Phil Mickelson Sunday Masters Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 8, 2001, 4:00 pm
Q. Looking at your back nine, could you talk about 11 and 16 and what happened there and do you think that was the key to your round eventually?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't feel as though 11 was that big of a deal, although I lost two shots on that hole. I hit a poor drive. I tried to hit a sling hook around the corner and hit it right into the tree. I had a chance to make par and just missed about a seven or eight footer. 16 was a real killer, because I finally got within a shot, and I needed to step up and make a really good swing there and attack that pin and make birdie and I just pulled a 7-iron up on that slope, and that was a very disappointing shot, because I needed to put some pressure and have at least a good birdie opportunity, and when I was looking at that putt, not only was I not really looking at making it, but I was going to have a tough time 2-putting, which I ultimately did not do.
Q. Can you put into some historical perspective what Tiger has been able to accomplish, both within golf, and just as a sports accomplishment really winning all four?
PHIL MICKELSON: I really haven't been thinking about it. I couldn't answer that right now.
Q. Did you get any satisfaction out of the fact that you played right -- you and David played right there and made this a great golf tournament, or the fact that he didn't win, sort of takes all the joy out of it?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that today was a day before if I did not have an opportunity to win this tournament, I would be much more disappointed than I am now, where at least I had the opportunity and just didn't come through. But, I'm certainly more disappointed right now, and really, I am not thinking about the joy of having the chance to win. It was -- it was disappointing not to come out on top today.
Q. The putt after a very good second shot on 14, was that a misread of spit or a miss-hit, leaving it short?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was. I should have known it was a slow -- slower putt. I saw in 1986 Tom Kite had basically the same putt and leave it short. I knew it was uphill, and I just wasn't thinking about it as I was putting it. I was thinking about the break, that it just stopped breaking a little bit at the hole and I played a little bit less than I was originally thinking. I got so into the line that I forgot to make an aggressive stroke. I left it right in the heart, too. If I had just hit it, I think it would have gone in.
Q. Do you feel like you played well and just got beat or one got away?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that looking back on it, this was a tournament where I've got to take some positive and some negative out of it. I feel as though my game is to a point where I feel like I can finally win these tournaments and contend in them regularly. I really do have that confidence. When I look back on this week, though, if I'm going to win with Tiger in the field, I cannot make the mistakes that I have been making. I've got to eliminate those somehow. I may be able to make one or two, but I can't make as many as I've made all the week, from double-bogeys on 12 and 14 earlier in the week, to four bogeys today that were really not tough pars. So, I just can't afford to keep throwing shot after shot away. But all in all, I don't feel as though I'm that far off. I just think that mentally, I'm not there for all 72 shots. I feel like I'm just slacking off on two or three and just kind of letting momentum take over and not really thinking through each shot, and it's cost me some vital strokes.
Q. You talked yesterday about how you have been aiming for this day for a long time in your life. Can you put into words now the frustration that you feel right now?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know what words to say. I mean, I'm certainly disappointed, but I'm getting to the point now where I've got to look back on the round and figure out how to improve more next time and see if I can come through for next time. It's disappointing, because I felt like this was a great opportunity for me and I felt like I was ready for it.
Q. How much did the missed opportunity on 14 take out of you?
PHIL MICKELSON: It didn't really take that much. 14 wasn't the big one to me. 16 was the big one. I've got the momentum. I've got the honors. If I can stack one on 16 and hit a good golf shot, I think the whole momentum changes, and to pull it up on top, the one place I can't hit it, don't even give myself a putt at it, even if I'm 30 feet short where Tiger was, it's a great look at a birdie and I just didn't do it. That was the swing that hurt the most.
Q. Were you surprised that the ball didn't trickle down and his hit a foot away from yours and did take the slope?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. His was moving right-to-left and mine was moving left-to-right.
Q. On 8, he made a tough 8-footer. On 9 he made a slick 6-footer to save par. 10 he made a 6-footer to save. It is frustrating to watch that or can you comment on his ability to make those hard 6-footers?
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I didn't watch him play a stroke, so I really couldn't tell you. I just -- looked up and I saw the ball going in and just kind of expected that. So, I really didn't watch.
Q. Can you talk about your putting today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Very erratic. I didn't feel bad with the putter. I just missed some crucial putts. I made some good ones. I made some really nice putts. I made a great putt on 2 from eight feet, and then follow it up with kind of a 3-putt from off the fringe on 4. Make a great putt on 5 from about ten, 12 feet and follow it up with a missed 3-footer on 6. I make a 20-footer on 7, and then I can't remember the last miss. I missed an easy six or seven footer on 11. It just seemed like it was a make-or-miss, make-or-miss. I had a good chance on 13 and 14 and missed both of those and I come back and make a tough one on 15 for birdie and I 3-putt 16 missing that short one. I just didn't feel bad with it. I just was on a roller coaster. I couldn't stay focused, I guess.
Q. Have you ever had a putting day like that before?
PHIL MICKELSON: Sure. Sure. I've played enough golf to have all kind of rounds. (Laughter.)
Q. Did you feel the crowd this year get behind you more than past years, building up as the week went on as well?
PHIL MICKELSON: I certainly felt support. I think all of the players here felt support from the crowd. They really are the best fans that we have in the game, and we see the same spectators year-in and year-out, and they are very respectful of the players. I think that not only myself, but I think all players felt the support.
Q. Is there any time when you think that maybe you're playing your best golf at the wrong time in history?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, not really. Not yet.
Q. Do you feel when you look at your 70 that you -- the tournament was there and you didn't take it or that Tiger beat you?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's tough to say, because he seems to do just what is required, and I think that if I was making a run, I think he may have followed suit. That's tough to say. I certainly in walking away from it looking back saying that I threw so many shots away that I just can't afford to do it anymore.
Q. You've had a nice run since the British Open. You've had a couple of tough patches with the short putting. Can you address that part of your game, please?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've worked pretty extensively on my putting, trying to become more consistent. And day-in and day-out, I feel like I'm more consistent of a putter. However, the last -- last few weeks, I have not been. I have missed a number of short putts, and I'm not quite sure why. I feel like -- I don't know quite if it is the read or if I'm just a little off on my stroke or what. But, it has not been as consistent as I expect, but, again, I really, statistically, I have not looked at it, but I don't think it has been a bad year putting-wise. I actually have been putting fairly well. I don't expect to make every four and 5-footer. It's just not physically possible. But, the ones that I've missed certainly sting.
Q. What were the distances on the two putts on 16?
PHIL MICKELSON: The first one was what, 35 feet on top of the hill and the second one was only about seven feet.
Q. You said that you didn't watch Tiger hit a stroke all day. Was that part of injure strategy?
PHIL MICKELSON: Was it part of my strategy? It wasn't so much part of my strategy. I just chose not to.
Q. After the disappointment of 16, you still came back, hit two good shots and gave yourself one more chance. What was the thought process there as far as what you were feeling?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I thought that on 17, after Tiger hit it in the rough, I knew he was going to have a tough time getting at the pin, and if I could birdie 17, I could get within 1 going into 18. Hit a good drive in the fairway and hit a good wedge to about 18 feet. I would have liked it to have been closer, but hit it a little long. I really had a good look at that putt. It just broke a little bit right-to-left and I missed it just slightly low just like I did on 18. Hit it a little right-to-left and missed it slightly low.
Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”


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Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”

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More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

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Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.

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Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).