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.
Getty Images

Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

Getty Images

McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

Getty Images

The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.