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February 4, 2012

Phil Mickelson


Q. ¬†You struggled a little bit coming in, but all in all I thought your ball‑striking was markedly better today.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, I flew Butch in this morning because yesterday the front nine kind of shook me up.  And we had a really good session, and I was able to feel much more confident.  I hit a lot of good shots, especially early on, and made some birdies.  I thought that certainly there were some birdies there the last five or six holes, but they weren't easy, either, and I thought there were a lot of bogeys and doubles.

Q.  And where did the old guy in the group manage to find the yardage on 18 to blow it by everybody in the group?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, I reached for a couple extra there, and unfortunately I kind of botched the wedge coming in.  I would have loved to have birdied the last hole.  I had been eating dust from Dustin all day, so it was nice to finally get one up to him.

Q.  Being Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow, how do you look at the game?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Gosh, it's interesting.  I mean, the Giants sure are playing some great football, and their offense is firing and their four front on defense looks like they're dominant, so I think they're going to be tough to beat.

Q.  You're eight shots back now.  We saw what happened with Webb Simpson.  You never know what can happen in this game.  What do you have to do tomorrow to give yourself a chance?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Just shoot a good round, because out here what'll happen is when you start making mistakes or hitting a bad shot or two, it's very hard to turn it around because there's water, there's trouble everywhere, and there's also opportunities to make birdies and eagles.  And so if I can get a hot hand and put some pressure, you never know what might happen.

Q.¬† Good stuff out there.¬† You realize you were 10‑under on the back nine this week?¬† What is so different back there?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† I really like the back nine.¬† I think the back nine here is one of the most exciting nine holes of golf because you have opportunities for birdies and eagles but you also have a lot of bogeys and doubles to be made, with the risk‑reward being some of the greatest we have on TOUR.

Q.  That said, you kind of toned it back.  You laid back at 13, that paid off; weren't too aggressive there at 17.  Was that a conscious decision?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, 17, the way the setup is, 4 is going to be a great score.  That hole is going to average over par.  It was a little iffy, and I didn't have a choice.  Cameron Beckman, my playing partner, hit a great shot down there, and he should be six, eight feet from the hole and it ends up in the water.  You have to play a little bit defensive there because otherwise you're going to give a couple back.

Q.  How do you feel about your position heading into tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Well, I'd like to be further up, but given where I was 27 holes ago, I'm in a really good spot.¬† I'm starting to play some good golf, and I'm starting to get a little bit of momentum.¬† I feel great with the putter.¬† Ball‑striking today after a session with Butch in the morning feels much better, and I'm excited to get back out and play.

Q.  What's it like to play in front of this crowd?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Awesome.¬† It's awesome being here.¬† The community‑‑ we don't have a tournament with this size of crowds, and to have it be the community that I spent 12 years and went to college, it's a pretty cool feeling for me, and I just am really appreciative of the way they have responded.

Q.  A little bit less of a roller coaster today than yesterday.  Did you find something?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Yeah, I had Butch come in town this morning and we had a good couple‑hour session before the round and I finally had the direction of where it was going a little bit, and I hit the ball a lot better, drove it a lot better, didn't have as big of misses and I was able to hit a lot of good iron shots to get under par.
The back nine, although there's a lot of birdies out there, I thought it was pretty tough.

Q.¬† In general do you prefer to self‑correct or do you like having the extra set of eyes?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† You've got to be able to do both.¬† I want to self‑correct, but if I'm not quite finding it, I need a little help.¬† Butch is the best.¬† Butch can identify things so quickly and get you straightened up right away.

Q.  Spencer shot so low at Torrey Pines and wasn't able to hang onto it.  Can you talk about he's a young guy who's just come out day after day?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Yeah, he's a terrific player who has got a lot of game, and he's got a‑‑ I like how he plays.¬† He plays very aggressive.¬† He plays attacking style.¬† On a golf course like this when you're firing, it certainly rewards you for well struck shots.¬† You're able to make a lot of birdies, and I thought his play these first few rounds to be pretty impressive.

Q.  Are you aware of all the green out there?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I think it's cool what Waste Management is doing, creating awareness for the environment as well as supporting the PGA TOUR event.  We're appreciative for all they've done.

Q.  Is this your best green outfit that you have?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Yeah, I mean, there were some out there that were a little bit iffy if you ask me, but we're all in the same‑‑ supporting it.

Q.  Talk about going into the final round, what you need to do to try to close that gap.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I need to make some birdies and get into position where if I light it up the back nine I can catch him.  But you never know.  You never know what might happen.  This is a golf course that's very penalizing if you miss it just a slight bit.  The rough is very thick and tough to recover.  You've got fairways that are pitching into the water, and if you start missing it a little bit, there's a lot of bogeys and doubles and guys can back up.  The key is just to try to get myself in position in case that happens.

Q.  Anything interesting stand out on 16 today?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, I mean, I just always kind of laugh at some of the comments because they're very interesting, and it makes for a fun experience.  That 16th hole is so good for the PGA TOUR, and we're appreciative of everybody coming out and supporting it.

Q.  What was the difference in how you played today as opposed to your first few days out here?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I hit it a lot better.  It was much more consistent.  I wasn't having to fight for pars all the time.  I was able to think about birdies, and made a few there through the first 13.

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