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June 1, 2014

Phil Mickelson


Q.  Just a couple of comments on what you got out of the week as you're heading a little bit closer to the Open?
PHIL MICKELSON:  From a golf standpoint, it wasn't a bad week, as far as I started to hit the ball well.  And I struggled a little bit in some areas.  That 16th hole, man, that hole has got my number.
But the course was in great shape.  And I started working the ball a lot more with some iron shots.  I had I thought a successful week as far as a good stepping stone.
Next week is when I have to put it together and play well.  If I can play well, get in contention, it will give me some momentum for the Open.  That's what I need to do.

Q.  Didn't you par 16?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, I doubled it.  Well, bogey for me, a double (indiscernible).

Q.  Is there a hole that you can remember that gives you as many fits as 16 does?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, 6 at Bay Hill.  That's the reason I don't go back.  I can't play the sixth hole at Bay Hill.  It's a big circular lake, and it's basically out of bounds.  You have to rehit it if you go in it.  And usually there's right‑to‑left wind, which isn't my favorite.  Fore left is usually my call sign.  And I just can't figure out a way to play that hole.

Q.  You go to Pinehurst tomorrow.  What will you do the next two days?  Usual routine?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Yeah, I'll go over there, I'll probably go early in the morning and spend the day there tomorrow, spend the day there Tuesday and then go to Memphis Tuesday night, play the Wednesday Pro‑Am.  I believe I have a morning tee time.  And play Memphis.

Q.  What excites you the most about the U.S. Open?  As silly as it sounds, is it the fact that your record is ‑‑ it's really a good record outside of the obvious, but the fact you've had success there so often that you know it's your place or what?
PHIL MICKELSON:  When I was ten, we had a little party, and my local club pro who I took lessons with for a few years, Rick Thompson, videotaped the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol.  And we watched it.  We watched it for like two hours, and I watched Nicklaus beat Aoki in that final round.
I still remember it vividly today.  I've always had this tie‑in to the national championship.  I also think that it was a tournament that, if you look at the way I like to play, probably isn't best suited for the way I like to play, and yet I've played some of my best golf there.
In fact, one year, I believe in'95 ‑‑ I'd have to validate this because I don't know statistically‑‑ I think I led the week, the fairways hit.  Now, if that's the case, that could be the only time ever.  But I drove it really well there and played really well.  But I always looked at it as a great challenge.

Q.  Could you almost make the case of the three majors that rotate, that's your best, that's where you've had your best run?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I would.  I've played my best golf there of the three other majors outside of the Masters, yeah.  My record is the best at the U.S. Open.

Q.  Seems to make no sense.
PHIL MICKELSON:  It wouldn't.  But, I mean, if I want to logistically spell it out, if you miss fairways the start the U.S. Open by ten yards, the rough's not trampled down.  But where I miss it, it's usually trampled down, I got a shot.  So it makes sense.

Q.  Pretty upset at that graduated rough open?
PHIL MICKELSON:  It hasn't worked in my favor, no.

Q.  You mentioned 6 Bay Hill.  16 here is not enough to keep you away from here, is it?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I don't know.  I have to figure out a way to play it.  I've got to figure out a way to play it.
The shots that I hit that went in the water, if a right‑handed player hit them, they'd be in the middle of the green.  And there are holes that fit me better‑‑ there are some holes that fit me great here that don't fit right‑handers.
But I've got to figure out a way to play that hole because it's a great hole.  It's not a bad hole.  I'm not knocking it.  It just doesn't sit well for me.

Q.  You were 10‑over on the last three until you birdied 17.  Was there a feeling like, oh, thank God?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, not really.  What's important, though, for me‑‑ obviously I didn't have a shot at it this weekend or today, but I really need to get in contention next week.  I'll be trying really hard to get myself a run at it, to have a good tournament.  Because I do need a little bit of momentum, a little bit of that nervous feeling I had at Charlotte the final round.  I need to feel that again this week to really give myself a good chance at the U.S. Open.

Q.  Is there anything specifically that you want to see‑‑ outside of what you just said, that you want to see with your game at Memphis that you didn't see this week?
PHIL MICKELSON:  I need to putt a little bit better from 15feet.  I need to make some more of those.  The greens here are just pristine, in perfect shape.  I didn't make enough of those.
So that's an area that I'll have to do well next week.

Q.  You talked about your driving yesterday.  Is that the one area of confidence you have going forward?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Surprisingly, yes.  It's felt great all year.  It really has felt good all year.  A lot of it has to do with this driver and the weighting and how it reacts.
The misses are just much better.  I don't have a fore left with that driver.  6 at Bay Hill may be playable for me now.  And the face squares up easier; it jumps off the face.  And it just feels easy to hit.  A lot of it is the club itself.  I drove it well this week I thought.

Q.  16 aside, your general thoughts on the golf course and the strategic aspect?
PHIL MICKELSON:  Again, I'm not knocking 16.  I'm not saying it's a bad hole.  It's just not a good hole for me.  And the course itself I love.  It's in great shape, this is the first time in a long time I've played Muirfield Village with the ‑‑ first of all, the name sounds cool, Muirfield.
PHIL MICKELSON:  But the fairways are firm and running, and we haven't played that.  It's always been wet and soft.  So the course played a lot tighter but a lot more fun and par 5s been a lot shorter.

Q.  Speaking of the other Muirfield, can you look back, that was such an emotional win.  Was there any kind of a let‑down that sort of played into your start here?
PHIL MICKELSON:  No, I'm not worried.  It was just an awkward year for six months.  I was injured a lot.  I had little just nagging things that are gone now and just didn't quite get it falling.
I've just been‑‑ I've had a hard time like getting dialed in on my short irons, getting those close.  I usually lead in par 4 birdies, and I've struggled there.  Usually I'm in the top 20 or so from inside 150 yards, and I've been outside of the top 100.
It's been more of the short iron area that hasn't been sharp.  There's a big difference between hitting those six, eight feet and hitting them 20feet in percentage of putts made.

Q.  Tomorrow and the next day, is it the usual grinding around and chipping‑‑
PHIL MICKELSON:  It is.  I have notes from 2005 that are pretty extensive that regards how to play the holes, where to miss it, what the shots are like.  I don't think much of that has changed.  So I won't have to do but ‑‑ maybe 75 or 80percent is already done, and I'll do fine tuning because the course itself and the integrity of the course is the same.  And it's maybe just hitting those shots a few times as opposed to learning where to play to each pin and where you can go and hitting those shots.

Q.  Is it true you couldn't grip the club very well at Pebble in '10, the '10 Open?  Only had eight or nine fingers to work with?
PHIL MICKELSON:  My index finger, which was the first sign for me that I had arthritis, I couldn't bend.  If you noticed, it was straight.  But it was my bottom finger so I just let it hang off the shaft.  I didn't really notice it.  I mean, noticed it, but it didn't affect the shot.

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