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November 8, 2009

Phil Mickelson


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, Phil. Many, many congratulations. That was a wonderful performance. We sat here two years ago, Phil, and I know you were very pleased and proud to have won that tournament. I suppose with this being a WGC now, you're even more proud to be sitting here as champion again.
PHIL MICKELSON: It feels terrific to have won this tournament. This has been a very special event to have a World Golf Championships here in China, and to be the champion feels great.
This is my last event of the year. I won't play again until end of January in the U.S., and so to finish the year with this victory feels wonderful.
SCOTT CROCKETT: I think the day didn't pan out as a lot of us expected. It was expected the last grouping to be involved; it was a different sort of day, wasn't it.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think we all expected that Tiger and myself would shooting in the mid 60s and pull away a little bit. Nick Watney would be right there, as well.
And yet, our group was not making any birdies; it was the groups in front of us. Ernie Els played one of the greatest rounds, shot a course record, along with Rory McIlroy, and I was very fortunate to come out on top by a shot.
But this feels terrific, because I had to fight very hard throughout the day. Nothing came easy. I didn't hit it great. The putts weren't falling, and yet, I hung in there, too, and was able to win by one.

Q. Did you know where you stood on the 16? In other words, Ernie being one shot ahead at the time, and can you just take us through the flop and the magnitude of the putt; and also, 17.
PHIL MICKELSON: I knew on 16 before I teed off I was a shot behind. I knew I needed to make birdie to pull even, and I thought that it was important that I make a birdie on 16 because I was counting on Ernie making a birdie on 18, and I needed to keep pace.
I tried to go after that green with a 3-wood and I pushed it a little bit to the left, and it stayed in the first cut of rough, and it was sitting up. So I was on a downhill lie and the ball was sitting up and I had to hit a flop shot. Instead of using the 64-degree wedge, I used a 60-degree wedge trying to get a little more balance, because I was concerned about going underneath it, and sure enough, I did.

Q. And the next four shots after that?
PHIL MICKELSON: The chip, now I've got a terrible lie, I'm in my divot, so I had to just bump one on the green and try to make the putt.
And the putt was the critical moment for me, because that putt allowed me to make a couple of birdies coming in, to either tie and get in a playoff, or to win outright. It was not an easy putt. It broke quite a bit and I had to feed it in from the side, and it was the best putt I made all week.
On 17, I hit a cut 8-iron to the perfect spot just right of the pin, which allowed me to have an uphill putt, and even though it broke a lot, I was able to be aggressive because it was slightly uphill.

Q. We saw you the past two days, you looked a little bit tired. Is your health any problem at all, and how do you feel about the audience, was it a lot of interference for you or Tiger?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, health-wise, I'm fine. Maybe just because --

Q. Do you think Tiger has any problem?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I don't know. (Laughter).
But I thought the gallery and the people were terrific. I thought they were great. They were so nice to everybody and very supportive of the game and all of the players. And the galleries were much bigger than the past two years, and I'm very excited to see that people in China are getting excited about golf.

Q. The Chinese fans very much welcome you and give you a lot of encouragement whenever you are doing good or you are doing bad. Is that your smiling face or friendly behaviour that makes people like you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know but the people here in China have been so nice to me. They have been so nice to my family the previous two years when they were able to travel, and my kids were so disappointed that they were not able to be here this week. And I think it's because of the way that the people here in China have treated us.

Q. Will it give a big boost to your new academy in China for the win?
PHIL MICKELSON: I hope that this win will help the golf courses that I'm designing and the academies that I am putting up here with Rick Smith, because I want to help grow the game. And the people that were out here today, I want to have an opportunity for them to be able to play.
And so we are trying to create some more courses, instructional academies, so that they can learn the game properly and have fun doing it. And I want to thank Mr. Yan for bringing me in to be a part of that. One is in Tian Jin, and another facility is in Kunming and hopefully we'll be able to create opportunities for people to play here.

Q. How excited were you today to get back and play with Tiger, and second, how spoken to Amy and third, how is she doing?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I just called her outside the scorer's tent. She's doing well. It's late over there, and I'll give her a call here again shortly. It's midnight, 12.30. But she was able to watch at home in the States and she said she was so nervous that she was cleaning out cupboards and stuff, which caught me off-guard.
It's been a fun way for us to end the year and she's doing much better. We are looking forward to these next eight to ten weeks off where we can spend some time together, and we have a few family trips lined up, too.

Q. Can you talk about 18, what happened there and what happened in the rough and what was your club choice?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I tried to hit 3-wood and play a little more conservative on 18. Two years ago, I played with Ross Fisher when he went for the green in two and chipped his third shot into the water.
So I knew that laying up was not -- that going for the green wasn't the best way to play the hole. And so I had intended to lay up from the start, but I blocked my 3-wood in the left rough and had a terrible lie, and I was concerned about the rough closing the clubface, and going in the water. And so I kept it to the left again in the rough, but this time I had a much better lie and was able to go for the green.

Q. What was your club choice?
PHIL MICKELSON: 8-iron for both shots.

Q. I asked you the question yesterday, and you said you didn't deal in hypotheticals. You have won now. Would you have liked this victory to count as one of your U.S. Tour victories, which it will not do?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it would have been great if it would count, but it doesn't take away the fact that I beat 15 of the 20 best players in the world and the gratifying feeling of having this trophy and having the tough round today, fighting hard and making the key putts on 16 and 17 to win this championship.

Q. Well, Tiger has been here three times, and didn't win the trophy. When you go back home, will you talk to Tiger about your winning formula?
PHIL MICKELSON: Ah, no (laughter) because he has won many majors and I have not won as many. He has won the U.S. Open, he has won the British Open, I have not. Although it feels great to win this tournament, he has won a lot of events. (Laughter).

Q. Along those lines in a two-part question, I think this is the first time you've beaten him when you guys have both been in the final group of a tournament. Do you get any extra satisfaction out of that? And second willy, how much do you think this kind of sets the table for next year, as well as you're playing and as excited as you are about the way you're playing?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm excited about 2010 because I'm starting to play the best golf of my career. And it's starting to -- everything is starting to kind of come together as far as my driving, since working with Butch Harmon, my ball-striking has been much better. My short game is better than it's ever been. And going into 2010, not only am I excited about it, but I have very high expectations.

Q. And the satisfaction part?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't realise that, but we have played a lot of golf lately the last couple of years, and this year especially. We've had a lot of events where we've competed either in the same group, like at Augusta, or with the championship on the line like THE TOUR Championship. And so it always feels good to win any tournament, but certainly when you have a chance to go head-to-head; although, I know he didn't play his best today.

Q. How much of a sense do you have of this event filling a hole in the global golfing calendar, given that it's a long way removed from the last major of the year and the first one of the next year, and of course the FedExCup is also kind of done and dusted, and whether it's Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup; so calendar-wise, it sits very nicely, as well, doesn't it.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it will be interesting to see over the course of the next five or six years where exactly this tournament ends up on the calendar and whether or not it gets full status in the U.S. or what have you.
But I thought that this was a very successful first run as a World Golf Championships event. I thought Marc Webster did a great job of creating a wonderful field and creating a great venue in wonderful shape. Sheshan Golf Course is perfect to host this event, and I know it's coming back for another three years and everybody is excited about that. This was I thought a very successful event this year.
Because of that, I think it has momentum to continue to move up in status and importance over the next four or five years, and I'm curious to see where it ends up.

Q. Earlier today there was a press conference, and Mr. Finchem spoke about The Presidents Cup might be organised in China in 2019. He would like to see a Chinese captain. What do you think about that? And how do you think if you can train up some golf sportsmen from your academy to attend The Presidents Cup in 2019 in China?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that that would be great. I think it would be great to host a Presidents Cup here. I think that it might be early for some of the kids from my academy to be at the world-class level. It's my intent to get golf started here in China, started at the grass roots, meaning, four-, five-, six-year-olds, providing families a place to play golf like I had in the States, par 3 courses, short holes that are playable for kids. I think 2019 might be a little soon before those players are world-class. But maybe 2029 would not be unrealistic.

Q. Your fellow PGA TOUR players, like Tiger and Garcia, will already have their own tournament. Would you consider having your own golf tournament on the calendar?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I haven't really thought about it, but if the right city and the right sponsor came together, I would consider it. But it's not as though I'm actively trying to do that.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Phil, many thanks for your time as always and enjoy the break with your family. Congratulations and hope to see you next year.

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