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June 10, 2009

Phil Mickelson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Phil Mickelson, thank you for joining us here today. Welcome back to the PGA TOUR and the St. Jude Classic. I believe you'd like to start with an opening statement and then we'll take some questions.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'd like to say a few things first. That is that Amy and I thought that a couple weeks ago at the Colonial is one of the nicest things that we've ever seen. It came at an incredible time for us. We're very lucky to be a part of this group of TOUR players.
I think the PGA TOUR is comprised of some of the classiest individuals in all of sports. I think their wives are incredible ladies. Over the years we're very lucky to have developed some great friendships out here on TOUR. The show of support they gave us at Colonial, all the people at Colonial, Fort Worth, it was incredibly meaningful. I don't know how to express the emotions that we felt because of that. It was just a very special thing for us.
We feel very fortunate to be a part of this TOUR. We think there's some of the greatest individuals again in sports on this TOUR and we're lucky to have them as friends.
When this came out, there were a number of articles, too, that were written. I've called a number of you guys. The ones I haven't had a chance to I wanted to thank because the first week or two was the toughest to date. It was extremely difficult to go through that, to see some of the things that were written, which were so nice, it meant a lot to Amy and I. Again, I tried to reach out and let you know how much that meant to us.
In those articles, each one had a reference of a personal interaction with Amy. I think she's the most charismatic person I've ever met. She touches people in a way that people don't get touched. It's just right to the heart. She has a way to have an impact on people, the way she looks you in the eye, the way she listens to what you have to say, and genuinely cares. She has a quality about her that not many people have.
I know how lucky I am to be able to be married to her because I see it every day. She's like that every day. We've been together 16 years. I am so lucky to be married to her. She has made my life so fulfilling and enriching. I see those qualities in her every day.
I also see those qualities in the people she is around. Her friends, her family, they all strive to be like her. When you know her parents, Gary and René, you see where those qualities came from, because they're every bit as wonderful people as Amy is, as are her other siblings.
So with that being said, obviously we're going through a tough time right now. We won't get started on our treatment till July 1st. In the meantime, we're fortunate we believe we caught it early enough to where we don't have to rush into decisions and we can make some good long-term decisions, decisions that will hopefully prevent this from reoccurring, as well as decisions that will hopefully beat this quickly. We're getting ready to get started.
In the meantime, I'm going to play these two weeks. She's going to have a nice time here this week. My parents are taking the kids camping and she's going to have a little bit of time with a couple of her close friends and family. We'll have a vacation a week before the surgery with our kids in a tropical area for a number of days before this gets started. We had a number of family trips planned this summer that obviously have been canceled. We're going to try to squeeze one in before we start our treatment.
That was pretty much what I wanted to say starting out. Were there any questions?

Q. Are you one that compartmentalizes well? Is it difficult for you to separate what's going on in life and inside the ropes?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I mean, it is difficult to separate things at times. But these last three weeks have been -- kind of an interesting thing is I've never felt this emotional. I've never been this emotional where if I'm driving alone or what have you I'll just start crying. It's kind of a weird thing.
I'm looking forward to have a four- or five-hour mental break where I force myself to focus on something else. I'm looking forward to that.

Q. You said, We're going to start our treatment, our surgery. Can you talk about that emotion. Also you're at a tournament that is obviously childhood cancer. Is it particularly fitting? I know that's not why you're at this tournament, but is it particularly fitting that you're here for this week to play?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it probably is fairly fitting that I'm playing this week. I've always been touched by children's cancer. I think that the amount of science, medicine and research that has been done over the years has made significant strides to the point where where we're at today we have such a better chance of beating this and living a long, full life, that we're fortunate because of research centers like St. Jude's.
I think the awareness that has been brought about in the last decade about breast cancer, I think that has led to a number of early detections, which of all the criteria that you have to beat cancer, the most important one is catching it early. The awareness that has been brought about over the last decade has certainly helped us because it made us aware of it. We had doctors in San Diego that were terrific. It was their thoroughness that led us to catch this this early.

Q. Address the 'our' part.
PHIL MICKELSON: We're married. We're going to go through this together. She's always been there for me. She's always been there for her friends and family. It's our turn to be there for her.

Q. On the golf course you have no fear. If there's a tree in front of you, you play fearless. You can see it in your eyes. Talk about the fear of going through this, how you're dealing with that.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I mean, we're scared, yeah. I think a lot of it is the unknown. You know, we've learned a lot in the last couple of weeks. We believe we have incredible doctors. We believe that we've caught this early. We won't know this until a week or two after surgery, until some more pathology tests have been done.
Yeah, we're certainly scared. I don't think it's going to affect how I play. I mean, I'm going to still, you know, play aggressively. But that's not really -- there's not really a carryover effect there. It's just that, you know, off the course I've never felt something like this.
I think it's as hard or harder for somebody on the side. I would much rather be going through it and doing it myself than seeing somebody I care about so much go through it. I think that's difficult, yeah.
Throughout this year, for the next 12 months, we're going to have a lot of treatment. I don't know exactly what that is. We won't know what that is. And in and amongst that, we'll try to have normal things: play golf tournaments, kids going to lessons for whatever activities, going to camp. We're going to try to integrate everyday life things that we do.
Because we don't start treatment for another three weeks or so, it was kind of time to try to do something that we do normal. It was a chance for her to be with a couple of close friends.
I don't know when I'll play again. I just don't know what our treatment schedule will be like after surgery. I don't know really when that will happen. I don't think it's going to be for a while, but I don't know exactly what we're facing yet.

Q. Have you played any golf? Have you been playing while you've been home at all?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, for the first couple weeks, no. But ever since I was a little kid, the way I would deal with things would be go chip in my backyard before I could drive, or when I could drive, I would go to the course and hit a few balls. Whenever Amy was sleeping or whenever I had a minute, I would either take the kids to the course or I would just go to the range for an hour and hit some balls.
I don't feel as though my game is that far off. But certainly I haven't played in a while. Certainly I had an emotional month, and I don't know where I will be on the golf course as far as being able to focus or being able to get another round. I don't know that yet.
As far as the physical element of hitting a golf ball, chipping and putting, I don't think it's very far off, if off at all.

Q. Will Amy and/or the kids be at the U.S. Open next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Most likely not. I think it's difficult to face a lot of people. It's emotional. When you see people, and they're crying and so forth, it's just not easy to go through that. So I don't expect that to happen.
I'm not playing just to play. I think Bethpage is a golf course that suits my game, that I love playing on that course, I love playing in the New York area. I'm playing here because I believe I can win next week. Again, there's a lot of question marks that I'll have. But that's the goal.
This is what we've kind of decided on going about getting a little normalcy in our life, so here I am. It's been emotional for everybody involved. All of our family members, her parents, our friends. I mean, it's been a good three weeks in the sense that we've been together. We've been able to all be together and share the difficult emotions and so forth. As we've undergone tests, trying to figure out where we're at, what we're going to do, it's been good that we've all been able to be there together.

Q. I'd be curious how many phone calls, how much advice, information has been pouring in that you've had to deal with.
PHIL MICKELSON: The feedback has really helped us. Like I said, the articles that have been written, the letters that have been written, the emails, the texts, the correspondence has been very supportive. You kind of realize going through something like this, it really helps. I mean, I never really thought about it because at times when friends go through this, you try to be there for them, you try to give them support, communicate, so forth. You know, I didn't realize how important that stuff was until we've actually been going through it ourselves, and it really helps a lot.

Q. Bethpage, the rough has graduated, holes are lengthened.
PHIL MICKELSON: I decided to redeye in Monday and play Bethpage. I got lucky with the weather. It rained early on, it cleared up. So I was able to get a good session in there.
I think the golf course is awesome. I mean, I've always loved the layout. But the setup is perfect in that the fairway width is tough to hit but it's fair. The rough is challenging but you can still play out of it. I think the graduated penalty for a miss is the first time I've really seen this well done. If you just miss a fairway, you're not penalized with a hack-out shot. If you hit it way offline, there's such thick rough, you very well may lose your ball. I think the course is going to allow players to separate themselves who are playing well because they can recover.
I think it depends how much risk you take off the tee. If you try to get the ball down there far enough and you just miss it, I think you'll have a short enough iron where you can actually get it on the surface.
In 2002, Bethpage, it was an emotional experience for me then. I anticipate it being an emotional experience playing this year's U.S. Open. My quest is to win my first U.S. Open after four seconds, numerous close calls, me caring about this tournament so much. But right now I'm just fortunate that I'm going to be able to play and I hope to play well. I know that after that, I got something going on that's more important and takes my mind off it.

Q. How does this course get you prepared for next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Honestly, I don't know. I haven't played it in years, certainly since the renovations have been made. I'll be heading out there shortly to play in my ProAm. I'll have a chance to see it then for the first time in a number of years.
But for me I just need to get back to competition. I missed a couple of events. I haven't played in five or six weeks. I need to get a little bit in a competitive frame of mind if I expect to have any chance next week.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Phil Mickelson, thank you very much. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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