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August 5, 2010

Phil Mickelson


Q. Solid day, 4-under par. Talk about your round a little bit.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a good day in that I got off to a poor start and was a couple over par and then was able to turn it around and shoot 30 on my back nine, which is the front, to get in good position after the first day.

Q. You mentioned the change in the driver. Talk about that.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, Butch had a good idea to go to a shorter driver, and so I went to the guys at Callaway and had that FT-9 head in a shaft that's only 44 inches and a shaft that's also 20 grams heavier. When you do that, it alters the characteristics of the head, so we were able -- I've got to give the guys credit, to be able to get the spin rate and the ball flight right. I seemed to hit the ball a little bit straighter with it. I'm obviously not going to hit it as far, but I thought the ball still came off pretty hot, and I wasn't displeased with how far it was going. But it went a lot straighter.
My misses when I missed the fairway was inside the tree line so I always had a shot into the green, and I thought that led to a lot more aggressive iron shots.

Q. You turned a mediocre round into a good round?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. It was just going along with a couple of birdies to get it back to even, 1-under par, and on 6, I pulled an iron shot to the right, and I needed to get that up-and-down to maintain some momentum. I was only 1-under par, and I was just trying to keep it just a couple under, seeing if I could get one or two more. And when that lob shot went in the hole, it gave me a nice boost. Not only did I get it up-and-down but I made a nice birdie and was able to get two more coming in.

Q. Rory said it was the best shot he's seen this year so far. Where would you rank it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a good one. There were some at Augusta that I kind of remember a little more fondly than Thursday here at Akron, but that was a good one. It wasn't as hard as it looked to get up-and-down. I thought with the greens being soft, I had a decent lie, and it wasn't a difficult one to get up-and-down. But I was certainly fortunate for it to go in.

Q. Is Rory a guy you enjoy playing with?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I do enjoy playing with Rory. He's fun, he's interesting, he's a smart guy. So we always have intelligent conversation. He's really got a great demeanor, always upbeat, great to be around, not to mention his talent. I do enjoy playing with him and we get to play together again tomorrow.

Q. Do you sort of see yourself in him when you were 21?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, his ball-striking -- I look at the guys today that are young, in their teens and 20s. Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa and some of these other young kids, and their ball-striking is so superior to where myself or other players my age was at when we were in our teens and 20s. I mean, their ball-striking is just extremely impressive.

Q. Do you have to put a lot of hours in behind the scenes practicing before you're happy to put the driver in the bag?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it didn't take long. I mean, it didn't take long. I've only used it a couple of days, and it seems to be easier to hit, easier to swing. You'll notice I don't over-swing with it. I'm not as long and loose with it. My timing is better. I always feel like when I make a swing similar to my irons or my long irons, my longer driver is always lagging behind, so you see me kind of hanging back trying to wait for it. And I didn't feel that today. I didn't feel that with the shorter one. I think it has some action to be in the bag for a while.

Q. Did you lose much distance off the tee?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard to say. It actually went out there pretty good, so it's hard to say.

Q. Anthony was playing right behind you today, first full 18 holes in three months. Can the U.S. win the Ryder Cup without him being at full strength? Seems like he's brought a lot to the table the last two times around from shot making and esprit de corps and camaraderie and all that stuff, if he's not --
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, he's a real asset for the team, there's no question about that. But two years ago we didn't have the best player in the world on our team and we were able to win. And I think that it looks like the European team has been playing some great golf, has a lot of depth, has a lot of guys that could be or should be on the team but won't be on the team because there's so many players.
I think the U.S. is going to have a difficult time going onto their soil and doing it. But like I said, I wouldn't underestimate -- I wouldn't put anything past the U.S. Team. We've been playing some good golf together, and like I said in the past, the FedExCup has kept all of our games sharp, and I expect us to be sharp and ready for it.

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