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May 3, 2014

Phil Mickelson


Q.  Phil, we've been talking all year long, this part of your game won't go, that part of your game won't go and you haven't been able to put it together for 18 holes.  I would say you did it today.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I agree, Peter.  This is a great day from start to finish.  I drove the ball well, my iron game was on, short game was on, and I made a lot of putts.
I had a good round today and it feels good, because it's been a rough year for me this year.  I haven't been healthy early on, and I haven't put it together like you were saying, and to have a good round today, good round the first round, this is a good start.

Q.  On the surface you made 113 for putts on Thursday, only 44 yesterday and you're up over 130 at last count today, which is pretty spectacular, but it's got to be a little more than just your putting.
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, it is, but certainly capitalizing on the good shots, the iron shots that might be 10, 12, 15 feet, they're big momentum putts as well, not just helping out with a stroke, but it carries momentum to the next hole.  I made a couple of good ones early in the round that were long on holes 4 and 6 that really got me ahead of the round, and then I took advantage of the birdie holes because there are good birdie holes out here that you will see guys take advantage of, like 13 and 14‑‑ or 14 and 15, those are excellent birdie holes, 10, 7 and 8.  If you play those holes well, you can get this golf course.  The other holes are tough.

Q.  How important was your up and down on 18?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was a big momentum up and down.  I had a good tee shot there.  That's a very tough shot for me, because if I come out of it just a little bit, it's in the water.  I tried to take it right at the edge of the bunker, I missed it by 4 or 5 yards, and then it's right up against the lip, so to be able to salvage that and finish this round off strong was a good plus.

Q.  63, all aspects of your game on full bore, we look forward to tomorrow.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I am, too, it's going to be a fun day tomorrow.

Q.  Phil, we know how much you love this course and Quail Hollow.  How much fun was it to go out there and shoot a 63 today?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was a very meaningful round for me today.  I was able to put everything together.  I played well from tee to green.  I hit the ball well, put it in play, I hit good iron shots and was able to capitalize on those shots with some good putts, and it feels good because I hadn't really been able to put it all together this year, and it feels really‑‑ it felt close, hasn't felt far away, and to put it together today, it's nice.

Q.  So many great shots out there on the course of this round.  What were your favorites as you walked around here at Quail Hollow?
PHIL MICKELSON:  There were two things that stood out.  I made putts on holes 4 and 6 that were of a long distance and tough to make, so those were bonuses, and then the holes that you really need to capitalize on, I was able to do that.  7 and 8 I was able to make an eagle and a birdie and those are birdie holes.  The par 5, on 5, you need to birdie.  There are holes out there, about six holes that you can get this golf course, and the other holes you're trying to make good pars, and I was able to play them well.

Q.  How anxious for Championship Sunday tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I'm looking forward to it.  I don't think I'll be leading at the end of the day because I think there are some birdies out there, but you never know.  But just to be in contention, and to have a chance at a golf course that I've become so close to over the years, I'm excited about tomorrow's round.  My game is starting to feel sharp and mentally I was much more focused throughout the entire round today, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's final round.

Q.  Phil, beating your personal best at the Wells Fargo Championship, which says a lot about the success you've had here.  It was an electric round.  What was it like for you?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was exciting for me, because that front nine, everything was going right.  I was hitting good shots and capitalizing on the putts.  It felt great to put it all together today, Todd.  It's been an interesting year and I felt really good the last four to six weeks and my game has been sporadic, where some parts of my game have felt good and some parts haven't, so today I was able to put them all together.

Q.  The most complete round of the year for you, in your opinion?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Absolutely it was, start to finish.  I drove the ball well, hit good iron shots and the birdie opportunities I was able to capitalize on most of them.

Q.  I know you've been disappointed and wanted to play better earlier this year.  What does a round like this do for you?  Does it take pressure off of you to get your game in shape?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Well, I'm not feeling pressure, to be honest.  I've taken it off a little bit; I'm not worried about the results.  I'm not worried about winning.  I know that my game is not that far off.  Today is good evidence of that.  Even yesterday when it was 3‑over par round, the game didn't feel that far off; I just wasn't quite getting the ball in the hole, and that tells me that I don't need to do anything drastic.  I don't need to change anything big, I just need to fine tune.  I need to get my wedge and my short iron sharp again.  I need to get my ball and play off the tee, and get that touch on the greens, and today I seemed to have 'em all together.

Q.  Talk about your round.
PHIL MICKELSON:  It was a really good day.  It started off right at the start where I felt like I was hitting good shots.  I let an opportunity on the first hole go but after that not many slid by.  I had putts on holes 4 and 6 that were long ones, that were bonus birdies that got the round propelled and got it going, and that eagle on 7 kept it going.  It was really a fun day.

Q.  What's the difference from yesterday?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Honestly, it just didn't feel‑‑ my game just didn't feel that far off, and it just kind of clicked today.  Sometimes the ball just goes in the hole and sometimes it doesn't.  I didn't feel like I was far off after yesterday's round, I didn't walk away very discouraged; I felt like I was pretty close, and I just came out today with a new energy and a new excitement and was able to put together a good round.
I love getting in contention here.  This is one of my favorite tournaments and one of my favorite golf courses anywhere.  The way the course turned out with these greens now, it just is beautiful.  It's just beautiful!  It's one of the best courses in the world, and I just love that we get to play here every year.

Q.  Phil, you have had a couple of six or seven‑hole stretches in your career like that.  Try to describe what that "zone" feels like for the whole world that's never experienced it.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't know how to describe it.  It certainly feels good, and things seem to slow down, but when you're in it, it's a lot of fun.

Q.  Talk about what happened at the 13th tee.

Q.  Yeah.
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't know.  What was heard.

Q.  Something about your club?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yes, every now and then I'll stump him, but I just saw a different shot.  It was a pin back right and there was a little swale in line with the pin, and if I were to hit a shot right at it with, say, a 6‑iron it was going to hit that swale and kick off the green, or I would have to play 20 feet away from the pin, which you know me, that's not my thing.  So I round hooked a 7‑iron around the swale.
Having to shut the face, the ball was going to go a lot longer, and I think it just kind of shocked him that, you know, the yardage was‑‑ I don't normally hit a 7‑iron that far.

Q.  Phil, with a 63, opportunities at 10, 12 and 14 kind of got away from you.  Do you feel like you left a 60 on the table?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Not really.  It's easy to do that when you have a good day to look back on the few that didn't go, but there were so many that did, and that is where I'm going to focus, because even the ones than didn't go in, I hit good putts and good shots, and I was pleased with the effort.  It felt good.  Sometimes you just don't read 'em right, sometimes it just doesn't fall, but today most of 'em did.

Q.  You've played in the last group at this event before.  You may or may not depending on the afternoon round, but going from 2 under and 7 back to right in the mix?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's fun being in contention.  Historically here the winner has come from not the last group but from a few groups before, because it is more difficult to make some birdies when you have to make birdies here.
When you know that you're out in front of the leaders and you have a chance to kind of light up the board first, that's an opportunity, and guys have typically done that here and won, and it's been tougher to follow suit seeing those guys in front make birdies.  If it happens that I'm not in the last group, that would be great.  If I am in the last group, that would be great, too, doesn't matter.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow's round, and I love that I'm in it with a good chance.

Q.  You've been in contention here several times.  Do you feel like it's one that's gotten away from you over the years?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It's one that I would like to win because it's a course that I dearly love.  It's a place I really enjoy playing, and I would love to be part of‑‑ have a more emotional attachment to this tournament, and that would happen through a win.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PHIL MICKELSON:  I wasn't really that worried to be honest.  I mean, I was trying to go after the pin.  I didn't feel like I missed it much, the wind pushed it a little more left, but I really wasn't that worried at any point, even though it was close to the water.  You've got to get somewhat close to that water where that pin was.

Q.  With your description of the way you went at the hole on 13, are the green complexes ‑‑ now with the changeover are you playing to areas on the greens as opposed to firing right at the flag?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, the green complexes are perfect because it gives you a chance to do what I did on 13, which is to create a shot that gets to the hole.  In years past that swale kicked in further in the green and it was much more severe and repellent to where you could hit a perfect shot, and it will end up off the green.  I hit a perfect shot today and ended up with birdie, and that's what I really like about the way Fazio did these greens.  He allows you to create shots and get to the hole; whereas a number of courses repel the ball so far off the green that no matter how perfect of a shot you get, you have no chance.
Here, as the greens get firmer and they get faster for the Championship, the nuances and its subtleties show its greatness, other courses it becomes more unplayable, and that's not the case here.  It becomes even better.
THE MODERATOR:  Phil, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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