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March 1, 2006

Phil Mickelson


Q. Talk about that duel last year with Tiger and coming into this year, do you expect anything like that again, and talk about your expectations for the weekend.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would love to get in that position again. I want to have a chance to win the tournament obviously. It would be great if I had a chance to go head to head against Tiger. It would be great if I had a chance to go head to head against anybody in the Top 10, 20 in the world. The biggest thing for me is trying to get myself in that position to have a chance to win the tournament.

Q. When you're in the middle of that last year with Tiger, are you able to appreciate that it's you and him going at it, or are you too zoned in on what you're doing?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't notice too much what's going on outside the ropes. I'm worried about hitting the shots and make some putts and so forth.

As the tournament ends and as I look back on it, I have a chance to reflect, not just on my play, but reflect on the things that have gone on outside the ropes.

Q. The lipout at the end, can you describe your emotions watching that thing track?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I really thought with three feet to go it was tracking right in the middle. So it was certainly disappointing when it caught the lip and didn't go in. I would have loved to have forced a playoff and extended the day a little bit longer.

Q. How does this course play any differently for you and how do you attack it differently from last year because it's not as firm and fast?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the course is in great shape. You can make a lot of birdies here.

The trees that were lost don't really affect the overall play of the course too much. I don't recall the course really playing short because of the fairways being fast. I remember that it was firm and there wasn't much wind and that we were able to take advantage of a lot of holes and make a lot of birdies. The defense of this golf course was the wind and when it doesn't blow, we see pretty low scores.

I think that it's not supposed to blow this week, and if that's the case, we'll have some pretty low scores out there. It will be in the 20s, I would guess, that would win it. If it blows, obviously that totally changes. I don't think it's going to play really that different from last year.

Q. Different circumstances, I understand, but your head to head with Tiger last year, and you went head to head with Ernie and Retief in majors, I think you went head to head with Skip Kendall at the Hope, as an example; how are they different, which one do you prefer and which one did you enjoy the most and why?

PHIL MICKELSON: Ernie is taller than Skip. (Laughter).

Q. By a foot and a half.

PHIL MICKELSON: Gosh, I don't know how to really answer that, Doug. They are obviously different people, different players. But as a competitor, I try to not focus so much on what they are doing or the shots they are hitting because that really doesn't affect me too much.

What I try to do is hit the shots where I can make birdies. That doesn't really allow me the chance to worry about who I'm playing against. But certainly it seems as though when I'm playing against Tiger, playing against Ernie or Vijay or Retief, I've got to shoot low scores and make more birdies than against possibly some guys that have won.

Q. This is the last time through the Florida swing as it's been configured for probably the vast majority of your career, can you compare and contrast, does it look like an upgrade across the board for Florida next year?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Steve, I haven't looked at it fully as far as the overall schedule and how all of tournaments are affected. I'll say the same thing, I'll end up playing 20 events next year just as I will in '06 and just as I did in '05. I just don't know which 20 those will be yet.

Q. How many times have you seen that last chip in your head from last year, and how long did that tournament stick with you and did you take away more good stuff or the disappointment?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, unfortunately they have the video running on one of the channels here at the hotel, so I get to see it every night, isn't that great? (Laughter).

So I had a chance to see it a bunch and reflect on it. Every time I look at it with three or four feet to go, it just looks like it's going to go right in the middle and just somehow snaps off at the end. I keep waiting for the video to change, but it never does.

Q. You've been working with Rick Smith, are you still working with him?


Q. What have you been working on this winter?

PHIL MICKELSON: We don't work on really anything new. We just try to get the swing back to where it was in the last couple of years. So it's not like we were experimenting with anything new. It's not like I'm making any changes, just try to get the swing plane and path and setup and grip identical to the way it's been the last few years.

Q. So mainly basics and the swing will kind of be all right?

PHIL MICKELSON: You could say that, I guess.

Q. You've had a good West Coast, with four Top 10s in five events, but you didn't win; what's the missing factor that's kept you from winning?

PHIL MICKELSON: The missing factor is I've putted very poorly, and I've got to get the ball rolling in the hole better. I've hit some good shots and played well in a lot of tournaments but I haven't been making the 4 or 5 footers and I have not been making the 15 and 20 footers that I've been making the last couple of years.

I don't recall like it's that far off. I had Rick take a look at some things yesterday and today. I may have been having a slight change in the way I putted in the last year or two in my setup and it seemed to help the back nine. I'm hoping that solves it because I feel like that's the last key.

Q. Do you look forward to getting on these greens?

PHIL MICKELSON: In the past I have not putted bermuda well back in the '90s. But as I've played out here more and more and listened to Bones, my caddie, who grew up playing bermudagreens, I'm feeling much comfortable on these surfaces and I'm seeing the line and the break and how the grain influences so much better. Last year I putted very well, and I should hopefully have a good week this week doing the same.

Q. What is your favorite Ford and what is the first car you ever owned?

PHIL MICKELSON: My first car I ever owned was just a little two seater hatchback.

My favorite car is the Expedition. I throw the kids seats in the back and I throw my clubs in the way back and that seems to be the only car that I drive. I have it tricked up a little, too.

Q. And the GT?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't own a GT. I've driven it but I don't own one. For me it's not practical because I can't put any kids in there and I can't put any golf clubs in there. But I'm sure I would make room for it.

Q. What do you think of the World Golf Championships being anchored at the same course every year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't understand. Why is that different? Or because they should rotate in your opinion?

Q. Shouldn't they move all over the world if they are "World" Golf Championships?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know, that's not my thing. I'll let the commissioners of the Tours decide that. I don't decide that. I just play in them, or not all of them, anyway.

Q. Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Camilo Villegas, what do you think of these guys as relates to them being golfers, not just the fact that they can hit it far?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we talked about this five years ago that that kind of the next generation of player was going to be an athlete that can take advantage of the technology; that's out there already and hit bombs, but they can chip and putt. So basically long drive guys who can play.

That's what we're seeing. It's kind of a transition. That's what we are seeing in J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson and Villegas, they have great touches with wedges and putting and short game. They are very difficult to beat, and as they continue to get more experience and get better and learn the courses and understand the cities and understand what preparation allows them to play their best golf, they are going to be the guys that are going to be the top players in the world as we transition. Because the guys that are up there now are not going to be there forever, we're going to transition out, eventually. We're just trying to hold on as long as we can.

Q. Right now there are only three or four, but how long away are we from seeing this golf are in mass out here, will it be 15 or 20 of these players that we will see?

PHIL MICKELSON: At least, yeah. I don't know time frame wise, probably another five to ten years in that span, I would think.

Q. Are you considering playing more overseas in the future than you've done before?


Q. As a fan of NASCAR, kind of pushing in the envelope, how would you compare the mentality of golf, and is there a time in your career where you can recall seeing people try to cheat?

PHIL MICKELSON: Are you talking about the reference to the crew chief that tried to doctor the car a little bit?

Q. Yeah.

PHIL MICKELSON: You couldn't just help me out and just come out and say that? (Laughter).

We as players like to think, and I honestly believe it's true, that we kind of police ourselves; that there are not guys out here that cheat. In fact, there's no people out there really governing us except each other. I see more players call penalties on themselves that nobody else saw than I've ever seen anybody try to get away with a rule.

So I just don't see that being a problem. But there are some things that the TOUR can steal from NASCAR that would be great, such as their model of having the guys play certain mandating what weeks the racers race. Because it would make it a lot easier for us as a TOUR to sell it to sponsors, to television and to the fans if everybody knew what tournaments the top players were playing in. I think that's where NASCAR has really succeeded in their model as well as the marketing; they have been tremendous in that area, too.

Q. Are you going to continue to employ your pre major thing?


Q. Just talk a little bit about what kind of groove you're in with that and the differences that you've seen it brings you since you started doing that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, 0 for 45, 2 for 8. It has been helpful for me. (Laughter.)

I think that you have to find as a player what works best for you in preparation, what works best for you in scheduling. I understand that I will and I have received criticism and will continue to receive criticism over my scheduling, over the way I prepare.

I heard that there was some articles about me playing Pine Valley the day before Baltusrol as though that was a bad thing. I find that for me to prepare my best, to get away from all of the hoopla that goes on the weeks of a major and get some quiet practice in allows me to be focused and sharpest when Thursday comes. I'll continue to do that, and expect it to have similar results.

Q. You played with Brett (Favre) today, did he offer any insight into his plans next year?

PHIL MICKELSON: He did. (Laughter).

Q. Do you care to share?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, he didn't, I'm just kidding. (Laughter).

Q. With Honda moving into this date on the Florida swing next year, opening tournament of the swing, can you see yourself ever playing in that tournament, in that slot?

PHIL MICKELSON: As I said earlier to Steve's question, I don't know which tournaments I'm going to play next year. The moving the week before The Masters really affects me because it was so easy to be at a course a two hour drive away and have the same course setup, and now we're going to a course that's a thousand plus miles away, I think. It's totally different grasses, bermuda all over; there's no rye. It's just going to alter my schedule, and I don't know which ones I'm going to play and which ones I won't yet.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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