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ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT SCOTTISH OPEN


July 11, 2013


Phil Mickelson


INVERNESS, SCOTLAND

Q.  An eagle, six birdies and two bogeys, how would you assess your play today?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was a good start.  We had such perfect conditions the first 14, 15 holes, that it was a good round.  It's a good start, but there's opportunities on this golf course on a lot of the holes to make birdies and eagles, and in the conditions that we had this morning, there were a lot of low scores out there.
So it's an above‑average round, but it's a nice start. ¬†There were opportunities to pick up three, four, five shots there that I let go, and I've got to get a little bit sharper.¬† My touch around the greens is going to get a little bit sharper.¬† It was a little bit off there that back nine and I'll have to work on that.

Q.  This course is playing firmer and faster than it has in the previous two years you've played.  Are you enjoying that challenge and is it more strategic than it was?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† I love everything about this golf course.¬† It plays extremely well under all conditions, whether it's firm and fast; it was so well thought‑out, whether it's wet, there's still opportunities to get the ball in play and make birdies.
I think that from a design standpoint, it's one of the best I've ever seen, and these firm, fast conditions are great for next week.
And the reason I love playing this week before next week is that it gives me an opportunity to hit all the shots I'll play next week, all the bump‑and‑run shots, the chips around the greens, putts off the green, and yet it doesn't beat you up and it doesn't punish you the way we'll get punished next week.¬† You can only handle so much of that.
To be able to play here, make birdies, have fun and still work on the shots for next week, it's just a perfect way to get ready.

Q.  Your thoughts, please, on starting with 66.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, it's a good start to the tournament.  I historically have played poorly on Thursdays and put myself so far behind that I've just been trying to make up ground.
So to play a good, solid round, it feels good, and it's a nice way to start the tournament.  We had such perfect conditions, though, that there was an opportunity in the middle of the round where I got it going to get something really low.
I'll certainly take 66, but there was a chance, because of the conditions and the way I was playing, to go really low.  I'll have to work on my touch and get a little bit fine tunement around the greens because I let a few shots slide around there.

Q.¬† With what happened at the first and second tee, was that more of a little bit of a wake‑up call?
PHIL MICKELSON:  What do you mean?

Q.  Dropping a shot at the first.
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Oh, okay.¬† No. 10, right.¬† What was interesting about that was Bones wanted me to play hybrid and play back a little bit.¬† I hit 3‑wood further down and did not give myself an angle to get at that pin and ended up with a very difficult 2‑putt and made bogey.¬† That was interesting because it forces me to be patient.
You can't force it out here.¬† You can't hit driver where you shouldn't.¬† You've got to place it in the right spot to have the right angles in, and the very first shot, I tried to get a little greedy and it comes back to bite me.¬† So it was a good wake‑up call for links golf.

Q.  The par 5s were nice and kind to you with eagle opportunities.
PHIL MICKELSON:  They were, I played them very well.  I hit good tee shots and was able to hit some good shots into the greens.  The eagle on 12 really got the round going.

Q. ¬†6‑under, opening first round, happy with that?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It is, it's a good solid start to the round.   We had such great conditions this morning that there were opportunities to go even lower, as you've seen so many low scores.  The defence of this golf course is the wind and the weather, and when we had perfect sunny conditions without a breath of wind, we were able to light it up and make some birdies.
I let a few shots go around the greens and I'll have to work on my touch but for the most part it was a good, solid start to the tournament.

Q.  How do you feel about how you're playing at the moment?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, I'm hitting a lot of good shots.  I hit a lot of good tee shots and gave myself opportunities to play aggressively into the pins.  Made some good putts.
Then the back nine, I have to work a little bit on my touch from long distance, my 60‑footers to 110 feet, I have to work on those, because I'll see a lot of those next week, and I wasn't really sharp today.¬† I let a few shots go.

Q.  How impressed are you with the way the course is set up this year?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† It's terrific.¬† It's hard to mess this course up setup‑wise because it's so well designed that it plays well under all conditions, under all wind conditions.¬† And having it be firm and fast today, the subtleties and the nuances and the greatness of this course really comes through.

Q.¬† 6‑under just now, how optimistic and confident are you about your chances of remaining in contention for the next few days?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, it's early but we've certainly got a good end of the weather in tee times today, because it might be perfect tomorrow for the next wave, but we had a chance at perfect conditions to play already.
And so you never know what the weather is going to bring, what's going to happen the next few days but it was nice to take advantage of the good weather that we had.

Q.  When you wake up and see the conditions this morning, does it bring an extra pressure in some respects to really make the most of it?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I think the challenge is to be patient on this course, because the great thing about Castle Stuart is there are a number of easy birdie holes; there are a number of hard par holes, as well.  And if you are patient and make pars on the difficult holes, you will have birdie opportunities as the round goes on.

Q.¬† Is this course too easy, as some have suggested, for a tune‑up test for The Open next week?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Well, the reason I think it's just the perfect setup for next week is that it gives you a chance to hit all the shots we'll play next week; to have bump‑and‑run iron shots into the greens; run shots up; putt from off the green; bump‑and‑run chips; putt on fescue‑type greens, but not get beat up the week before.
You can only handle so much punishment the week of The Open where the rough is so thick and the penalty for a miss is so great; so it's nice to have a week where you don't get punished and you're still hitting the same shots.

Q.  And how nice to give yourself a platform heading into the rest of the tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's great for me to get off to a decent start, because I have gotten off to poor starts the last couple years here and I've been fighting just to make the cut and get into reasonable contention.
Now getting off to a good start, I'm not having to battle uphill.  I'm able to move up the leaderboard if I play well.

Q.¬† There's always a perception that you're just playing with an eye to next week; so when you shoot 6‑under, are you thinking about winning?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Oh, absolutely and I think the best way to get ready for next week is to get into contention and to feel that nervousness and those butterflies and to try to win.
When I won the Masters in '06, I ended up winning the week before by 13 in Atlanta and I thought that couldn't have been a better way to get ready.
So absolutely, if you can play well, get in contention and hopefully win, that's the best preparation possible for next week.

Q.¬† 6‑under must be very pleasing given you had a scrappy start at the first and then a poor tee shot at the second.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, I got off to not a great start, but many of my great rounds or good rounds in the past have started with a bogey.  So I wasn't too worried.  That eagle on 12 got me in the red and I was able to go from there.
I let only a couple of shots slide there after, and played pretty well.

Q.  How difficult was it the last few holes with the wind getting up a bit?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, it picked up a little bit and we played the last three into the wind.  It felt like par was a good score and didn't feel like there were easy birdie holes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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