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May 10, 2007

Phil Mickelson


STEWART MOORE: We welcome Phil Mickelson up to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Great round of 67 out there today. Talk about the highlights of the round and how the course is playing with the wind and all the conditions.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think getting off to a good start with two birdies was a big factor to me. It allowed me to not force birdies or press. I was able to play for par on some of the tougher holes and take advantage of some of the birdie holes, where the pin was more susceptible. I think the start was important.

Q. Was there any hole or a couple of holes where the wind seemed to be at its worst in terms of the gusting and the swirling?
PHIL MICKELSON: There were points where it was a little bit stronger, but I thought that it may not have been the strongest point on 17, but that was certainly the toughest shot, because it would be directly in for 75 percent of the time. But that 25 percent that it wasn't directly in, it blew just across, right-to-left. The club selection would be way off and would probably go over the green.
It was a two-and-a-half-, three-club wind. So the 17th hole was where it was really the toughest.

Q. Can you take us through that hole, what you hit, and did you get a drop there?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit an 8-iron, just like I did in practice. And in practice I had one that came up just on the front edge, one that came up short in the water and one that flew over the green. I was hoping that this 8-iron would find the surface. It didn't find the putting green, but it found the island, which is all I cared about. I just took a drop from that and was able to chip up to three feet and make that.

Q. You had a collection of pars that seemed to keep your round going. Which one of you most proud of?
PHIL MICKELSON: Most of them were pretty easy. Most of them were off the edge of the green and I was trying to make birdies.
The 12th hole was a tough bunker shot that I had.
Probably the biggest one was the 7th hole, which was my 16th. It was late in the day, late in the round, and I was on an elevated green, and was able to hit that to three feet and make par.

Q. How does the course compare, the new course to the old one? What do you like about it and what don't you like about it?
PHIL MICKELSON: I like it a lot more now because it incorporates the short game as a much more important part of the scoring. With the shaved areas around the greens, you have a variety of shots now that you can play. People are chipping with hybrids, chipping with lob wedges, chipping with 4- and 6-irons, and a lot of them are putting it, as well. It really incorporates all different shots, a huge variety of them, whereas in the past it was thick, heavy rough that you were just chopping the ball out of.
I think in the years to come the scores will be not nearly as low because the greens will pick up some pace and they'll start breaking like they normally do. Because the speed is a little bit slower than in the past, putts aren't breaking as much and we're able to be more aggressive on the five- and six-footers that have given us fits over the years.

Q. Swing feeling pretty comfortable today, given the tweaks and this and that that you're still doing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I felt very good today. I hit a lot of good shots in some strong winds and was able to keep the ball in control, and my misses were very small and that allowed me to take a lot of the big trouble out of play that I had found in the past.

Q. What have you learned most the past few weeks working with Butch?
PHIL MICKELSON: I have been entertained quite a bit with some great stories. He's a great story teller; that's probably the biggest thing. There's always a point to the stories; you know, whether they're about his dad or other players, they always have a point. I find that very interesting. It's a fun way to learn.

Q. What's the funniest story?
PHIL MICKELSON: The top five I couldn't tell you, but I can tell you the sixth top story (laughter).

Q. How much do you work with Butch on the actual mechanics, and how much, if any, do you work on the strategy or the way to attack the course?
PHIL MICKELSON: We haven't worked on strategy or course management yet. I was saying earlier we might evolve into that, but right now it's getting the long game down, getting the misses down. The biggest thing that I'm noticing that's taking adjustment is that I'm not curving the ball as much right-to-left or left-to-right.
I'm used to aiming outside the right edge of the fairway, and I'm having to aim inside the fairway line. It's uncomfortable for me because I feel like I'm going to slice it across the fairway. The ball is not having as much sidespin. It seems to be a much straighter flight.
As I get more adjusted to that, I think that's when the shots that I had, that four or five shots that were in the first cut of the rough, that's when I think those will be in the fairway.

Q. Have you always played that way?
PHIL MICKELSON: For the most part I've always put a lot of curve on it.

Q. Does it cost a little distance at all, just a bit?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not swinging at it very hard this week, but I didn't lose any distance the last couple of weeks where I was going at it a little harder. Distance here is really not critical.

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