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July 12, 2007

Phil Mickelson


GORDON SIMPSON: Phil, very good playing today, a round of 65. It's always been a case of trying to get a good start in this event because you've had some good rounds but never quite for four days. How do you feel about 65 today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a good start. We had a great, great day to score low and we had a lot of rounds under par this morning. There wasn't much wind, and even though it's a little cool, the greens were putting very well and it was a great opportunity to score low.
This afternoon over the last few holes that we played, the wind started to pick up; it was a little more challenging. But the golf course is so much fun to play and I love the way it's been set up. It's just a fun test of golf, and it's fun to get off to a good start. I know there's a lot of golf left, but it's fun to play well the first day.
GORDON SIMPSON: Everybody has their own views about playing the week before The Open, but yours is clearly to get competitive.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's a personal thing for each individual to find out what works best for them, playing the week before or not. For me, it seems to be better if I play the week before. And this works out so well to play here and have Carnoustie be so close. I was able to come into town a little early go over to Carnoustie and play some rounds over here, and still come here and prepare and be ready for this tournament, as well.

Q. Virtually no wind this morning -- would you have liked more wind?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure. And I think we'll have some more as the week goes on. Even without wind, though, there are a lot of shots that we were trying to keep down and keep low beneath the tree line. Certainly as the day wore on and the wind picked up that, was the object. Even though the ground is reacting differently than Carnoustie, the shots that we have to hit are very similar this week to next.

Q. Is this your personal favourite --
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. It's a great point that this gives you a chance to differentiate yourself. The rough is an opportunity to be creative and try to make some recoveries and separate yourself from some other players, as opposed to having the same penalty for everybody, a 60-yard wedge out or what-have-you. As a player you're not able to separate yourself out of those difficult shots. And this is a fun test. It gives you a chance to recover on some poor shots. It gives you a chance to go low. But it also penalises you if you hit some poor ones.

Q. Some of the majors, playing so difficult --
PHIL MICKELSON: That's not my call. I play. I'm not part of the organisations that set up the courses, so I don't know. It's just my job to try to play those courses as well as I can and shoot the lowest score regardless of the conditions, yeah.

Q. Can you single out a highlight?
PHIL MICKELSON: My best highlight was the fourth hole of the day, the par 5 13. I had just bogeyed 12 and was one over through three; and I hit a good drive up the left side and I hit a cut 3-wood along the edge of the green to about 15 feet from the hole and made it for eagle and that got my round started. That was by far the highlight.

Q. I haven't seen one of David's contraptions --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's not necessary here because greens are flat. There are flat spots. If you have a flat spot, you can use a regular Stimpmeter to read greens.
So that is used, it takes into account slope and pitch of the greens and allows us to find the speed of U.S. Open-type greens, greens that are fast and undulating where there are not flat spots.
I know that at Winged Foot, there were 13 or 14 greens that were unmeasurable and the same thing at Oakmont, just because there isn't a flat spot. And we were able to get the speed with that.

Q. So it's not something you take with you wherever you go?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's not necessary here. We were over at Carnoustie, there's plenty of flat spots there to test with a regular Stimpmeter.

Q. You've missed a couple cuts recently, is it almost a relief to show a bit of form this close to the Open? You said this was a fun test of golf -- do you think Carnoustie will be a bit more fun than it was this '99?
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought after playing it the last few days, it was a wonderful golf course. My recollection wasn't very high last time I was there, but I came back and really enjoyed the golf course. I think it's wonderful. I think everything about it is terrific. The hotel is terrific. The town of Carnoustie, everything around the area was spectacular.
As far as playing well, questions, I missed the cut at the U.S. Open. I missed the cut last week at Congressional. But last week at Congressional I started to hit the ball a lot better. I putted very poorly, but it was the first time that I started to really feel comfortable with the swing changes I've been making with Butch to where I didn't have to think about them; that they were more ingrained. And it's starting to carry over to this week I think because today I felt very confident on the tee.

Q. Do you feel this is a course that you can play links-type golf?
PHIL MICKELSON: I sure hope so. I sure hope so. I love the areas around the green at Carnoustie and it gives me a chance to let my short game take over if I happen to get into some trouble. And because of that, I think there's a good chance I'll be able to make a number of pars under difficult conditions and not let the round slide away.
And so I'm looking forward to next week a lot. I think it's going to be a wonderful test of golf.

Q. (Do you feel it's important for your career to win another major after Winged Foot)?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that I don't need to address that for another seven or eight years. Why don't we just get back to me on that later.

Q. Have you heard of Graeme Storm?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I certainly have heard of him and followed him in the Walker Cups and knew that he had just won recently shooting 66 the last round. I was very impressed with both Johan Edfors and Graeme Storm as far as they couldn't have been nicer. They were two very nice individuals.
And I knew about Johan Edfors because he had won three times last year. We get all of The European Tour on the GOLF CHANNEL back in the States. I've watched him play. I watched him win this tournament last year, and I knew what a talented player he is. I was very impressed with Graeme Storm; he played a wonderful round of golf at 6-under and played spectacularly and putted well. But before he played I knew he was a great player.

Q. (Were you aware Graeme was keeping pace with you today)?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I knew he was making a lot of birdies. He's got the guy carrying the board telling me what it is.

Q. Coming over here to Portmarnock, and all of the times you've come back since, how have you become comfortable and have you become comfortable enough to drive on this side of the road; and is that necessary to comfortable playing well in a tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: Is it necessary to feel comfortable driving a car to play well? (Laughter).
Actually I've been driving here now for a number of years and I've come to this tournament a number of times now to where I have a pretty good sense of direction and know the roads and know how to get around town if you can believe that.
That's a good point. Yeah, I think the difference is that the one area that I have always struggled over here is off the tee. Because you don't need to hit the ball hard. You don't need to hit the ball high. You need to hit the ball lower and take advantage of the firm ground, and you still get the distance.
And really, working the last three months, I've certainly tried to hit these lower shots the last few years. And 2004, that was really the first time I played effectively that way. The last few months with Butch we've been working on that low shot, and I did a number of them today, and I feel very confident that I'll be able to keep a lot of drives in play next week at Carnoustie. If that's the case, I think I'll have a good week. I think I'll be able to play well there. That's the biggest thing for me is driving the ball well on links-style courses.

Q. (When did you last work with Butch)?
PHIL MICKELSON: I went up to Vegas before I came here, which is where he's based. He came to San Diego. And so we spent enough time. He's over here in the U.K. right now. I'll see him at the British obviously early in the week. But I saw him a couple of weeks before I came over here.

Q. Was it for an entire day?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, usually. Usually it's just for a day.

Q. Has there been one shot at Carnoustie in your practise that tested the wrist?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's interesting, I had a very interesting thing happen when I missed the cut Friday at Congressional. I went over to see Dr. Tom Graham, who is a specialist in the hand and wrist, and happened to have this huge hand clinic right there an hour and a half away. So I drove up there to see him Friday night and we spent a few hours together.
We did another MRI and another test because my initial diagnosis was that I had some strained or sprained joint and that the inflammation was causing the pain. So if that were the case, a cortisone shot would have helped, and it wasn't. He said he noticed that I had a bruise, a bone bruise; that I had a lot of inflammation inside the pores of the bone, and that was what was causing the problem and there's not much you can do about it.
When I found that out, I realised that it not going to get any worse. So although it might hurt, I'm not actually hurting it. I'm not making it worse, and so I'm not afraid to go in after those shots now because I know that I'm not doing more damage.

Q. Was there a shot that bothered you?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, there wasn't a shot, and the reason I was okay is I feel confident to go in and be aggressive with these shots because of the different diagnosis.

Q. Was there any pain today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, yeah, it's like a black-and-blue mark; every time you make contact, you know, it stings. But it's like a hairline fracture -- have you ever had a hairline fracture, small little deal and then somebody flicks it? That's exactly what it feels like. So it hurt, but if it's not doing any dodge, I'm okay.

Q. Are you actually playing here shots -- inaudible -- that you'll use at Carnoustie?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, because they are pretty similar, they are pretty similar.

Q. Last year Tiger won without using his driver and '99 in Carnoustie --
PHIL MICKELSON: There was a lot of rain and it was pretty, green and because of that, you could hit 3-woods and drivers on a lot of holes.
I don't think that it is set up similar to last year. Because last year the bunkers seemed to kind of pinch the fairways in at a certain point, 280 or so, so you could lay back.
I think Carnoustie will allow you to hit a lot more drivers, yeah. Doesn't necessarily mean that's a good thing. You can get in a lot of trouble hitting driver there but I think you can still hit it.

Q. The low shots, you talked about, what holes were those?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, there are low shots I've been working on coming over to play links golf. And I hit a low cut on the first hole, I hit a low cut there; and I hit a low one on 2, I hit a low one on the par-5 6th, I hit a low one -- that's about it, yeah, about four or five. I'm trying to hit about four or five a day.

Q. Will you practise anymore at Carnoustie between now and --
PHIL MICKELSON: Probably not, no. I've done all my course work there, spent three days. I want to -- the practise facilities here are terrific, so I'll end up trying to get my game sharp now.

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