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October 7, 2009

Phil Mickelson


Q. Phil, it's good to hear your back is doing great; how excited are you to get started here with Anthony?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's fun for us to lead off and be in the first group. We have a tough match. Mike Weir played incredible golf last Presidents Cup in Canada. He's going to be a very tough match. And Tim Clark is one of the best-ball strikers on TOUR and they are wonderfully nice guys. We are going to have a difficult match, but Anthony and I are looking forward to competing in the first group and hopefully leading our team.

Q. Does the golf course lend itself to this alternate-shot, best-ball format like the others have in the past?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a great setup and a great golf course for both fourball and foursomes. It's a very fair test that I think you can see a lot of birdies in both formats, because it's not overly penalizing if you miss a fairway, but it is challenging. The greens are definitely difficult to get the ball close. They are not holding the best, they are firm and have got a firmness to them that makes it tough to get close, but I know there are a lot holes where you can attack and make birdies. I think it's going to be an exciting format and an exciting golf course to host this event.

Q. What's the competitive mind-set either coming out of the gate or starting out as you are or playing on the back end through the week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we want to get out early. Anthony and I, we both are excited and we both have a high energy level and want to get out there and play, and we don't typically relax until we get out on the golf course. So we are excited to be able to lead us off and hopefully play some good golf.

Q. As you go through the week, do you like to mix it up and be in the middle, be in the back end?
PHIL MICKELSON: That will depend on other factors, but for now we are looking forward to getting off early.

Q. And what is your competitive element when your games are all in shape, but this is one of the funnest weeks of the year?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a very fun week for us. We are also pretty sharp because we have all been playing through the FedExCup, so we have not had a big layoff.
And this event, because the guys on the International Team almost all play in the U.S., play the U.S. Tour, they almost all have a place here in the U.S. And many of them are good friends. It has a much more relaxed atmosphere and a very enjoyable atmosphere. The matches are friendly. There's no banter that can be mistook. It's really in a great spirit.

Q. When you tweaked your back, were you playing golf or mowing the lawn?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was getting ready to go practice and it just tightened up. I wasn't doing anything. It just tightened and it's not that it's an issue. I just wanted to be precautious because I am looking forward to this week and there's a lot of golf left and I didn't want to go in not taking it.

Q. You have not had back problems before?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a little muscular deal. It's not a big deal. It feels great now.

Q. How did the group feel about Harding Park?
PHIL MICKELSON: We are all excited about it. We don't see Harding Park as a stereotypical public course. It's such a great and challenging layout, it's long and it's tough and it's in great shape and requires a lot of shot-making around these thick trees that I think this is a wonderful venue.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I don't remember too much other than the playoff.

Q. Did you feel like the course suits your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: I remember it was a fun golf course to play. We had birdie holes, like 1 and 2, where you could get off to a good start; and then you had some really tough pars, like 7, 8, the par 3 down the hill, which was played at 8 and now it's 11. And the old No. 7, which might still be 7 --

Q. The old 7 is now 17, the short, drivable par 4.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm thinking of the dogleg left which is our No. 6 or 7 now. That's a tough hole, long par 4, and so there's some hard golf holes here where I think you can win some holes with par, and then there's some where you're going to have to make birdies.

Q. Is the course set up for match play?

Q. Do you like how they re-routed it? Will that play into your hands a little bit tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: It plays well for a couple of reasons. The fans will see some of the better holes. 15 is one of the best holes, the old No. 18 is now 15, I think that most every match will get to that point and you'll be able to see guys play on that hole. And then we finish up the last few holes closer to the clubhouse, and I think that will make it more fan friendly.

Q. Do you think you'll have a little more edge to try the more dangerous, risky shots to force the issue sometimes because you only lose one hole instead of a potential three or four strokes, in light of what happened two weeks ago with your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: Are you asking if I'm going to play more aggressive?

Q. Are you able to take more risks?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think you take more risks in the four-ball just in general because you have to make birdies. I think in match play you tend to take more risks. In the foursomes not as much. I think in the foursomes you want to be more careful and you don't want to put your partner in too bad of a spot and you want to make the other team's victories about birdies and not hand it to them if they can make a par. So I think the format will just decide that.

Q. Do you see any similarities between you and young Anthony, kind of swashbuckling, aggressive?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the reason I like playing with Anthony is that he and I play a similar -- or look at playing golf similarly.
When I was going to lay up on 17 today and give him an 80,100-yard shot, he said, "Oh, no, hit the driver, man, get it down by the green." There's not a shot that he fears. He likes getting closer to the hole and he feels like he can hit any shot necessary around the green.
We fit very well together because I don't have to feel like -- I don't ever feel bad if I leave him in a tough spot, because he believes he can get it up-and-down.

Q. So what happened on 17?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hit driver, he knocked it up there ten feet and we made birdie. (Laughter).

Q. So he had a point.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, he's absolutely right.

Q. Sorry if you were asked this earlier, but since you've played in all of these, what do you think it's going to take for The Presidents Cup to take the next step in stature in the world and become even maybe more significant?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know. We enjoy playing it. I think that we have had some great ticket sales, I think the people will hopefully enjoy the matches tomorrow.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, and we had it in Canada a couple of years ago, and they're making an effort to move it around to Australia, it's going back in a couple of years, and they are making an effort to move it around. I think the benefit of The Presidents Cup is to help grow the awareness of the game, help grow the game, especially at this time throughout the world, and the international players can help do that. And the more we spread this tournament out around the world, I think that will benefit our goal of help growing the game.

Q. (Inaudible.)
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm sure they would like to, but -- (Inaudible.)

Q. On and off the golf course this year you've been through a lot.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's been an interesting year. We have had some up-and-downs, and I think that we are looking forward to having the year end and get a fresh 2010. But before that happens, everybody here is excited about this event. We are excited about this week and we are hoping to retain the Cup.

Q. Ogilvy mentioned a couple weeks ago, he has done mostly watching of these for the last ten years or so, but he says it looks like to him on Thursday morning or Friday morning, whatever the case may be, you get a sense of who is going to win that week just by watching the first set of matches. What are your thoughts on that, along the lines of the importance of a good start.
PHIL MICKELSON: That's a good point. I know that last year at Valhalla, we had a pretty good idea that we were going to win. We all felt that that was going to happen.
I think when we showed up at Melbourne in '98, we had a pretty good idea that we weren't going to play our best, even though we were all trying. And that is kind of interesting.
I don't know if we know it, per se, but when you look back on it, you know when you were ready or not. We certainly were ready last year at Valhalla and it showed in our play.

Q. Is there any thought to maybe -- (Inaudible.)
PHIL MICKELSON: Possible, but unlikely.

Q. Do you feel ready now?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think so, yeah. I think we are. I think having The Presidents Cup be closer to the FedExCup, having The Ryder Cup be closer to the FedExCup, is very helpful for us because we are all sharp. We haven't had a month layoff before the event. We are all pretty sharp. It's easy to keep your game sharp for another week after a long, competitive stretch.

Q. What's your favorite hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: Favorite hole, I think 15 is the most spectacular, which is the old finishing hole.
But I think the short par 4s are the most exciting holes. On any course I think they are the most fun holes to play and here we have a couple of them that provide some real strategy and make you think about how you want to play it and I think how your opponent plays the whole will determine a lot of times how you play it. I think the short par 4s here will be a big difference maker. 17 is one and I think 15 is another. 15, 17, and 13, those holes are going to be interesting.

Q. Whose idea was it for Bones to wear --
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know, they just made those. I don't know how that all came about. I know it's like a charity thing. We are trying to raise money for that.

End of FastScripts

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