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February 26, 2009

Phil Mickelson


LAURA HILL: Phil, thanks for joining us. Zach put up a really good fight there at the end. Maybe just talk about how the match ended up and your advancing into the next round.
PHIL MICKELSON: I ended up winning 1-up, so I knew that it was going to be a tough match against Zach. He doesn't make any mistakes, he's an incredible putter, and I was fortunate to get a hold of a victory.
I had a couple chances with a couple of short putts on 14 and 15 that could have ended the match earlier but he fought hard to extend the match.
And 18 was playing very difficult. It was a tough birdie, downwind, to get the ball stopped close, and I was able to hit a hybrid and a 9-iron and two-putt from 18 feet to make par and win.

Q. Is momentum ever a factor the more matches you play, or does each one just stand on its own?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that each one stands on its own. You just don't know what it's going to take to win score-wise. And conditions were tougher today. It was harder to make birdies. The wind was blowing more, and it was hard to control it into the wind, it was hard to stop it downwind, and so it was -- I think we won a couple of holes there with pars.

Q. How important was just being patient today and realizing that pars and up-and-downs were going to keep the match going in a way?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it was important to just make pars a lot of the time. I hit some poor shots earlier in the round and was able to get up-and-down on holes 9 and 10 and made two of the best up-and-downs of the day there, and that allowed me to keep my 1-up lead before I won the next three holes.
I think when you get in trouble, if you can get up-and-down, it really makes a big difference, forcing guys to make birdies, because birdies are actually pretty tough. Outside of the par-5s birdies are pretty tough out here.

Q. On paper your matches looked very similar in that you got off to nice starts, and then maybe they went on longer than might have been expected. Were the matches that similar? Were they sort of cut from the same cloth?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, they were fairly similar, similar score. I might have been a few under par. I had a chance yesterday and today on 14 to go dormie 4 if I could have made par, and I three-putted there.
And 15, I had a pretty basic up-and-down, hit a good shot to about three, three and a half feet and didn't make that, lipped it out.
And Zach birdied, just like he should. He hit it right up there by the green, chipped up. If I had matched it I'm 3-up with three to go and probably would have closed it out on 16 because 16 is a tough hole to birdie.

Q. You've played 109 holes in the past week, not including practice rounds. Are you a bit tired, or are you concerned about that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not right now. I feel like yesterday I rested the rest of the day, and I feel like I had a lot of energy today.
I like that Butch is here, I'm getting some good work done. I feel like each day I'm getting better and better. I drove the ball well today. I hit a bad tee shot on the second hole, and after that I started to hit some good tee shots.

Q. Butch being here, talking about kind of building off of that, last few weeks you've talked about being really close, your swing being really close. I'm just kind of wondering where you see it after these last couple matches, which actually you had some tough holes on.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's not exactly where I want it, but I feel as though it's closer today than it was yesterday. I feel like yesterday it was closer than it was the day before. So I feel like I'm getting better each day.
But I'm not hitting it like I expect it or hope to as far as being able to knock down the pins and make a lot move birdies. I'd like to make more birdies.
We have a great Match Play event, I've hit some good shots to win matches, but I feel like I can get better.

Q. Do you find it easier or harder to play a good friend like Zach in this format?
PHIL MICKELSON: A bit of both, actually. You know, he's one of the nicest guys on TOUR, he's one of the hardest workers and one of the guys that I respect the most. We've played together in a few team events, and I enjoy being around him.
It is difficult to play your friends, but look at Justin and Davis, they had to play each other today. It's part of the game, and what's nice is that we're able to separate the two.

Q. Just curious, the last two years you fell short at this level. Just a thought on moving on to the round of 16, somewhere you haven't been since '06.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm looking forward to tomorrow's matches. I'm looking forward to getting a practice session in with Butch, I'm looking forward to continuing to progress with my game, and even work harder next week, trying to build up for the Masters and get better each week.

Q. Are there greens out there that you don't see many birdie positions on that they can put them to make birdie if they wanted to, or are there just some really tough complexes?
PHIL MICKELSON: The pin placements have been great. They have been very fair. They have not been too close to the edges. You've been able to get up-and-down or stop putts close if you were to be on the wrong side.
The green speed, they've kept it in check. If they make them any faster, balls would be racing off the green all over the place.
The TOUR staff has done a great job on the setup, and I find the golf course very interesting and fun to play. I think it's a challenge on and around the greens, and I think because it is difficult to get the ball close, if you're able to, you have good birdie chances, but if not, you really need to be creative with your short game because there's many ways to get the ball close on these greens, not just one where you're limited. You can go through the air, take it off one slope, go off an opposite side.
You saw on 14 Zach and I were in close spots, I went one slope, he went off a total opposite one. There's a lot of that out there, and it's interesting, I like it.
LAURA HILL: Thanks for your time. Play well this week.

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