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WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN


January 31, 2014


Phil Mickelson


SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Q.  Yesterday you said there were some rust in the opening round after that layoff.  Today you were able to shoot a 67.  What changed on Friday?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I'm not really sure.  I drove the ball really well today, put the ball in play very well and ended up having a fairly easy round with no bogeys.
I just was a little bit more focused throughout each shot, didn't make any careless mistakes, let one or two shots fly, but I really kept it in check on a day that was pretty tough.  I mean, it wasn't hard to shoot under par, but it was hard to go really low.
A 4‑under par round, I kind of needed a little bit more, but I'm still in a position where if I can get out tomorrow, I will be one of the first groups off, I can get a hot round with some fresh greens and see if I can make a move for tomorrow's round and get myself in a position for Sunday.

Q.  Speaking of getting out tomorrow, it seemed like your back was looser today.  What's your mindset going into tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON:  My back feels great.  Like I said, it was a simple fix.  I just don't want to overdo it.  I only went after one swing today on the drive on 18, because I wanted to take the water out of play, but I feel terrific and I just want to be a little cautious for the next week or two, and then I should be fine.
Tomorrow, though, my game feels pretty sharp.  I feel good with the putter, I'm driving the ball in play, and my irons are not bad.
It's difficult to get it close because the greens are firm and that first bounce is hard to judge.  But other than that, tomorrow has an opportunity for a good low round, and I feel good about my game.  I mean, after today's round, I feel much better heading into tomorrow's round.

Q.  I thought you drove the ball much better on your second round.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I had a good day driving.  Honestly, I believe this is going to be my best driving year.  My swing feels good.  But this is the best driver I ever hit.  I hit it straight, hit it long, and I should drive it well all year.
Today I drove it extremely well, and it allowed me to play aggressively into greens.  I didn't make any bogeys.

Q.  I thought the greens were maybe a little inconsistent in that I saw some wedges take huge trampoline bounces, and then I saw some greens that were very receptive.
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† It's very difficult to go low here, because that first bounce you're talking about is tough to judge.¬† You're going to shoot under par if you play halfway decent because you have so many birdie holes.¬† You have three par‑5s you can reach, you have some short par‑4s, driveable one on 17.
But to get that 7‑, 8‑, 9‑under par round, it's difficult because that first bounce is tough to judge.¬† You can land it right on your number ‑‑in fact, I landed it right on my number on 18, and it ended up 25 feet.
So getting it close is going to be challenging.¬† You're going to have to make some good putts.¬† Being late in the day‑‑ the greens yesterday were so perfect.¬† We went off early.¬† They were a lot more difficult to make putts today.
But they're still rolling very true.¬† If you get a good hot round tomorrow, there is an 8‑, 9‑under par round out there.

Q.  You will have a chance with fresh greens in the morning?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† I think so.¬† I'm one of the first groups.¬† I should have perfect greens.¬† My game feels sharp.¬† I feel like I can get after some of these pins.¬† If I can hit some good shots and give myself some good putts, I will make some 20‑, 30‑footers tomorrow.¬† I feel it coming.¬† I made some today.¬† Putter feels good.

Q.  When you stood to make the birdie at 9, did you think there may be a low round out there for me?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Absolutely.¬† The back nine, I didn't birdie the two par‑5s, and that was difficult, because I had a hybrid and a 5‑iron into both of them, and I hit the water on 15 and didn't get up and down from off the edge on 13.
Those two shots prevented me, turned a 4‑under par round and it should have been 6.¬† I played really well today, though.¬† I have a chance tomorrow, because I'm going to be one of the first groups off in the split to get a fresh golf course with perfect greens, and I feel really good about my game.¬† I drove the ball exceptionally well today.
And it feels easy.  I've got the best equipment I have ever had and I'm swinging better than I have in a long time.  I feel like it's coming together.  I think tomorrow could be a special day.

Q.  You talked yesterday about shaking the rust off.  Do you feel like you did that?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I really did mentally.  I didn't make too many sloppy swings.  Maybe a shot here or there, but I hit a lot of good shots.  My distance control was back on.  I started flying my wedges the right number.
But it was still difficult to get it close to the hole because the greens are firm, and that first bounce is difficult to judge.  But I played really well today.  I can feel a good round coming on.
I don't know if I'm too far back or not, but on this golf course, you can really make some fireworks happen, and that's what I'm hoping to do tomorrow.

Q.  How much did the wind's inconsistency make it tough to hit low?  There were a couple of holes where you had to switch clubs because it wouldgust one second and stop the next.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Very difficult conditions to go really low.  If you play halfway decent, you're going to shoot under par here, because there are so many birdie holes.  It's hard to get that hot round when you have greens that are firm and weather conditions that were  challenging.
But I thought that I played a pretty good round today, and I'm not totally out of it.¬† I'm 8 back.¬† Obviously heading into the weekend I'd like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that 8‑, 9‑, 10‑, in some cases 11‑under par round out there, and I think that the course will be in the condition and shape that that can happen.

Q.  You think you need to get 63 or 64 to get back in it?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Absolutely I do.¬† I've got to shoot 7, 8, 9, to get right in the thick of it.¬† But if I can shoot mid‑60s, 5‑, 6‑under, I should be able to be within striking distance with a really low round on Sunday.
Tomorrow is moving day.  Saturday is moving day.  It's my opportunity, because I'm going to be one of the earlier groups, and that means the greens are going to be pristine.  They are really rolling well.

Q.  Do you have a Super Bowl prediction? 
PHIL MICKELSON:  Not yet.  It's going to be a great game.  I'm excited to see these matchups.  It's going to be a fun game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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