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November 9, 2007

Phil Mickelson


Q. After a week and a half, it would seem you've finally got golf in this part of the world sorted out. I mean, that was some finish.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you, it was a good day today. It started off very windy. Towards the end, though, it seemed to calm down a little bit, and it was nice to finish with a couple of birdies. I made a few putts coming in and that feels good heading into the weekend.

Q. What most pleased you, though, about your round today? I know it was bogey-free, but there must have been some elements of your game that were satisfactory.
PHIL MICKELSON: I struggled last week driving the golf ball, and today and yesterday I drove it very well and I kept it in play. If I missed, I missed it in a place I was still able to play from. I think that was the biggest element because I was able to play aggressive and try to make birdies. I didn't have a bogey today which was a good thing, too.

Q. A fairly sort of U.S.-style golf course, but what would you say were the main differences between golf here and where you've come from?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, here at the Sheshan Golf Club, it's not too different from what we see in the States. The greens are beautiful bentgrass, just like we see on many Tour events. We have bermudarough that's very thick and the ball goes to the bottom, it's quite difficult. And we have rye overseeded fairways, so the grasses are very similar to the style we've seen in the States. The bunkering was very similar and I thought that the architecture around the golf course also is much like something we would see in the States so it feels very similar.

Q. On your way up here from Singapore, I think you stopped off in Beijing and had a look at preparation for the Olympics. Are you one of those that thinks that golf and the Olympics are eventually meant for one another?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've certainly had a change of heart about that. I believe that it will be a critical element for the globalization of golf because we'll have the Olympic committees from all the countries throughout the world now funding golf if it becomes an Olympic sport, and so I think it would be important.
Now, as a professional, we get to play for our country a number of times: The Ryder Cup, The Presidents Cup, The World Cup, a number of events. And so I would like to see it be for only amateur golfers. I think that that would be cool, because it would be just -- it wouldn't have as unique a feel as it should for professionals.
But I do think that it's an important part of the globalization of golf to have the Olympic Federations be funding the game in all of the countries throughout the world.

Q. Because there are those that actually think that the Olympics could do with golf, but does golf really need the Olympics?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think golf needs the Olympics a lot more than the Olympics need golf. I think we need the Olympics, again, because we need the countries to all be funding the sport and getting juniors started, getting youngsters started in the game with proper instruction, and that comes from the Olympic funds that each country provides for their Olympic sports, Olympic athletes.
So golf needs ultimately to become an Olympic sport if we are going to reach the status worldwide that we all hope it will.

Q. Now, you normally stop immediately after the PGA and get the clubs out and get the dust off beginning of January or something like this, and you've had the FedExCup since the PGA and now you're here. Why the change of plans?
PHIL MICKELSON: A number of reasons. One, my kids are old enough now to appreciate new countries and cultures. And they are traveling with me and we have been able to go to Singapore and see some wonderful things, and we were in Beijing and saw some incredible things here in Asia.
And also because I had a chance to play some new equipment. Callaway made me some new irons that I'll be working on next year and we've been working on a new golf ball that will be coming out next year; although, I can't play it this week because it's not on the USGA approved list.
But all of this has given me an opportunity to compete at a high level against some of the best players in the world with the equipment I'm going to be tackling 2008 with, so it gives me a head start for the year.

Q. Lastly, you're playing with Kevin Stadler tomorrow, barring a surprise from behind. I doubt you've played with him, but maybe you've actually played with his dad.
PHIL MICKELSON: I've played with his dad a few times and I've played with Kevin a few times. Actually, my brother is a college golf coach, and he coached some tournaments that Kevin played and I came out and happened to see him play as an amateur.
So it's been neat for me to see him develop as a promotion physical. He played great last week to keep his card on the U.S. Tour by finishing, I believe, 124th. And so now he's playing well with the weight off his shoulders, and he's going to be very tough to beat this weekend.

Q. Heck of a finish there. Can you tell us about that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, thank you. I made some birdies coming in. It started at the par 5, 14, where I ended up hitting a shot in there three feet, but the last three holes I made some good putts. 16, I ended up having a 10-footer that I made, and 17, I ended up making a 25-footer.
So it was the first point in the round where I made some good putts, but I played solid throughout and didn't make a bogey, which was a good thing. I drove the ball in play and if I missed some fairways, they were just off the edge.
And so I was able to play a good round today in some tough conditions starting out. Although the wind died down in the end.

Q. Do you think you got some momentum going into the weekend now?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly I'm excited about playing the weekend because I put together two good rounds. I like the golf course a lot. It's very similar to what we see on Tour in the U.S. And the greens are putting beautifully. If you read them well, you're going to make a lot of putts. So it will be a fun weekend.
Now, I think Kevin Stadler is going to be a tough guy to beat this weekend because he has the pressure off of his shoulders now after having kept his card in the U.S. and he's playing very free and loose golf and he's playing very well. And then right behind us, we have Vijay Singh who, finished second last week and is playing some good golf. So I think it's going to be a challenging weekend.
But I'm looking forward to it. It should be fun.

Q. Enjoying Asia?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm enjoying it. I went last night down to the Bund and had dinner with my wife at a wonderful restaurant there, Jean-Georges (Vongrichten); it was fabulous. We are going tonight to a Chinesey-type circus, kind of a Cirque du Soleil-type circus. So my kids are excited about that. I think that was their favourite thing.
But we've really enjoyed our time here. We went up to Beijing and saw some fabulous sights. To see The Great Wall of China was incredible; I can't believe what a structure that is. To see the Forbidden City was fascinating. And some of the things here in Shanghai, like the gardens, my kids went and saw. We've really enjoyed our team and tried to use it as an educational trip for our kids.

Q. Are you planning to come back here next year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't thought about it, but I hope to. I really enjoy it here. I've really had fun on this two-week trip. I've loved coming to China. The people have treated us so well and the golf has been great and the accommodations spectacular and we've learned a lot. We've seen some of the most amazing architecture and we've learned a lot coming here, so I hope that we have a chance to come back, yes.

Q. Why is Kevin Stadler playing so much better suddenly, just freed up from expectations in the States?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. Plus, he's always been a talented player. I think it's just a matter of time before his game develops to the point where he competes week-in and week-out on the PGA Tour. Getting his card last week was a big step for that.

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