Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mickelson's interview...

Here are exerpts from Phil Mickelson's pre-tournament interview at the Western Open.

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm looking forward to getting back and playing here. I haven't been to the Western Open in a few years. Already we're off to a fun night. We got here last night and there were fireworks all over the city that the kids saw. Another fun night tonight, we're going to take in a ballgame later this week, so it's been a fun week that we have scheduled for our family.

I have no idea what you might ask (laughter).

Q. Let's just get it out of the way. Nice to get back playing after a tough Open?

PHIL: It is. I think the biggest thing about that is that I don't want the one hole to affect my play in the next couple of majors, and so I've already been over to Hoylake, spent a few days there already doing most of the major prep work because if I can get that out of the way, I can focus more on getting my golf game ready for the tournament if I'm not doing all the preparation work.

I felt like I didn't execute the way I wanted to at the Open, and heading into the British, I want to make sure I have all the preparation work done, that I am able to focus on the shots that I need to hit and see if I can get execution to be sharp in the upcoming major.

Q. How long did it take for you to get it out of your system, and is it out of your system?

PHIL: Well, I'm not ever going to forget it, that's obvious. But what I'm not going to do is let it affect negatively my performance in upcoming majors. I've got two more this year. I'm playing too well, and I've got a system of preparation that has been helping me play some of my best golf, and right now I'm excited about the chances at Hoylake.

(Dave) Pelz and I have been mapping out our game plan over there. We've got the shots we want to hit. We're working on them this week. I've got Rick (Smith) here this week helping me to get those shots tight, and I'll be heading over right after this tournament to get ready for the British. I just don't want that one bad hole, again, to negatively affect the way I perform in the upcoming majors.

Q. Have you replayed, or at what point did you quit replaying that hole in your mind, and when you replayed it, if you did, would you have done anything different in retrospect?

PHIL: Well, I would have parred it (laughter).

Q. Club selection? You know what I mean.

PHIL: I know what you're saying. Fortunately what I have found has helped me play well or have that type of performances these past years in the majors is that I've done the prep work beforehand and I know what club selection I'm going to hit off each tee, given weather conditions, whether it's raining, whether it's hot or not. I already know and have known for weeks in advance what clubs I'm got to hit off each tee, so it's helped me approach the tee box with confidence knowing what club I'm going to hit.

It helped me when I hit the driver on 18 at Baltusrol on the last hole and ended up making a birdie. It helped me at The Masters knowing what club and what driver I was going to hit off each tee, and it helped me at the U.S. Open. Unfortunately I didn't execute the way I wanted to.

But it has erased a lot of the doubt as to the decision-making, what club am I going to hit, what club should I hit. I already know weeks in advance, and it helps me hit those shots and visualize those shots in practice before I ever show up the week of The Open.

Q. How about 18? Did you have an option there?

PHIL: Not for me, no. I couldn't get an iron or a wood past the turn of the dogleg. It set up perfect for a cut driver.

The difficulty that I had was I couldn't miss it left. I missed it left earlier in the week and fought to make bogey. Missed it left on Sunday and made double.

The second hole at the U.S. Open, I said, "Do not go right, stay left," because from left you have an angle up the green, you could run a shot up, get close, but from the right the trees cut you out. I missed it right four days in a row. My execution just wasn't what I wanted that week, and yet I fought and hung in there, and unfortunately I just needed to hang in there one more hole and wasn't able to do it.

Q. You beat yourself up pretty bad in the post-tournament comments after the Open. How long did you continue to beat yourself up over that?

PHIL: Well, again, that night it was decided that I'm not going to let one hole or one bad hole affect my upcoming tournaments. Sure, it's disappointing not to win the Open. I told you how much I wanted to win it. But I've got two more majors coming up, I'm playing too well to let one bad hole affect it, and I've got a pretty good game plan for the British.

Q. Not to harp on this, you said the decision was made that night not to let one hole affect the rest of your play. But what did you do? Once you left the course, once you got out from in front of all of us, did you go home, let the kids hug you? Did you fly back, put the clubs down for a couple days?

The trip home, the kids...

PHIL: We flew home Monday. I took my oldest daughter Amanda, who didn't have school - our other two did on Tuesday - to a club pool there, and we swam for six, seven hours that day. We went to Disneyland on Wednesday to celebrate her birthday. We had a great week, had a fun week. It could have been really fun (laughter), but it was just fun.

Q. How did you explain what happened at Winged Foot to your children? Is Amanda the only one old enough to really understand what happened?

PHIL: It basically went, "Did you win, Daddy?" "No." "I'm sorry. Do you want pizza?" Something like that.

Amy, am I close?

AMY MICKELSON: A little bit of "Second is so good, Daddy."

Q. When you won it at Augusta, it started a whole sort of fever about "Tiger and Phil." Do you let yourself daydream about what that would be like if the two of you were in the last group here or at a major?

PHIL: Not really. I mean, I would love to -- I love playing against him head-to-head. My record against him, again, is less than stellar. But I love having the chance to compete against the best players in the world, and he certainly is the best. There are a number of other guys, too, that are up there that I love playing against that are fun. Whether you win or lose, it makes for a fun day, a fun experience.

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