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January 20, 2011

Phil Mickelson


Q. First round of the tournament, how do you feel about your game and playing conditions here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I played very well today. I hit the ball very well and kept the ball in play off the tee and hit a lot of good iron shots. I didn't make very many putts, and these greens are beautiful. They are in great shape. If you get the right speed and you get the ball tracking on the right line, you're going to make a lot of putts as Graeme McDowell did and a number of guys did today.
I was just a little bit off on the grains, so that's something I'll have to work on for tomorrow. It felt very close and ball-striking was much better today and felt very good for the first round of the year.

Q. Is it special for you to get to know some other parts of the world?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. We have really enjoyed this trip. I've had a chance to see some of the sights here in Abu Dhabi, and my family have been able to see some other areas throughout the Middle East and it's really been a fascinating place. Abu Dhabi is such a clean, beautiful country and we are very excited to be here because we've had a great time.
The only thing that matters is the score obviously, but I do feel I played very well, and I wasn't displeased with that. I need to go out tomorrow and get a good feel on the greens. I left a lot of shots out there on the putting surface, but they are beautiful greens. They are in great shape and have wonderful, soft movement. If you give yourself some birdie opportunities, you'll make some. I just didn't take advantage of my opportunities today but tomorrow should be another day.

Q. I guess at this stage of the year, things are falling into place, even if it's not reflected on the scorecard; there's lots to be taken from that?
PHIL MICKELSON: It is. I've been able to work here with Butch Harmon and this is a good foundation week. We have put in some good work and my golf game feels much sharper than the score indicated.
Again, we'll have softer conditions tomorrow and give myself some good birdie opportunities to hopefully shoot a lower round tomorrow.

Q. Davis Love is about to be announced as your next Ryder Cup Captain. What's your reaction to that?
PHIL MICKELSON: He's been a friend of mine for a number of years and I've been able to compete with him in The Ryder Cup quite a few times. And I think he has so much knowledge and experience from Ryder Cups in the past that he'll be able to take the good and the bad from past captains and implement it well and be just one of our better captains.

Q. What is the biggest thing he brings to the job?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. We are two years away. Let's slow down on The Ryder Cup talk for now.

Q. Not having played competitively for a couple of month, give us your assessment of today's round.
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought it was a good day even though the score didn't show it. I thought I played a lot better than the score was. I struggled a little bit on the greens. I did make a couple but struggled getting good speed.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's rounds, though. I hit a lot of good shots and kept the ball in play off the tee and hit some good iron shots, and looking forward to getting out tomorrow with calm conditions to see if I can make some birdies and catch these guys.

Q. What sort of challenges does this golf course represent?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's very tight off the tee. Rough is long and thick, but if you can get it in the fairway, the greens have just soft, subtle movement. If you get a good feel with the putter, you can do something like what Graeme McDowell did and really roll a lot in, because they are just beautiful condition and they track really, really nice.
So if you can get the right speed and get it going on the greens, you can really make a lot of putts here.

Q. You have your coach, Butch Harmon, with you this week, I was chatting with him to him yesterday and he said you and Dave Stockton are working on your putting, trying to putt more aggressively. Tell us about that.
PHIL MICKELSON: That's certainly something I'd like to do more this year. I had a lot of putts kind of limp up to the edge and that's just not the way I want to putt. I want to putt with more pace and more speed and see if I can roll some longer putts in.
And so today I left a couple short that kind of limped up there. Those are the ones that are upsetting. I would rather roll it and knock it six feet by and have to work than not even give it a chance.

Q. Earlier you were on Ocean Race yacht; what was that like?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was interesting.

Q. It was interesting, meaning you felt sick?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was interesting to go out and see what it's like. Those guys go out and race for nine months on that boat, and for me, nine minutes was plenty. But it was an experience that I enjoyed seeing what it is they do and how that both operates.

End of FastScripts

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