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May 12, 2007

Phil Mickelson


LAURA NEAL: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Are you pleased with the way you finished?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was nice birdieing 16 and 18, yes. The middle of the round it kind of stalled a little bit. I got off to a good start, but the rest of the round I kind of stalled. So to finish on a good note with a couple of birdies and shoot in the 60s was a minor victory for me.

Q. How important was it to get in the final group, and how much do you know about Sean's story?
PHIL MICKELSON: The last group is going to be fun. It's fun to be in the last group on Sunday, but my goal on 18 was to try and make birdie and shoot in the 60s because some guys shot low scores. I felt like if I could shoot in the 60s it wasn't as big a loss, if you will.
Sean is a very solid player. He's a good, young player who's going to be out here for a long time, win a number of tournaments. He's very talented and I enjoy being around him. We had a chance to play earlier in the year together, and I'm looking forward to playing with him again tomorrow.

Q. When you got out here and teed off, already there were eagles, double eagles going on. Can you talk about how much you paid attention to that?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's tough to watch. Before you even get out on the course, guys making eagles, birdies, double eagles, and shooting 64s and 65s. You feel like you have to press and force birdies, and fortunately I got off to a good start and made some birdies.
But in the middle of the round when a couple putts didn't fall on 5 and 6 and I had some good chances for birdies, I felt myself kind of press a little bit. So I tried to stay patient and made some good, solid pars the back side and ended up finishing with a couple of birdies. I'm going to have to be a little more patient tomorrow than I was today.

Q. You hit a couple drives, still losing it a little to the left there.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm okay with losing them left. It's the hook I'm worried about. As long as I'm not hooking, I can live with left. A slice will always go into less trouble than a hook will. The being lost on the left comes more from trying to fight a hook.
I hit it much better today, though. I think I hit nine fairways and two in the first cut, so that's 11 of 14 for me. It allowed me to be more aggressive at pins and try to make birdies.
I didn't get it as close to the hole as I wanted and I didn't make as many putts as I wanted, but I still shot in the 60s and I'll take it.

Q. Usually guys will come in and say I won't let the field or what's happening out there impact what I do, but it kind of sounds like as you were talking, that's what you let happen, at least early on.
PHIL MICKELSON: When you're in the last group that's going to happen. You're going to watch what guys are doing, and if guys aren't making a run you're going to make pars. People that say that usually aren't in the last group (laughter).

Q. Where is your game? You've had such a -- not up and down, because you had a great year until the Open. Then you come back and win Pebble Beach this year, and it looks like, boy, you're going to roll. Then you have the tough thing at LA. Now are you back to where you were or better?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's going to take a little time. It's going to take time to get where I want to be. I've won a number of tournaments in the past because of my short game, and now I want to try to win some golf tournaments because of ball-striking, and that's going to take a little time. But I've very pleased with the immediate results after the first couple of weeks.
But I'm thinking more in the long-term, you know, months, years down the road as opposed to how I played last week or this year. But I'm very pleased with the way it's gone the first three weeks, and I think we're definitely on the right path, and I should have some hopefully better results and better, more consistent ball-striking rounds ahead of me.

Q. Just one thing. The ball on 9, and I happened to be there, which you lost left a little bit, and of course you had the bad break, dead behind a tree, did that just get away from you a little bit?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, but again, I'm more worried about hooking into the water. You guys don't see the water over there, but I do (laughter). Usually from the left rough, the rough isn't too bad, you can just chop it right down where you're going to lay up anyways and it's no big deal except that I was right behind a tree trunk.

Q. Are you happy with -- the results after three weeks are quite impressive with Butch. I'm just wondering, are you surprised at how quickly you've been able to adapt? You look very comfortable in most instances.
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm not surprised because it hasn't been 100 percent yet. I knew that it was going to happen -- I was going to have good shots and bad shots. But what I've noticed over the last three weeks is that my good shots are getting -- I'm getting more good shots each round and that's what I need to keep doing.
I'm not really surprised at the results the first couple weeks because I was able to get up-and-down and save pars when I hit some poor shots, and then my level of play or level of good shots has gotten better as the weeks have gone on.

Q. Just curious, how big was the gap at 14 that you didn't want to tell Bones about?
PHIL MICKELSON: 10? It was plenty big for a ball to fit through (laughter). I will say this, too: You know, I played 30 feet right of that pin. I didn't try to cut it over there. I thought I played the smart shot and give myself a putt right up the hill. I felt a real conservative part --

Q. How hard was the shot? It's hard to tell on TV exactly what you're looking at. On a scale of 1 to 10, can you give us a --
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a tough enough shot where I felt Bones would try to talk me out of it (laughter).

Q. How important was the work you did with Butch this morning?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was very important because I found -- I kind of found the rhythm or found the shot pattern that I wanted and was able to make a lot of good swings.
I certainly made bad swings, but I made a lot of good swings, and that's all I was trying to do. So I hit a number -- a larger number of good shots today than I did the first couple.

Q. What will your approach be tomorrow? Are you just going to see what happens with everyone else, the conditions and all that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, guys are going to make some birdies and come after us, as is the case. I'm going to be patient, take advantage of the holes that allow birdies, even though guys will catch us before we have a chance to play those holes.
And so depending on how receptive the greens are, if they're like they were today, we're going to have to shoot something in the high to mid-60s.

Q. Why do you feel like you attract such loud, boisterous folks and fans? What about you do you feel --
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if it was that. I think it was just the last group, end of the day, hot day, beer sales were high (laughter). I just felt that it was the perfect storm (laughter).

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