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August 23, 2002

Phil Mickelson


Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I didn't finish the way I wanted to, but I'm only a few off the lead heading into the weekend, and that's a position that can be made up.

We obviously saw some low scores today with Robert Allenby shooting 8-under and Steve Lowery shooting 6 or 7, I believe. And there are some low scores out there, if you play well. And I feel like you'll see some guys come from behind on the weekend. I would look at Tiger and Ernie, guys in the 3 -, 4-under par range to shoot 67, 7-, 8-under par, to make a move.

Q. How do you feel you played today?

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't hit the ball very good the early part of the round. And then I started hitting it better in the end and made some bogeys. It's probably about what I should have shot, 2-under.

Q. We've seen some big scores today on 17, not necessarily how you played, but can you talk about the hole in general? What makes 17 difficult?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the water is probably what makes it difficult, and it's shaved down -- it's shaved down on the side. It's marked yellow, so you don't have the two-club drop option. You have to drop on the other side of the lake, so that takes an easy 4 out of play. And you have to be careful on your approach shot not to knock it in the water again and make quad. So it would be -- you would think it would be easy to go to the left of the pin, but I hit as good a shot as I've hit all day there, and it landed just left of the pin, a couple of yards past it and it hit a hard spot and went to the back of the green.

And with the ridges, I couldn't get a putt at the hole. The best I could do is 5 or 6 feet to the side, because of the contouring.

I think when they put the pin along the right side you're going to see high numbers.

Q. Can you compare this golf course this year as to how it played at '98. I know it's a big contrast in scores.

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really remember. I remember it being a little bit firmer, and so some of the tucked pins -- see, most of the pins that are hard to get at are high pins. If you look at 16 in Augusta, high right, we never birdie up there. Rarely. No. 6, when it's on the top right, we very seldom birdie there.

But here it's the opposite. It's a lot of low pins. The pins are in low spots, in and amongst crevices. And it makes it easy to get the ball close, because you have a much bigger margin of error. But if you do miss it you have tough putts like I had on 17 and on other holes.

But that's why I think we were seeing a lot of birdies in '98, when we played here. The greens were so firm we couldn't fly it at the hole and get it stopped in the crevices. Now they're soft and we can. But some holes are pretty firm, and it may not play that way on the weekend.

Q. 18, second shot, it looked like you had to take it low?

PHIL MICKELSON: I had to punch it underneath with a 3-iron. It went through the fairway, just in the rough. I had a good lie. I hit a good shot. I tried to get to the pin and it came out without any spin and as it knuckled, it knuckled a couple of yards left and it caught the edge of the bunker. When it did that, it kicked it all the way to the other side of the bunker on the downslope. And I didn't have a chance.

Q. The second shot on 8?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a 6-iron. Yes, I had 200 yards, roughly -- I forget the exact yardage up the hill -- and hooked around the trees. I played seven holes of marginal golf at even par. I hit a really good shot there for a tap-in birdie. But, see, there was probably a good example of that pin I'm talking about. That shot released 15 feet by the hole, caught the ridge and rolled back down to two feet.

Q. Do you see it getting any firmer?

PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. I don't know if that would be the best thing. It kind of takes away some of the fun of this tournament and this golf course, but it very well may get firmer.

Q. (Inaudible.) Can you talk about how you think your game suits that?

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't thought about the Ryder Cup yet other than about my travel arrangements.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I think so, yes. I think the World Golf Championships the week before -- if you're playing well, you try to get in contention and carry it over to the Ryder Cup. If you're not playing well, you use that as practice and try to get your game sharp through six days of practice and four days of competition. That's when we'll think about preparing for it.

Q. With so many people shooting so low -- (inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it will be exciting with so many near the leaders, that have a shot at gaining ground on the leaders.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: To the Ryder Cup?

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I think I've done okay in the Ryder Cup. I think I've done okay in match play events. I enjoy it. I don't think it really favors one person or another, I really don't. Certainly the best ball competition would favor guys who make a lot of birdies. Historically. I have done well in best ball competitions. And alternate shots tend to favor guys who keep the ball in play a little steadier. And although I'll play that format, I would anticipate -- it's not my favorite format to play, because it's a much more conservative style of golf.

Q. The pin placements today, were they typical?

PHIL MICKELSON: They were fine, yeah, fair, nothing wrong with them.

Q. They looked like they were tougher pins than I expected for a Friday.

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't think so, no. I thought they were very fair. We had some of the easier pins, setting up the weekend to have the tougher pins. No. 10, we've had it front right. They'll move it back left. No. 18, the two front pins are the easier ones. When you throw it on the back ridge, it's hard to get it close.

Q. I was surprised on No. 17 --

PHIL MICKELSON: To the water? They have another one back right, all the way back, they'll use. And they'll probably use back left tomorrow.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: What course doesn't? You don't think the easier courses favor the better players?

Q. I was thinking in terms of difficult pin placements. I'm wondering when you see a course set up hard (inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I don't think -- that fits right in my game. I don't think that. What I think is I'm going to have to play a more patient style of golf and have fewer birdies and try to make fewer mistakes. That becomes the thought.

Q. Along those lines, how much did you use a driver today, and what's your playing going to be going into the weekend?

PHIL MICKELSON: I only used it a couple of times, and it wasn't -- the course is playing a little faster than it had been. As we get the sun out and it dries up a little bit, balls are rolling. I've hit a lot of 3-woods. But in the practice rounds, I was hitting a lot of drivers.

Q. A Sports Illustrated article the other week, did you get a lot of feedback on that or any thoughts on how that came out?

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. Why? What did you think?

Q. I thought it was fascinating. Why does it take more than one baseball mitt for the tournament?

PHIL MICKELSON: Because when you play catch, it takes two people (laughter.) Yes, but it doesn't always work that way. Not everybody brings their glove. I bring a football, too.

Q. What did you think of Justin Rose's game?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think he's a very talented player, a lot of game. That became very obvious this year with his performance in Europe. But I thought it became obvious last year when he won last year -- I think he won last year, didn't he?

Q. Late last year.

PHIL MICKELSON: When he went head-to-head with Adam Scott, and Adam just edged him earlier in the year. That's where I saw his game really turn around. He strikes it very solid, hits it a long way, excellent putter, just an all-around complete player. And he's a very enjoyable guy to be around, too. And it surprised me that he was only 22. I guess I have to remember that in '98 when he played so well at Birkdale, he was only 17. But it seems like he's been around so long now and he's such an experienced player, it's hard to believe that he's only 22, and younger than most of the young guys on our Tour that come up that we look to take over the reins in the future. Like Bryce Molder and Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar, and so forth. There's a lot of players, but those guys are all older than Justin. So it's amazing the experience he has at such a young age.

Q. How mad are you going to be if there's a baseball strike?

PHIL MICKELSON: It won't disappoint me.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I guess it doesn't really -- I think that as an entertainer, and in golf we're entertainers, we're only worth what we bring in. And baseball, it seems as though they've been playing for more than what they bring in. So I think for the longevity and benefit of all the teams, like I'm a Padres fan, and it's been very difficult to support a smaller market team because of the discrepancy in revenue that they have to spend. It won't disappoint me, because I think what will happen is there will be more parity, what they're talking about as far as the luxury tax and then taking a couple hundred million and helping out some of the smaller squads, I think that will give -- that will give the teams that have a great -- minor leagues and younger leagues, a chance to keep them.

The Padres had a great young pitcher, when they get into their 4th and 5th year and they're eligible for arbitration, they try to trade them for more younger players, and it's a cyclical process. I think we have good. Young players. Florida has great pitching, Burnett and Jose Vera and Tavares. And we have a left-hander, Perez, that beat the Yankees in Seattle. We won't be able to keep him unless we get a little more parity in the finishes. So I think in the long run it will be a plus.

Q. Could you comment on Steve Lowery's game in general?

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't played with him for a long time. He's always been solid. I thought of him as an underrated player. I haven't played with him for a long time to see what he was doing.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: It depends on the firmness of the greens. If the greens are firm then you look at like 15, 16, 15-under. But if they stay the way they have been, then 19, 20, sure.

End of FastScripts....

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