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July 9, 2008

Phil Mickelson


SCOTT CROCKETT: Phil, thanks, as always, for coming in and joining us. It's always a pleasure to welcome you to The European Tour, and particularly the Barclays Scottish Open. You were close last year and maybe you can go one better this year.
PHIL MICKELSON: I really have enjoyed playing this golf tournament the last few years. I came so close last year and I'm hoping to improve on that this year.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You haven't played the course; what have you done since you came over?
PHIL MICKELSON: We arrived Sunday morning over at Birkdale and I spent the last three days over there, and we came in last night. I'm getting ready to play here, and so getting my course work done for the British Open next week allows me to just kind of work on my game and not have to worry about course setup and what clubs am I going to use and how I'll attack the golf course. I've got that decided now, so now I can work on execution.

Q. How much are you thinking about the Open and also trying to win this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit of both. I think that next week is always in everybody's mind, trying to get ready for next week. But part of getting ready for next week I think is performing well this week, playing well and hitting shots sharply and crisply and getting the short game and touch down.
So I think part of the best way to prepare for next week is to play well and be sharp and be prepared for this week.

Q. (Regarding playing in the wind.)
PHIL MICKELSON: I throughout my career have not been as effective in the wind as I would like to be. About four years ago working with Dave Pelz, I learned how to hit shots lower and take spin off of it. It was most effective and came into play in the United States at courses like Pebble Beach in February that we play when it's wet, and trying to get the ball to the back pins and getting it to stop quickly and the same shot is effective in the wind, as well. That's when I started to play better in the wind. I played better at Troon that year and missed a playoff by a shot; that was my best performance at The Open, and I'm hoping to improve on that even more so.

Q. Players talk a lot about working on shots for The Open --
PHIL MICKELSON: I do, and it's similar to what I was telling Mike is that a lot of the shots that I would hit to attack pins on soft greens like at Pebble, or a lot of times Torrey Pines when we play it in February when it's wet, and on the West Coast, those low shots with very little spin are the exact shots that I try to here at The Open in the firm links conditions keeping it down in the wind. That I believe will be the biggest help for me.

Q. Your thoughts on Birkdale?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's an amazing golf course, and I have fond memories of it because it was my first Open Championship I ever played. It was in '91 as an amateur. So it's always been a special place for me relative to The Open Championship.
I think it's one of the better courses in the U.K. I think it's just a very fair, fun, difficult test of golf. I saw it in three different conditions: I saw it in calm, very windy and kind of a medium breeze and I think it's going to be a wonderful Championship because the course is in immaculate shape and it's a very good, fair, difficult test and I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Keys to winning The Open for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I believe that because I've progressed in the last three or four years in my ability to control my trajectory, keep it down, allows me or will give me the best chance to perform well in next week's British Open.
Last year we played in some windy conditions here at the Scottish Open and that was helpful in my performance last year, and I think that as I continue to work on these little lower shots, less spinning shots, my chances in the British Open will continue to improve.

Q. Some players may consider top-ranked players when choosing to play in events --
PHIL MICKELSON: Good question, I don't know.
When I came out on Tour, we didn't even have World Rankings. They weren't even around. So it wasn't as though I grew up thinking about who the top-ranked players are. It's kind of evolved in the last decade or so. I haven't approached an event like that.
I feel like watching some of the top players today play well, Adam Scott and Ernie Els are trying to get their games sharp, and I've watched Padraig Harrington progress and Sergio, there are so many great players in the game that are starting to really play well; I think it's going to be an exciting championship. I think it's going to be a real shootout and a fun event to watch.

Q. What do you remember about your first time at Birkdale?
PHIL MICKELSON: I remember the first time I went on the driving range and it was blowing as hard as I've ever seen it blow, and I was trying to hit these 2-irons and couldn't get it to go 150 yards, and I remember just being blown away at the conditions of what I was seeing.
Now, I may have been pushing it. Nobody else was on the range and rightfully. So I just thought it would be cool to see what that was like, and it was an interesting ordeal.
I stayed with Ted Halsall. Ted Halsall is the caddie who caddied for me that week, and he caddied for Johnny Miller in '76 when he won. He was telling me stories -- unfortunately I don't remember too many of them, but he was telling me stories of what an incredible iron player Johnny Miller was and how the distance control was so impeccable and how many short putts he would miss, but that particular week he was making them and he ended up winning.

Q. Is there more focus on The Ryder Cup in America this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: When I've been over here the last three days, and every day when I've been flipping through the six channels on TV, I've seen something about The Ryder Cup and it talks about who can make it. They're especially talking about which players could make it from the World Ranking from the European Points and so forth.
We haven't really done that in the U.S. I don't even mow who is in the top eight or who is being considered for captain's selections or who is close to the top eight. I haven't followed it. But, that's not to say that the entire U.S. squad isn't excited and looking forward to this challenge. But we have such fluctuation this year in our points list that you can go to 30th to the top eight with a win; so it's hard to project who is going to be up there.
I think that Valhalla is a great golf course for our team, because of our propensity or our being taught to hit the ball high and soft; a Nicklaus course forces that, because there's so many forced carries into the greens with bunkers and water guarding the front edge that it doesn't allow for run-up shots. I think that will fit our eye.
But with the way the game has become such a world game, all of the European players play that game so well now, too, flying the ball, lob shots around the greens, a lot of our advantage will be nullified.

Q. And what about Anthony Kim on the team?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think Anthony Kim with his length will make that golf course -- it will be a course where he can make a lot of birdies. I think he will be incredible for the four-ball, because he makes a lot of birdies. He has an aggressive, attacking style of play, and I think that youthful energy will also serve the U.S. Team well.

Q. What do you call of --
PHIL MICKELSON: The afternoon we had Saturday at Muirfield, nobody was equipped to cope with that. I remember sitting in the house watching that on TV, and just being thankful I wasn't out there. It was one of the unique days that we will ever see in the game of golf, and it's unfortunate because at that time, I think Tiger had had a chance -- he had won the first two majors and was playing well that week. It showed that no matter how well you play in the Open, you still need a bit of luck; over nine and a half hours of tee times, the weather will change drastically throughout the day, and you need a little bit of luck to get on the good wave.
I've certainly been on my end of the good wave, too. I've had a number of good ones. In fact, I had the good one on Saturday at Muirfield because I teed off early, but that meant I wasn't playing well, which isn't.

Q. How much of an effect will there be without Tiger this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm sorry that you have to get used to him not being there for this one event. We have to get used to him not being there for the rest of our events.
I think it's going to have a huge effect on the FedExCup. It has an effect on The Ryder Cup. I mean, we're going to lose the No. 1 player in the world on our team; that's a huge loss for us, as well as the fact that he won't be competing in the World Golf Championships in Akron and the PGA Championship.
So it's going to have a negative effect, obviously, on television ratings, on fan interest and so forth. I think it also opens an opportunity for a number of players to come through and maybe win tournaments that they might not have won; who knows.

Q. And how do you feel about Tiger not being in the next two majors --
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that as I look over time, I look back, if you look at Nicklaus's 18 majors, or Watson, what does he have? Nine majors -- I am not sure how many majors. I don't look back at the field they played, I just look back at the tournaments they have won.
I haven't won a major in a couple years and it would mean a lot to me to certainly win an Open Championship, as well as the PGA.

Q. Will you be going --
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I went a few years ago. It was very interesting. Bones and I went and saw REM. We've had some friends there. I think that they are playing Sunday night, if I'm not mistaken. I had some interesting, not encounters, but I saw some interesting things that week. (Laughter) And I think that I'm going to choose to withhold going this year. (Laughter).

Q. Would you say that The Open is the fairest of the majors?
PHIL MICKELSON: I do think that, yeah. I thought it was a very fair, playable test. There were a lot of areas close to the green and close to the fairways where you would lose a golf ball; the rough was so thick.
But, it was also, there were a lot of playable areas, and I thought that if you hit a reasonable golf shot, you were rewarded and you were not overly penalised. I thought it was a very fair test, and to a lot will depend on the condition and pin placements. But the R&A has really done a great job the last few years and I think Peter Dawson is one of the best in the business, and he's really done a great job with The Championship.

Q. Would you like to play more internationally --
PHIL MICKELSON: I would like to, and I think there's two factors for that. Actually, my relationship over the last five or six years with Bob Diamond and Patrick O'Riordan of Barclays have opened my eyes to golf on a world level. Their sponsorship compasses the Scottish Open, and it also has a FedExCup event and the Singapore event, and they have explained to me why golf is so important in Asia and why golf is so important in Europe and throughout the world.
Also with my kids now being older; last year I went to Singapore and China and brought them with me, and we were able to use that as an educational couple of weeks. They were exposed to whole different cultures and societies and I want my kids to get that education.
With our season ending earlier, it gives me three months in the off-season to isolate a couple of weeks throughout the rest of the year that I can go play and do that, and I intend to. I would like to play more on an international level. I'd like to play more in Europe.

Q. Any thoughts of joining The European Tour?
PHIL MICKELSON: There are no plans in the immediate future, but it's something I'm considering. I wouldn't say it's out of the realm of possibility.

Q. Your recent form --
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's tough to say. I mean, I don't really look back at the last six months. It's been up-and-down. I had a lot of consistency from 10th to 25th, but I haven't had the performances in contention as much as I would like.
When I've been in contention, I've been fortunate to get it done: I've won twice and lost in a playoff. But what I'm really concerned about is this next nine or ten-week stretch, because I took the last three weeks off knowing I'm going to be playing almost every week for the next three months, with our FedExCup, four events, and Scottish Open, Open Championship, Akron, the PGA, that's nine of 11 or 12 weeks and I wanted to be fresh and ready and I'm looking forward to these next three months, because that will really determine how the year went.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you, Phil, good luck.

End of FastScripts

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