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April 30, 2014

Phil Mickelson


Q.  (No microphone.)
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† It's one of the best tee‑to‑green golf courses in the world, and what Tom Fazio has done is just perfect, just perfect, and he has enhanced them.
When the PGA comes here in a couple of years and you've got these greens firm and quick, the subtleties and the nuances will be brought out and it will be even better.¬† It's such‑‑ he did such a great job.¬† This has become one of my favorite courses anywhere in the world and I think one of the best courses anywhere in the world.¬† I'm so happy for Johnny Harris who has meant so much to the PGA TOUR and this community, this golf course.
I know it's a family heirloom and that means a lot to him, and to see it evolve into one of the greatest courses in the world, I'm just very happy for him.

Q.  Can you talk about the state of your game since we last saw you?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's hard for me to tell where I'm at with my game, because last time I played I missed the cut at the Masters, which I usually make, and then I ended up having two weeks off.  Although I've had a couple of good practice sessions you don't really know until you get into competition.  I've played well here in the past, I haven't won on this golf course, but I'll get a good idea here in the first day or two where my game stands playing here at Quail Hollow.

Q.  Does it rank second in the tournaments you haven't won that you want to win?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's certainly up there.  There is another one right down the road that means a lot as well.  But this really is one of the premiere event we have on the PGA TOUR and one of the premiere golf courses, and I'm so excited about how the greens turned out.
The first year you gotta cut it a little bit of slack because the greens are going to be new and not as receptive but still they were just fabulous and as time goes on it's going to be better and better.

Q.  What are your memories of '99?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I lost the open by a shot but what I remember is the next day I had the birth of my first child.  It was an emotional experience and emotional week and things, you know, worked out the way they should have.

Q.  Talk about obviously the U.S. Open, tops on your quest list.  What would it mean to win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It would mean a lot to win the National Championship, complete the career Grand Slam, and I've said that for a while, so I'm not going to deny it, and I do believe it will happen, whether it's at Pinehurst or at an upcoming event, upcoming championship.  I've played well in that tournament.  It's a tournament that doesn't require power and length like Augusta.  It's a tournament that requires good short game, strategic course management and the things that over time have becoming strengths, and I think I will continue to play well in that tournament, whether it's at Pinehurst or whether it's next year at Cambridge Bay or Oakmont the following year, I'm not sure where it will happen, but I am confident it will.

Q.  Phil, you talked about the changes here and how much you like them.  Have you seen the changes at Pinehurst?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I've tried to get down there three times now and the course has been booked all three times so I don't know when I'll get down there.

Q.  So you didn't sneak over there this week?  I thought that might happen.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I've been trying but the course is booked.  There is 300 people on the golf course; they won't let me out there!  (Laughter.)

Q.  Your expectations.  You said you don't know where your game is coming into this week but what are your expectations for this weekend?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I'm certainly hopeful to get in contention on the weekend and have an opportunity to capture my first title here.  This is a great event and it's a course I've played very well on in the past and have not finished it off right.
I'm hopeful just having a chance on the weekend, that's kind of the goal over the next couple of days.

Q.  Phil, as a Clippers fan, your thoughts on what's happened in the last few days and reaction to Adam Silver and what he did?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† It's very consistent with the way everybody else feels.¬† I think it's pretty cool what they've‑‑ what the Commissioner has done and how he's handled it.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† I loved it.¬† I thought that the greens were beautifully done.¬† I thought Fazio did a great job in bringing out the subtleties.¬† It's much more subtle, it's not in your face.¬† When the greens are firm, fast and set up the way the PGA Championship is going to have them, the nuances will come out and the greatness of the course will come out.¬† I've always thought this is one of the best tee‑to‑green courses if not the best tee‑to‑green course I've ever played.¬† I still feel that way, and now that the greens complement it.¬† It's one of my favorite courses I've ever played.

Q.  When you talk about the nuances, are you talking about the contours?  I think I overheard you talking to Tom about that.
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Yes and how the shots can come into the greens.¬† How we now have a variety of shots that we can get close to the pin.¬† The greens‑‑ the severity and the repellent greens before wouldn't allow you to get to the hole.¬† You could only fly it there and stop it.¬† Now when the greens are firm and fast you have an opportunity to create and shape a shot and get it to the hole without having mounds repel it away.
You can putt to every pin position on every hole, and I thought there was a lot more pin placement on a lot of the holes.  12 and 18, which used to be challenging, have become real strengths.  I think they're beautifully designed greens now and really all it had to do is be softened a little bit like he did.  I thought Fazio did just a wonderful job of making this a premiere golf course.

Q.  What did you think of the 16th?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I thought it was great.  I thought it was a really hard, challenging hole, yet there is a variety of shots you could hit into that green.  With the pin back right you're trying to shape is left to right if the pin is back left you're trying to run it back there, move it right to left, if the pin is up front, you're trying to bring it in high and soft, you have a chance to bounce it in.  A variety of shots you can now hit into each green based on the pin position and I think it's a beautiful test of golf.

Q.  When we last saw you, you said you might watch the Masters over the weekend as punishment.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I watched it.  Some of the drives that Bubba hit were hard to comprehend, and he played some incredible golf, and I enjoyed watching it.  I wish I was more a part of it, but this year I was a spectator.

Q.  How much did you reflect on that before moving on to this next phase, which I guess ends with the U.S. Open?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Not too much.  You have to deal with so much failure in this game and it's just part of it.  It's something I've become accustomed to now for decades and you move on.
Last year one of the lowest points of my career was at the U.S. Open, and I was able to turn it around and have one of the highest points so you just don't want to look back.  You want to look forward and see what you can accomplish in the future.

Q.  Have you played Pinehurst?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I haven't.  I have tried to get out there a couple of times and the course is constantly booked.  I haven't been able to get on the course.

Q.¬† Phil, come on ‑‑
PHIL MICKELSON:  I'm serious.

Q.  You can walk up and get on.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I haven't been able to, no.  I'm sure there are specific days, but I would have to miss this tournament and I don't want to do that.

Q.  Jonas played yesterday.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah.  He's a good guy.

Q.  Is it hard not to think about the Open even as you're playing these events?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I haven't been.  I'm not that far down there.  I haven't been able to think about it.  And probably what I will do is wait until closer to the tournament.  I'm not going to be able to get a lot of work done anyway.  It's not set up for tournament conditions this early, so I'll probably just wait until a week or two prior.

Q.  One last thing about the Masters; it's never failure if you learn something from it.  What could you take away from what you did there this year?  What did you learn from that?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I'm not sure if I would go into specifics but you can always take something away.

Q.  When is the last time you couldn't get a tee time somewhere?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Well I can, I just don't want to go out with 200 people on the course and I usually‑‑ I'll go when it gets closed.¬† It will be closed a few weeks prior to the tournament and I'll go then.

Q.  Other than the golf course what do you think makes this a great event, and is there anything they could do differently that would make it better?
PHIL MICKELSON:  There is not much you can do to this tournament to make it better.  I can't think of a thing you could do now to the golf course to make it better.  It's just beautiful!  It's show cased as a premiere TOUR event.  That's why everybody comes here, and I'm so happy for Johnny Harris and this community to have such a treasure in this course, in this tournament and now soon to be a Major Championship.

Q.  The field is down here, though.  Any thoughts on that?  It's noticeably down.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I know when you have new greens you know you've got to cut it slack the first year because it takes a growing period and even though they might be soft they will never be receptive because the root system hasn't had time to grow in, so balls won't hold, and I think some players probably wanted to wait a year and maybe play someplace they haven't played. 
       But I was so excited to come and see it, because I just knew that they were going to get it right, and they sure did.  It's really fun to play.

Q.  Did they get 8 right, after the eighth try, maybe?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† Well, 8 varies usually as you're looking at the green there is a lot going on.¬† So it be doesn't‑‑ it might not fit with, say, the rest of the holes in its simplicity, but when you look at the different pin placements and the variety of shots that you have to hit to each pin placement it actually has a great playability to it.¬† It's a short par 4 and you're hitting a little wedge and you can control what distance you want from the tee into each pin.¬† If you want to spin it, get it closer so you can play a bump shot.
So it actually fits the hole really well, I think.  The other great addition is when the tee is moved up you can actually get it on the surface.  The ground will not repel it away the way it used to off into the left corner. 
       You used to be able to maybe reach it but you could never get it on the green.

Q.  A little more elevated, is it?
PHIL MICKELSON:¬† The green?¬† Slightly, but it banks, the left side of the fairway will bank it and kick it up to the right and run up that hill, so it's‑‑ it has a whole different element to it if you change the tee box.

Q.  On 16, on the tee shot, is it harder or easier?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't think it's harder.  Very similar feel to the tee shot, dogleg a little bit to the right, and the fairway angles a little bit to the left.  It feels similar on the tee shot. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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