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July 18, 2006

Phil Mickelson


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Phil, thank you for coming across. As far as you're concerned this is a new venue for an Open Championship. You've come here early and played a lot of practice rounds to get to know the course. How has that gone for you so far?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's gone well. I don't know how you consider this a new venue.


PHIL MICKELSON: Bobby Jones played here in 1930 when he won, and we played here in '67. So it's been a venue for a while. Granted, that was before I was born.

I really enjoy the golf course. I think it's just terrific. I think that the bunkers are so well placed in the movement of the holes and the little intricacies. And the more I've played here, I really appreciate how well and what a golf course this is, how well the course was designed.

Q. How would you compare this course to some of the other Open Championship courses that you've played?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's very firm and fast, like all the courses that we play in the rotation. But this course is tighter. It's not as wide in entering the greens. It's not as open as the last few that we've played. And that can be very challenging when the wind picks up, trying to get the ball on the greens, because the greens are a lot more narrow, too, than some of the other courses we've played.

Q. You mentioned the intricacies of the course. What holes are you thinking of?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I thought that there were a couple of shots that I thought were very difficult, the second shot into No. 10, the par 5, the way the fairway rolls off to the left and off to the right into tough spots. And it even has me thinking about maybe laying back short a little bit, which is unusual. You know how I like to go for a green in two if I can get there.

But the 12th hole was very difficult, too, the way it fell off to the left the last half of the green, it fell off to the right. I just thought those little nuances provided a very tough challenge, as well as when you look out on some of the holes, like No. 2 and you see all those bunkers and you don't know exactly where to go and how deep they are and stuff. But when you get out there, you realize how well placed they are. Those little nuances make it just terrific.

Q. You're talking about you couldn't find a place as dry as this. Obviously the fairways are very dry and brown. Does that change your game at all as far as you want to play the bump and run or the ball just rolls and rolls? What do you do?

PHIL MICKELSON: You play less club. What you do is play less club and let the ball run. But I don't do much different. I just allow the ball to release a little bit more. It's very tricky. It's optically difficult for us sometimes coming over here to visualize the ball running 60, 80, 100 yards. That's the big challenge, I think.

Q. About the greens, is that what they had to do? Were they in danger of losing them?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not a superintendent. I don't know. I know the course was playing very difficult and will throughout this tournament. But I don't know what they should do to water them or not or what have you. But the course seems to be playing terrific.

Q. A question with regard to your pairing, in any tournament. Tiger was in here a little earlier and he's paired with Nick Faldo, and they have a little prickly relationship.

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't know that. Why?

Q. I guess Faldo was critical of his swing a little ways back. Tiger was kind of laughing it off, like he didn't expect there would be too much conversation.

I'm just wondering in general how important a pairing is, and if there is a particular guy you don't care for? Is that distracting? I know you get along with everybody, of course.

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, it's interesting, I think one of the for my particular pairing, I've got one of the best guys in the game. There's not a guy that's nicer, one of the best players in the world in Darren Clarke, and there's not a more enjoyable guy to be around. So I think I got a tremendous pairing. I don't know much about the gentlemen from Japan, Imano. I don't know if he speaks English or not. I would anticipate that Darren and I would have good conversations.

Q. Is it distracting if there is no talk at all, or does it not matter to you really?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it varies maybe from each individual. Some guys like to talk, some guys don't. But I would expect, my particular group, to have some fun conversation.

Q. In previous years you've done Loch Lomond before. Why have you changed your preparation?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think the biggest reason I changed this year was I haven't had the success in this tournament that I would like and I have been playing the week before. So I felt as though I would change it up and come here and spend a little extra time and see if I could learn some of those nuances in the golf course and maybe perform better.

Q. How do you play 16? Do you mind giving knowledge away, with advice?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I have a two part answer for you. The first part is about 16. I try to reach it in two and usually it plays downwind or left to right wind, and I'm able to turn it off the bunkers with a little draw and get it down there, anywhere from a 4 to 8 iron, depending on how much help we get. And I think it's a great hole to try to get a shot back.

But the information I gave Fred was nothing that his caddie doesn't already know. 278 to the first left bunker

Q. Just generally, he was asking you all the time and you were telling him.

PHIL MICKELSON: 278 to the bunker (laughter), you want to aim over here, that stuff everybody knows.

Q. Your mental Championship preparation, could you go through the development of that again, and especially the idea of going somewhere else on Wednesday?

PHIL MICKELSON: Is it hard to believe that somebody would not want to spend Wednesday with you gentlemen? I think that the reason that I have been going elsewhere on Wednesdays most of the time, not always, but most of the time, is that it just gives me a little bit of a relaxed state of mind to ease into the tournament day, get away from all the hype and the pressure, the anxiety of the British Open, the PGA, the U.S. Open and The Masters and just enter a little more relaxed. That's probably why I do it.

As far as preparation, it's just been an evolution of finding out what works for me. And each player has to go through that, what works for them best. A lot of guys get worn out coming to a particular course a bunch, a lot of guys would get a lot out of it. You just have to find out what works for you individually.

Q. With all the skill and shot making it takes to win this Championship, why do you think your record here is not as strong as it is compared to the other three major championships?

PHIL MICKELSON: That one is easy to answer because it wasn't until 2004 that I really understood the technique of hitting the ball properly into the wind. I was swinging hard, just like everybody or just like I normally do and I wasn't able to get that low, penetrating shot. And now with a couple of technique changes, just swinging easier, basically, the ball shoots low and through the wind and I'm not fighting it as much. I'm able to control it a lot better.

It just took me a lot longer to trust, again, that 50 to 100 yards of roll that we get and took me a while to learn how to trust the little knock down, little chip shots that travel a couple hundred yards, because of the hard fairways.

Q. I know you addressed some of this at the Western Open, but in terms of how you might approach things differently if the situation came up again as it did at Winged Foot on the 72nd hole, not so much as the drive, but if you got in the same situation, would you play it differently and get back in the fairway first? What have you learned from that experience?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, if I get in that situation again hopefully I'd make a par. That would be kind of the goal. But as far as what to do or how to do it, it would depend on the course and the situation, of course. But it was unfortunate for me that it went that way. But again, as I said at the Western, I feel very confident in the way I've prepared for tournaments and the way I've been playing and I don't want to let one bad hole interfere with that or have an effect on the upcoming tournaments, the upcoming majors, which is why I immediately altered my schedule to come over here and get a couple of extra preparation days because I know that my record hasn't been what I wanted it to be here at the British Open and I wanted to have those extra days to really work hard and see if I could bring my best golf out this particular week.

Q. Is the decision on the second shot, if you faced a similar situation again, would you not try to carve around the tree? Would you play it safer and maybe take a double out of the situation?

PHIL MICKELSON: Again, it would depend on the hole and the situation and so forth.

Q. Two questions, Ernie said that when he came to play the course a few weeks ago, he was surprised to see Phil Mickelson's name written in the book. He was surprised that you had gotten here so early. Did you see any names above you that surprised you, Jones, Hagen, DeVincenzo?

PHIL MICKELSON: They weren't here this week, but it was neat to look at some of the pictures and all the history that has taken place at Royal Liverpool. I thought that was really cool. Having been part of Bobby Jones' Grand Slam is terrific and exciting. And having it be part of Peter Thomson's stretch of what was it three British Opens back in the '50s, I thought that was cool. DeVincenzo, I didn't see any of those. It was great to see the pictures and know that these great players walked these fairways.

Q. There seems to be two ways to play the course, take an iron off the tee and navigate your round or be more aggressive with the driver. Have you settled on one strategy or another?

PHIL MICKELSON: Most of them actually have at least two ways to play, and sometimes three. And, yeah, I've actually thought about every tee shot or every type of tee shot for each hole and it varies depending on conditions.

Q. You've done it both ways, I take it?

PHIL MICKELSON: We've played in eight different winds out here. I keep asking what the prevailing wind is and I keep seeing a different wind. So it's been interesting.

STEWART McDOUGALL: These are just breezes, not winds.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, whatever (laughter).

Q. You said at Winged Foot it was going to take a while to get over that.


Q. But it seems you did sooner?

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't say that, did I? I was in a bit of a daze, but go ahead.

Q. The question is, seems as though you got over it quicker than maybe you had thought at the time. Is that the case and was it easier to put behind you and move forward?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm not going to ever forget that. I don't think many people who watched it probably won't either, but for me I won't ever forget that. But I think it's important again for me to not let it affect or one bad hole affect my preparation or my confidence level in upcoming tournaments and upcoming majors.

Q. For all the preparation you've put in, the course has gotten very, very hard and runny. Is it going to be a bit of a gamble that you don't know how far they're going to run or how many bounces, et cetera? Do you fear that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's certainly possible, but on the other hand, part of learning the golf course is knowing where the balls will roll and funnel to, and hopefully you can I've learned enough to know where the ball will end up and be able to control it from there.

Q. Can you just clarify for some of us when precisely you first arrived here to practice, when you first played the course, and indeed, did you have to look up a map to find out where this place was when you sought to come here for holiday?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we have a GPS and it just navigated us right here (laughter). I left the weekend after the U.S. Open and headed over here. And the summer is difficult not difficult, but the summer is unique in that we have three majors within a month of each other. As soon as one ends the preparation for the next one begins for the most part. That's why I ended up leaving the weekend after; I didn't want to waste any time. I wanted to make sure I was ready come The British Open, and I only had four weeks.

Q. Did you first play here two weeks ago, three weeks ago?

PHIL MICKELSON: The week after the U.S. Open, the weekend after, I guess it was three weeks. Yeah, that's about right. I left I think we left Saturday or Sunday and spent a couple of days.

Q. Did you have any serious confidence in your ability to win here all the other years you teed it up, and is there a marked difference in your confidence level that you can win this thing now?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think the biggest turning point for me was in '04. That was the first year that I felt I knew how to hit the ball low and control those shots. And I ended up missing the playoff by a shot. I think that until you win a PGA TOUR event, you never know if you're able to win it. Until you win a major championship you're never 100 percent sure you're going to win it, even though you're confident that you will. And until I break through and win this great Championship, you never know for sure that you're going to, even though I have complete confidence I'm able to, you still have to do it before you know for sure.

Q. Is there any part of you that feels you have something to prove this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Why would you say that?

Q. Just curious.


Q. Well, not so much the history here, just the way The Open, the U.S. Open ended badly for you.

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, there was a long time where I wasn't really proud of my performance in the majors, but the last couple of years I'm pretty proud of that. So, again, one bad hole isn't going to change the way I look at that.

Q. Another preparation question, if 100 percent is you've come here, you know as much as you possibly can, you feel completely confident when you start on Thursday, where are you now?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I feel like there's two parts to that, though. Yes, it's important I feel it's important to go to the golf course and the nuances, but you still have to execute.

I'll give you a great example, because I felt my execution at the U.S. Open was horrific. The second hole at the U.S. Open, Dave Pelz and I and Bones and Rick said, okay, we were not going to miss this fairway right. We were either going to hit the fairway or lose it left. And I could take a 4 wood out of the rough and chop run it up by the green and chip up, maybe get on the left side. I missed that fairway four days to the right. So I knew you couldn't miss it right, that's great, but you still have to execute.

So although I feel I may know the golf course and the shots I want to hit, I still have to hit them. Execution is going to be critical here because the penalty is so great.

Q. I'm not talking about the execution as much as in preparation prior to the teeing off for the first round, how far are you towards feeling that you are completely as knowledgeable as you want to be?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, again I don't want to say you're ever completely knowledgeable, because that's not the case, but I have reached I finished on Saturday on Sunday all the requirements that we kind of go through.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Phil, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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