Phil Mickelson Friday Masters Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 6, 2001, 4:00 pm
Q. How big was that putt on 18?
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.
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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.

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USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 8:00 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.

The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.

How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.

Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.

So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.

After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.

“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”

Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.

Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.

The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.

At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.

“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”

By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.

“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”

That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.

It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.

“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”

But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.

The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.

“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”

It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.

So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.

“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”

But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.

After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.

“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”

Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.

Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.

@bubbawatson on Instagram

Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 5:40 pm

Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.

Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.

Got autographed by defending @usopengolf Champ @bkoepka!! #NeverShoweringAgain

A post shared by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.

Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).