home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 22, 2009

Phil Mickelson


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the 2009 Northern Trust Open Champion, Phil Mickelson. Congratulations. 63, 72, 62, 72, kind of a roller coaster week, but good enough to get the job done with the win you pick up 500 FedExCup points, move up to number 7, and your 35th career victory. Just a few opening comments?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm pleased to be sitting here as the champion, and it was not easy. The bad of it came in that I needed to become a better frontrunner when I get a lead. I had a five shot lead and I let it slide.
The good thing was that I was able to fight hard. And fight through the round. When I didn't have my best stuff and come out with birdies there on 16 and 17 when I needed it, and a tough par on 18. That meant a lot to me.
Another thing that was important to me was standing on AT&T when two years ago I had a one shot lead, drove in in the rough and made a bogey. Stood out there today, hit 3-wood, put it in the middle of the fairway, 6-iron just out on the fringe and was able to two-putt for par. That meant a lot to be able to put that tee shot on the fairway.

Q. You mentioned yesterday about getting in contention and feeling the excitement. Getting ready for Augusta. You didn't quite want this drama, did you really, this much drama?
PHIL MICKELSON: Certainly I didn't. But you know, it was -- it showed it gives me confidence and something to build on for the rest of the year. Even when I didn't have my best stuff I was able to fight through it. I thought that meant a lot to me.
I certainly have some work to do. But at least I'm on the right path the right direction, and I'm having some success now even without maybe my best stuff.
But I'll work with Butch on Tuesday and see if I can continue to build on this and carry some momentum into Augusta with maybe some high performance.

Q. You certainly hit two great shots on the first hole, what happens after that? You come back with a bogey right away to hit a bad second shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I pulled an 8-iron. It wasn't -- and then I just hit some terrible drives that front nine. I started hitting 3-woods on the back, started on 12 to just get on the fairway. And I hit two of the best drives that I've hit all week on 15 and 17. That drive on 17 was important because it gave me a chance to reach the green in two.

Q. When was the last time you won without your best stuff?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I don't know. I mean, I haven't won in a while, so it's hard for me to go back there. You know, it's hard to say exactly. But I also started with a four shot lead and I won by one.
So obviously a lot of people beat me today. A lot of people scored better. But I was able to just hold on enough.

Q. I wondered if you could talk about the 9-iron at 16?
PHIL MICKELSON: That was a key shot for me. It was a 9-iron from 152. It was playing 152 with the downhill. I think the actual yardage was a little longer.
It was a key shot for me, because I knew I was two back. I knew 18 was a very tough birdie hole, so I had to birdie 16 and 17 to get even with Stricker.
I birdied 16, and after I hit my best drive of the week on 17, I saw that he had bogeyed 18. So now birdie on 17 would give me the lead.
But it goes back to that birdie putt on 16. Without that, I'm still fighting just for a playoff.

Q. First of all, what does it mean to you to be able to not have your best game and still pull this thing off? And follow-up to that, you're becoming Mr. Hogan's Alley here. That's now three in a row for you, you know?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't think I've emulated his style of how he played Riviera. He seemed to drive it to the fairway a little bit more and what have you.
I've been fortunate the last couple of years to play well here. I've loved playing here. I love this golf course. Growing up with the Kikuyu grass, the Poa Annua greens has been helpful. But to be able to pull out a couple of victories this last year means a lot. Especially this year.

Q. Especially because it was not your A-game? Does that make it more special?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was certainly my A-game on the first and third rounds. It was just the last round that I didn't quite have my best stuff.
But a lot of people passed me, and I was just able there the last three or four holes to make a move. And I'll take a lot out of this to be able to heart it out on 16 and 17 with those on two birdies. Then to make that par on 18 when two years ago I didn't, that meant a lot to me.

Q. You talk about playing with the lead, is it kind of go against your personality to play with the lead and to try to hold on versus just playing loose? Is that what happens to you, or what is it inside of you that causes that issue?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. There have been times where I've won by five, six, eight shots. Certainly Pebble Beach I've been able to do that, and in Atlanta I won by 12 or 13. It's not that I haven't done it, it's just that I would like to work on it more if that makes sense.

Q. You mentioned the contrast when you step to the tee on 18 this year versus in 2007. After you made birdie on 17, had you already had your mind made up that you were going to hit 3-wood off the tee on 18?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, absolutely. No real reason other than I had been relying on that 3-wood to get the ball in play, and I hit a lot of great 3-woods on the back nine and felt confident with it. Just felt like I'd be sacrificing some yardage, yes. But if I got in the fairway I would most likely be able to make a par on 18.

Q. How do you think you did fix things today? Did you tell yourself anything?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I mean, when I wasn't swinging well and wasn't hitting well, and I needed to make some birdies and make something happen, I just blocked everything out, looked at the pin and swung to it. Didn't think about anything swing-wise, just looked at my target and swung and forgot about all the technical stuff that I had been working on.
Tuesday morning when I get together with Butch we'll get back to the technical side. But it's difficult to play at a high level thinking about mechanics. So those last four holes just kind of looked at the target and swung.

Q. After you started hitting the 3-wood on the back nine, does that then set up the great drive on 17 because you've got some confidence swinging the club again? Did it kind of change the outlook?
PHIL MICKELSON: It absolutely does. After I've seen a couple of shots fly down the middle of the fairway. I have more confidence with the driver. I stop steering it and I swung.
On 15 I hit a great cut, and 17 a nice little draw and was able to move it both ways there. But I just needed to see some shots try fly a little straighter than I had earlier.

Q. Freddy was saying that he couldn't see any frustration. Were you purposely trying to make sure, kind of curtail that frustration and didn't want to lose your cool to let anybody else know? I'm just wondering how hard was it to keep your cool?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, when I was just having a tough time making birdies. I was hitting when I had good chances, I hit good putts and they just didn't quite go in. On 9, on 10, had a good chance on 6 and didn't get that one to go in.
I had a lot of putts that had great chances to go in and just didn't. It got to be a little frustrating because I knew I needed to make birdies to stay ahead of these guys. So many guys shot low scores today. So I was very fortunate to have snuck through with a win, because there were a lot of guys making birdies, I just wasn't one of them.

Q. Could you talk about flipping a switch now going into the different mode of playing match play this week? And also, how's the timing? You shoot a 63 and some guy makes an announcement that he's coming back, and you're thrown on the back burner. That's not fair, is it?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, we need him back. We're all excited to have him back. And we're excited he's going to be 100%. From a player's point of view it's going to be harder to win tournaments. But we love the challenge.
I love the challenge of trying to win a golf tournament with Tiger in the field. Next week's no different. And I hope that he stays healthy, because it's evident the game of golf needs him, especially at this time right now. The economy has been struggling, the sponsors have been struggling, to have him back is so critical for the sport.

Q. How about the mindset of going into the Match Play?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's six final rounds. You know, I don't have a four shot lead like I had today. We start out even. It's difficult. It's a very difficult event to win. But it's going to be a very important event because if I can win some matches, it feels like a final round. It feels like a Sunday. And you feel that pressure throughout the course of the day.
It's dealing with and performing under that kind of pressure that enables you as a player to give your best performance in major championships when the pressure is the greatest. So the Match Play is really a wonderful event for us.

Q. How much room did you have on number 8 through those trees? And how close did you come to just pitching it out?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that was my pitch out. And so I had a decent gap there, and I missed that gap. And somehow it went through the limbs. Very fortunately it snuck through, not where I was trying to hit it.
And as I was walking up to the ball, Bones said let that was a good break, let's use that and get this up-and-down, and I was able to.

Q. I don't want to be too judgmental, but when Fred Couples clipped that tree on 18, what went through your mind? That seems atypical?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I was surprised. I knew he was a shot back. I knew if he made birdie I needed a par just to go to the playoff. I knew he was within one.
He fought hard the whole day. Played some phenomenal golf, especially early in the round. Had a couple of putts that caught the lip. Had they fallen, it would have been a different story.
It's not as though he hit bad putts. He hit one bad putt on number 4. And there after he hit some good putts that just didn't fall. He had one on 6 that looked like it was going to go in. 7 looked like it was going to go in. 8 looked like it was going to go in.
He had some great rolls at it. He had a couple of those that caught the lip and fell instead of caught the lip and went out, it could have been a different day.
DOUG MILNE: Thank you for your time, congratulations.

End of FastScripts

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297