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August 28, 2008

Phil Mickelson


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome our defending champion Phil Mickelson here to the interview room of the Deutsche Bank Championship in the second event in the PGA TOUR's Playoffs to the FedExCup. You come into this week ranked No.4 in the FedExCup points list. Just got done with your Pro-Am. By all accounts this golf course is in tremendous condition, especially in the second year after the renovation.
PHIL MICKELSON: It really is a wonderful golf course. I think it's our best TPC course, and it's one of the most fun to play, as well as challenging, and this year it's in exceptional condition, just like it was last year. But I love the opportunities to make birdies, the opportunities to have big scores, which gives guys who are playing well more opportunities to separate themselves from the field. We have par-5s that are reachable, we have a drivable par-4, and yet we also have some of the longest par-4s on TOUR.

Q. How do you remember last year's tournament here and your battle with Tiger?
PHIL MICKELSON: Very fondly (laughter). It was a fun tournament last year, and I loved the opportunity to have won the tournament, but I also love the way it happened, with the opportunity to play three rounds with Tiger. The opportunity to have the best -- one of the best fields in golf for these FedExCup events and to be able to come out on top was a lot of fun.

Q. Do you miss him?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, we all do. We all do. The ratings have suffered as well as attendance, and so the game of golf suffers when he's not in the field.
I think we're lucky to have the most recognizable, largest icon in all of sport playing ours.

Q. Is it possible for a golfer to build upon success a year later?
PHIL MICKELSON: I certainly feel confident when I play this course because of last year's success. I certainly feel good, have a lot of good memories and enjoy the challenge of each shot out here. I think that having won here always makes it -- I don't want to say easier, but makes it a more positive experience.

Q. Have you ever wondered what golf would be like for you if Tiger wasn't around, and what is it like now with him not being around?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, if Tiger was not around and I was still -- and I was able to be the No. 1 player in the world, I'd be making half as much as I am now because of him. I am very thankful for the fact that, again, he's in our sport and he's had the success and the charisma and the lure to attract Corporate America as well as fans to the game.

Q. But you'd be No. 1, a trade-off?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm still not ruling out the possibility with a little bit of work trying to get there. But I'm just saying that we're all fortunate. And it goes for everybody in this room, too.

Q. How do you think you've played since he's been injured? Did you expect to win a few tournaments in his absence?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've played the same way I've played throughout the year. I just haven't been scoring the way I would like. Even though I feel like I'm playing better, the little shots around the greens have cost me. But I'm starting to get that turned around and I expect to have a much better week this week.

Q. I was wondering, when you go out there and you compete with these guys like Kraft and Bloom, do you kind of like joke around or take your round very seriously? What's the mentality?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we're not really competing with each other because we're teammates, so I'm looking at it as a practice round. I'm trying to see the golf course. I'm trying to get acclimated to the speed, to the rough, what clubs I want to hit off the tee, so it's more of a practice round for me, but it's also a fun day to get to know some very interesting guys.

Q. How do you feel like you're hitting it right now?
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel like I'm hitting the ball pretty good. The key is going to be, again, scoring, getting up-and-down around the greens that I miss and getting those birdie putts to drop.

Q. You looked really good on 16.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I played the last few holes pretty good. Again, I'm excited to get started.

Q. Flashing forward to I guess it would be Tuesday, they're going to name the four captains' picks. I just wonder whether you've been watching that with that degree of scrutiny and how you think that's played out. Faldo has probably got more guys he can put on his team, whereas it looks like Paul is going to have a tough decision from the other perspective in that I don't know if anybody is lighting it up right now on that large list of his.
PHIL MICKELSON: That may be the case, but on the other hand, the new points system has gotten the eight hottest guys this year; the guys who have played the best this year have now made the team. We don't have players who had a great previous year who is having of a bit of an off year make the squad. So we've already got the eight hottest players that the U.S. has to offer, and now we're just going to round out the team with four players I think that complement the team well or that are the four best players who didn't quite make the top eight.

Q. What do you think about the volatility in the points system for the FedExCup this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really have an opinion either way. I think that the intent was to have more turnover, and certainly it has done that. I don't feel as though the season, the regular season, has anywhere near the same impact that it has, and so that could be a good thing because now we don't have to play as many events if we don't want to. Positioning ourselves for the FedExCup is really not important because the last-place guy, if he wins, vaults into first. So that could be kind of cool, too.

Q. Last year when you were here, you went to Fenway Park with your family; you saw a no-hitter I believe. Do you have any similar plans for this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: We're going to try to go. Fortunately I know the Red Sox in are town. We'd like to go. I know that there's a good football game tonight; I can't make that. But a rematch of the Super Bowl would be exciting. I'm excited to go back to Fenway Park. It's one of my favorite places. I love going to games there. And seeing the no-hitter will be hard to match, but still, the experience of going to the park is something special.

Q. I don't know if you've been following the flak over the LPGA's policy that they've not a new policy that will make it a suspension for a player who does not speak English acceptably by the end of next year, and I was just wondering if you had seen it, number one; and if you have, what do you think of a policy like that being put into place?
PHIL MICKELSON: I heard about it last night. I don't really have an opinion either way. I don't know the nuances of the LPGA Tour and what some of the challenges are and what the strengths of the Tour are. I've always thought the LPGA is a strong product right now. I think there's some very interesting story lines, not just Michelle Wie. She's a very interesting story line obviously, but also Lorena Ochoa passing Annika Sorenstam for No. 1 player in the world and these young players Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer coming up. They're very charismatic individuals. So I think the LPGA is a strong product, and I don't understand or know the nuances of what needs to be done to make their product stronger.

Q. The USGA is going to make some changes in the grooves I think in 2010. A lot of long hitters like yourself if they end up in the rough with the present clubs you can still get some spin out of there. What effect do you think the game will have, and do you agree with it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, your premise that driving in the rough is not a problem I disagree with because the rough has been so thick, and to wedge out is the only option. The grooves don't have any effect; there's so much grass between the grooves and the ball, that's the last thing that the ball is touching. I don't think that's as big a factor. In fact, we would have to alter the course setup for it to really be a positive. The groove change can really be a plus if we start having rough like we have this week, where it's a very short rough, where you get flier lies and it's difficult to control and the greens are hard and fast because then it makes hitting the fairway even more critical because the ball will race by the hole.
But you have to have one with the other. If you have rough that is so brutal, it doesn't matter what the club face has on it, what kind of grooves or anything. It will make no difference. You have to have the shorter rough for the grooves to be a factor.
STEWART MOORE: Phil, good luck this week. Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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