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January 30, 2014

Phil Mickelson


Q.  Phil, you shoot a 71.  All week, the story, how is your back?  How are you dealing with lower back pain?  How was it out there?
PHIL MICKELSON:  My back is fine.  My game was a little rusty.  I got off to a poor start, played a couple over, finished poorly with a few over.
In the middle of the round, though, I hit a lot of good shots and had a good little run, but it just wasn't quite sharp, I wasn't quite focused on every shot the way I need to be, and let way too many shots slide today.
It doesn't feel far off.  The back feels great.  I should be able to come out tomorrow and hit a good round.

Q.  Speaking of not sharp, was that because you had to take some time off?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Possibly, and possibly at the start of the year and stuff that's going to happen.  It feels pretty good.  Although I won't overdo it in practice too much, I do feel like I have a good round in me.  Game doesn't feel too far off even though I made quite a few careless strokes out there.

Q.  What's your plan the rest of the afternoon?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Just take it easy.

Q.  Everyone is concerned about your back.  How was it out there?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's fine.  It really is no big deal.  It was a simple fix.  It was just tight.  A simple fix, and it felt great.
I will take it easy for a week or two while it just kind of heals up, but it feels great.  The only thing, my game was a little rusty.

Q.  It had to alter your preparation for the tournament.  Did it alter at all the pre‑round preparation and warmup?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Not the warmup before the round today, but the three or four days leading up to today, I really haven't been able to practice other than chip and putt.
And I putted pretty well today.  Although I let a few three‑putts go, I made a lot of putts, and the putter feels good.  But I made a few too many careless swings out there.  There was a low round in me, but I just let it slide.

Q.  Looked to me you grabbed your back after the drive at 10, no?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No.  No, it felt good.  Yeah, it's really nothing serious.  It was a five‑minute thing.  It's fine.

Q.  You had a couple three‑putts.  That's unlike you out here. 
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, the one on 15 really stung.  It was only a 12‑ or 15‑footer, and I am thinking eagle.  I roll it six feet by, and I miss it coming back.  That was costly.
When I finally got it to 3‑under for the round, I three‑putted the very next hole, No. 5.  Those kind of careless shots, an easy bunker shots on 7 and 9 I let get away.  I threw away a lot of shots today.  I have to fix that for tomorrow.

Q.  You used the word "careless."  Was focus a problem?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I wasn't as sharp as I need to be, for sure.  It's not that I wasn't trying.  I just wasn't quite sharp.

Q.  71 today.  Let's just get some comments on your round.
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's fun to be back here playing at the Phoenix Open.  I love playing here.  I got off to a rough start.  I was 2‑over through three, turned it around to get to 3‑under for the round, and then I let those shots slide in the last five holes and finished at even.
It's frustrating too to finish that way, because I physically feel good.  I feel like my game is sharp.  Even though I haven't been able to practice too much, I felt like it was going to be a good day, a good tournament, and to let those shots fly are disappointing.  I have to come out tomorrow and get a really hot round going to get back in this.

Q.  How is your back feeling?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's fine.  Honestly, it's no big deal.  It was a five‑minute fix.  I just have to be careful for a week or two as it heals up.  It's fine.  Mobility is back.  It's just not a big deal.  But I just didn't play well.

Q.  Didn't you know that at first?  Were you worried about it?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, it happens every now and then.  Last time was about four years ago.  It takes Tom Voors (phonetic) five minutes to fix it.  I work with Tom LaFountain to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
It's one of those things.  It's not a big deal.

Q.  How important was it to have the gallery support you through the first round today?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was cool.  I love coming out here and love playing here.  It's a lot of fun.  I will be late tomorrow, and hopefully I will have a hot round going as I head into 16.

Q.  Talk about your disappointment here.  I think a lot of people look and see your back discomfort and say, Hey, even par, it's got to be great.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, if I had discomfort this week, then I probably would agree with you.  I feel fine, and the game just was a little rusty.
I made some careless swings.  Hitting it in the water on 12 was just pathetic, and playing the last five holes at 3‑over when I had the round going, it was ‑‑that was really bad.  So I'll have to get it going tomorrow, get a hot round tomorrow.

Q.  Can you take us through the putt at 15?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Hit a great shot in there to 12, 15 feet for eagle after just birdieing the two holes before it and tried rolling the eagle putt.  It's very fast past that hole.  I have run it by in the years past, and I rolled it six feet by and missed it coming back.  It was just careless.
Those kind of mistakes, they happened all day today.  I just threw shot after shot away.  You just can't do that in this tournament because you need to make so many birdies.  But the game doesn't feel that far off.
There is that low round out there.  There was one last year, and I just need one of those again.

Q.  How much practice were you able to get in yesterday?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Just about an hour, hour and a half.  Not too much but just to know it was fine and to be able to trust it going at full speed.
When I needed to get that little extra speed, I hit a wedge on 3 from 156.  Needed to get a little extra speed, and I was able to fly it to the hole and get it when I wanted to.  I just don't want to push it for a week or two in an effort to just not reinjure it.  It feels great.

Q.  You had the KPMG and the Team Phil fans out there with you all day, too.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, it was fun.

Q.  How much did you want to play this tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I'm excited to play, excited to start the year.  I love playing this tournament.  Gosh, I have played in it for 20‑some years now.  I love the course and playing here in Phoenix.
I didn't want to miss it if I didn't have to.  It was no big deal.  I did what I needed to do last week and gave it a few days to rest up and get fixed by Tom, and now I feel great.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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