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January 26, 2011
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. You'll be making your 22nd start here. You've got three career wins. If you want to talk a little bit about coming back home and your thoughts on this week, then we'll take some questions.
PHIL MICKELSON: Before Rick head's out there, I want to thank him for his involvement in the last 25 years. I've been coming out to either watching this tournament or playing in this tournament for those 25 years, and he's been a part of it every year.
He's done a great job in keeping professional golf here in San Diego and doing it in a great way. So I'm appreciative of Rick's works and efforts as I am of Tom Wilson.
With the TOUR coming here to San Diego this year and this week, it's exciting to get back into playing and get the year started. The course looks terrific like it's in great shape.
And we've got a great sponsor here last year that stepped in late with the tournament, and recently they signed on for four more years. So we're excited to have Farmers Insurance involved with this tournament and keeping this tournament here strong.
Q. State of the game, how much did you practice leading up to last week and what are you feeling about your short game, driver, things like that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I started practicing a week earlier this year than I had planned to. I started practicing the 28th of December. I was excited to get back out and play. I had been really missing the game there for a while.
I had a good six weeks off where I was able to spend some time with our family. We did a few family trips, had a great off-season. But I've been antsy to get back and play.
I didn't finish the year last year the way I wanted to, and I wanted to try to make 2011 the year that I thought 2010 was going to be. So I started getting to work a little bit earlier. I had spent some time with Butch. I was fortunate to have him there last week and build a foundation last week that will hopefully carry through the rest of the year as far as golf swing, fundamentals, making sure I'm on the right path heading into the season.
Q. Fairly ambitious start to this season. You may play up to six weeks in a row depending on what you might decide with Match Play or not. What does that mean about the state of your health and of the stuff that you were going through in the middle of the summer last year? How do you feel you can go that long?
PHIL MICKELSON: So, I feel great and I've been able to manage my symptoms, and I haven't had any problems as far as my daily routine. I've been able to work out the same, been able to practice the same. And I don't expect to have any of that affect my play. I feel like I'm ready to start the year.
I'm excited about the year, so I want to play. I love the west coast events, so I want to play the west coast events. I was going to play these five anyway, starting here and going through to Match Play. That's been kind of my intent.
I added Abu Dhabi. It worked out to be a wonderful trip. Brought the whole family there. We had a great week. I was able to bring Butch Harmon there and use it also as a week of work and getting my game sharp.
I want to play the Match Play. I love Tucson and I love that tournament, and I very well may, but it will just be dependent on some other issues.
Through the Masters, I'm not really sure exactly where I'll play after that, but I would expect to play the usual, Doral and Houston, and so forth.
Q. Match Play, is that family vacation? Is that spring break?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, they're off school, so I'm not sure if we're going to be able to do something or not. They also have a couple other commitments so we'll see.
Q. After you announced you were going to be a vegetarian, there have been stories that you're not, and you are, and you're eating meat. What is your status there and does it matter?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we knew that was doomed from the beginning (laughing). But I learned a lot about diet and what works for me. So after five months of that, I was not gaining my strength back, so I needed to add a little bit of protein into the mix.
What I found is that if I eat a little bit of light protein and a lot of green vegetables, my body feels great. I've been able to gain that strength back and recuperate the abilities in the gym and so forth that I was able to do before all of this.
Q. The question about your health, does that play in your mind at all? I imagine a golfer going through what you went through with the feeling in your body, going through a season like this. Do you fear it at all? Has it made any permanent difference in your mental approach?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think so. I don't think so because of two main reasons. One is that I was able to get on top of it right away before there was any permanent damage. Second, I've been able to manage my symptoms very well to where I've been able to go about my daily life as I was before.
Q. Tiger Woods is in the field. He hasn't been in this field for a while. Could you comment on his return?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, he usually plays here. He usually plays here every year, so having him back is a great plus for this tournament. He has kept this field strong and kept the interest in the event television-wise, media-wise, very high. His presence has been great.
Q. Speaking of Tiger, what do you expect from him this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: I saw last year when I played with him in Chicago and saw him at the Ryder Cup, I saw his game getting back to where it was. His speed was back up. He was hitting it long. His touch was coming back, and I expect that he'll be the Tiger that we've known for over a decade, unfortunately (laughing).
Q. Other than the symptoms that you're managing, are there any concessions that you feel you have to make now that you're 40? Do you feel like there's an urgency to try to achieve now because the arrow is probably pointed the other way?
PHIL MICKELSON: What I have felt heading into this year is that I'm 40 years old and I've been playing this game a long time, and I no longer need to go about changes in my game. I feel like I've worked on some things now with Butch Harmon to get my swing to where I want it to be.
I've worked with Stockton and Pels to get my practice sessions the way I want them to be, as well as my short game putting technique. I feel this is a year where I don't have to have any change. It's a year of refinement.
Developing touch, developing shot making and getting into the nuances of hitting great shots and not having to worry about technique, and it's a good feeling.
Q. It seems as though people in authoritative positions are listening to what you have to say last year with the grooves on the Ping, also regarding the disqualification of Jim Furyk for the tee time incident. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the rules of golf and the disqualifications that we've seen, and if you'd like to have a voice in seeing some of this changed?
PHIL MICKELSON: I told Padraig last week when I saw him in the locker room after the incident, I told him how sorry I was that had happened and that how I was even more sorry it was me who called it in (laughing). Until I learned it was emailed in, and then it kind of threw my game plan.
I don't know about that. I don't know what the solution is there. I don't like how players are getting disqualified when there's no intent in something harmless like that occurs. I don't like that, but I don't know what the solution would be.
Q. Do you do anything to kind of brush up on the rules where's your knowledge of the rules come from? Do you try to keep up to date or do you just pretty much stick to calling for a ruling?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's usually from asking questions. I'll ask our rules officials. You know, we'll have lunch and I'll see some officials and in casual conversation, I'll ask them questions or so forth, just so I brush up on the little things here and there.
I remember when I was in college, we had a rules meeting, and we had Ed Gowan of the Arizona Golf Association come out and spend hours with us and go over the details of the rules. What the rules were, how they can help you, what you need to avoid and be careful of. That was very educational and something that stuck with me here 20 years later. I still look back on that as guidance for the rules when I'm out on the golf course.
I don't like having play slowed down because a player doesn't know the rules. I'd rather just go about the basic drops on my own so we don't have to keep calling an official. But there are times when it's critical that before you make a mistake you need to have an official come over, so we do that.
But most of the players out here are pretty up to date on the basic rules that we come across every day.
Q. You said at the outset that you wanted to make 2011 what 2010 could have or should have been. I'm wondering what are some of the other factors? We certainly know about what you were dealing with, and then, of course with Amy and so forth, are all those things now sort of in a good place for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Very good, yeah. I would say the last three, four, five months have been very good. We're in a much better place. We're all excited about 2011.
Q. Is it strange that people look at the world rankings and see Tiger at No. 3 and you at No. 5? Usually it's like 1, 2.
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't really look at them too much. I just figure if you play well, you'll do well in the rankings and that will be according to how you play. So I don't really go down the rankings too often.
I haven't played well the last six months, so I expect to come back a little bit. Hopefully, if I play well, that will change.
Q. You were talking about the way you approach things now. Can you talk about how you, I'm guessing, try to balance that drive which you've always had to win with trying to be at peace with yourself as well?
PHIL MICKELSON: What do you mean at peace?
Q. Well, you've accomplished things. You've proven what a great golfer you are. You don't necessarily have to prove anything to anyone. At the same time, you still have that determination and desire to try to win. How do you balance so you aren't just focused on the drive to win, and try to be at peace with yourself as well?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's an interesting question because I have three areas of my life that I'm constantly balancing. One of them is my performance and my ability to play, to practice, and perform well in tournaments. One of them is my family and relationships with my wife and kids and other family members. Then the third area is my corporate involvement.
So I'm constantly balancing those, which is why I play a certain number of events so that I can have time to handle the other areas. It's a challenge, but I feel like things have been in a pretty good place.
The one area that I'm not performing at the level I'd like to right now is my golf play. I haven't played now for a few months, really, except last week. I feel like my game's in a better place heading into this year. So I'm excited about the west coast, because I'm playing tournaments I've played well at, and I'm hoping to get that back to a good spot.
Q. As Tiger returns this year after that crazy year last year, there were suggestions by some people can he ever get to what he once was? Have we seen the best of Tiger Woods? I know that's not your focus, but as a golfer and someone who has watched him, a veteran, can he get back to what he once was?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely, yeah. I hope not, but I think he will, yeah (smiling).
Q. Now that you're at peace with yourself, anything new in the bag this year?
PHIL MICKELSON: New in the bag, I'm playing our RAZR X line of irons and woods. But it's a very similar line to what we've had or to what I've had in the past.
Q. What all did you guys get to do on the tourist front last week? Did you do pyramids or ride camels? I saw pictures of you on the boats with the rest of those guys. What fun stuff?
PHIL MICKELSON: Amy and the kids went to Jordan, a couple-hour flight away over to see Petra, which is one of the wonders of the world. They enjoyed that day. They went to the mosque that they built in Abu Dhabi that was -- I don't know how to describe it verbally. It was a $165 billion mosque. It was pretty impressive.
They went to see some parts of Dubai, and went skiing indoors and some other fun things over there.
The Emirates Palace where we stayed was off the charts of the experience to see the marvel and opulence of that place. It was very educational, especially for Amy and I, who were in North Africa and Egypt only a month ago. To see the difference between Egypt and Abu Dhabi, the difference in poverty and wealth and opulence, I thought was pretty fascinating.
Q. You saw Egypt. I would assume went to the pyramids and stuff. Are you all collecting like wonders of the world sort of experiences and that kind of thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: It wasn't the intent. It's been a dream of Amy's to go see the pyramids and go to Egypt ever since I've met her. Now that we're in a much better place, I thought it would be a good time to do that.
We go on an anniversary trip every year. It's kind of our little thing where we alternate years. I plan a year for her and she plans a year for me. This year was my year to do a trip for her, and that's kind of what I came up with. I just thought it would be something cool for her since she's always wanted to go there.
Q. A lot of times players are reluctant to sort of let on the extent of injuries or whatever personal hardship or whatever and the effect it has on their game at the time that they're going through it. When the chapter is kind of closed, they're willing to admit maybe more was to it. Did we know the full extent last year of what you are going through in the middle of the summer and how maybe scared you were as to how this would affect the future of your career?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think at the time I wasn't really sure how it was affecting me. I didn't really see it from the outside looking in. But now that I've got a treatment program where my symptoms are managed and I'm able to resume my normal activities. I see now how much strength it deteriorated by my inability to lift the same amount of weights or what have you, I think maybe it did, but it's hard to say.
It really doesn't matter because we're at this point now where I feel like I'm ready for the year. I'm back to where I expect to be performance-wise, and so there's no point really dwelling on it.
Q. Are you planning on changing your schedule at all to fulfill the designated events policy, and, if so, do you know where and how?
PHIL MICKELSON: There isn't one. There isn't a policy.
Q. Can you give us an update on where Amy stands with her treatment and your mom as well and their health?
PHIL MICKELSON: They're both doing well. They're both in a much better place and continue to get better day to day.
Q. Are they still getting treatment?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, yes, but it's very good long-term. But they'll continue for five years taking medications and so forth to prevent it from coming back.
Q. You haven't won here for quite some time. What kind of desire is within you to try to win here at this golf course where you grew up, because it's been a while since you have?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I haven't won on this course since they redesigned it. It's been a learning process for me to relearn this golf course. There are a lot of nuances to it, it's taken me a while to understand it. I think I have a pretty good grasp on it now, and I've been playing it better the last few years.
I can't go into a tournament thinking about winning. I want to just get in contention for Sunday. Otherwise, if I think of results, I don't perform well. My goal now is to play well, shoot low scores the first few days to have a chance on Sunday.
Q. If memory serves, when you won the Masters the first time, you talked about having a champions dinner catered by In-N-Out. Is it safe to say that that's where you broke down and got your protein when it came time?
PHIL MICKELSON: That would be incorrect. I haven't been there in quite some time. Now if you say Five Guys, yeah, it would be that.
Speaking of the Masters, I was out there playing today, and I had a friend of mine who is a fellow lefty I want to introduce you to, Kyle Lograsso right here. And we have been talking about how we lefties have to stick together, right?
KYLE LOGRASSO: Right.
PHIL MICKELSON: And one of the things we came up with is we want him to be the next left-hander to win at Augusta, is that kind of what we came up with?
KYLE LOGRASSO: Yes, that is true.
PHIL MICKELSON: That's our game plan. I just wanted to introduce you to the next left-handed Masters champion, Kyle Lograsso. But we had a good time today. He's got a good golf swing and a heck of a player.
Q. Your junior golf involvement has been well documented being here. What is one of your best moments or memorable moments growing up whether it was at Torrey Pines, Balboa? Is there one moment you have growing up that is a memorable moment?
PHIL MICKELSON: I remember on the ninth tee, for whatever reason, on the north course standing with my dad and watching some of the pros go by and tee off on that par-5 thinking this was a dream of mine to be inside the ropes and compete in this tournament and play the TOUR.
I've been coming back here now the last 18 years as a pro, and I think I've played it a couple more times than that. Every time I come back and play here I remember that it was my childhood dream to play the TOUR and be inside the ropes here. It's a cool feeling to be doing it.
Q. With your love of this place and the success of the U.S. Open last time here, are you a little surprised the USGA hasn't rushed back to bring the Open here?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it was a successful Open. I think it was a successful Open, but I don't know what the process is for getting a USGA event.
End of FastScripts