Golf Talk Live - Phil Mickelson Transcript Segment 3
PHIL HERE'S A QUESTION SUBMITTED TO OUR WEBSITE FOR YOU TODAY. WILL YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT THIS YEAR PREPARING FOR THE MAJORS THAN YOU'VE DONE IN THE PAST? YOU ARE MY PICK TO WIN THE MASTERS IN 2001. BOB BATES WOULD LIKE TO KNOW.
WELL BOB COMES FROM A COOL CITY IN BALTIMORE. I'M VERY FOND OF THAT CITY THIS YEAR, BUT, IT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION AND EACH PLAYER REALLY NEEDS TO, TO LEARN
WHAT MAKES THEM PLAY THEIR BEST AND WHAT I FOUND OUT LAST YEAR DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT, AS OPPOSED TO TAKING THE WEEK OFF BEFORE THE MAJOR, I'VE NOW STARTED TO COMPETE THE WEEK BEFORE AND WHAT THAT HAS DONE IS, IT HAS ONLY GIVEN ME A THREE OR FOUR DAY GAP BETWEEN COMPETITIVE
ROUNDS AND WHEN I HAVE ELEVEN TO FOURTEEN DAYS BEFORE COMPETITIVE ROUNDS, WHEN I TEE UP ON THURSDAY, I DON'T QUITE FEEL COMFORTABLE YET,
ESPECIALLY IN A TOURNAMENT THAT THAT'S, THAT IS THAT BIG AND THAT I'VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR SO LONG AND LAST YEAR I HAD A VERY CONSISTENT YEAR IN THE MAJORS. I FINISHED IN THE TOP 16 IN ALL FOUR WHICH I FELT WAS A STEADY IMPROVEMENT. I PLAYED MUCH MORE
STEADY OR STEADIER IN THOSE MAJORS AND SO I'M GOING TO CONTINUE TO PLAY THE WEEK BEFORE. LAST YEAR I WON THE ATLANTA CLASSIC. I'LL COME BACK TO TRY TO DEFEND MY TITLE THE WEEK BEFORE AUGUSTA AND I THINK THAT THOSE COMPETITIVE ROUNDS, GIVEN
AND GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE COURSE IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE STYLE OF PLAY THAT WE'LL HAVE AT AUGUSTA, I THINK THAT THAT FOR ME IS THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK OF YOU AS THE BEST PICKER OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN SPORTS IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW BASED ON PICKING THE BALTIMORE RAVENS DURING THE EXHIBITION SEASON LAST YEAR AND PUTTING IT IN PRINT ON YOUR WEBSITE. WHAT TIP DO YOU HAVE FOR US THIS YEAR, PHIL?
WELL, THAT WAS UH, I LOVE FOOTBALL, I LOVE STUDYING IT AND WATCHING ALL THE TRADES AND THE OFF SEASON IS A FUN TIME SEEING WHO'S GOING WHERE AND SO FORTH AND I JUST KIND OF SAW WHAT, I SAW BACK THEN WHAT BALTIMORE WAS DOING. THEY WERE
KIND OF BECOMING THE ANTI-RAMS. THE RAMS HAD THE BEST OFFENSE. THEY WERE GOING TO GO AT IT WITH THE BEST DEFENSE AND SO THAT KIND OF GAVE ME THE IDEA THAT, THAT THEY MAY DO IT. I
DON'T REALLY KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT A LOT OF OTHER SPORTS. FOOTBALL IS KIND OF MY FAVORITE AS FAR AS THE FUTURE, I'M WAITING TO SEE THE NEXT, SOME OF THE OFF SEASON TRANSACTIONS BETWEEN THREE OR FOUR TEAMS TO SEE WHICH WAY I LIKE AND OBVIOUSLY THE NCAA
TOURNAMENT THIS WEEK IS UH, IT SEEMS TO ME TO BE A PRETTY OBVIOUS PICK BECAUSE DUKE IS JUST SO STRONG
ATHLETICALLY AND SO STRONG COACHING THAT MENTALLY AND
PHYSICALLY THEY'RE GOING TO BE PREPARED. IT WILL BE REALLY TOUGH TO GET PAST THEM.
WELL BACK TO THE MAJORS A LITTLE BIT, OR AT LEAST A REFERENCE TO THEM AND THE NAME OF BOBBY JONES. WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO WIN IT, THE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP AT EASTLAKE WHERE BOBBY JONES LEARNED TO PLAY HIS GOLF?
WELL THE REASON WHY IT WAS SO SPECIAL TO ME IS, BECAUSE, AS A PLAYER, I LOVE TO BECOME A PART OF THE HISTORY OF THE GAME AND WHEN I PLAYED
EASTLAKE I FELT LIKE I BECAME A, A PART OF THE HISTORY THAT WAS WHAT EASTLAKE IS ALL ABOUT, AND WHEN I READ BOBBY JONES' BOOKS AND HE TALKS ABOUT THE ROUNDS THAT HE PLAYED THERE AND THE FIRST TIME HE BROKE 70 AND THE FIRST TIME HE BROKE PAR AND
NOW I UNDERSTAND THE HOLES THAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT AND SO IT GIVES ME A MUCH GREATER SENSE OF HISTORY, AND SO, WINNING THAT TOURNAMENT, ALTHOUGH IT'S A HUGE TOURNAMENT ON TOUR, THE GREATEST SATISFACTION THAT I GOT OUT OF THAT WAS BECOMING A PART OF THE HISTORY OF EASTLAKE.
YOU'VE BEEN STARTING TO DABBLE IN GOLF COURSE DESIGN. YOUR NEW GOLF COURSE, I BELIEVE, OPENED UP JUST LAST MONTH. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR INTEREST IN IT AND HOW MUCH YOU EXPECT TO DO TO GO FORWARD, COURSE DESIGN.
WELL, I'M NOT GOING TO DO TOO MUCH BECAUSE FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS I'VE COMMITTED MYSELF TO PLAYING THE BEST THAT I CAN AND WORKING ON MY GAME AND IT TAKES TOO MUCH TIME TO DO IT RIGHT, I FEEL, AND SO, I REALLY ENJOYED DOING THIS FIRST ONE AND
EVERYTHING HAD TO BE RIGHT. I HAD BEEN TURNING IT DOWN AND TURNING IT DOWN. DOZENS OF CHANCES, BUT BECAUSE I JUST WANTED THE RIGHT PROJECT TO DO THE FIRST ONE. IF THE FIRST ONE'S NOT RIGHT IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER. YOU CAN'T GET THE TOP
PROJECTS AND SO THE FIRST COURSE WAS, WAS PERFECT. IT WAS CORE GOLF. IT WASN'T A DEVELOPMENT. IT WAS ON A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT. IT WAS IN SCOTTSDALE. THE PEOPLE THAT I WAS INVOLVED WITH AT GRAY HAWK DID THIS
PROJECT AND IT JUST WORKED OUT GREAT, SO I'M, I'M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE WAY IT TURNED OUT. I THINK THAT TEN YEARS FROM NOW I MAY LOOK AT DOING A LITTLE BIT MORE, BUT RIGHT NOW I MAYBE WILL DO JUST ONE EVERY, EVERY TWO YEARS.
HOW DIFFERENT ARE YOUR GOLF DREAMS, AT THE AGE OF 30 THEN THEY WERE SAY AT THE AGE OF 20?
THEY'RE NOT REALLY THAT DIFFERENT. I FEEL LIKE A PLAYER'S CAREER IS DEFINED BY THE TIME HE'S ABOUT 40. WHEN HE'S 40, PEOPLE LOOK AT HIM THE SAME WHETHER HE WINS MORE TOURNAMENTS OR NOT, AND SO I FEEL LIKE FOR THE NEXT
TEN YEARS THAT WILL BE HOW MY CAREER WILL BE THOUGHT OF AND CERTAINLY THE FIRST TEN, FROM 20 TO 30 ARE IMPORTANT BUT I REALLY FEEL LIKE I'M TO THE POINT RIGHT NOW WHERE THIS
IS MY BEST OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY MY BEST. THIS IS AS GOOD AS I CAN POSSIBLY PLAY, ESPECIALLY THE 20 TO 30 YEAR BRACKET. I WAS NOT AS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND AS WE HAD DISCUSSED EARLIER. I FEEL LIKE NOW I'M
REACHING A POINT WHERE I CAN BE CONSISTENT WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT AND I'M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT WHAT THE NEXT FEW YEARS BRING.
LET'S CHECK IN WITH ONE OF OUR VIEWERS. IT'S CHRIS FROM ONTARIO WHO I THINK WANTS TO STAY RIGHT ALONG THAT SAME LINE. GO AHEAD CHRIS. HE'S RIGHT OVER HERE, PHIL, TO YOUR, TO YOUR LEFT.
CHRIS, CALLER FROM ONTARIO (MALE):
HI MR. MICKELSON.
HI CHRIS. HOW ARE YOU?
CHRIS, CALLER FROM ONTARIO (MALE):
VERY GOOD. GREAT PLAYING ON THE WEEKEND. IT WAS VERY EXCITING.
CHRIS, CALLER FROM ONTARIO (MALE):
IT WAS A GREAT TOURNAMENT. I HOPE YOU GET TIGER THIS WEEK.
WELL I'LL BE TRYING.
CHRIS, CALLER FROM ONTARIO (MALE):
I JUST WANT TO ASK YOU A QUESTION ABOUT THE MAJORS. WHAT MAJOR DO YOU THINK BEST SUITS YOUR GAME?
WELL, I THINK FOR ME PERSONALLY THE MASTERS BEST SUITS MY GAME FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT THE SHORT GAME IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF IT AND I FEEL LIKE, WITHOUT THERE BEING ROUGH I CAN REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MY UP AND DOWN ABILITY AND ALSO I THINK LENGTH
IS A BIG FACTOR THERE AND SO BECAUSE OF THAT, IT, THERE'S A SELECT TEN OR FIFTEEN GUYS THAT HAVE A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE AND I THINK THAT, BECAUSE OF THAT I HAVE A GOOD OPPORTUNITY THERE. NOW CERTAINLY THE U.S. OPEN IS,
I PLAYED WELL IN IN '99 AT PINEHURST BUT THE REASON I PLAYED WELL THERE WAS THEY SHAVED AROUND THE GREENS AND BROUGHT ALL ASPECTS OF THE GAME BACK INTO PLAY AS OPPOSED TO JUST DRIVING AND HITTING GREENS.
WE'LL TAKE A BREAK. BE RIGHT BACK WITH PHIL MICKELSON. DON'T GO AWAY.
Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.
Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.
''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.
Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.
Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.
''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''
It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.
Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.
Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.
The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.
''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''
PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.
Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.
Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.
''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''
It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.
He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.
''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''
Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.
Later, he laughed about the moment.
''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''
Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.
Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”
Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”
The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.
“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”
The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.
“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”
Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.
“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”
Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .
“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.
McIlroy, Scott have forgettable finish at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy and the rest of his group had a forgettable end to their rounds Thursday at the Honda Classic.
McIlroy was even par for the day and looking for one final birdie to end his opening round. Only two players had reached the par-5 finishing hole, but McIlroy tried to hold a 3-wood up against the wind from 268 yards away. It found the water, leading to a double bogey and a round of 2-over 72.
“It was the right shot,” McIlroy said. “I just didn’t execute it the right way.”
He wasn’t the only player to struggle coming home.
Adam Scott, who won here in 2016, found the water on both par 3s in the Bear Trap, Nos. 15 and 17. He made double on 15, then triple on 17, after his shot from the drop area went long, then he failed to get up and down. He shot 73, spoiling a solid round.
The third player in the group, Padraig Harrington, made a mess of the 16th hole, taking a triple.
The group played the last four holes in a combined 10 over.
Woods (70) better in every way on Day 1 at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Consider it a sign of the times that Tiger Woods was ecstatic about an even-par score Thursday at the Honda Classic.
It was by far his most impressive round in this nascent comeback.
Playing in a steady 20-mph wind, Woods was better in all facets of the game Thursday at PGA National. Better off the tee. Better with his irons. And better on and around the “scratchy” greens.
He hung tough to shoot 70 – four shots better than his playing partner, Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the current FedExCup leader – and afterward Woods said that it was a “very positive” day and that he was “very solid.”
It’s a small sample size, of course – seven rounds – but Woods didn’t hesitate in declaring this “easily” his best ball-striking round of the year.
And indeed it was, even if the stats don’t jump off the page.
Officially, he hit only seven of 14 fairways and just 10 greens, but some of those misses off the tee were a few paces into the rough, and some of those iron shots finished just off the edge of the green.
The more telling stat was this: His proximity to the hole (28 feet) was more than an 11-foot improvement over his first two starts this year. And also this: He was 11th among the early starters in strokes gained-tee to green, which measures a player’s all-around ball-striking. Last week, at Riviera, he ranked 121st.
“I felt very comfortable,” he said. “I felt like I hit the ball really well, and it was tough out there. I had to hit a lot of knockdown shots. I had to work the golf ball both ways, and occasionally downwind, straight up in the air.
“I was able to do all that today, so that was very pleasing.”
The Champion Course here at PGA National is the kind of course that magnifies misses and exposes a player if he’s slightly off with his game. There is water on 15 of the 18 holes, and there are countless bunkers, and it’s almost always – as it was Thursday – played in a one- or two-club wind. Even though it’s played a half hour from Woods’ compound in Hobe Sound, the Honda wasn’t thought to be an ideal tune-up for Woods’ rebuilt game.
But maybe this was just what he needed. He had to hit every conceivable shot Thursday, to shape it both ways, high and low, and he executed nearly every one of them.
The only hole he butchered was the par-5 third. With 165 yards for his third shot, he tried to draw a 6-iron into a stiff wind. He turned it over a touch too much, and it dropped into the bunker. He hit what he thought was a perfect bunker shot, but it got caught in the overseeded rye grass around the green and stayed short. He chipped to 3 feet and then was blown off-balance by a wind gust. Double.
But what pleased Woods most was what he did next. Steaming from those unforced errors, he was between a 2- and 3-iron off the tee. He wanted to leave himself a 60-degree wedge for his approach into the short fourth hole, but a full 2-iron would have put him too close to the green.
So he took a little off and “threw it up in the air” – 292 yards.
“That felt really good,” Woods said, smiling. And so did the 6-footer that dropped for a bounce-back birdie.
"I feel like I'm really not that far away," he said.
To illustrate just how much Woods’ game has evolved in seven rounds, consider this perspective from Brandt Snedeker.
They played together at Torrey Pines, where Woods somehow made the cut despite driving it all over the map. In the third round, Woods scraped together a 70 while Snedeker turned in a 74, and afterward Snedeker said that Woods’ short game was “probably as good or better than I ever remember it being.”
A month later, Snedeker saw significant changes. Woods’ short game is still tidy, but he said that his iron play is vastly improved, and it needed to be, given the challenging conditions in the first round.
“He controlled his ball flight really well and hit a bunch of really good shots that he wasn’t able to hit at Torrey, because he was rusty,” said Snedeker, who shot 74. “So it was cool to see him flight the ball and hit some little cut shots and some little three-quarter shots and do stuff I’m accustomed to see him doing.”
Conditions are expected to only get more difficult, more wind-whipped and more burned out, which is why the winning score here has been single-digits under par four of the past five years.
But Woods checked an important box Thursday, hitting the shots that were required in the most difficult conditions he has faced so far.
Said Snedeker: “I expect to see this as his baseline, and it’ll only get better from here.”