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February 14, 2008

Phil Mickelson


Q. You have to be happy considering the wind and everything today.
PHIL MICKELSON: I was pleased with the round of 3-under. I know there were some lower scores out there, but I thought it was a good start. The wind was a little stronger than it has been in the past and the wind was the opposite direction than what we're used to here at Riviera. Usually it's off the ocean, so the course played a lot different than what we're used to.

Q. Are you starting to feel stronger and stronger, I think you had some health problems earlier in the year?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I was able to get that past me the first week and as time's gone on I've felt better and better, thank you.

Q. Give us the time schedule with an early tee off time, what time did you get up, the plane, obviously you had no problems at Santa Monica?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I left a little earlier just to make sure if I had to go to Burbank I was fine, but yesterday no problems with fog, so it was great. I ended up getting in the air at 5:15 and landed at 5:45, so it was no problem.

Q. As well as you played here the last year in California, does that give you extra motivation to try to win this thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that -- I love playing the West Coast, and this is the tournament that's eluded me on the West Coast. I've grown up watching these tournaments and I've grown up playing these. This is the second PGA TOUR event I ever played in was the L.A. Open.
So the West Coast means a lot to me, so to come through and hopefully break through sometime soon and win here in L.A. at Riviera would mean a lot because these events are so special to me.

Q. You mentioned this yesterday, and you told us an Saturday, you had putting problems at Pebble, and that sort of through you off more than that bad hole. Did you figure out what you were doing?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I didn't feel as though there was anything mechanically or technically wrong. I just wasn't seeing the right amount of break and I wasn't hitting the right amount of speed. And so I spent a lot of time on some poa annua greens here from 15-, 20-foot range, so I started to get a better speed, a better feel and look at the reads.
And so I felt very good on the greens today. I putted great. I didn't hit that many greens but I snuck by with very few putts which was good.

Q. What happened on 9, the wind in your face?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit in the bunker and just, you know, it's the one place you can't go is the left bunker. I hit in the left bunker and had to iron out and didn't hit the best pitch shot and missed about a 25-footer.

Q. This is like five weeks in a row?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm going to play five but two of them I'm staying at home, so it doesn't feel like the drain of traveling it hasn't been that tough.

Q. Do you feel it coming around?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it feels pretty close. Today it was close, not exactly where I wanted it, but I hit a lot of good shots exactly how I wanted it but I also had some more misses. The putter felt good.
And so if I can putt like that, I should have a good chance on the weekend, and if I start to eliminate a couple of misses like that drive on 9, hitting in the bunker and stuff like that, I should be able to put together some good rounds. I'm looking forward to the next three days.

Q. You mentioned a little while ago how difficult Riviera has always been for you; is it amazing that no matter how good you are, there's a player, a course that creates problems?
PHIL MICKELSON: Unfortunately that's true and it's not always fun to accept. I don't feel as though there's anything about Riviera that is uncomfortable. I love the golf course. I love the way it feels. I love the grasses. I even love the kikuyu.
Last year was a good year for me, even though I didn't win, I played well here, and I felt like having played well, I'm going to try to add this tournament and play here more, because I really do enjoy this golf course.

Q. Tough to be here on Valentine's Day with your kids?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll get home. I'll get home here shortly and we'll have a nice day.

Q. How did you play 10?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit 3-wood just over the green left and chipped up to five feet and made it for birdie.

Q. A lot of people talk about that hole a lot as being one of the great short par 4s.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's one of the best holes on Tour.

Q. What makes it so special?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a fun hole. It's a fun golf hole. I've seen a lot of guys make 5, 6 and 7 from just off the edge of the green, myself included.
So the narrow -- the green being so narrow front to back and being pitched front to back, makes for a very difficult wedge shot just to hold the green. Today I hit a great drive, went just over the left edge of green but I have to hit a lob shot over the bunker to a tight little pin.
I think that -- I saw one guy go from bunker to bunker there. It's just a fun golf hole, a hole you feel you should make three, but in pressing to make three, a lot of guys make five. And it doesn't do it with length. It does it with strategy.

Q. Obviously one of the old, classic courses, before real estate, do you like when the guys come back here, sort of, boy, the way it was; do you love playing this golf course?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I really do. I think everybody enjoys playing here it's such a golf course that requires great strategy and great ball-striking. It's not one where you can overpower. Although there are holes like 10 that are fun, but there are holes like No. 1 where they almost give you a birdie, and yet there are holes -- you come back right with No. 2, that, gosh, it's a tough par, the green is so narrow and whatnot. It's got a great mixture of holes long, short.

Q. Have you seen any of the tapes for the commercial that you're going to be filming with the end of the month?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've heard about it. I haven't seen it specifically. I will beforehand but I am looking forward to that, though. I think that will be fun.

Q. Anything your parents have --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, they have given me some interesting stories. It's been an interesting couple of days for them and I'm looking forward to partaking from that.

Q. The Taekwondo, is that something you've been doing for a while?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I've been doing it for a good number of years now and the gentleman I played with, James, was from Singapore and he used to compete in competitions back in the 60s and 70s, as well as he's a master instructor for a couple of decades.
So we were just sharing some -- actually, he was sharing, I was listening, to some good opening moves to kind of open your opponent up.

Q. You're flying out of Carlsbad?
PHIL MICKELSON: Palomar, yeah.

Q. What does it take, about 20 minutes from your home?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, 20 minutes, 20 minutes in the air, 20 minutes to drive here, about an hour. It's not bad.

Q. Kevin Na up on the leaderboard, what do you think of his game?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've played with him in Phoenix. He's a very solid player. He's got a wonderful golf swing. Gosh, I think he's going to have a great career. I think that it's no surprise to see him up on the leaderboard.
Thanks, guys.

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