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August 23, 2012

Phil Mickelson


Q.  I know you've bun putting in a lot of work with your game.  Good to see it pay off with a solid round?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Thanks.  It was a nice start to this event.  Obviously I didn't light it up, but I played a good, solid round.  I shot 3‑under, and it gets me in a good position starting the tournament.  Gosh, my game really took a turn for the positive at the PGA, where on the weekend I started to really strike it well, and I spent time this last week working on it.
Today was really close to being good.  I didn't drive it as well as I've been driving it these last 10 days or so, and I kind of clicked on the last shot.  If I can get that going tomorrow and get the ball in the fairway off the tee, which I've been doing now of late, I really think there's an extra low round out here.

Q.  You've probably going to have afternoon tee times for the remainder of the tournament, so I guess really important to take advantage of the morning here in the starting round?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, it is, but the course is in such good condition and the greens are rolling so true, and later in the day there's really no wind and it plays calm and the ball goes further because it's a lot warmer, and there's opportunities late in the day to go low.

Q.  I think you're a very emotional golfer on the course and really feed off the emotion of the gallery, and they just love you here.  Is that the case?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I certainly get a lot of positive energy when I come here, the way the people have treated me in the past and the way they've been this week.  It's really fun to play here.  This is a special place for the game of golf with five great golf courses that really promotes the game well, and it is affordable for all.  This is a special place, and the people that come out here and support this tournament are so good for the game of golf.
I'm very appreciative of the USGA bringing the U.S. Open here and giving this golf course the credibility it deserves, and for them to host the Barclays and host us here this week, it gives our tournament and the start of the FedExCup a lot of credibility, as well.

Q.  Can you talk to me about the 6th?  It looked like you took 3‑wood off the tee, had a real awkward stance but had a great sand save.  Can you walk me through that hole?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I hit a 5‑wood off the tee to not go too far.  I was trying to get enough to carry that bunker on the left side and get it in the fairway and missed it a little left.
It was an interesting‑‑ I've never seen a lie like that where I had grass from the rough but the lie was sand in the bunker.

Q.  So it was almost perched in a way?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I thought it was going to come out dead like a bunker shot because it was sitting on sand, just being a foot over the lip, but there was a little‑‑ 10 or 12 strands of grass from the rough, and the ball ended up jumping and going over the green.  I had a good lie and I hit a good bunker shot to a foot and made par.  But that was a lie that I did not know how exactly to play.  I kind of guessed.  I had never seen one like that.

Q.  It looked to me like you had it cruising, made a couple birdies, a couple nice putts.  You had a real good birdie right before that and a good bunker save before that.  That seemed to be almost where the round could have gone either way.  That lie got kind of funky, and it sent it over.  Did you get a feeling at that point with that sand save that we're going to get things going in a positive way?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, because the very next hole is a par‑5 that should be birdied, and I ended up making birdie there and finishing off the round.  But it could have easily slipped, and sometimes you make bogey there and go into that par‑5 not feeling good and make par and cost yourself another one.  That was a big up‑and‑down.
I think the big thing for me today was when I hit it in the fairway I hit a lot of really good iron shots.  My iron play was as good as it's ever been, and I've been giving myself between 6 and 20 feet, so had I hit that 5‑wood in the fairway, that pin was right where guys were going to make birdie.  My two playing partners made birdie, and in theory I look at that as costing me about half a shot, three quarters of a shot not getting it in the fairway.  Tomorrow that will be key.
But I've been driving it so good as of late that I think that it was just a little tweak here that will get it back.

Q.  There was an instance on 16 where you had a birdie putt, and it looked like you and bones had to wait.  Tiger and Rory were teeing off on 15, and there was sort of a pause.  There was a big roar obviously from the crowd at that point on 16, and 17 they were all solidly behind you.  Did you know you were going to wait for them to tee off?  To me it was almost like you were sending a message to them, but you looked especially focused.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I think we might be looking into it a little bit more.  I had to wait for Luke to hit his bunker shot, and I had to wait for Scott to hit his putt, so I just kind of hit in order and wasn't doing anything intentional based on the group there.
But that was a big putt for me because it got me into the red.  It got me under par, and I felt like if I could get 1‑ or 2‑under at the turn I could play very well the front.  The front is easier.

Q.  Especially a couple bogeys early on, you sort of righted the ship so you make the turn at 1‑under you've got to have a little confidence?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Exactly, the front nine is the easier of the two nines.  You've got two par‑5s that are reachable and you have some par‑4s that you can hit wedges into.

Q.  I saw you shake hands with a couple volunteer servicemen.  It's Air Force week here in New York, which is why we've had some planes and stuff like that.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Oh, cool, I didn't know that.

Q.  How many golf balls do you put in your bag, because you give them‑‑ I see you and Bones give them to kids, you're bumping fists.  It's really popular here in New York.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't carry extras, but I give them out throughout the round.  I usually give out about nine or ten, and I start out with a dozen.  But those guys I could tell were pilots, and my dad was a military pilot, as well.

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