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November 4, 2009

Phil Mickelson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: World No. 2 and 2007 HSBC Champions winner, Phil Mickelson, thanks for joining us here in the press room. Maybe just start with some opening comments. You played in the Pro-Am today and you've played in this event in the past. Maybe some opening thoughts on coming back to China to play.
PHIL MICKELSON: I enjoy my time in China, and Sheshan is a wonderful golf course to host this World Golf Championship, and I want to thank HSBC for helping to bring world-class golf to China. Now that golf has become an Olympic sport, I'm hoping that the game of golf here in China takes off and becomes a very popular sport.

Q. You talked a little bit last night about kind of a responsibility to get out and play overseas. I'm just curious on a very simple question, how badly do you want to win this week? How much of a part of you is here to treat this as much as you would the players or Quail Hollow or something like that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think this is a very important event for the players. We want to help grow the game here in China. We want to compete against the best players in the world. And to be able to win a world-class event in China would mean a lot to me and to all of the other players in the field.

Q. Would it mean more winning this year than it did two years ago, just because of the WGC attachment?
PHIL MICKELSON: It might mean more for me personally, because I want to try to create an awareness for the game of golf in China and I want to try to help the game of golf in China grow.
And so a couple of the things that I'm doing are one, I'm designing a couple of projects here. In fact, Joe and Joey Obringer that I'm working with is helping me on the projects here. One is in Kunming, and the projects we are doing in Kunming are designed to help grow the game of golf. In Kunming we are putting a golf academy, a Rick Smith Academy, a Mickelson Rick Smith Academy there and we are putting a par 3 course where kids can enjoy and learn at the grass roots level; so that 25 years down the road we build support for the game of golf in China. So to win here would help my cause in promoting the game of golf here.
And also I came out with a short game instructional DVD and book, and we are trying to get it in Mandarin as soon as possible because I want proper instruction to be there for the kids, for all players, but mainly the young players here in China so that they learn the game of golf the right way, learn the fundamentals and develop quicker.

Q. In China, the most popular foreign athletes tend to be NBA stars, soccer players or F1 drivers. I'm wondering if you think getting golf into the Olympics will help some high-profile govern golfers crack that market, and how long are we from golfers being up on billboards the same way Kobe and LeBron are?
PHIL MICKELSON: It seems to me after coming here for a few years that when the country of China, when the people of China commit to something, they get it done. When they committed to the Olympic sports, all other sports, they have become a dominant force in those areas. And I believe that when they commit the funds and the direction of the Olympic Committee to the game of golf, I believe that they will become a dominant force in the game of golf.
But it will have to start at the grass-roots level, with children ages two, three, four, five, those are the kids that 20 years down the road, 25 years down the road, will help China be a dominant force in the game.
There are some players today that are 14, 15, that when the Olympics are around in 2016, will have a very good presence, a very good performance and will compete. But I think it's 25 years down the road before we see the true effects of what China as a country can do in the it game of golf.

Q. It's been quite a tough year for you because of your wife's sickness; how are you handling the sickness, the family, mentally?
PHIL MICKELSON: We are very lucky because we caught it early, and we have had a very good long-term diagnosis and she is doing much better. Although she has not travelled here this week, I expect that she will be able to travel much more next year and we should have a good holiday season. She's doing much better.

Q. Playing with Rory McIlroy, can you give your assessment of his stature in the game at the moment?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm a big fan of Rory's for two reasons. One, I think he is incredibly talented. I played behind him at Doral this year and saw him play some amazing golf shots. At his age, at any age, his skill level is incredible.
More than that, he is a wonderful individual. I've enjoyed being around him. He treats people incredibly well, and I think he's a tremendously nice person. I like being with him.

Q. Every year the HSBC Champions is a very keen competition, especially last year, settled by a playoff. Do you think this year will be very keen competition, and in case you win the tournament, which is very likely, will you give your prize to Mrs. Mickelson?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the HSBC Champions is one of the strongest fields in golf and will be an incredible competition, and is very likely to end in a playoff again, just like the last two years.
As far as the prize money, I don't know. (Laughter) Very good question. I don't know.

Q. You've been playing here in China many times. How do you rate the improvement of the behavior of the local fans?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the fans have been terrific and have supported the game of golf, and I've noticed this being my third year here that the crowds have gotten larger, and to me, I feel as though the game of golf is becoming more popular.

Q. You've ventured into golf course design; do you have your own design company? And especially in China, do you have any marketing strategy to market yourself in China?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Rick Smith and I are involved with golf course design together, and here in China, we have partnered with one of the most experienced course architects here in China, with Joe Obringer right behind you, and his wife, Joey. They have help me learn a lot about China, about Chinese golf, and has helped me with course design.
We are doing two projects together, The World, which is a massive project in Tian Jin where we are designing holes that are inspired by golf courses throughout the world, and we are designing a three-course project in Kunming already. We are looking at doing some other projects.
The project in Kunming is to help grow the game of golf here. We have a par 3 course. We have two totally different golf courses, and we have a Mickelson Smith Golf Academy to help teach children. And we are looking at doing this at other areas throughout China to help grow the game of golf and to help give proper instruction to create better players and world-class players over the years.

Q. I want to know about the academy, the connection in your academy and IMG, because IMG, they have a junior golf course, too, and they already make six tournaments.
PHIL MICKELSON: IMG has the golf academy in Florida; is that the one you are referring to?

Q. In Shanghai?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I'm not familiar with IMG's academy and we are not affiliated with them, no.

Q. One of the U.S. Tour players, Doug Barron got tested positive for drugs and got a one-year ban. I guess this means the policy is working. Do you have some comments on that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know the details of it. I know that we have been tested numerous times throughout the last year and a half, since the policy has been in place. But I don't know the specifics.
I would venture to say there was some type of mix-up, just knowing my fellow players, I don't think would do anything intentionally to try to skirt the rules. I've never really thought of Doug Barron as an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type body. So I'm just guessing, not knowing any details, that there was probably some kind of confusion or misunderstanding there.

Q. There was a lot made of the way the U.S. season ended with Tiger in Chicago, you in Atlanta, and both of you playing well at The Presidents Cup and kind of setting the table for next year. Do you feel as good and as excited about your game now and here, as you did in September, and where you're going after this in terms of playing-wise?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I am as excited. I obviously didn't perform last week as well as I would have liked, but the greens that we played on down there are a totally different grass than I've ever played on and I don't want to put much credence into one week.
But I'm excited about where my game has been headed, long game since I've been working with Butch, and my short game seems to be back to, or even better than where I have been in the past. And so I am looking forward to next year.
Now I won't be playing again for another ten weeks until San Diego the last week of January. I'll have a bunch of time off. But I will be working on those areas of my game. It won't be as though I'm not going to touch a club.

Q. When do you shut down after this week, completely?

Q. And when did you start up again?
PHIL MICKELSON: San Diego, the last week of January.

Q. In terms of practising again.
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll start practising -- I'll see Butch the early part of January and I'll work with Stockton, but I'll also spend a little bit of time this off-season to stay sharp.

Q. You're playing in the same field with Tiger Woods in the HSBC Champions. How do you feel about the state of mind now? And since golf is going to be part of the Olympics, will you do something to promote golf in China; will you do something here in China?
PHIL MICKELSON: So I'm excited that I'm able -- or that Tiger and I are able to compete in the same event here in China. I think that it will provide some exposure to the game of golf throughout the country, and I'm hopeful that we compete head-to-head over the weekend and are both in contention.
And so what I'm trying to do in China to help promote the game and help develop good, young players is design facilities that will accommodate that, bring golf academy and instruction to those facilities, and also when I'm not able to be there, have that instruction in the form of a book or a DVD in Mandarin so that everybody can understand and have good instruction here to develop their games.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Phil Mickelson, thank you.

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