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August 22, 2007

Phil Mickelson


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome Phil Mickelson to the interview room here at The Barclays. You come into the week fourth on the inaugural FedExCup points list. Talk about this venue and new era for the PGA TOUR.
PHIL MICKELSON: Way to feed it. (Laughter) Yeah, he's subtle, isn't he.
I think we are all looking forward to this event. I think we are all looking forward to the FedExCup. I think also are curious to see how things go, and I think it's going to be exciting. I can already sense that it's a different feeling here than it is in a normal event. I think we are all excited to try to make a push to win the big prize there at the end, and it should be an exciting four weeks for golf. I think we are all looking forward to it.

Q. Can you just contrast that with maybe your views of this earlier in the season? Was it difficult to embrace this concept with when it was in the conceptual stages, compared to now seeing it going into tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don't really know. I certainly have some thoughts and views on it, but I would rather just convey those to the Commissioner privately. They don't seem to matter. But I don't want to really go publicly with them.

Q. Well, I was -- (laughter) -- you don't care to expound? Does that have to do with the points system?
PHIL MICKELSON: Boy, you're just like him, trying to lead right down the path.
It's like anything. We all have kind of thoughts and views, and I think that everything will be kind of digested at the end of the four weeks and see what we can do to improve it for next year.
I am concerned next year. I think there's a lot of excitement about it this year and a lot of curiosity. I am concerned next year because it is not just four weeks this year. We have the Bridgestone and the PGA with only one week off and then playing four, and then to top it off, you have the Presidents Cup.
And next year, I'm even more concerned because the Ryder Cup is the week following THE TOUR Championship, so now you're talking about seven of eight. And something is going to give. I don't know how it's going to all play out, and I just want to see it succeed. I just don't know how it's going to go to play out yet or be finalized. It might not be known for a few years.

Q. How would you measure its success? You say you want to see this succeed. 'It will have succeeded if ...'
PHIL MICKELSON: If I win the championship. (Smiling)

Q. Does it have to have a marquee name, yourself, Tiger, Vijay win?
PHIL MICKELSON: Again, I don't know the exact mathematics, but the projections say you have to be in the Top-10 or 15 to have a really good chance at it, which tells you that the guys who play well throughout the year have a chance of kind of fighting it out.
So this is really a great way to pull whoever it may be up on top of the lead, pull him back to the field. And so we can all fight it out these last four weeks, as opposed to have some random player run away with the Player of the Year.

Q. You talked a couple of weeks ago at the PGA about your season and you felt like you were almost under suspension, I think the word you used. Can you talk about your level of excitement for these last -- even though it is a grind, these last four, and what it could do to your year, TPC notwithstanding, but that seems like a while ago, considering the injury and whatnot.
PHIL MICKELSON: My excitement level to play golf is very high. I feel like I've been suspended for three months, and it's interesting that my hand feels great now. I'm able to practice fully. I feel like my game is getting sharp, and when the three majors have already passed. So I am actually very excited about the FedExCup and I'm excited about the Presidents Cup, and I'm even going to play a few events overseas this year, which I haven't normally done in the past, and it's because I'm excited to play.
What's interesting is that the travel has been difficult because we've condensed for tournaments in a shorter time frame. So the balance that I try to have with family, with professional golf, with corporate responsibilities and so forth, has been skewed a little bit this year.
And so that's when I say, even though my excitement level is very high to play, it's still difficult for all of us because we're trying to keep that balance throughout.

Q. Just as a follow, what would winning this thing do for your year? How would you view your year if you won this thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it would be -- we would all view, anybody who won this would view it with excitement. I mean, the leading money winner maybe once has won over $10 million, I'm not sure, one time. So whoever wins it is going to be 10 to 15 million, or more if it's Tiger. So it's hard to view that as anything but successful.

Q. Vijay was in here a few minutes ago and I asked him about the similarity of his record out here and yours as well, three major championships, I believe over 30 wins apiece, and he said he was aware that you had the same or very similar record. If Tiger's major wins is unreachable and uncatchable, how much are you aware of what Vijay is doing, and is it important to stay ahead of him in your own mind as far as your legacy is concerned?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I mean, the guy is ten years older than me. He's an old man. (Laughter).
If you count Champions Tour wins, then I'd be -- (laughter). I'm just kidding.
He's had an incredible career. And with him winning, I think nine times one year, with him winning three majors and so forth, I certainly look at him with the utmost respect as a player, and the fact that we have such similar records, I take as a compliment. Hopefully I'll have a chance to play a few more years than he does, given that he's a little bit older. But it's not something that I'm aware of, per se. I mean, I'm still trying to win as many majors and win as many tournaments as I possibly can.
And it's not easy, as you mention, in an era with not just Tiger but guys like Vijay Singh and Ernie Els and Jim Furyk and the guys -- and now we have some good young players with Padraig Harrington, and Sergio García almost winning, and some good, solid young players on the American side that just got on the team. We have a lot of talent, a lot of depth that really keeps pushing us and makes it tough to win events here.

Q. How do you feel about the unnamed player spotting you some points this week? And if you could take yourself back to Baltusrol in 2005, which was a grind for you to win and was a hot week, you even had to go the extra day and come back; did you feel like you needed a rest after that experience back then?
PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. But back to your first question, I think that it's unfortunate that Jason Bohn and Ryan Palmer have not been able to play here because they are injured. (Laughter) They have had injuries and I know that they were looking forward to this, so it's too bad that they have been hurt.

Q. And Baltusrol, did you feel like you were kind of worn out after winning there two years ago?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yes, after every major I wanted a few weeks off. So I certainly understand it and I think that it fits perfectly, I mean, the way that it's going to go about two weeks on, three weeks off, two weeks on, it works out great and gives you a chance to play your best golf and still be fresh when you play. And even though you're still playing five out of seven, you're not quite as tired.
And it's unfortunate, too, Barclays is one of the best sponsors we have in golf, not just our FedExCup events. They sponsor the Scottish Open on The European Tour and the Singapore (Masters) event on the Asian Tour, so they are a huge sponsor of golf throughout the world and I would love to see them get the support that they need. But I certainly understand the reasoning behind that.

Q. Can you give us a quick analysis of the Mayor's game?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was actually impressed. I thought that he came in as a 21 handicap and he must have had four or five natural pars, which helped the team immensely. He birdied the first -- well, he net-birdied the first and second hole and got us off to a pretty good start there at the turn and gave us some good momentum. We played the back side first, so we gave is a good middle of the round push. I was pretty impressed.

Q. Did you give him any advice?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know where I could possibly do that. I mean, if we want to talk money, it's not like I'm going to say anything; I'm just going to listen. But we had some good conversations and he's done some brilliant things with the City of New York. New York is a great city and he and Mayor Giuliani before him are two big reasons why.

Q. My other question, real question, was how will you factor in who wins the FedExCup --
PHIL MICKELSON: The one with the most money --

Q. Would you let me finish, please?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sorry, didn't mean to cut you off. If there is a question, just look for where the largest check goes, that would be the winner.

Q. When it comes down to your vote for PGA TOUR Player of the Year, where would the FedExCup factor in?
PHIL MICKELSON: Depends if I win or not. Obviously if I win, it's going to play a huge part in my voting, and if not, not so much. (Laughter)

Q. Will you count it equal to, for example, since there are four major winners this year, would you look at it as equal to a major?
PHIL MICKELSON: It depends. I think if somebody wins two of those four events, you have to weigh it heavily and you have the feel of a major championship here. So you have to weigh the individual victories pretty strongly. It's not like you are just winning any regular TOUR events. You are winning a big field, strong field event.

Q. Just wondering about the logistics of --
PHIL MICKELSON: As though I tried to circumvent his question, he was giving me a look -- I thought it was pretty smooth. (Smiling).

Q. Curious about the logistics of four weeks in a row, do you go back and forth? Obviously this is a lot of play for you in consecutive weeks. You play a lot on the West Coast, but I don't know quite that many in succession, and you're much closer to home there.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, like I said, I'm not sure how it's all going to play out. My intent is to play all four -- we've heard that before. (Laughter) I'm going to steal a quote, yes.
But again, it's been very difficult this year to create a balance amongst everything because I've played more events in a condensed time frame. And so something's got to give. My family's been through a lot as far as a lot more travel than they are used to and it's been difficult on everybody. It's been tough to try to pinch together corporate responsibilities in the limited time now.
So something is, again, the way that the schedule is this year is not going to work for me long term. Something is going to give. I just don't know how it's going to play out long term for me.

Q. Jamie Lovemark said you talked to him about staying in school, can you recount that conversation and do you remember what you told him?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm a big fan of Jamie Lovemark's. I have had a chance to play golf with him. We're members at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, and I think he's a great talent. In fact, he is very difficult for me to beat when we play our matches. I think he strikes it, putts it, chips it as well as just about anybody. I think he's going to be a real force on the PGA TOUR.
And not only that, he's a fun guy to be around. I think he's just an intelligent, smart person and I have a lot of respect for him. And he asked my opinion, and I just said what I was thinking when I won a TOUR event as a junior was that over the course of a 30-year career, the amount of money that will be made in the next one, two or three years will be minuscule and insignificant over the course of a long-term career.
I think if you look at it in the big picture, you cannot go back and recapture that college experience. I don't feel like there was any rush for me nor should there be for any good player, even though he has the talent and the ability to come out on TOUR and be a back for immediately.
So certainly if he turned pro, you can't fault him because he has the game to come out here and not just keep his TOUR card, but to win. And if he were to stay in school, to me, that says that he's looking at the big picture and that he wants to -- evaluations an education, evaluations the college experience, and that golf, the PGA TOUR is not going anywhere. When he's ready to come on out, the TOUR will still be here and waiting for him.
STEWART MOORE: Phil, best of luck this week. Thanks for coming in.

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