Phil Mickelson Saturday Masters Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 7, 2001, 4:00 pm
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I ended up shooting 3-under par today with a few mistakes, but I was able to off-set with some birdies and I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to play in the final group tomorrow.
 
Q. Can you talk about coming back from a couple of those bogeys, the putt on the last hole and how important that was?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I knew that heading into 17, I needed to birdie 17 and 18 to get in the last group and I felt like that would be important, because I did not want to have what happened to me at Bay Hill happen again, where he knew what he had to do with a couple holes left and ultimately came through with a birdie. I wanted to be playing with him, and know where we stand and not only that, know where the rest of the field stands, because there's a lot of guys who potentially could win this golf tournament.
 
Q. On the double on 14, you yesterday, you said, well, I'm glad it happened early and something I could recover from -- today was -- (Inaudible)
 
PHIL MICKELSON: When I'm playing I'm not really thinking about if I have enough time or not. I'm just trying to get the job done, no matter what it takes. I am just trying to get the score in. I ultimately birdied 17 and 18 to do that. Certainly, it's not ideal to make double-bogey. That's not my plan of action. But I feel as though there are enough holes to recover, and tomorrow will be an important day. I don't really have too many opportunities to let slide away like that. If I'm going to come out on top tomorrow, I don't really need to play any different. I just need to reduce the mistake a touch. Turn the double into a bogey. I'm going to hit bad shots. I'm not perfect and I'm going to miss putts. I will make bogeys. But if I can just reduce it and take a 6 into a 5, I should be able to overcome that much easier with a birdie or two.
 
Q. You talked about reducing mistakes, you've talked about that autumn week. In hindsight, if you could play the third shot on 14 again -- I know you are as good as anybody at the lob shot, but would you change that? (Inaudible)
 
PHIL MICKELSON: I would say to answer the latter part of that question, the miss-hit shot does not have to be very big. That shot on 14 was a foot from becoming somewhat close to the hole or having a pretty easy par. It looked like it was going to stay up top and it didn't and it came back down and all of the sudden I've got a very difficult 4. Would I hit that shot differently? Looking at it, if you look at the shot, there was a ridge, and if I went left of the ridge, it is going to being right back down and if I go right back of the ridge it is going to go 30 feet by. I had a 30-footer anyways up the hill. So I felt like the shot I played was not an unintelligent shot. It didn't come off that badly. It just was 30 feet and I 3-putted. It is going to be a difficult four that I thought I could have made a 4 no problem. To be honest with you, I was expecting to miss, with as hard that ground it; I expected to miss a little bit long. I did not think I could get underneath it.
 
Q. Can you talk about what it will mean just for your confidence and your mental state tomorrow to know that you are one shot behind Tiger at the TOUR Championship and went on to beat him?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I certainly have a lot of respect for Tiger as a player and as a person and what he goes through day-in and day-out and what he has accomplished in the game of golf. With that being said, I've been able to go head-to-head with him and come out on top a few times. I do have confidence that I can prevail tomorrow. So, I'm looking forward to the challenge. Not only that, I feel like I've been playing well the last year and a half and my ball-striking has improved to the point where I feel very comfortable that it will be there when I need it. And I'm not overly anxious the way I have been in years past, heading into tomorrow.
 
Q. Can you talk about No. 8 and 3-putting, how far was the first putt?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: About six feet.
 
Q. Can you take us through it?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was obviously downhill and quick, and I tried to make it, and it slid by about three feet and I missed it coming back. I don't know what else to say. I hit the first putt very easy. I tried not to go at it, just trickle it in. I had a pretty good read and it just didn't do what I thought it would. Just missed it coming back. It was a poor second putt. It didn't go ridiculously far, five -- just three feet.
 
Q. At 9, was that a big thing to rebound like that?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, it helps with me being patient. If I can get a birdie back in the next few holes, it makes being patient much easier.
 
Q. Can you talk about the difference between last year and this year? Can you talk about your mindset going into tomorrow, and why your mind set is --
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I feel very confident tomorrow, because I've been playing well this last year and a half, and the swing changes that I have made, I feel like a much more consistent ball striker day-in and day-out and I feel like I have become a more consistent putter as well. So the anxiety that I would have between rounds on whether or not it would be there tomorrow, is really no longer there. I feel very comfortable that when I get on the tee tomorrow, it will be there.
 
Q. One of the things that Chris DiMarco said that was sort of intimidating about playing with Tiger is that, you know, Chris has got 6-, 7-irons in, and Tiger is hitting sand wedges, pitching wedges, just blowing it by him. In terms of length, do you think that is going to be an issue as to who is going to be first away tomorrow?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll be first away. (Laughter.) There's no question on that. Most of the holes that you will see a big difference in distance will be the right-to-left holes because he will be hitting a draw, to my cut. On the left-to-right holes, I don't think you'll see too big of a difference when he is having to cut it, to my draw. But holes like 5, he'll be well by me, and holes like, I guess, 18 - 18 he is hitting driver and I'm hitting iron or 3-wood. There will be a big difference there.
 
Q. Talk a little bit about the psychology of that, hitting first into greens? Do you put pressure on him?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well it depends how close you hit it. Hit it close, sure. If not, you give him a free reign at it. I'm not overly concerned about the distance barrier tomorrow. I think that all of the par 5's will be reachable for both of us. He might have a shorter iron in. The par 5's -- the par 4's, he might have a shorter iron in, but it won't be anything that could not be overcome.
 
Q. Are you mentally a different golfer than two, three, four years ago?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely. Not only mentally but physically.
 
Q. Is there more of a mental toughness to you out there than there has been four or five years ago?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Possibly. You could attribute it to mental toughness or you could attribute it to improved ball-striking, improved putting. I think I would attribute it to the latter.
 
Q. Do you have to guard against maybe locking into a match-play mentality?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think Tiger or I will approach tomorrow as match play. If you look on the board, there are some guys behind that are incredible players, that are going to have an opportunity to get out 40 minutes in front of us, make a run, make birdies early; and all of the sudden, before we tee off we could be trailing. So I don't think the approach, by either of us, will be match play at all. Maybe on the back nine if we both shoot 4- or 5-under on the front it might turn into something like that, but I don't anticipate that being the atmosphere.
 
Q. Talk about the mental changes you made. What sort of swing changes, technique?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: There's a bunch of little things to go into, but just basically becoming more fundamentally sound. I think if you look at videotape from this year's tournament, let's say, and you look back at 1996 when I won four times and you look at my swing from behind and face on, you'll see a huge difference. If you cannot see the difference, you haven't really spent too much time studying the swing, because you'll notice a swing plane difference; you'll notice a club face angle difference; you'll notice lower body action change; you'll notice an upper body action change. There's a lot of -- and they all work together. And so it is hard to say one without the other. Just a number of things.
 
Q. How badly do you want this tomorrow?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that's pretty obvious one to answer. Desperately want this. Very much so. I've said all along that I feel like this provides me with the best opportunity, and it is something that I've been looking forward to for some time to finally break through. I have been preparing, not just this past year, not just this past ten years, but since I was a little kid, picking up range balls at a driving range so I could practice as much as I needed to, dreaming of this day. And so tomorrow is a very important day for me.
 
Q. Can you take us shot-by-shot on 17 and 18?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: 17, I hit driver and 9-iron from 140 to 15 feet and made that for birdie. 18, hit 2-iron off the tee and 8-iron to the ten feet and made that for birdie.
 
Q. Does playing with Tiger in the final day affect your aggressiveness, as opposed to playing with anyone else, even if it is subconscious?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: No. (Laughter.)
 
Q. You were about to say something? I would be interested to see what you would say?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't want to short-change you on your answer. But basically, no. (Laughter.)
 
Q. You said the other day that the next ten years are important to you, how people are going to look at you and remember you. Does that make this final round of the Masters, whoever you are playing against, the biggest night of your life?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, yes, because the way I look at it is the winner of this tournament doesn't just win a major. He becomes a part of the history of the game, and that's what I -- what excites me. This tournament creates -- it creates something that is very special, and year-in and year-out, history is made here. History of the game is made here, and I want to be a part of that. That's why this tournament means so much to me.
 
Q. Other than not having a beeper attached to your body, what is the difference between the way that you're focusing in on that versus Pinehurst, because you played so well at Pinehurst?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: There's really not too much difference. I felt like I went into Pinehurst with the sole ambition of winning, because I did not want to travel across the United States and leave my wife, who is due any week now, to just finish in the Top-10. I've been approaching the four majors differently this year, in that a lot of the preparation has been trying to find out what works best for me, and how to prepare best for these tournaments. I think I'm pretty close to finding out what that is, and I came here with the sole intention of winning, just like everybody else did. But I feel like this is the best opportunity for me to finally do that.
 
P. DAN YATES: It's been a long day for Phil. So let's have one more question right here. (Laughter).
 
Q. I wish I could make this a simple question, but I'm afraid it's a little beyond that. In watching Tiger in the last three, four years, and your preparation and your mindset for this moment, what have you learned from him?
 
PHIL MICKELSON: That for me to win, I have to strive to reach a different level of play, and I have to be able to attain it. And that means not worrying or thinking about other players. That means bringing my best game out, and that's -- that's something that's not always easy to do, but that's what I've been trying to learn from that.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES FOR WOMEN’S GOLF IN 2017

  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told GolfChannel.com.

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Web.com Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.