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What they said: Phil Mickelson


MORE INTERVIEWS:HSBC Champions transcripts archive

LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome Phil Mickelson to the interview room. Bogey?free 66 out there, obviously the highlight on your last hole, No.9, maybe just talk us through today and what was going right four.

PHIL MICKELSON:I had a really about day today. I played well obviously and scored well. I drove the ball extremely well. I missed only one fairway today so I played from the fairway the entire round.

My irons were good and I made some good putts, so I had a very stress?free, pretty easy 66 today, and I'm excited about these next three rounds. The golf course is wonderful, and I really enjoyed it and I'm playing well.

LAURA HILL: Can you just talk us through the eagle on No.9, the yardage and how long the putt was?

PHIL MICKELSON:I hit a 3?wood off the tee. I hit a 3?wood into the green to about 15 feet and made that for birdie.

Q. When was the last time you ever lost your cool on the golf course?

PHIL MICKELSON:Oh, when I was 10, I threw a club, and my dad did not let me play the next three holes. I had to walk and I wasn't allowed to play. And he said I can't play until I can have fun. So that was probably the last time I lost my cool.

But I have been upset on the course a number of times, but never to where I've done that again.

Q. In a previous interview Ian Poulter mentioned it would be possible to make minus ten in one day in one round of golf. It seems like most of the leaders are now at minus six; what do you think about the comment and what is missing?

PHIL MICKELSON:The reason why it will not happen is the greens are not holding the ball, and it's very difficult to get to many of the tucked pins.

In the practise rounds, the pins were in the middle of the green, and yes, you could make a lot of birdies. But it's very difficult to get to some of the pins today and the rest of the week, but I think this is a wonderful golf course.

Q. You said a couple of times it's a wonderful golf course; can you just expand on that, what are the particular aspects of the course that you like?

PHIL MICKELSON:I think the greens are very well done. They reward a good shot, and give you an opportunity to make a putt if you hit a good shot close. But they are penalising with some fall?offs that will put you in a spot to make bogey.

The par 5s are reachable but if you don't drive it well or hit a good shot, you'll make some bogeys and doubles with the water.

The 15th hole is a great example I think of just a terrific hole. It's the signature hole here. If you hit a good drive, you can go for the green. If you go for the green, you have water, left, right, difficulty long. It's just a very fair test, and rewards good shots.

Q. Going back to what you were saying about your temperament, was that the key today you? Looked incredibly relaxed. Also, how did it feel to finish that way on the last hole?

PHIL MICKELSON:It was a great way to finish with an eagle. I was hoping just to make birdie on the last hole. I think the reason I was so calm today was I drove the ball extremely well and hit every fairway; I missed one fairway by two yards, the par?5, 7 maybe, or 3?? I think the par?5, 3 and I still made birdie.

Because I drove the ball very well, it made the course, it allowed me to be aggressive and try to make birdies.

Q. Back to questions about the golf course. On this golf course, it's famous for the bunkers; there are a lot of bunkers, and you never mentioned it in your answer. Is it not unusual for professional players, or what do you feel about that?

PHIL MICKELSON:It is very well bunkered. I hit it in a number of bunkers. But if you are in the correct bunker, where?? how do I explain it, it's not short?sided. If you have enough green to work with, if you have enough room, you can get up?and?down and make par or birdie. And so I was in bunkers but was able to get up?and?down.

Q. You mentioned in your previous interview about building two golf courses and designing two golf courses in China. Just give us a bit of an idea of where they are located how they are placed construction?wise, how far you are from completing it, and secondly, what's been your design for the last few years as a golf course designer?

PHIL MICKELSON:One course in Shanghai, I was there on Sunday, will open in a year. It should open this time next year. We're already putting grass on it and it should be ready, maybe even before a year.

The course that I designed in Kunming is just about ready for play. We have one or two more that we're designing at the same resort in Kunming. But the championship course is just about ready to open.

My philosophy is to try to make a golf course challenging for a good player but playable for the average player. The way I do that is I try to allow the Amateur player to run the ball to the green. I try to have the ground help the ball go to the green, not pull the ball away. When I get to the green, I try to create some movement that makes it difficult for the good player to get it close.

The bunkers, I try to have placed as hazards for the good player where he hits it. But the average player who is short of that, I try to have more room. And that's some of the ways, and there are others, but some of the ways I try to make it challenging for a good player and playable for the average player.

Also, the most fun holes to play are short par 3s under 150 yards, drivable par 4s, and reachable par 5s. So I try to have one of each on each nine holes. I want to have easy birdie holes and then I want to have hard par holes. So I try to have birdies and bogeys.

Q. Is that the key for the rest of the weekends, putting yourself?

PHIL MICKELSON:It's a fair test, I played well today and it was a fun day.

Q. Is that the key for the rest of the week, putting the ball in the right spot and giving yourself chance?

PHIL MICKELSON:Yeah, if I drive the ball well, which I am right now, and I just put it in play, my iron play has been very good, and will give myself a number of birdie putts. I've been reading the greens well. I enjoy this paspalum grass. I think that it's a very good grass. We had it at Kiawah for the PGA. The ball putts very true and sits up nicely on the fairways. It's a very good grass.

Q. Good shape for the weekends?

PHIL MICKELSON:It's gotten better every week since the PGA. I played very well at The Ryder Cup and my game has gotten even better since then. I feel very confident with it. I've been driving the ball better than I ever have. My iron play is as good as it's been and my short game has been strong, so I really expect?? I played well today so it's easy to have confidence. I expect to continue some good play these next three days.

Q. 6?under to start, how did it feel for you out there? It looked pretty good, like your game is in shape?

PHIL MICKELSON:Yeah, feels really good. I played very well today on a course that I really enjoyed. It's a well done golf course in great shape. I hit a lot of good shots and drove it well off the tee and my iron play has been very good lately and I feel very good putting. I like the grip I've been going to, I've been rolling the ball well and made a bunch of good putts today.

Q. Wide fairways out there, now that you're using a 3?wood, a new one goes along way, have you got something cranked up?

PHIL MICKELSON:We have a couple of really good drivers and 3?woods coming out next year, and they are a little bit hotter, and so I've been hitting the 3?wood because I haven't needed the driver. But I'm excited about how I've been hitting the ball off the tee and I've been having options now with which club I feel like gives me the biggest margin of error hitting it into the fairway.

Q. Big greens, how difficult is it to lag putt out here?

PHIL MICKELSON:Actually the lag putting has not been as big a challenge because the contour on the greens is not as severe as some courses. I feel like you can really make some putts here. What has been difficult is the grass, which I love, it's paspalum, which rolls very true; but they are new and they were only put in about six months ago and because of that the ball is not holding; it's skidding.

You really have to hit a shot into the hole. You can't fly it into the pin and stop it. You have to carve it with the grain and let the ball release back there, which I've really enjoyed the challenge. I felt like it's a fun challenge to try to get some of the iron shots close.

Q. What have you been doing since Medinah?

PHIL MICKELSON:Well, I've been practising a little bit the last week or two. I took a couple weeks off but I've been practising the last couple weeks. My game has been much better and it's gotten better each week since the PGA Championship. I played terrific at The Ryder Cup. I feel like I'm playing even better now heading into this week and hopefully I'll carry it on these next three days. I certainly feel confident that I'll be able to.

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