Phil Mickelson Sunday Masters Press Conference Transcript
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.
McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status
For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.
The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.
McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.
"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."
By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.
But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.
Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.
Vogel Monday qualifies for eighth time this season
The PGA Tour's regular season ended with another tally for the Monday King.
While Monday qualifiers are a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve, with dozens of decorated professionals vying for no more than four spots in a given tournament field, T.J. Vogel has turned them into his personal playground this season. That trend continued this week when he earned a spot into the season-ending Wyndham Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 and surviving a 4-for-3 playoff for the final spots.
It marks Vogel's eighth successful Monday qualification this season, extending the unofficial record he set when he earned start No. 7 last month at The Greenbrier. Patrick Reed earned the nickname "Mr. Monday" when he successfully qualified six different times during the 2012 season before securing full-time status.
There have been 24 different Monday qualifiers throughout the season, with Vogel impressively turning 19 qualifier starts into eight tournament appearances.
Vogel started the year with only conditional Web.com Tour status, and explained at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May that he devised his summer schedule based on his belief that it's easier to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour event than a Web.com tournament.
"The courses that the PGA Tour sets the qualifiers up, they're more difficult and sometimes they're not a full field whereas the Web, since there's no pre-qualifier, you have two full fields for six spots each and the courses aren't as tough," Vogel said. "So I feel like if you take a look at the numbers, a lot of the Web qualifiers you have to shoot 8-under."
Vogel has made three cuts in his previous seven starts this year, topping out with a T-16 finish at the Valspar Championship in March. The 27-year-old also played the weekend at the Nelson and the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut at The Greenbrier in addition to the RSM Classic, Honda Classic and FedEx St. Jude Classic.
While Vogel won't have another Monday qualifier opportunity until October, he has a chance to secure some 2019 status this week in Greensboro. His 51 non-member FedExCup points would currently slot him 205th in the season-long race, 13 points behind Rod Pampling at No. 200. If Vogel earns enough points to reach the equivalent of No. 200 after this week, he'd clinch a spot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals where he would have a chance to compete for a full PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season.
Woods adds BMW Championship to playoff schedule
Tiger Woods is adding a trip to Philadelphia to his growing playoff itinerary.
Having already committed to both The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods' agent confirmed to GolfChannel.com that the 14-time major champ will also make an appearance next month at the BMW Championship. It will mark Woods' first start in the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs since 2013 when he tied for 11th at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago.
This year the Sept. 6-9 event is shifting to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., which is hosting the BMW for the first time. The course previously hosted the Quicken Loans National in both 2010 and 2011. Woods won the BMW en route to FedExCup titles in both 2007 and 2009 when it was held at Cog Hill in Illinois.
Woods was already in good position to make the 70-man BMW field, but his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship vaulted him from 49th to 20th in the season-long points race and assured that he'll make it to Aronimink regardless of his performance in the first two postseason events.
Woods' commitment also means a packed schedule will only get busier leading into the Ryder Cup, where he is expected to be added as a captain's pick. Woods' appearance at the BMW will cap a run of five events in six weeks, and should he tee it up in Paris it could be his seventh start in a nine-week stretch if he also qualifies for the 30-player Tour Championship.
Handing out major grades: From A+ to F
The Masters is 237 days away, which means these definitive major grades will hang on players like a scarlet letter for nearly eight months.
OK, maybe not.
Brooks Koepka, obviously, gets an A+. He won two majors, and became just the fourth player to take the U.S. Open and PGA in the same season, and did all of this while overcoming a career-threatening wrist injury at the beginning of the year. Very impressive.
Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari – you passed with flying colors, too. Reed showed that he can access his best stuff in an event other than the Ryder Cup, while Molinari’s three-month heater culminated with him surviving a wild final day at Carnoustie to hoist the claret jug. Welcome to the major club, gents.
As for everybody else? Hey, you’ve now got plenty of time to recover, reassess and round into form in hopes of improved marks in ’19.
Why: Sure, a few shots from his major season will linger for years – his too-cute pitch shot on Carnoustie’s 11th hole and his sliced drive on Bellerive’s 17th immediately come to mind – but let’s not forget how far we’ve come: Two years ago, Woods could barely walk because of debilitating back pain; at this time last year, he’d just exited a treatment facility for overusing his pain/sleep medications, following an embarrassing DUI arrest. Now, he’s top 30 in the world, with a pair of top-6s in the majors and undoubtedly the most stirring final round of the year, in any event, with his career-best Sunday 64 at the PGA. If you still think that Tiger doesn’t have what it takes to win another major, you’ve lost touch with reality.
Why: He was one of only two players (Webb Simpson) who finished top 20 in all four majors, and he’ll probably look back at 2018 as a year in which he easily could have bagged a second title. At the U.S. Open he was only one shot off the lead after 54 holes but stumbled on the final day. A month later, he tied for second at The Open, but only after a weekend rally once he made the cut on the number. Across all four majors he had the best cumulative score to par of any player (12 under). This was a what-could-have-been year.
Why: His 65-67 finish at the Masters left him one shot back of Reed, but it felt like the final obstacle had been cleared. Nothing was stopping Fowler now – he proved he could go low when it counted. Except then he imploded with an 84 in the third round of the U.S. Open and shot over par in both weekend rounds at The Open, before again getting into the mix at the PGA. Alas, battling an oblique strain, he regressed each round after an opening 65 and tied for 12th. Maybe next year …
Why: Give him credit: He played better in the majors than he did the rest of the season. He shot an electric 64 on the final day at the Masters (though he’ll rue his tee shot on the 72nd hole) and grabbed a share of the 54-hole lead at The Open, despite not having his best stuff. That he shot a birdieless 76 on the final day was more a product of his form this year than succumbing to major pressure. Like Kopeka, he’s figured out how to perform when the lights are the brightest.
Why: With the completeness of his game, it’s a little surprising that he hasn’t given himself better chances to break through. But he’s still only 23, and the chances will come in bunches before long. His fourth-place showings at the Masters and the PGA are steps in the right direction.
Why: Asked Sunday how he’ll remember the major season, McIlroy replied bluntly: “Probably won’t. I don’t think there was anything all that memorable about it.” Of course, we’ll remember plenty, such as when he played his way into the final group at Augusta, only to fade over the course of the day, thus squandering another shot at capturing the career Grand Slam. And we’ll remember his tie for second at Carnoustie, where he eagled the 14th hole but then, with a chance to apply pressure on Molinari, couldn’t hit a wedge within 20 feet on the 18th green. He’s fallen into bad habits with that majestic swing, but there are holes in McIlroy’s game that need filling – holes that some of the other top players don’t have. And until he refines his wedge play and putting, that majorless drought (now four years and counting) will continue.
Why: No one has been better than Thomas over the past two seasons, but he’s likely frustrated by his major performance in 2018 – three top-25s, but only one realistic chance to win. Four shots off the lead heading into Sunday at the PGA, he had erased his deficit midway through the front nine but made critical mistakes on Nos. 14 and 16 to dash his hopes of defending his title. Of all the big-name players, he’s probably the best bet for a major rebound in 2019.
Why: This has been a resurgent season for Day, with a pair of wins, but he didn’t bring it in the year’s biggest events. It’ll look good on paper, with three top-20s, but the only time he had a chance to win was the PGA, and he was one of the few to back up on the final day, carding a 1-over 71 when he sat just four shots off the lead.
Why: The floodgates were supposed to open after the 2016 U.S. Open, and it just hasn’t happened. Yet. He top-tenned at the Masters but was a non-factor, then jumped out to a four-shot lead halfway through the U.S. Open. He couldn’t make a putt during a Saturday 77, then got worked on the final day, head to head, against Koepka. He backed it up with a missed cut at The Open (where he blamed a lack of focus) and finished outside the top 25 at the PGA at a soft, straightforward course that suited plenty of other bombers. He can – and should – fare better.
Why: His series of lowlights at the U.S. Open – where he bizarrely whacked a moving ball on the green and then staunchly defended his actions – underscored that his window is all but closed at the majors. His major results since getting demoralized by Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open: T33-T22-MC-MC-T36-T48-T24-MC. ’Nuff said.
Why: No doubt, marriage and fatherhood are massive adjustments for everyone, but he’s missed the cut in his last five majors (and didn’t break par in any major round this year), plummeted down the world rankings (to 25th!) and put European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in a difficult position of deciding whether to burn a pick on the slumping Spaniard. Memories of that breakthrough Masters victory are already drifting further and further away.