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September 3, 2007

Phil Mickelson


STEWART MOORE: Phil Mickelson, congratulations on your win today at the Deutsche Bank Championship. With your win today you collect 9,000 points in the FedExCup and you move into first on the FedExCup Points list heading into next week's BMW Championship in Chicago. Give us a couple general comments on the round and obviously the excitement of playing with Tiger and the great battle going on out there today.
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a lot of fun, not just today, this whole week. I had a lot of fun on the golf course being able to play three rounds with Tiger, a couple with Vijay. I had a great time off the course, too, we went and saw the no-hitter in Fenway Park. How often does that happen? It was a very historic night and fun week here in Boston that I'll never forget, and had a chance to spend a couple days up in Kennebunkport, Maine, the few days prior to this tournament.
It made for a very special memorable week, and I just am so excited with the way it finished.
STEWART MOORE: You started the first two rounds, you're paired with Tiger and Vijay. As it stands next week you play with Tiger and Steve Stricker. Is that an exciting part of the Playoffs, the pairings based on the points standings?
PHIL MICKELSON: My favorite thing about the FedExCup is the way the pairings go straight down the points list. I think that's my favorite aspect of it. It leads to some excitement.

Q. Could you describe that lie you had? Was it as bad as it looked like on TV?

Q. Yeah, and how many times have you practiced that type of shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was tough because the grass was so heavy. But fortunately I had a pretty big area that I could fly it and the ball would still release down to the hole.
So it wasn't easy because it had to come out a certain way, but I had a fairly large margin of error where the ball could still get close to the hole.

Q. Is there any advantage or do you like, particularly this format, having your contenders, which in this case primarily means Tiger, right there with you, rather than a group ahead or a group behind?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if it's an advantage or not. What it is is more exciting. I think it's more exciting for the FedExCup when the leaders are paired together more often, when you are going head-to-head more often, and it seems to add more in that regard. But I don't think it's an advantage or disadvantage for any of the players.

Q. Does this victory mean more to you because of your past record against Tiger?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it does, yeah. I think that he was making a charge there in the end, and to be able to stand up on 16 after he knocked it close and follow it with a birdie of my own, knock it inside of him to finish with a couple birdies coming in to win, it feels terrific.
Now the next step is to try to hopefully go head-to-head in a major. We don't get paired very often in majors, and hopefully next year in '08 we'll have a chance to do that.

Q. Was that a pivotal moment, 16, with him already close? And given your history with him, did you find yourself surprised at all the putts he had that didn't go in? Were you almost expecting them to, I guess?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. He played very well. I don't know what he shot, 3-, 4-under par, and I thought he played well. It was a very difficult day with the wind, and when he needed to, he hit some terrific shots and great putts. I guess I was fortunate to come out on top. I was pleased with the way I played, especially the front nine.

Q. Based on some comments on TV, is your rival now Tiger or Tim?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no, no. I don't have a problem, it's just that I'm a little conflicted on some things because I'm trying to -- I want to have a balance in my life, and I certainly feel the obligation to play and support the FedExCup and to support the PGA TOUR, support the game of golf.
And I also want to have balance in my family life, and my family has sacrificed a lot this year because it's been a very difficult schedule. It's not the four FedExCup tournaments; it's the PGA, Akron right before that, only four days off after the British Open before we had to travel and playing two weeks before that, so it's been the last three months having no more than two days off at a time and working to do corporate outings in between. So our time together has struggled, and I want to have a balance there. They start school next week, so I have that conflict -- or obligation and desire to be there.
My frustration from this past year came from asking for a couple of things in the FedExCup that weren't done and not really feeling all that bad now if I happen to miss. So I'm not really sure how it's going to play out.

Q. Your only hiccup was 12. Was that a mistake going for the pin or was it a gust of wind and a bad kick?
PHIL MICKELSON: I fatted a 6-iron. I took an extra club to hit it long, and it floated and came up short.

Q. We were going to give you the wind.
PHIL MICKELSON: I should have. I just caught it a little heavy.

Q. What did that hit? It looked like it hit the rough --
PHIL MICKELSON: And then kicked back down in the rocks, yeah. I don't know if it hit across the hazard line or not. I couldn't tell. But either way the drop would have been probably about the same.

Q. You said a couple discussion points with Tim that you were looking for vis-á-vis the design of the Playoff structure.
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't want to go into it. Just I want to support it and I certainly feel the obligation to, but I also have to have a balance both ways.

Q. Did you talk about it this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Every time I see him this year I bring it up.

Q. When you were in the bunker on 4 and he was on the green in one, were you feeling better about -- were you thinking about the position that might come out? He had a 70-foot putt, you had a bunker up-and-down situation, and how important was that hole for jump-starting the rest of the nine?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I knew -- I figured he was going to make a 3. He doesn't three-putt very often. I left myself in a tough spot because that bunker was a good spot if I was another six or seven yards up on the upslope where I could get it stopped. But I just trickled into the bunker, and I knew I wouldn't get it stopped.
I was fortunate to hit it where I did, and I was very fortunate to make the putt. It was a little downhill sliding one, and that was a two-shot swing from what should have happened; he should have birdied and I should have parred and we reversed it. It got me off to a good start. But as you all know, he ends it and finishes it better than anyone, and he tried to do that today, and I was fortunate to hold him off.

Q. When you won THE PLAYERS you really had a good week short game-wise. This week your putting was very good but your long game seemed to be better. I wonder if you could comment on that and where you are right now.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, what was nice was although I hit a couple of iron shots I wasn't proud of, I had a driver I could fall back on. I just felt like I knew I was going to get it in play. That's a new feeling for me. I missed only two fairways today, and playing from the fairway allows me to not be fighting for pars all the time. So that was a big thing.
I certainly owe Mr. Harmon a lot of gratitude for him -- his time and effort into helping me drive the ball more consistently in the fairway.

Q. What did you have to do to mentally get it done?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was still leading, so it wasn't like I needed to do much different. I knew there were some tough birdie holes, so I just needed to play some solid holes, make some pars until the last three or four where I felt those were birdie holes.

Q. Take us through 18, your thought process, what you hit off the tee, what you had left in there?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit 3-wood. I couldn't hit driver. It was just going to go right through the rough. It was downwind right to left. I came out of a 3-wood a little bit and came up quite a bit short. But I really had to step on it to get it to carry over those bunkers, and I just missed it a little bit left.
But I knew from there I was going to be able to go for it, and I felt like if I could just get it to pin high, the way the slope of the green was, working kind of back up the slope, there would be a good chance of getting it close even if I was in the rough. That's what I did. I didn't feel with the 3-wood that the water short was in play. I wasn't worried about that. I could have probably hit my other 2 hybrid, but I wanted to take the front out of play.

Q. You're a quick study. You learned all this in one quick Pro-Am Thursday?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was observing as I played, too. I tried to pick it up as I played, but certainly I have a decent memory, I guess (smiling).

Q. How rewarding is this after you were playing about as well as you have at THE PLAYERS and all this stuff, and then you get hurt and everything you went through there, and other than Scotland you haven't really contended especially during the major season. That was pretty much of a bummer, and now you won here in your first appearance?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's exciting because I feel like I had a three-month sabbatical there where I couldn't practice, I couldn't swing aggressively into the ball, and I have enjoyed this whole week going into some of this turf. It's firm, taking aggressive divots and not having any pain. I've been able to practice, come out early a few hours and have good practice sessions to get ready. It's been a night-and-day difference, and that's why I'm so excited to play here at the end of the year and have been able to play well because of it.

Q. Were you more excited about the FedExCup or more excited about 2008?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited about the way this week went. I loved this finish, I loved being able to play three rounds with the best player of arguably all time and certainly the best player in the world today, and to be able to come out on top feels great, and that just leads to excitement for the coming here, as well as I guess the finish of the year.
But '08 is when our next major is, so that's kind of what I'm looking forward to.

Q. Are you going to play next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was just saying, I don't know.

Q. But you'll be in Chicago --
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. I don't know.

Q. You'll be there tomorrow, though?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll be there tomorrow. I had already scheduled an outing I was planning on playing, but I'm not sure.

Q. If you were to skip next week, would that mean skipping the last one, too?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I would end up going to Atlanta.
STEWART MOORE: I believe we've touched on 12 and 18. Can you briefly take us through the rest of your birdies?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I birdied 2. I hit a 3-wood off the tee there, as well. It was downwind, and I just wanted to get it in the fairway. Hit a 6-iron to the left. I felt like if I went at the pin, it would just catch that downslope and go 40 yards by, so I played a little bit left and had a nice easy chip uphill and made birdie.
We talked about 4 where I drove it in the bunker and hit it to 18, 20 feet behind the hole just off the fringe.
I birdied 5, hit a good drive and a 9-iron to four feet and made that for birdie.
And then I birdied the par 5, 7th; I hit a drive and a hybrid into the front left bunker and hit a good shot about five feet behind the hole and made that.
10, I birdied, hit a 3-wood off the tee, hit a 9-iron to eight feet, nice straight uphill putt, couldn't have been better, and I ended up making it.
I hit a good drive on 12, fatted a 6-iron, came back in the hazard, hit a good chip, had a lot of spin on it, unfortunately hit the pin and came back about five feet and I ended up missing that for double.
16 was probably the most fun birdie I had today after Tiger knocked it close. I hit an 8-iron to six feet, ended up making that one. That was a big answer for me there.
And then 18, 3-wood, 3-wood to the back left, chipped up to four feet and made that.

Q. I would be curious about the dynamics of leaderboard watching today. Did you start out thinking about Tiger, thinking about Brett? At what point did you forget about Tiger and think about Arron, that type of thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I saw that Arron Oberholser was only a shot back when I played 17, and I knew that I needed to birdie 18 because the likelihood is that he's going to make a 4 there.
So when I made that putt, I felt like I had won, even though, yes, he could have made eagle. But yes, I did know and was well aware of where Arron was.

Q. Just from 17 on, or were you aware earlier?
PHIL MICKELSON: I kept looking. I couldn't find very many leaderboards. They were blocked out by people or it wasn't timed right and I was missing the leaderboard and I was just seeing the bios.

Q. Learn anything about yourself today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't know, even though I was looking for quite a while.

Q. You talked about a three-month sabbatical. Was there a single shot or a line in the sand when the wrist was no longer a concern?
PHIL MICKELSON: The week before the PGA is when it started to really feel good. It was the first time I went out and played and thought, I didn't really have any shooting pain today, this feels really good. It was just like the doctor said. He said the 11th or 12th week it should be fine, and that's exactly what happened.

Q. Could you describe the atmosphere here and compare it to other events?
PHIL MICKELSON: Boston is an awesome sporting town. The electricity at the Red Sox game where you have a rookie that nobody knows and he comes out and pitches a no-hitter, and you wouldn't believe the way people were supporting him.
The same thing held true at the golf course. There were some fun, funny comments. It was an electrifying crowd. There were so many people that came out to support this event. We just as players certainly appreciate that.

Q. Is it unlike anywhere else, or what would you compare it to?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's some other good sports cities close by. New York is a tough and fun place to play. I love playing golf there. We hear some entertaining comments there, as well. There's some other big cities, but Boston is certainly a special place. I can't believe I've missed it -- the Ryder Cup in '99 was one of the highlights of my golfing career, having the team win there. This town really added to that experience.

Q. I'm going to take one more shot at this one. Are you going to give us the Butch Harmon insights into Tiger's --
PHIL MICKELSON: Good heavens, no (laughter). But I will say that I think -- I certainly owe a lot to Butch in helping my golf game and also in helping me bring it out, helping my best golf come out when I'm paired with the best player in the world. And that sure means a lot. I certainly value his knowledge and insight, and he's been very beneficial to my success at THE PLAYERS Championship and certainly this week.

Q. How much did you talk to him this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Every day, yeah, every day. Absolutely.

Q. I assume he liked what he was watching?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't talked to him today, but I hope so, yeah (laughter).

Q. Tiger was in the final pairing obviously at The Masters and the U.S. Open, and someone playing in a pairing in front of him ultimately was able to win the tournament. Can you articulate at all how different it would be --
PHIL MICKELSON: What events are you talking about?

Q. U.S. Open and Masters.

Q. Yes. How different it is to try to beat him playing next to him as opposed to being in a different pairing?
PHIL MICKELSON: They're both tough (laughter).

Q. Did you give Bones a lot of grief for missing the no-hitter, or did you feel like he suffered enough by not being there?
PHIL MICKELSON: My wife and my mother gave him probably the most grief, but I certainly added a little bit to it.
You know, I just think to deprive your son Oliver and your daughter Emma the opportunity to experience history at Fenway Park, I just feel like that is -- I wouldn't say child abuse (laughter), but it's certainly --

Q. Who was in the suite with you that night?
PHIL MICKELSON: Zach Johnson and his wife Kim and their little boy, and then my mom, Amy's mom and our family, Coach Lloyd. It was fun.

Q. Will you be making the presentation to the charities, this being Tiger Woods' charity?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't understand. What do you mean?

Q. The check to the charities.
PHIL MICKELSON: Which one is that?

Q. The Tiger Woods charity.
PHIL MICKELSON: Which check are you talking about?

Q. I thought this tournament was sponsored for the charity --
PHIL MICKELSON: The tournament does that, sure. The director, whoever runs that, yeah. They actually give me a check, too (laughter).

Q. I thought you might make a presentation to the charity.
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I think they do that.
STEWART MOORE: Phil, congratulations on a great win, and thanks for spending time with us.

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