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February 1, 2013

Phil Mickelson


JOHN BUSH:  We'd like to welcome our 36‑hole leader Phil Mickelson into the interview room.  Phil, disappointing 18th hole doesn't take away two great days of golf.  If we can just get your comments.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I played well today.  I didn't get off to the fastest start but was patient and ended up making a lot of birdies and eagles there in middle of the round.  Unfortunately I made a double on the last hole and didn't finish the way I wanted to.  But I think it's a good example of what can happen on this course.  You can make a lot of birdies and eagles, make up a lot of ground, but there's a lot of water and trouble there that if you misstep you can easily make bogeys and double.
It'll be an interesting weekend because I think it's going to be kind of a shootout where a lot of guys will be making runs, and it'll be up to me and the other guys in the last group to get going, as well.
JOHN BUSH:  Highlight of the round, talk about the eagle on 15.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I hit a really good drive there.  I felt really comfortable on the tee box, so I kind of let one go and caught a hold of it and ended up having 191 to the pin, it was only 186 to the front, and hit a hard 8‑iron, there was a little bit of helping wind, hit a hard 8‑iron to three feet and made it.  So that was a nice little bonus there.

Q.  I think every year that you've won here, and even when you're in contention it seems like, there's an attendance record set, and Saturday is always the biggest day.  With the course conditions and this leaderboard, what do you expect out there tomorrow in terms of the crowd?  Could we see 200,000 for the first time?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Possibly.  The weather has been the big factor, and the fact that the weather has been so nice and it's getting better and should be beautiful tomorrow, also it's the day before the Super Bowl, there's nothing really going on sporting‑wise other than this tournament.  It's the place to be here in Phoenix.
What's great about the golf course, too, is it can hold that many people.  People can still see with those numbers.  That's just amazing the way it was done.  It was very well done from a viewer standpoint but also a player standpoint coming down the back nine with a lot of birdies and eagles possible as well as bogeys and doubles.  I just thought the risk‑reward on this golf course is always fun to play and I think even more fun to watch from a fan's point of view.

Q.  Yesterday you said there was a sense of disappointment in how you shot 60.  Today you finished with a double bogey, shooting 65.  Have you ever been disappointed back‑to‑back days shooting scores like that?
PHIL MICKELSON:  You know what happens; you always remember kind of the last hole, the last putt, what have you, but the thing‑‑ I think it's very possible that's going to help me because it's got me refocused, that I cannot ease up on a single shot.  I've got to be really focused.  These guys are going to make a lot of birdies and I've got to get after it and cannot make those kinds of mistakes.  Hopefully it'll help me refocus for tomorrow's round and come out and shoot something low.

Q.  Do you remember where your mind was, where you lost your focus on that drive?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, I hit a good shot I thought.  I tried to start it right down the middle and hold it into the wind.  It just leaked a little bit left.  It didn't ‑‑ I still thought it was up.  Bones and I still thought it stayed up, but it rolled down, and then I hit a poor wedge from there and what have you.  But the tee shot I didn't think was going to be in the water at any point.

Q.  You're going to be paired with your partner, one of the guys, again, tomorrow.  Does that make the round any more fun?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Sure, it does, absolutely.  You're talking about Keegan, but Bill and I have played on a Presidents Cup team, and Keegan and I have been partners in the Ryder Cup and had an incredibly emotional and fun experience together as partners.  We're going to have a fun day tomorrow.  We enjoy playing with each other, we play a lot of practice rounds, and we're going to have a fun day, and both of us are going to be trying to make birdies and pushing each other along.

Q.  The three of you had a pretty good time at Riviera, too.
PHIL MICKELSON:  One of us did, yeah.  (Laughter.)

Q.  I was about 100 yards away, but after you hit your drive on 10, what did you do with your driver?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I gave it a little peck, yeah.  I gave it a little kiss.  It's been a‑‑ you saw today, I didn't miss a fairway until 18, and even that was right on the edge, because I count first cuts.  I had four first cuts, but I count those as fairways.  The ease with which I feel I can hit it and the misses, how minuscule they are, that drive has always been difficult to take it over those bunkers.  I've been out of bounds on the range to the right, I've been in the desert left, and I stood up and just hit the easiest little high draw over that bunker around the corner into the middle of the fairway, and it just felt easy to do.  I'm really ecstatic about the way I'm driving it this week but also about the long‑term effects that this driver can have.

Q.  18, watching some groups go through there today, including like Tim Clark who's not known to be a long hitter, but it seems like that hole is not as challenging as it was designed to be when Tom did it.  These guys are taking it over that bunker and they have wedges coming in on that hole.  Do you remember it being that easy?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I mean, I've been out here playing in this tournament for 20‑something years, so certainly if I go back that far, yeah, it played different.  But we need to let that go, because we're 20 years further down the road, and it's a different deal now.
JOHN BUSH:  Phil, thank you, sir.  Appreciate it.

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