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May 16, 2012

Phil Mickelson


Q.  Phil, why are you back?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I've always loved this tournament, I love what the Nelson family has done.  Unfortunately the last few year it's been a scheduling thing.  The facilities on the golf course are fabulous, and there are so many fun things to do in the Dallas area with Rangers games and theme parks that I have always enjoyed coming here and playing and I'm glad to get back.

Q.  Overall what have you seen change in the last five years?
PHIL MICKELSON:  The course has had some renovations by D.A. Weibring, a while ago, and I like the chipping areas around the greens that if you miss some shots you have a chance‑‑ a tough shot but you have a chance to get up and down, and you can use your short game to salvage some strokes.

Q.  What was it like for you to be able to be with Byron Nelson?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was a cool relationship that I had to be able to spend time with him, have dinner with him and talk with him, go out to the golf course and spend time with him.
I think he was one of the highest individuals‑‑ the most moralistic, most ethical man I have ever met, and he treated people well.  He was a credit to the game because he treated people like they should be treated and showed you how to act.
His wife Peggy is such a neat lady and has carried on his great tradition.

Q.  Phil, you've giving thumbs up to the changes here?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I think there are a lot of great things here that have been done to make the golf course fun and challenging.

Q.  Phil, was this emotional to you coming back today knowing that five years ago is when you found out about Amy and got the call and everything?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, it was only a few years ago, it was only three, and I guess I hadn't played here since '07 which is surprising, because I have already had an afinity for ‑‑ it's much like I view Hilton Head.  It's one of my favorite courses on the TOUR, and I don't play it much because it's the week after the Masters, and I always need a little time off.
This tournament for me personally, my own schedule, has been a bit awkward the last few years, and I guess it's been a bit longer than I expected it to be since I've been here.

Q.  Phil, what do you remember about coming up the 18th, and winning and being greeted by Byron and Peggy?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Bob, you know it's 16 years ago, right?

Q.  You can do it.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I remember chipping in on 16 and making an eagle, that iced the tournament for me; one of the coolest shots.  And every year going into the scorer's tent, Byron was always there to greet you, and for him to show appreciation for us coming in, it always felt awkward because we always felt appreciative for what he meant to the game.

Q.  What memory do you have, lasting memory do you have about Byron?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I think it's just the time spent, you know, the time spent asking questions, learning about what it was like back in the 40s, 50s, learning what it was like for him growing up.  It was the time to talk to him I think that was my biggest memory.

Q.  (Away from mic.)
PHIL MICKELSON:  He was so sharp and mentally with it even to his last days that it impressed me that he would be able to recollect tournaments from 60 years prior, and that always fascinated me.

Q.  Keegan said yesterday if he hadn't won here he probably wouldn't have won the PGA.  You're close to him.  How do you think he has grown in maturity in the last year?
PHIL MICKELSON:  He is an incredible player, and I think he is going to win a lot on the TOUR because of the way he has the ability to focus the last few holes and overcome poor shots, the way he did at the PGA to win, the way he attacked the 18th hole here last year.
A lot of guys were playing conservative.  He starts out over the water, hit a cut, and he has the ability to focus when he needs to, and he has that intangible of being able to close the deal that you can't just acquire.

Q.  Phil, so many great things have happened to you in your career, last week with the Hall of Fame induction.  What does that mean to you?  You have had so many great things happen for you.  Did it do anything confidencewise for you?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's certainly a special honor and I'm appreciative of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and to be in there with the other 140 members and all the things they have done for the game of golf.  It was special to be in that group.  At 41, coming on 42, I still feel like I have a lot of great golf ahead of me, and I'm starting to go play some of my better golf here in the last couple of years, and now that my putter is sharp, I'm looking forward to contending and finishing off two more tournaments this year.

Q.  What does a high‑profile event like the PLAYERS do for somebody like Matt Kuchar trying to get to that next level?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's certainly a big confidence booster, and to be able to perform at the highest level on a golf course that's so penalizing there, that gives you confidence heading into the big event, the more challenging events like the Majors.

Q.  Phil, you are the favorite here this week.  Your thoughts on that?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Does it matter?

Q.  What was it like coming back here after five years?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was more of a scheduling thing for me.  It was awkward, there were a lot of tournaments I was trying to play, and I just couldn't get 'em all done, and I didn't want to tire myself out too much before the U.S. Open, and so it has worked out well this year.

Q.  Scheduling the same thing with Colonial next week?  I notice you are not down for that one.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I will always be appreciative for what they did for me and Amy in '09; it was like the most time and generous gesture and something that I will always cherish.  Having won there, you know, I have a lot of fond memories and special feeling for Colonial, but the course doesn't suit my game anymore, and I'm not sure what that means.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Phil.

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