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March 14, 2007

Phil Mickelson


Q. Were you in the rough today and if so how tough is it?
PHIL MICKELSON: The rough is up, the golf course is playing tough but I think it's very fair. I think it's going to be a great venue to test us. It's going to be a fun week and challenging week.

Q. Any thoughts about the changing to 4 and 16?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, 4 and 16 are changed to par 4s. I don't think it will really matter in the scheme of things as far as affecting the scores. The tees were moved up a little bit. Maybe the scores might come down a fraction but relative to par will go up a couple.

Q. Will there be something missing on Sunday with 16 going from a birdie hole to a pretty tough grinding hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think it will make a difference. It will play pretty similar to the way it played in the past but relative to par it's changing. Overall score will be similar to years past.

Q. In the scheme of things, do you think it's going to be a minus-6 that wins this thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's tough to say how many under par. I guess, what, 12-under, 13-under usually wins, is that about right?

Q. 14-under last year.
PHIL MICKELSON: So take eight off of that, you're looking around 6, tees are up, maybe around 8, just rough guess.

Q. What do you think of the trend of winning single-digit scores on TOUR?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the lowest score wins. It doesn't matter how many are in par it is. If it's a couple under and it wins, that's all that matters, as long as it's the lowest score relative to the field.

Q. Do you think fans like to see birdies late or grinding for pars?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think probably a mixture of both. I think that it's fun to watch birdies, but it's also fun to watch top players be challenged. And so I think what the TOUR is trying to do is get a good balance of both throughout the year.

Q. With the BellSouth tournament being moved, how are you going to prepare for Augusta?
PHIL MICKELSON: I won't play the week this year before Augusta. I will probably go down to Augusta early and get ready down there.

Q. Is there anything that you can take from this course or Doral that you can use at Augusta or separate entities all together as far as preparation, shot, sight lines?
PHIL MICKELSON: Augusta is such a unique golf course, and I don't see very many similarities from Bay Hill or Doral compared to Augusta. Certainly not off the tee where it's more open and the rough or the first cut is not anywhere near as high as the rough is on those golf courses. The greens are totally different from bent to bermuda and speeds are different, undulations are different. I don't see many similarities.

Q. When you go to Augusta early, do you try to play as many holes as possible or do you spend most of your time on the practice range? What do you actually do when you go there?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, you just try to get ready. Whatever I feel I need to do to get sharp.

Q. You discussed I think at the Hope the possibility of using a different driver at Augusta, and I think you might have been working with that driver a little this week. Have you decided what you're going to do in regards to equipment?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. I know exactly what I'm going to do and I'm really excited about it. I'm excited about the driver I'm going to use there. I have never had a driver I hit as long and as straight as my Augusta driver.
The question is, well, why don't I use it more often. The reason is the fairways are tight. The wind is usually a crosswind, and the FT-5, which I've been using all year, it's much easier to hit low and shape shots. And the driver I'm going to use at Augusta just want to hit it high and straight and far. And although that sounds great, it doesn't always fit with TOUR courses.

Q. How does the course change and how does the tournament change Augusta when it's firm and fast, as opposed to soggy?
PHIL MICKELSON: It plays shorter when it's hard and fast. But scores are usually lower when it's a little bit wet.

Q. Do you think it opens up the field to other guys when it's drier?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know if the moisture really affects who can win there. I think that -- I feel like anybody can win going in. Certainly guys with a little bit more length might have an advantage though.

Q. It wasn't that long ago that people were asking you when you were going to win your first major and now you're walking around with 3-under your belt. Is it the feeling what you thought it might be back then?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's much more enjoyable fielding questions and coming into these interviews having won a couple majors, no question.
It was difficult there for a while because I wasn't meeting my expectations, but now I feel much better about my performances in the majors and I feel like instead of being the toughest tournaments for me to win, I feel like I'm very confident heading into those events that I'm going to have a chance on Sunday.

Q. Some players have expressed disappointment that The INTERNATIONAL not only folded, but was replaced with a limited-field event, as opposed to a larger-field event. Do you have any --
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I've really tried to stay out of TOUR politics in the last few years. But I will say this: I think that it's important for the TOUR to be in Washington, D.C.; I think that it's important for the TOUR to have a very strong relationship with Tiger, and that tournament does both.
And I think that we shouldn't be narrow-sighted on the fact that Tiger creates so much excess revenue for the TOUR, and those dollars go directly into conflicting events. So all of the conflicting events cannot support themselves financially, and all of the excess revenue from the TOUR goes to support those tournaments, and most of that money is driven by Tiger.
So you're looking at 450 spots that Tiger is creating, and if he wants to take 20 away because he wants to have a prestigious event, I think that we should not as players, as whoever, we shouldn't be narrow-minded. If we look at the big picture, he does a heck of a lot more in this tournament, and his involvement -- the tournament does, and it does an incredible amount for the TOUR, for the game of golf, that I think we need to be real careful on that.

Q. Speaking of TOUR politics, how long do you think it will take for the FedEx concept to sink in for both the players and the fans, do you think it will be later in the summer or a month out from the playoff events? When is it going to happen?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a good question. I don't know. I think it's got to start with the players first and then go from there.

Q. Do you think maybe a little bit of impatience and maybe it will take a few years?
PHIL MICKELSON: It will take time. It's just like when we changed the Senior Tour to the Champions Tour. Most people refer to it now as the Champions Tour a couple of years later. Players are still in the mind-set of Money List, and it's going to take a while for the players to change the way they view it. And when the players start changing and it's FedExCup points and so forth -- it will take some time. But in the end I think it's good that we have a season that culminates with some type of finale, if you will, as opposed to having everything already been finalized.

Q. The last time you played here, what memories do you carry since you were here last?
PHIL MICKELSON: I believe Tiger hitting one off the fence from going out-of-bounds and then birdieing the last hole to beat me by a shot. Was that the last time I was here? It was right around it. One of the years he birdied the last hole to beat me, made about a 25-foot putt but it was how he got there that was what was interesting. I don't remember if that was my last year or not but I remember losing in a tough one.

Q. Are you talking about the time when he hit it apparently out-of-bounds and it hit --
PHIL MICKELSON: Either a fence or a person, something, and then he hits this great shot in there 25 feet and makes it. Yeah. It's fun. (Laughter).

Q. You have a chance to be in the three-win club at Augusta, what would it mean to you to be among that company?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's cool being among the two-win club, don't get me wrong. It would be great to add a third. I mean, everybody wants to win that tournament. And those are a couple -- some of my best memories is the game is winning those two events.
Obviously being able to win my first major there and to birdie the last hole and then to have a nice stroll up 18 knowing I had the tournament in hand. Those are the walks and the memories that you cherish, and to be able to add to that and create another memory would be terrific and something I'm working hard to do.

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