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May 28, 2008
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Phil, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Memorial Tournament. Congratulations on your victory last week and talk about getting back into the groove after last week. I know you had a lot on your plate the beginning of the week and we appreciate you coming in.
PHIL MICKELSON: Looking forward to the week. The golf course looks terrific. The greens are fabulous, fast and perfect as ever. I think the course is playing hard and fast as I think Jack wanted it to. I think moving back a couple of weeks has helped with the date and it looks like it's going to be a fun test.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions?
Q. Feel pretty good coming in this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, excited about how I'm starting to play and I want to continue that momentum. This will be the last tournament I play before the U.S. Open. And after this event I'll get home and start practicing at Torrey getting ready for that. But certainly I would like to, although the U.S. Open is on my mind, I would like to play well this week.
Q. Out of the events that you have not won, where does this rank?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I haven't won the U.S. or British Open so those two are going to be kind of the ones I would like to get the most.
Q. Outside of Majors?
PHIL MICKELSON: But this is one of the most prestigious events we have on TOUR so it's high up there.
Q. Just to follow-up, you would need this event to I guess call it the -- I think Ken Perry called it the Coat Slam -- with Colonial and Arnold Palmer and Augusta and Byron Nelson?
PHIL MICKELSON: Right. Nelson has a coat? Do I have a coat from the Nelson?
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: I have no idea.
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't remember that.
Q. They gave Kenny a coat maybe?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. I don't remember that. But it's always -- it is a special feeling for a player to win a tournament that the greats have associated themselves with, because that's a very strong lure for Tour players of today to show respect and try to play the events that Arnold's put his name to, Jack's put his name to and Byron as well.
Q. Your results were kind of spotty since Riviera. And then obviously you turned it around last week. What kind of -- what happened during that stretch and did you sense yourself building back leading into last week?
PHIL MICKELSON: It seemed as though I was 10th through 25th every week. I don't think I went from missed the cut to Top-10. I think I was 12th to 25th every single week. And so I always knew that it was close, that I just needed to get that little final piece. And I knew that the final piece was putting, and putting is starting to feel very good because I now am confident that I'm starting the ball on line and I'm getting better each week with my speed and so a lot more putts are starting to go in.
Q. Did you know what was wrong with your putting during that 10 to 25 stretch?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it dated -- I think the putting dates back almost a year. Finally I went back, as I told you, to the test center and got in the Callaway studio there and we ended up seeing what the face angle was doing, the path, and all that. It's a little more analytical than I like to be in putting. I like to be more reactionary, looking and go. But I had to take a few steps back, ended up getting a great putter out of the deal, and I'm excited about how it's feeling because the first week out it's been very good.
Q. What sense did you get about the rough out there? Any different here than in the past years?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's very long and thick. I'm not a big fan of that. I like what we had last week where if you hit it in the rough you have to take some chances. I think the recovery shot's the most exciting shot in golf. And you have a lot of that at Augusta. You have a lot of that here. We had it at Wachovia where they cut the rough down a little bit just off the fairways so you could hit some recovery shots. That's not the case here. It's wedge-out rough. I'm not a big fan of that. But it is what it is.
Q. The U.S. Open has gotten known for having longer rough, and I guess my question is, how do you think the longer rough here -- will it help you prepare for the U.S. Open because you mentioned it's one you've never won?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. It very well may help me prepare. I think I'm just a little more cautious though. I got hurt last year around this time hitting out of stuff like this. I think that with the U.S. Open coming up I'll be a little bit more cautious though.
Q. Talk about where you are now as opposed to a year ago when you came to this tournament not feeling your best with the summer coming up, and where you are now, how much more positive your outlook is.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited. I got -- I am starting to play well. I feel better than I've ever felt. I've got no more issues with my hands or anything. I feel great. I've had a year now to work on the swing changes with Butch. Those feel very comfortable. I expect a lot out of this summer. I think it could be a very good one.
Q. Is there anything that you were unhappy with coming out of last week?
PHIL MICKELSON: For the most part I thought I played pretty well throughout the week. I thought I drove the ball very well. I thought that iron shots were good. Short game was not bad but not quite where I want it to be and the short game facilities here are great. I'll spend a little extra time doing that. Chipping mostly, my bunker play was good, but chipping out of the rough and the fairway, it wasn't quite what I wanted.
Q. Do you have any favorite stories of Torrey as a kid? You're one of the few who can appreciate what it's like having a U.S. Open go back to a place you grew up on.
PHIL MICKELSON: Nothing that comes to mind. Nothing as far as a player did this. I had something happen obviously when I won the Buick in early 2000 where I hit it in the trees on the left on 17 in a playoff with Frank Lickliter and he followed suit. But that stuff happens. And I was fortunate to win in a playoff with a double. That's kind of the biggest thing that I can think of.
Q. What was it? We got a guy working on a story back in San Diego, just what it was it like as a kid to go to Torrey as opposed to Balboa and some of the other courses? Did it have a special place?
PHIL MICKELSON: It did. It was really cool. We all loved to play Torrey because it was a fun, hard test of golf. We used to dread it a little bit because we would finish on number nine and then you would have to walk back the length of two par-5s. And you couldn't really play 18 because people were still playing. So that was the only negative thing, gosh, we're going to have that thousand yard walk back to the clubhouse.
Q. They always started you on 10?
PHIL MICKELSON: We only play nine hole matches. Because then 10 through 18 would finish at the clubhouse. We wouldn't have that problem.
Q. Here we go.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Couple more questions.
Q. You mentioned that you're healthy now or at least more healthy than last year and just in the last day or so I get the sense that maybe Tiger's injury's a little more than I thought it was. Is there a sense in the locker room at all like there's blood in the water, that maybe everybody's ready to, hey, let's go right now because he might be down for awhile?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I haven't been in the locker room. I went to San Diego Monday, an outing yesterday in New York, and just got here 45 minutes before I teed off. So I haven't been hearing what's going on in the locker room and you would have a better feel for that than I would.
But I know he's preparing as hard as he can physically that will allow him to be ready for the U.S. Open. And his 80 percent is still pretty darn good. So I've got to be ready. I've got to get my game ready and that's kind of what I'm worried about and I think the same thing with the other guys.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Torrey in late January, versus Torrey in I guess June? You would be a guy who has actually seen it year round and whether anything guys have gleaned in the early part of the year would even be applicable as it will be set up and playing fast and rock hard? Is it just so new and so novel that it's almost irrelevant?
PHIL MICKELSON: The golf course is a lot wetter in February. The course will play a little bit longer in February. But the greens are very soft. And so we're able to fly our 4-, 5-, 6-irons into the green and get them stopped. Gosh, I just don't see how that's going to happen. If the greens are anywhere as firm as they usually are, I just don't see how you can get it close.
And I think that hitting the greens will be very difficult because you're coming in with such long shots. Even if the fairways are playing firm, you can't hit driver on most of the holes where they're firm because the fairway runs out.
Number 4 is one of the longest par-4s we have out there and you can't hit driver there because at 300 the left side of the fairway falls off into the ocean into the canyon.
You can hit driver on 12. But there's a lot of par-4s the long ones, even 15 you might not be able to hit driver. That gosh, you -- 7 you can't hit driver. You can try it, but it really tightens up. I think most guys are going to be hitting 3-woods and hybrids and coming in with a lot longer shot and that will be tough.
Q. What did you notice in the other two Majors you played that had TOUR stops, Riviera in '95 for the PGA and then Pebble in 2000, going from -- I don't think you played Riviera in '95, did you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I did. Yeah. I just remember it because, I wasn't very high up on the leaderboard. Thanks for bringing that up.
Q. Just the idea of going from a TOUR stop earlier in the year, not so much weather related, but just going it from PGA TOUR to Major?
PHIL MICKELSON: Have you ever seen Pebble Beach play so different? I mean Pebble, you remember in February the guys were shooting 63s and 64s, and then we have the U.S. Open there and guys can't, well, one guy could, but not very many others, but nobody else could break par.
I remember '92 the first time I played the U.S. Open, man that was just a different golf course for the setup for the U.S. Open. The greens are small and firm and you couldn't hit them and, gosh, Tom Kite shot what, 72 last day to win. And Nicklaus was congratulating Colin Montgomerie with kind of nine holes to play.
Q. That's the closest he came to Major, wasn't it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Very possibly. I mean, he was in playoff at Oakmont and a couple others. But the course just played so different on the west coast in June than when we play it for our West Coast Swing that I'm anxious to see just how the USGA sets it up because I think it could be played the hardest golf course in America.
Q. Have you thought or heard about the idea of moving 14 up as a drivable par-4?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've read what you guys have talked about. You actually would know better than I would. They would, nobody would tell me what, hey, hey, come hit up here. That wouldn't happen.
Q. What do you think of that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I looked at it. I think it would be cool. There aren't any fun holes there. They're all just long beasts. And to have a fun hole would be fun. I mean it would be cool. It would mix it up a little bit.
The problem with doing it on 14 is, 13's a reachable par-5, if they play the normal tee and you have two birdie holes back to back. I think in a U.S. Open that's not favored.
Q. Can you think of an open that had a 18th hole that was eagle possibility?
PHIL MICKELSON: Baltusrol. Yeah. When Janzen won. In '93. Yeah.
Q. Talk about you've got great track record in the U.S. Open, early in your career we might not have thought that was going to be your best chance to win a Major. What kind of adjustments have you had to make to become a guy who has got a good track record? How difficult has that been on your career?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don't know. That's a tough question to answer. I've played well in U.S. Opens. Even take away the four second place finishes, and there were a couple other opportunities as well.
I don't know. I think that you adjust as a player, you just adjust to your environment and if you have short tight fairways or narrow fairways with thick rough, you just kind of adjust it and hit something different off the tree and try to get it into play.
So, anyway -- or maybe I just missed it big enough that the rough was trampled down by the gallery, that could very well be it too.
Q. You mentioned that you were in New jersey yesterday, can you talk about I think you were at Ridgewood. Can you talk about that since it's going to be a TOUR venue?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I played where we're going to play the Barclays the first FedExCup series events and I think it's a wonderful golf course. It's a Tillinghast design which I'm biased to and it had a lot of same looks a Baltusrol and Winged Foot has and I think the players are going to love it. It's one of the premier courses in the land. It's spectacular.
They held the Ryder Cup there in I think '35 and it's, they have converted a few par-5s, they have integrated from the three nines that they have 18 holes there. They have taken two par-5s, turned them into par-4s, and so the course will play long at 73 plus hundred yards, par 71. It's going to play long and difficult.
Q. I assume that you have been at Torrey Pines within the last couple weeks, how is that rough versus the rough that's out here this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well it's different because it's Kikuyu grass. And that Kikuyu grass stops the club. It doesn't break, and so the club doesn't continue on to the finish. It just stops right in the ground. And so it's very difficult there. It doesn't need to be as long as it is here to be as penalizing.
Q. You talked a lot about the 52 degree wedge shot and the of course the putt at the end was great. Did you figure out what happened on the tee shot that actually put you in that position?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I hit the fairway, I hit that fairway three times in a row. So I just over cut it. I just held onto it. It kind of got with that right-to-left wind and kept cutting. Then it hit a tree and went further left. So it was kind of a combination of everything. But it's not that big a deal, I mean you can make three from over there.
Q. How many wedges, Phil, do you anticipate in the bag this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: How many wedges? I'll take one of them out. Not sure which one yet.
Q. Was the five just specifically for Colonial?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, very rarely do I have five wedges, it was just for that golf course. That there were some wedges that I needed to have them all there.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Phil, for joining us.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thanks, guys.
End of FastScripts