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July 13, 2008

Phil Mickelson


Q. Not the final round you're looking for, but what do you take to Birkdale next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a great week this week even though I didn't play the way I wanted to. I had a lot of fun. I got acclimated to the time and I had three good days at Birkdale before this tournament started.
So this gives me an opportunity to look at some of the strengths that I had this week as well as the weaknesses, work on it the next three days and see if I can get ready and put it all together for next week's Open Championship.

Q. Do you enjoy it out there? It's a nice day; it's a beautiful golf course; you're not playing the golf that you want to, but can you have fun?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely, I had a great partner, Patrick Sjöland is a wonderful guy, and we had a nice round of golf. It, again, gave me a chance to work on some things on my game and try to get ready for The Open next week, since I didn't really have a great chance at winning today.

Q. And I get the feeling that you're starting to believe that you can win on a links golf course.
PHIL MICKELSON: I am feeling more confident over the last few years starting in about 2004, and I feel very good about Birkdale. It's been a special place for me. It's where I first played my Open Championship in '91 as an amateur. I love going back there.
And the way the course is set up, I think it's a very fair test for links golfer, and I think that the best player, the best players will come out on top there. There's an opportunity for guys, good players to separate themselves through shot-making and scoring around the greens, and I think that will give a lot of good players a chance to win.

Q. A frustrating day for you, you hit some great drives.
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't strike it as well today as I did the first few rounds. Again, now the focus is on to next week at Birkdale. I was able to get three good rounds in before this tournament started over at Birkdale, get to know how I want to attack the golf course. I can address some of the weaknesses that I have this week.
Fortunately I'm acclimated to the time now and my body feels good and these next two or three days I'll start addressing what wasn't as strong here and it was mainly short game. I wasn't pleased with the way I chipped or putted this week. For the most part I thought I drove it okay and hit some good iron shots, so I'll spend most of my time on short game.

Q. Some lovely chips on the first three or four holes.
PHIL MICKELSON: I turned it around a little bit but still overall for the whole week, it wasn't what I was expecting.

Q. The players in the previous Opens --
PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to say. I think that after this week, I look at it and there's some areas that I was very pleased and some areas I have to address but fortunately I have time to do that. I've already done my plan of attack for Royal Birkdale, and so I don't have to go in there and decide how I'm going to play certain holes and shots. I already know that. Now I can address my game and try to get my game sharp for Thursday.

Q. When you're having a round like today and the scores not coming and the position doesn't matter all that much, are you able to relax a bit more?
PHIL MICKELSON: Maybe, but I'm trying to build some momentum, and again, some things I'm trying to address for next week. So on the putter I'm trying to feel good on the putter, trying to get better speed, better line. With chipping I'm trying to be more aggressive with chipping. All of the things that I didn't do well the first few days I'm trying to address today so that I have at least one competitive round with it.

Q. Will the forecast next week make any difference?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that over nine and a half hours of tee times on Thursday and on Friday, a lot of players are going to have some adverse weather, and it's part of The Championship. I hope that I get a good end of the tee time, but whether I do or not is irrelevant. I'm going to have to fight some conditions. I'm going to have to make as many pars as possible because Birkdale is a tough golf course to make pars on, and then capitalise on some of the birdie holes late in the round with the par 5s.
So the weather is not really going to affect my game plan.

Q. What is it about the course that the best players will come to the top of the field?
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought when I played Birkdale, it did not have the same penalty for a mis-hit shots. Certainly if you hit in the bunkers, everybody is just going to wedge out. But around the fairways, around the greens, if you happen to have a ball that runs through, the penalty is not the same for everybody. Some people will be able to attack the greens, attack the pins. Players will be able to use their short game around the greens to get up-and-down rather than hack the ball out of thick hay and just on the green and hope.
So I think that that gives the more skilled players an opportunity to showcase their talents.

Q. What is the one area that you need to work most at this point?
PHIL MICKELSON: Short game, because the key in majors is making pars from around the greens, and my short game is what gave me chances or opportunities to win the majors I've won, as well as contend in the ones that I came close. And so that will be the key next week. I've got to chip the ball well and put the ball well getting it in the hole. I'm not overly concerned with ball-striking but I do need to get my short game sharp.

Q. Different clubs in the bag depending on the weather?
PHIL MICKELSON: They actually will vary day-to-day based on the weather. When it's windier, I'll have a couple of longer irons that will keep the ball down and if it's soft, like it's possible with some rain, I'll keep the hybrids in and some of the longer stuff to hit it higher.
So that could vary day-to-day.

Q. No two-driver situations?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it wouldn't be drivers. In fact, there are very few drivers at Birkdale. There are a couple but there aren't many.

Q. Is it special, Birkdale, because you said you made your debut there.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's special to me, absolutely. I think the thing I like about Birkdale the most is well-struck shots that land 30, 40 yards short of the green tend to bounce on the same line. There are not a lot of hills and hollows short of the green. Those hills and hollows are off the side of the fairways, and that's what a miss-shit shot will be magnified and made worse but I think well-struck shots will be rewarded with good, consistent bounces short of the green.

Q. One of the fairest courses in that way?
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel like it is, yeah. I'm not saying one is better or not. I just think that it's very fair.

Q. Is it your favourite Open course or do you have a favourite?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to pull one out. St. Andrews is such a special place with the history that has taken place there, it's hard to pass that. I think every time we go back to the Open at St. Andrews, there's a feeling like no other.

Q. How much links have you done since you first went to Birkdale?
PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean, have I done?

Q. Have you done any links play when you went to Birkdale in '91?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I think I played the Walker Cup at Portmarnock. That was my first time playing links golf and we came over early as a team ask went to some great courses, we went to Lahinch and Royal Portrush maybe, some of the Irish courses that are links, we played just prior to the Walker Cup.

Q. Was it just a completely different sort of ballgame?
PHIL MICKELSON: I actually find the run-up not to be that different.
What I find the most challenging about links golf is how thick the wind and the wear is and how much it affects the golf ball much more so than anywhere else we play.

Q. Do you feel your C.V. is missing an Open Championship?

Q. Resumé.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thanks for the translation (laughter). Well, I haven't won one, so certainly it's not on my resumé like now and that's something I would like to change.

Q. Will you be back here next year?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah, I love this tournament. I've been coming here for a long time. I love this event. I think it's one of the best-run events internationally.

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