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August 24, 2011

Phil Mickelson


LAURA HILL: We would like to welcome Phil Mickelson to the interview room. You've had a chance now to see the course, maybe just give us some comments about Plainfield and kicking off things here at The Barclays.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think this is an exciting event, and to start the FedExCup is fun. Historically, we would not be playing big events like this right after the PGA Championship after our last major. But with the FedExCup now here starting at The Barclays, we have the best players in the world competing against each other and I think that creates some interesting golf for the next couple of weeks, and is fun.
And so right here at Plainfield, I couldn't think of a better spot to play. I love the courses that we have been rotating this event from in the metropolitan area. I think it just adds a lot to the tournament.
And Plainfield to me is what I consider really a great golf course. It's playable for the average player while still creating challenge for the good players to score low. I think that the setup is terrific and we are going to have a gait week.

Q. How was the Pro-Am today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Good. (Laughter) Is that really your question?

Q. Well, starting out with the Pro-Am, obviously fun and having a good time.
PHIL MICKELSON: We had a great day. One of my favorite things for this tournament is to get the guys in for the Pro-Am. There's some really important people in the Pro-Am. We have a dinner Tuesday night; and last night, there were 25 CEOs of some of the largest companies in the U.S., and to be able to spend time with these guys and ask them questions and so forth, to me is fascinating. It's one of my favorite evenings, and we had a great time last night, and it just carries over into the round of golf today.

Q. Could I get your thoughts on 18 and your thoughts of ending the round on a drivable par 4, and what do you think of that hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's terrific. If I ask anybody to think of your favorite golf course, and on that golf course, to think of your favorite hole, it's either a par 3 under 150 yards or a drivable par 4, occasionally a reachable par 5.
That 18th hole is going to be one of the favorite holes for the guys. It gives us a chance to get aggressive, conceivably make an eagle, most likely make a birdie, and if you hit a bad shot, make a 5. I think that that makes it exciting for the finish.
You can look at it as a really long par 3 if you want. You can call it a short par 4, whatever par is, that hole is going to create some excitement. And the fact that just about everybody can reach it or get close, makes it really fun. Into the wind will be tough, though. Into the wind it's hard to reach.

Q. I'm working on a story on Luke who is currently topping both Money Lists, which has never been done at the end of the year. Wonder if you can speak to what that achievement would mean in this era of depth and globetrotting and all those types of things. To me that would be a pretty notable one to have on a resumé?
PHIL MICKELSON: It works but if you were to play well in the majors and the World Golf Championships, the largest-purse events, don't they carry over if you're a member of both tours?

Q. (Nodding affirmative).
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. So it would be great, I guess. (Laughter).

Q. You kind of touched on it before, but in the old days, after the majors were over, you pretty much used to shut it down a little bit. How does this change your goals for the season now, especially since you didn't get one of the majors; there's still something to play for.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, you feel like you have some big events to play for, something to play for.
If you can win one or two of the Playoff events; if you can win the FedExCup, it changes the way you look at the year. And I think that to have that opportunity makes it exciting, and so it also extends our season another six weeks.

Q. The year you won THE TOUR Championship, just where does that rank for you on your wins?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was one of my better wins in 2009, and almost -- it wasn't enough to win the FedExCup. I think it would be pretty cool to be able to do that. I have not done that yet and I would like to.

Q. Another question about 18: How do you anticipate that playing to your own aggressive style of play, that hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: Comparably, I guess. I like to be aggressive, so I don't see me hitting an iron there. Unless I have a two- or three-shot lead playing the last hole, then I may. But I just like fun, challenging golf holes. The severity of the green, the angle at which the tee shot comes in, makes it a difficult, short par 4, but a fun one, a fun one to play.
And if you don't have the ability to fly it 290 in the air, you have another option. You just play off to the right, you shoot straight up the green and you have another way to play it.
To me, that's great architecture, giving players options, not just giving them one shot of high, soft flight on the green and stop is. That's not great architecture. Giving the players options like these holes do, like 18 does, that's really cool.

Q. I don't want to get into a big points discussion on the FedExCup, but just the idea that you could win the first three events, and still be up in the air going to THE TOUR Championship; do you like that okay, and I guess what I'm also getting at is, do you feel a need to play every event getting to THE TOUR Championship to reach your goal of winning this Cup?
PHIL MICKELSON: If you win the first two events, there's no need to play the third. But it's important I think to be in the top five, certainly, so you control your own destiny heading into THE TOUR Championship and I think there's a lot to be said for being the top-ranked player heading into THE TOUR Championship.
But the fact that you may win the first three events and still not win the FedExCup, I think that still is necessary to have the excitement level and the climax there at the end.

Q. Far be it for me to bring up the subject of age, but Steve Stricker was in here before talking about playing golf in his 40s, and succeeding. There are guys who have succeeded, there are guys who are not succeeding. Where do you -- how do you look at playing golf in your 40s now, as opposed to your 20s, 30s, in terms of the lifestyle things that get involved, the goals, etc.?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think there's anything physically different that will prohibit guys from playing well in their 40s. But for me, or for most guys, it's motivation; how motivated are you in your 40s to continue to try to play golf at the highest level.
I would say that after -- going through the last two years and after Amy got diagnosed and as we went through that process, I realized, or came to the realization, that I love the game of golf; that I have this incredible passion for the game; that I love playing competitively on the TOUR, but more than, that I love to just play. I love to practice. I love hanging with my kids practicing. I love being alone on the golf course. I love playing with my friends. I love competing in tournaments.
And because of that, it made me aware of how much I appreciate what it is that I am able to do for a living and how much I want to work at it, because I enjoy it. And so it's kind of given me new motivation, and because of that, I feel I'm playing better than I ever have, and I'll look forward to having some of my best years.

Q. We're seeing Bubba Watson, Dustin Watson, Rickie Fowler come to Sweden to play over the last few years; when will we see you there?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't see that happening. I mean, it's the week after the British Open, and I'm over there for a couple of weeks already. I just don't see how I would end up staying for a month. That extra week is too difficult if I do bring my family for us all to be gone that long; and if I am away for them, it's difficult to be away for another week.

Q. Just wonder what your thoughts are on the belly putter, whether you have any objections to it.
PHIL MICKELSON: I really don't. I think that there's more to it than just starting the ball online and putting. You have to read the green correctly. You have to start the ball online, which the belly putter I think really helps, but you also have to have the right speed.
And if it were going to be banned, it should have happened 20-plus years ago. But now that it's been be legal, I don't think you can make it retroactive. There have been guys that have been working with that putter for years if not decades. I just don't believe that it should even be a consideration.
But, having said that, we've been retroactive on grooves; we've outlawed the paddle grip for crying out loud, I don't know why; that was legal for three decades. So I don't know what the process is, but I think it's very unfair to let guys play with it competitively for however many years and then try to take it away.

Q. Could you give us some details on your military caddie today, name, rank, serial number and --
PHIL MICKELSON: You've got to start over. I'm not even understanding. Say it one more time, a little slower.

Q. I'll try and speak in American for you.
PHIL MICKELSON: There we go. Thank you.

Q. Can we get some details on the military caddie that you had today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Can you translate that?
LAURA HILL: The military caddie on 9.
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, the military caddie on 9, yes.

Q. What you spoke about walking up the 9th?
PHIL MICKELSON: My military man was Staff Sergeant Hatcher, and he lives here in the area, or is based here in New Jersey but is from South Carolina, and he works in the ROTC and has for a number of years.
But I really enjoyed spending time with him. He's got three kids, two sons, seven and eight, and an 11-year-old doubter that plays softball. And I think he's a great family man. To see him out supporting the game of golf and being out here enjoying the week, I think is really cool.

Q. Does he play golf?

Q. And could you also give us an end of Pro-Am report on Bob Diamond's game, strengths and weaknesses?
PHIL MICKELSON: So Bob Diamond, we had a little contest closest to the pin on the par 3, 6th hole, short little par 3, and he ended up hitting it six feet from the hole and winning.
So we had another little close-to-the-pin on the par 3, 11th, and he ended up hitting it four feet for the win.
So I think his game, certainly his short irons are in good shape.

Q. Your arthritic condition of a couple of years ago, is that still a factor or is it a non-factor with the medication?
PHIL MICKELSON: I really believe it's a non-factor. I've been able to do everything that I've always done as far as my practice schedule, workout schedule. I wake up without any discomfort. My body feels physically stronger and more flexible than I have, you know, ever.
So I feel like it's been a non-factor now because I've responded well to treatment.

Q. Are you still taking the medication?

Q. Getting back to the long belly putter topic, could you for whatever reason or another ever see yourself switching to that mode of using one of those?
PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't rule it out. But I think there are certain things technique-wise that you have to understand to do it well, to putt well with it. It swings differently than a normal putter in your hands, and so I don't know those little idiosyncracies, those little secrets, if you will. And so I don't really putt very effectively with it.

Q. Have you ever tried one?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I've grabbed one off the rack and just hit one with it, sure. I don't see very many left-handed but I'll grab one when I see it and just take a few practice strokes.

Q. Since the PGA Championship, Keegan Bradley has given you a lot of props for helping him get over a few things. Can you talk about your relationship with Keegan and what you've seen in him and what you saw in him to make take him off to the side and play under your winning?
PHIL MICKELSON: We played together at THE PLAYERS Championship just before he won in Texas, and you could tell right away that this guy's got a lot of game.
There's no substitute for speed, and he's got a lot of clubhead speed. But more than that, he's got an incredible touch on the green. I mean, he putts really, really well. And he's got great short game, good hand action, great short irons, but really hit the ball a long ways if he has to.
I just think that the combination of that, plus with his attitude, which is not to back down; he doesn't back down to anybody. We'll go have our matches and he's right in the thick of it. You know, he doesn't mind taking a few comments thrown his way, but he doesn't mind dishing it, either. I think that just is a sign of a great character player, a guy that's going to have a successful career. And then he went on to win two times now with the major championship at the PGA. I think he's going to be an impressive player.
I also think last year, he was not on the PGA TOUR,' this is his first year. Meaning he was not allowed to make Presidents Cup points, and he's had arguably the best year for any U.S. player. I think he needs to be a pick if he doesn't get on it on his own.
LAURA HILL: Thank you, Phil.

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