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February 26, 2014

Phil Mickelson


Q.  First impression of the course?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Like most courses, it's a little tighter off the tee than I would like, but it's in incredible shape.  The greens are beautiful.  The greens are really immaculate.  If you get hot with a putter, you can make a lot of putts.  But I do like the golf course.  I've always liked Nicklaus‑designed golf courses.  I know this course he renovated or redesigned years ago, and it's a wonderful test of golf, and I think that's a real credit as to why such a strong field continues to come here.

Q.  What made you come here?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, for me it was a scheduling thing around my kids.  I missed LA.  I didn't want to come all the way out for one event at Doral, and it just was a nice fit to put the two together, and it's always been a very good test of golf, a strong finish.  And I'm excited.  This feels to me like the start of the year because I feel good, I'm healthy, I'm able to swing it well.  I've had some good practice sessions, I feel strong and ready to play some good golf, and so this kind of feels like the start for me.

Q.  Have you ever at all played this course, as an amateur or‑‑
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yes, I was a junior golfer, years ago before Nicklaus renovated it.

Q.  And what did you think of the Bear Trap?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's a strong finish.  I mean, it's a very strong finish.  I love how you go through those three difficult holes and then you get a par‑5 to finish and maybe make up some ground with a birdie.  It's always led to exciting end of tournaments, and the tournament is never over with the severe penalty for a mis‑hit shot.

Q.  Any lingering issues with your back?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, it's fine now.

Q.  How did your break go?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It went great, went great.  Went skiing and played a little bit of golf back home, getting ready for this stretch, and with the Masters six weeks away, this is kind of where guys like myself and others are getting geared up for that event, and it's important to get competitive, get sharp mentally and focused and play some good golf, get in contention for weeks like this.

Q.  Where did you ski?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Up in Montana, Yellowstone Club.

Q.  What do you think of the loss of the Eisenhower tree?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, it's sad that such a historical piece of the property has gone down, but from an architectural point of view, you never build a hole around a tree because of the possibility you might always lose it, and the way 17 plays, it really won't be much different.  It might be replaced somewhere down the line, if it hasn't been already, but it doesn't really affect I don't feel the way the hole plays.

Q.  Other than winning this week, what's your measure of success this week?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I guess the score would probably be how I judge how I played, like relative to par.  If I shoot under par, I feel good.  I don't know, if you mean relative to the field how it is, I'm not really looking necessarily at how I finish as much as how I play, am I able to shoot the scores and get the round going.
But after Pebble, my game felt pretty good at Pebble with the exception of the putter, and that feels like it came around.  I'm hopeful for this week.

Q.  You'll play two and then Houston and Augusta?

Q.  Because the courses are so different, does this course prepare you at all?

Q.  So what does it do, other than‑‑
PHIL MICKELSON:  Gets me in a competitive frame of mind, gets me thinking management, strategy, and mentally sharp.

Q.  Have you had any further treatment on your back?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yes, and I'll continue to to make sure that it stays without a problem.

Q.  What did you work on with the putter post‑West Coast?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I saw Stockton for a half hour at my place in San Diego.  He was there, and we‑‑ it was just a minor thing.  I've been putting really well.  I wasn't really worried.  But just to have 30 minutes was all it took.

Q.  If you had to handicap your skiing, what would it be?
PHIL MICKELSON:  You know, I've been skiing since I was a kid.  I've been skiing since four, so it's probably the sport that I'm most confident in after golf.

Q.  Are you confident enough to try stuff like you would try on the golf course?  Are you aggressive or are you careful?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, in fact this last trip my daughter Sophia was going down runs that I even backed away from, which that rarely ever happens, but it did.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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