Phil Mickelson Thursday Flash

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013

Flash Interview With:

PHIL MICKELSON

Q. Give us the details or a rundown of like starting with when Amanda's graduation was and when you got on the plane. And what her speech was for?

PHIL MICKELSON: Four kids spoke and she was one that was chosen. Really proud of her. She did a great job and she even quoted Ron Burgundy, so it was funny. And I was really glad I was there. Ceremony was at 6:00. I got on the plain at 8:00, landed 3:30. Had a few hours sleep. We had a rain delay here, so I went and slept for an hour. I feel great.

So this is not that out of the ordinary; I do this about six, ten times a year where I fly back east red eye, play some outing and then come home. So it's not out of the ordinary.

Q. Fly back tonight?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't want to push it, no.

(Laughter.) Yeah, it might be abnormal, but it actually worked out really well. I got all my work done on Merion last when I was here a week and a half ago. I knew exactly how I wanted to play the golf course, given the conditions, given different wind conditions, clubs I was going to be hitting, where I was going to be and the shots that I was going to have.

So I didn't feel I needed more time at Merion, what I needed was to get my game sharp, to get my touch sharp. And having a nice practice facility and nice weather for the last couple of days allowed me to do that. So it worked out great on both ends.

Q. This time on the first tee, you ate peanut butter and an energy drink. Do you normally do that?

PHIL MICKELSON: I might have used just a little caffeine booster at the turn, just to keep me sharp, but that was our ninth hole or so and I just wanted to make sure I had enough energy.

Q. You talked to Mike Davis, looked like you exchanged a couple words with him. He was eating lunch?

PHIL MICKELSON: I told him that this is the best setup I've ever seen for a U.S. Open. I think that what I love about Merion and what they did to Merion in the setup is they made the hard holes even harder. They moved the tees back on the more difficult holes, which made it even tougher pars. And I love that because if you're playing well, you're going to be able to make pars and you're going to be able to separate yourself from the field by making pars.

But on the he easy holes, they didn't trick them up and take away your birdie opportunities. They gave you birdie opportunities to get those strokes back.

So we have really hard holes and we have some very good birdie opportunities. So I think it's the best U.S. Open setup I've ever seen and that's what I was telling him.

Q. The fairways are so soft and with the greens soft, do you think that, it doesn't sound like you think that people are going to eat this course up because everything is so soft. Why would that be the case?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, this was as easy as this golf course is going to play. We had very little wind, there was some but very little. We had soft fairways, soft greens, and we no mud balls. So we had the best opportunity to score low. And we are all struggling because it's such a penalizing golf course. It's penalizing if you miss the fairways, very difficult if you miss the greens, and it's not a given to 2 putt on these greens. They're some of the most pitched greens we have ever seen and they're very quick.

It's a course that's withstood the test of time and it's challenging the best players in the world this week. As the week wears on and the conditions get a little bit dryer, a little bit firmer, I think the course is going to get even more difficult and the scores are going to hover very close to par.

Q. How big were the par saves at 5 and 6 and then what was the shot a 7?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think in the U.S. Open, par saves are as big or bigger than birdies because you don't really expect birdies. You're trying to play par first and I hit  one of the few fairways I missed today was on 5. I got fortunate it didn't go in the water, it stayed up. And I was able to advance it down to where I had a sand wedge and could try to make a par and made a good 12 footer there.

Same thing on 6. I missed it in the wrong spot, had a very difficult bunker shot, but hit a good shot to about seven feet and made it. Those two par putts, those are the momentum builders that are important in the rounds at U.S. Open. They actually give you more of a boost than birdies do.

Q. What were the wedges in the bag today? What was the thinking there?

PHIL MICKELSON: I felt like there were potentially two holes that I might hit driver, 5 and 6. I can't hit it on 4 because it goes down on that sidehill lie and it goes in the rough. I can't hit it on most of the holes. And I felt a 64 degree wedge out of some of the conditions would be, would allow me to save a stroke here or there more so than an extra 20 yards on hole 5 and 6.

Q. What was the Ron Burgundy quote? And one other thing, was there ever a point during your round where you really had to sort of get your self through because you were tired?

PHIL MICKELSON: I told Bones on 9 tee box that I kind of hit a wall. And he said, well, let's just take a little mental break as we walk down there, and I ended up making the putt. So being able to tune in and tune out was kind of nice the last hole or two.

It's been a long day because we teed off at 7 and here we are at 4:20. So it was a longer day with the suspension and so forth.

As far as the quote, I would have to put it in context for it to sound good.

Q. From a preparation standpoint, do you think there was a psychological advantage that last night you weren't thinking about this round, you were just  

PHIL MICKELSON: I think maybe, I like to play a course elsewhere Wednesday of a Major, as most of you know. It gives me a chance to get a quiet environment, get away from the pressure and anxiety and all that builds up for a desire to win this tournament, whether it's U.S. Open or any Major.

So I like to go offsite and just kind of have a relaxing day before Thursday's round. And it was helpful that I had an opportunity to practice in good weather conditions on a good practice facility, get my game sharp.

Q. You 3 putted 11. You hit a pretty good tee shot, pretty good approach and then the 3 putt.

PHIL MICKELSON: It wasn't the greatest start. But it's funny, Bones and I have a saying because I've had some of my best rounds of my career that have started with a bogie and we just kind of looked at each other and laughed and said, you know, great rounds have started with bogey and that happened to be the last one I made.

The greens were much faster on the course than on the practice green. And they were actually about the same speed as what I had been practicing on back home. About 14 1/2 I would guess. And they when I looked at it, it looked a little bit softer and so I gave it a little bit more than what I had been working on, I thought. I didn't think it was quite as fast. But from then on, knowing that it was the same pace as what I had been practicing on, my touch was very good the rest of the day.

Q. Did you sleep at all? Before the nap today, how much did you sleep?

PHIL MICKELSON: A couple hours on the plane, an hour before we teed off and then an hour during the break. I feel great.

I'll just go back tonight and rest, and I'll have all day tomorrow to rest and it's fine. It shouldn't be a problem.

Q. How much do you feel like it meant to Amanda for you to be there, for you to have the wherewithal to come back from the U.S. Open and be there? How much do you think it meant to her?

PHIL MICKELSON: She told me that it's fine. Stay, it's the U.S. Open, I know how much you care about it. And I told her that I want to be there. I don't want to miss that. I don't want to miss her speech. I don't want to miss her graduation. She spent nine years at that school. And she's worked very hard and she's – I'm very proud of her.

Q. What's the overall assessment, please, of today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Pretty good. Good start.

Q. Does she know her part in the '99 Open story?

PHIL MICKELSON: A little bit.

Q. You talked about doing this, have you played this well afterwards one of those times when you went cross country like this?

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't done it in a tournament. I just do it in the outings. I play okay in the outings, but it's really not that important.

Q. (No Microphone.)

PHIL MICKELSON: No, because I think that mental preparation is every bit as important as physical, and I was able to take the time on the plane to read my notes, study, relive the golf course, go through how I was going to play each hole, where the pins were, where I want to miss it, where I want to be, study the green charts. It gave me a great few hours to study my notes and get mentally prepared.

Q. How would describe your relationship with the U.S. Open? You've played obviously so well at times and have come close and not done it yet?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, if I'm able, and I believe I will, if I'm able to ultimately win a U.S. Open, I would say that it's great. Because I've had, I will have had a  let's say a win and five seconds. But if I never get that win, then it would be a bit heart breaking.

But it's actually a tournament that I play very well in, I'm able to perform and chip well out of the rough and love the challenge of the greens and also the fact that many players are not as prepared for a course we haven't seen gives me a slight advantage, I feel, to save a fraction of a shot here or there.

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