Phil Mickelson Friday Masters Press Conference Transcript
PHIL MICKELSON: It was nice. It was one of a few mistakes that I've made. I feel like I've made some good decisions the last two days, and the decision to attack that pin and get a little bit overaggressive missing it right on 18 was a poor one. If I played left, or play at the pin, I'm going to have a nice look at birdie and instead I get a little overaggressive and lost it to the right and went in the one place I couldn't miss it. And I knew it, too, I knew that was the one place I could not miss it. I was overaggressive with the wedge. I had a pitching wedge and I was hitting it well and felt like I could attack. When you miss it there's nothing that you can do. It's just going to be a 12- or 15-footer and I was just fortunate to not cost myself a shot.
Q. How far did you play it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Just four or five feet. I was just trying to go at the pin and push it to the right and I pulled it with a little draw, got it up in the air and it kept drifting.
Q. The sand shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: I just played it up into the hill. I just went up into the hill. In relation to the hole, it was probably -- the hole was probably about 20 or 30 feet below the slope.
Q. Is that almost good to get that out of the way, maybe the one time you are going to be a little bit too aggressive, it comes in at that point and rather than later in the week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that having the mistake happen on 12 was important for me, because it opens my eyes to how challenging that hole could be. I had an opportunity today, with the conditions, to get it back, to get three of those shots back. It was a poor swing unfortunately, landed on the green but just spun off and went into the water. I think that having had that happen early was important, because first of all, I can recover and second of all, I'm going to be more aware and do my best not to have that happen again.
Q. Did you feel the wind?
PHIL MICKELSON: But I had plenty of club with a little bit of hurt. It was 154, which I can hit my 8-iron about 160, 162. So there was not eight yards of wind. I just came out of it. I lost it left and the wind was also right-to-left and pushed it left at the hole. Had it been right at the pin, it may have carried the bunker, gone in the bunker, and I would have been fine, which the line I had intended, but when it went in, that's when I knew I had potential trouble. It landed on the green but spun back off.
Q. At that point did you feel like you were playing under the influence of smelling salts?
PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't had that experience before. Would you share what that would be like? (Laughs). I felt like -- the disappointing thing was now 14, 15 I had to birdie just to get those two shots back, I could not gain ground. I was able to do that and play those smart. I didn't get aggressive on 13, and I could not because of the pin. I could have gotten aggressive on 15, but I didn't want to have the same thing happen as on 12; whereas if I lose it left, all of the sudden it has got a longer carry over the water and so I play it to the right and 2-putted for birdie and got both of those shots back that I lost. It was difficult playing 13 and 15, knowing that I need to birdie, just to get back to where I was, but I was fortunate to be able to do that.
Q. Looking at how you played and where you stand at this point, how do you feel about the weekend?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm very excited to be where I'm at. I've played two solid rounds, I feel. And I've been playing well. I am excited about having an opportunity to win this golf tournament heading into the weekend. To be tied for second and be only two shots back is a very good position to be in, and something I would have taken, certainly from the onset of the event. And there's something that is very special about having an opportunity to win here, and I'm very fortunate that I have a chance heading into the weekend this year and I'm looking forward to taking advantage of it.
Q. I think you have the fewest number of putts so far in the field. Have you had a 3-putt yet? Is your good putting because you are leaving it on the correct side of the hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: I appreciate you bringing that up and have me think about that. Thank you. (Laughter.) I have really knocked the ball very close to the hole with my irons. I have had a bunch of tap-ins for birdies. I have not made any excessively long putts. I think the longest putt that I really made today was that par putt on 18 but the putt -- but the longest birdie putt was only eight or ten feet.
Q. Given the way you've played over the past few months, have you ever felt more confident here, going into the weekend?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would say, again, just as I had said earlier, I don't think that there has ever been a better opportunity for me to breakthrough and win a major than this event right now. I've been playing well. The golf course sets up well for me. I feel as though I'm making -- or know what decisions to make, and how to manage my game around Augusta National. I think that this weekend provides the best opportunity for me.
Q. Can you talk about the 10th hole and what happened there with your second shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: Just something that's been -- that's been happening all week, really, is that the second cut is creating fliers. I had a ball that just jumped and sailed. I had a 5-iron into the wind that flew 230 yards in the air. You just can't control that. I tried to play for it a little bit, but it just took off and soared through the air. Everybody has got to play with it, or deal with it, and it was just a tough shot. I chose to be long of the hole, as opposed to taking less club and playing more for the ball to jump that far and come up short and have that chip. I did not think that I would fly it 30 yards by the pin, certainly, over the green to where I was.
Q. Are you saying that this is your best opportunity to win; is that sort of a positive affirmation or is that something that could, come Sunday, end up being sort of a weight on your shoulders?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's not a weight, because I think that every tournament that I -- every major that I play in provides a better and better opportunity than in the past. So that's basically where I was heading with that. I think that because I've been playing well this year, and because I played well last year, and because I played consistently well in the majors last year; meaning I played well all four of them, which I haven't really done in years past. I felt very comfortable heading in that I would put myself in contention. And that being the case, I feel like now, I'll make the right decisions and manage my game a little bit better than I have in the years past.
Q. Is it an advantage or disadvantage to not be playing with Tiger tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know. You know, is it an advantage or disadvantage to not be playing with Chris DiMarco? I mean, I don't know. I don't think it matters either way. Now, I certainly hope that we have an opportunity to go head-to-head on Sunday. I think that that would be fun. So I hope that we all have good days tomorrow.
Q. Where do you think your ability comes from to bounce back from things like 12 today and other things? Some players, once that happens, they kind of go into a funk and you seem to always be able to come back and get yourself together?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, if you grew up in my household with my parents, you would learn to bounce back from things -- huh, Mom? I don't know, I think that, for me, when I play golf, and I make a bad swing, the next swing that I make, I'm not trying to fix the previous one. I'm trying to hit a good shot. And so, I'm always working out of the positive, as opposed to the negative of fixing bad swings. That, to me is not a fun way to play. So when I stood on 13 tee, I was not trying to not hit a block. I was just trying to make a good swing and cut it around the corner. I think that the ability to refocus on what I want to do, as opposed to what I don't want to do allows me to make some birdies, even after bad swings.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.