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April 2, 2011

Phil Mickelson


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Phil Mickelson. Phil, you got to 13-under today. If you want to kind of go through your round, bogey-free round and we'll take some questions.
PHIL MICKELSON: A fun round. I got off to a good start, birdying the first hole and was able to kind of maintain the momentum.

Q. Talked a little bit out there about how you haven't been able to hold the focus for 18 holes but you were able to do it today.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's something I've been working on, what I said in the last three, four months where I feel like my game is really close. You know, when I practice, my driving or my iron play, chipping, putting, the elements of my game feel like it's better than they've ever been, but I haven't been able to put it together to shoot the low scores and that missing piece has kind of been holding the focus, seeing the shot, being able to hold it throughout the swing.
Was the best that I've done in a while and something I've been working on the last couple of weeks to get ready -- not just get ready for next week but have good performance week in and week out.

Q. What about that shot on 6?
PHIL MICKELSON: It kick started it. Is a tough hole for me. Sets up terribly for my shot dispersion. If I miss it right, last year it goes right through the fairway, catches the downslope of the hill, hits the cart path, goes in the hazard every time. I come out of it, it goes in the hazard left every time. It's a very awkward hole for me.
I hit in the hazard yesterday and today and was fortuneate to make par both times. Today it could have really been bad. After hitting my approach over the green, I got to get up and down now for bogey and I'm just fighting not to have it be a bogey and really be a momentum killer and that ball went in. When that chip went in, that really propelled me to play the last 12 holes good.

Q. Practicing on the range with different drivers, were you kind of testing them?
PHIL MICKELSON: May have two next week so I'm still making sure. I wasn't sure which one I wanted to use, if I wanted to use the one -- one of the two I may use next week or both, or whatnot. I'm not still sure yet.

Q. Are you saying you're putting two drivers in the bag?
PHIL MICKELSON: The way the weather is turning out, the way it may be next week, I probably would.

Q. What are the lofts and specs be on that, approximately?
PHIL MICKELSON: Of the shaft changes, center of gravity changes, loft changes. One of the lofts is 7 1/2, one of the lofts is 5.9. Longer shaft. Just I try to get another 15, 20 out of it, which I think it does. So I may just have that option in case I want to try to carry the bunker on 1, 2, or 8. There's a good chance I'll have that.

Q. What did you use today?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's only once or twice I can really go after it here. I can hit one hard on 13 and hit one hard kind of on 8 if I go up the left side but the water cuts in. You can't see it off the tee on 8. Those are the only two that I can really hit hard.

Q. Do you go about working on being more focused, because -- how do you improve focus and how much of it boils down to being this time of year and knowing what's coming next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: A long answer. I don't know where to start.

Q. This gives you confidence after a round today, give you confidence going into next week at Augusta.
PHIL MICKELSON: It doesn't hurt. I mean I knew that I was close gamewise but I hadn't been putting together the score. To get a good round like this means a lot. Also to have the challenge of tomorrow, you know, to be in contention, to be in the final group, have an opportunity to win, I really enjoy that opportunity, that challenge, and I think it's good for me to be in that position heading into next week, too.

Q. Kind of mentioned this, too, how to balance preparing for next week and then focusing on a victory here? What enters into your mind, try to win this week versus let's get ready for next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, hasn't really changed. What I'm working on is what I did best today which was really seeing the shot and executing and holding that picture throughout the swing, and I probably did that better today than I have in a long time.

Q. When the last time a caddy bowed to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Billy Foster, I've known him a long time since I've been out on Tour. He caddied for Seve for five years. Really a good guy. We've had a lot of fun the first three days. Some good stories. He's a great story teller, kept everybody loose.

Q. Kind of flashback to '06, mentioned it out there, you won the Bell South and kind of went on to the Masters. Did you kind of ever feel momentum?
PHIL MICKELSON: People have talked about winning the week before a Major is not necessarily the greatest thing because it takes away energy or what have you. I felt like in '06 it was a really benefit to gain the momentum and confidence of winning a golf tournament right before, especially the Masters. I say that because it's a golf course I know so well. It's a golf course we play every year. If it was on a different golf course, you could make arguments there, but maybe before U.S. Open the course setups might be so different it might not be the best thing. I don't think playing in hot temperatures at Memphis for four rounds before the most draining mentally and physical tournament of the U.S. Open is the best idea. But here I feel like the momentum that you can gain by playing well at the Houston Open can be a real plus heading into Augusta.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, Phil. Good luck tomorrow.

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