatever to work with it, it might make it, or you think it's not a good decision?

PHIL MICKELSON: I've been working on it for four or five months and I think I'm pretty close to having it where I would like it, but it's certainly not going to be a great club at the U.S. Open. But it might be a good club at the Masters. So it just depends on certain courses.

Q. It would help with unplayables?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. Again, that was gone in the third week this year, so now since it's already shot, I don't worry about that. Talking about the penalties?

Q. Talking about how much room you get to draw.

PHIL MICKELSON: I got you. I thought you were talking of my goal of no penalty shots. I've never gotten past the first week (laughter).

Q. How much more distance do you get with a longer driver?

PHIL MICKELSON: About 15 to 20 yards, maybe.

End of FastScripts.

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