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March 31, 2010

Phil Mickelson


Q. What do you think about being here today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to be here in Houston for a reason other than treatment. So it's been fun to get out here.
The golf course is in great shape as always. They do a great job here of making the course play similar to what we'll have next week without the rough. The lightning quick greens, the shaved banks. It's really a great job.

Q. It's a big deal.
PHIL MICKELSON: It is for us. It makes us -- I think an advantage for the players who play here going into next week, because the ball will react certain ways out of the first cut of rough and fairway, getting adjusted to the speed of the greens. All that goes into preparation for next week.

Q. Couples was named as captain of The Presidents Cup. What do you think about that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's terrific. He was a wonderful captain last year. We had a lot of fun with him. We've sent a few texts back and forth, kind of joking about some of the stuff. I would expect for the players to go all the way down to Australia, to have Fred as the captain will make the week a lot of fun. That's the real key is making it a lot of fun.

Q. What is the key to being a good captain?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that it's varied. We've had great captains that have been totally different personalities. The Ryder Cup, Zinger was one incredible captain who gave us a lot of direction and put us in little pods and so forth and we knew who we were going to play with. Fred was a very relaxed captain, and made it a fun week and dynamics worked out great.

Q. Phil, Couples had has a hard time getting his arms around being the guy. He rattled off the names being the captain. How he's grown the game as a representative, as a player. How do you view him?
PHIL MICKELSON: He's been an incredible asset to the game of golf. He's got great fan appeal, lot of charisma, wonderful game, and draws people to watch, and it's exciting to see what he's doing with the Champions Tour. Not only is he winning, but he's winning with flare and he's exciting to watch and compelling. He brings that element of personality to the game.

Q. What do you think about what Ernie Els is doing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's terrific to see him step up and play great golf. For a year or two probably hasn't played his best. He looks great.

Q. What about your game?
PHIL MICKELSON: My game this year hasn't been what I expected. Again, I keep saying it doesn't feel far off, it doesn't. I haven't put together the scores, and I think this week here in Houston is an important week for me because I feel like my game has been pretty close. My putter started to feel really good last week. I need to put together some good scores, especially heading into Augusta.
Before last week, I thought it was putting the game pretty good. Last week I started to putt pretty good, but I didn't score well. I made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of penalty strokes.
This is a challenging course because there's so much water and so many hazards out here. It's going to be a good test for me to try to go through this round and manage my game, avoiding a lot of big mistakes because I feel like my driving as well as short game -- putting is pretty sharp right now, but I've got to put it altogether and shoot a number.

Q. Phil, I know you're used to it, but around here, what does it mean to you that when you play in tournaments like this, such a big deal for the tournament and the people that show up? I know you're used to it, but what is that like for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's flattering to see this tournament be successful. It has a strong feel, great date. Not just myself but a lot of players here who are in the Top 20, 30 in the world rankings getting ready for next week are here. Lot of international players, strong field.
There are some guys that would prefer to get ready for the Augusta by taking a week off, and so we'll miss out on some of those guys. Many of them prefer to play and get their game sharp.

Q. How is Amy doing?
PHIL MICKELSON: She's doing okay, thank you.

Q. What about the reception you've gotten from some of the folks you've met in your time in Houston?
PHIL MICKELSON: We spent a lot of time here in the last year. We're very fortunate to have such an incredible medical center like you have here in Houston anywhere in the U.S. We've had some tremendous care, and it's been very heartwarming to see how much time and effort these doctors have put into studying and trying to cure these diseases, and for us to be able to benefit from that is very special.

Q. You spent a couple days at Augusta, got away, worked on your game. Did anything kind of come together there that you're going to take out here this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a good last two days at Augusta. The practice facility there is incredible. I was able to get a lot of time on that, and, like I say, my game feels pretty sharp now, it really does.
I haven't put together the scores. Maybe I missed the ball in the wrong spot where I couldn't get up and down or I had a few too many penalty strokes. I need to put it together this week in a sense that I want to get some momentum heading into next week.

Q. Your thoughts about Tiger coming back, the anticipation of next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's exciting. I think everybody here is just glad to have him back. It's exciting for the game, the notoriety, not necessarily from the last few months, but just the fact he's back playing is going to be great.

Q. Playing tournament golf is a hard thing. I know he's the best in the world. How hard is that to not play and then go play at that place at Augusta?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I mean, I don't know. He seems to have not had a problem with that in the past, looking at his U.S. Open win in 2008. He had a lot of time off before that, and he came back from being injured and was able to win. He seems to be -- be able to do remarkable things throughout his career.

Q. Parts of your game have been frustrating this year. I thought we started to see your putting come around at Bay Hill?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a couple of really good putting days at Bay Hill. Feels totally different. I feel like I can roll the ball, see the line better, I'm starting it on line. The putter feels -- I don't want to say great, but it does, it feels pretty darn good.
Last week I hit a lot of shots in the wrong spot and missed it in the wrong spot and had penalty strokes. Consequently, my scores weren't that great. This week will be a good challenge for me, because again there's a lot of penalty shots out here, lot of hazards. If I can avoid it and manage my game well, it will give me a great momentum boost going into next week.

Q. Is it in the set-up or the stroke itself you're working on?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's not necessarily the stroke. It's more the set-up. It's not too technical. It's just getting out into the putt and see the line and get the feel for it, rather than mechanically.

Q. I'd never suggest that this tournament is a set-up for the Masters because this is a great tournament in its own right.
PHIL MICKELSON: They've done a great job of enticing players to come here in preparation for the Masters and especially having first cut without rough, having the greens speed up so fast.
In any tournament that has rough like this, I plan on showing up at because this is a perfect way to have shot making, recovery skills, challenges now with the new grooves and the ball coming out of this first cut. I think it's going to make for an exciting event.

Q. In the past year, this has become a special city for you with your wife's treatment here. I know it's very special with you being here this week.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's nice for me to be here outside of treatment. We've been fortunate to have some incredible care here. The facilities, the medical facilities here in Houston are incredible, and for us to be able to take advantage of that and all these doctors and their skill, we've been fortunate.

End of FastScripts

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