What they said: Phil Mickelson

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Phil Mickelson will begin the FedExCup Playoffs at Bethpage Black, where he finished second in the 2009 U.S. Open.
July 30, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

THE MODERATOR: At this time I would like to introduce the vice president of corporate communications, Seth Martin, to say a few words and introduce Phil.

SETH MARTIN: Thanks, everyone and thanks for coming today and on behalf of the 140,000 employees of Barclays, I would like to say welcome to The Barclays at Bethpage. We are really looking forward to a great tournament. We are excited to partner with the PGA TOUR as the title sponsor of The Barclays. As you probably know this is the first PGA TOUR event for the 2012 FedExCup Playoffs, so we are very excited about that.

Golf really promotes some qualifies that we value highly at Barclays; competitive spirit and excellence and focus and merit. This event in particular, also, honors members of the military and that's really important to us at Barclays. We recently launched a military services network for our employees, which among other things, offers veteran-oriented community work as part of the firm's overall citizenship agenda so we are excited that that is part of this tournament, as well.

And all of that, of course, is a great fit with our partner in golf, Phil Mickelson who, has done so much for the military, particularly through Birdies For the Brave. Phil is featured in an upcoming PGA TOUR public service announcement that highlights this commitment, so right now, here is a sneak peak of that.

Now joining from the phone before he heads to Akron before this week's World Golf Championships, please welcome Phil Mickelson.

PHIL MICKELSON: Thanks, guys. I'm happy to be here today. I'm looking forward to some upcoming tournaments but none more than this year's Barclays because it's played at one of my favourite places in all of golf, Bethpage.

PETER MELE: Thanks for being with us today. I know there's a lot of excitement about your event this fall at the TPC Sawgrass, the Birdies For the Brave; might be you able to fill us in a little bit today?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's an exciting thing that we are going to do. It's a one-time deal that we are going to put together, a two-day Pro-Am with TOUR professionals and a military appreciation gala dinner, as well as a concert with

A-List country music stars. We have some great auction items that are coming up. We have some great professionals, as well as representatives of our country that are going to be down there to show the appreciation that we have for the military.

It's an opportunity for us to raise sizable funds for the Birdies For the Brave at the many military charities that it supports.

PETER MELE: Sounds awesome. I know there are still some playing spots available. The website is http://www.galaforb4b.org/.

At this time, open it up for some questions around the room.

Q. What do you think the difference will be in the course when you played the U.S. Open versus what it is now? Do you think it will be similar or what are you expecting?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not really sure what to expect as far as how the course will be set up relative to when the USGA gets ahold of it in June. But Bethpage is such a difficult, straightforward challenge and test of good golf that regardless of the conditions, the design and the setup of the course will be a great challenge.

But one of the best things about Bethpage is the people. The crowds that come out to support the game of golf at Bethpage are the best

I've ever seen, and we are so lucky and excited to be coming back to such a great venue.

Q. How do the players view the FedEx Playoffs now after you've had it a few years, and particularly compared to the majors??

PHIL MICKELSON: There was a lot of skepticism at first when it first came out. We knew that it was a good thing in that it got the best players in the world to compete against each other four additional weeks. We were not sure how it was going to evolve but now it's really become a staple of the PGA TOUR and something that the players really look forward to and strive for. They add move tournaments throughout the summer in an effort to increase their points standing heading into the FedExCup, and it's become really a solid staple on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Your thoughts on the plans for the 17th hole here, they are planning to build a stadium like at the Phoenix Open. These events are close to your heart and I wanted to get your thoughts on what that will be like.

PHIL MICKELSON: The amphitheater effect of the 17th hole at Bethpage is unique to many par 3s and allows so many people to come and watch.

One of the most memorable shots in my mind that I've ever hit was a putt that I made on Saturday at the Bethpage U.S. Open in 2002. And the reason it was so memorable was the volume of the roar. I'll never forget being down in that low area of the green and having people surround the green, applauding after a made shot or a made putt; that sound was so loud. It was louder than just about anything I've ever experienced on tour.

It's such a great setting for golf that to have that type of stadium effect is going to be really special for the players, something that we'll remember.

Q. The Ryder Cup will be coming a month after The Barclays. Do you see this as being a tune-up for that? And will you be talking with your probable American Team mates about The Ryder Cup, discussing strategy and using this tournament as background for that?

PHIL MICKELSON: We absolutely will. And if you look back at the U.S. record since the FedExCup has been in existence, our record in the team competitions from Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup has been extremely good with the only loss being The Ryder Cup two years ago.

This has really helped the U.S. players be sharp mentally and have our game sharp. The FedExCup has forced us to really prepare and practice for the four events following the PGA Championship; where often times in the past, we have taken a bit of a break.

This has led us to being very sharp and performing well in the team events and I think that the four FedExCup events, starting with The Barclays -- The Barclays is critical because it's one of the last two events that Captain Davis Love will have a chance to assess his players and decide who is going to be on the team. And also, the last two FedExCup events will give players momentum heading into The Ryder Cup.

Q. As regards a personal level, how are you feeling and how are you feeling with your struggles with the arthritis??

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, thanks for having, but right now, things could not be better from a personal standpoint. Amy and the kids are doing terrific. Physically, I've been able to do everything I need to do to start playing some better golf.

And obviously, the last two months has not been what I want. But this last week was a great week for me practice-wise. I feel like my game has really made a turn. I won't know for sure until I get to the first tee in Akron and try to post a number.

The proof in golf is always in the score. But I feel much, much better about my game than I did just a week ago at the British Open and I can't wait to play these next seven of nine events, and I feel like things have really turned around. I'm really looking forward to posting a low score at Akron.

Q. With Bethpage Black being a very hilly course, does that challenge you a little bit more relative to like a seaside course that's a bit flatter??

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly it does challenge you more in club selection. But we have had a bit of a breakthrough a few years ago in some of our laser range finders that has slope in there that dictates how many yards you can add or subtract for the elevation changes.

And obviously it's illegal to use those during the course of play, but we use those in practice and note and dictate what yardage difference there is on each hole. So it has not been as big a factor in the last few years as it had been before because we have a much more tangible way of factoring it into our club selection.

Q. Just to follow up on your thoughts on the fans here, you seem to have a very special bond with them and they with you. Just wanted to get your thoughts on what you make of that, and what's the genesis of that??

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know what to say about that other than my wife and I love the New York area. We love spending time there. It's been a great educational city for us to bring our kids and share all of the many cultures that New York has to offer.

But from a golf standpoint, New York has provided me some of the most memorable experiences of my golf career. Some of the most emotional experiences of my golf career. And I'm very appreciative to the way that the people have treated me and my family.

Q. What is your assessment that all of the majors are being won by different players each major where no one is repeating anymore? The last 15 majors have had 15 different winners.

PHIL MICKELSON: I probably don't have the best answer for you on that other to say the over all depth of the TOUR and golf as a global sport has never been more evident.

Q. Curious if you've been watching the Olympics and thinking about golf and coming to The Games in 2016.

PHIL MICKELSON: I have been watching the Olympics, and I'm really excited about golf being an Olympic sport. It also gives me great motivation to continue work and practice and dedication in an effort to become an Olympic athlete; albeit an old Olympic athlete. It would really mean something that would mean a lot to me in my career to be a part of.

Q. Wanted to know what your preparation is in the days leading up to a major event like The Barclays.

PHIL MICKELSON: Typically I'll come into a tournament prior to -- a Major Championship outside of the Masters where we play a new site like Kiawah Island that has never held a major other than The Ryder Cup 20 years ago; I'll come in a week or two early and do some preparation on the golf course.

A course like Bethpage for The Barclays, I've actually played a number of times and know how I want to play each hole, each pin placement. It won't require me coming in early for that.

What I'll do is I'll come in Monday night and play practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday to get a feel for the green speed; to get a feel for the distance hole; how far the ball is flying in that particular city; to see how the ball is reacting on the greens, things like that. But because I've played Bethpage a number of times it won't require an additional practice round a week or two prior.

Q. One of the changes they are making for The Barclays is the 7th hole. Instead of playing it as a 500-yard par 4 like the USGA did, it's going to go back to what it normally is, a par 5, 550-some-odd yards as a par 5. What do you think of that change??

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the -- I've always been a fan of the original designer's interests in how a golf hole is designed to play from its inception, as opposed to somebody else who comes in and tries to alter it for their own benefit or ego. (Laughter).

PETER MELE: Thanks very much for being with us today. I know you have a busy week in Akron at the World Golf Championships and next week at the PGA. Wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you here in a few weeks at The Barclays.

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited to get back to the New York area and to be a part of The Barclays at Bethpage. I can't wait to see you guys in a month.

PETER MELE: A few people I would like to acknowledge here. We have had the privilege of coming here to Bethpage and getting to know some folks associated with Bethpage and the Parks. Ron Foley, regional director of New York State Parks; Betsy Wittenberger is the director here at Bethpage State Park; Dave Catalano is the Director Emeritus here at Bethpage State Park. And Lee Barricelli is the assistant at Bethpage. It's a great crew.

And hang on, last but not least, I've got one more, is the course superintendent here, Andy Wilson. This has been a very professional staff and just an enjoyable staff for us to be around. We are already looking forward to coming back, so Andy has done a great job with this golf course and to maintain it the way it is today and the way it will need to be the third week of August is a lot more of a challenge than it is the third week of June. I think you saw today what a great-conditioned golf course it is. It's magnificent. My hat goes off to the whole crew here. They are wonderful people.

We are thrilled to be here and have Bethpage as part of our rotation, both this year and then back again in 2016. It's such a renowned golf course, such a renowned facility, so respected amongst the golf community and amongst the players. The players, as you heard from Phil, actually talk about coming back here. Everybody that's been here before was so excited to hear they were coming back here to play for The Barclays.

And apart from just the Black Course, there's four other really fine golf courses here, plus bridle trails, bike trails, picnic area. It's close to 1,800 acres I think. And to have this available for residents of the area to come and enjoy and organizations to use for fund-raisers and things like that is just spectacular. You won't find a better one in the country for anything.

At this time I would like to introduce the Commissioner from New York State office of Parks & Recreation and Historic Preservation, Rose Harvey, to say a few words.

ROSE HARVEY: Hello. And I want to welcome you all on behalf of Governor Cuomo, welcome to Bethpage State Park, and really what I want to do is tell you how appreciative -- I want the PGA TOUR and Peter Mele to know how appreciative we are of your partnership and the fact that you have chosen Bethpage State Park and the Black Course. We are honored. We are excited. We are very, very proud.

You all have been amazing in organizing the tournament, buffing up our course, and we really love your charitable focus, both your partnership with the military; and also all that you're going to give back both to state parks through the NHT, or Natural Heritage Trust, but also to all of the local communities. So it's really been wonderful and I want to thank Seth and Barclays. You all made it happen.

Thank you for acknowledging our fabulous, wonderful staff. And I won't go through all the names again, but it's just a pleasure working with them all. They get up at four o'clock in the morning to get that course ready for you all and all of the public. I think we do on the Black Course 35,000 rounds of golf and at this whole state park, close to 250,000 annual rounds of golf.

So that's a lot of maintenance to keep it going. I guess you all have discovered firsthand, I hope it wasn't painful. All of the challenges and all of the opportunities of the course, and it has been recognized as one of the greatest and one of the most challenging, and I think that the PGA, The Barclays, will really showcase this crown jewel that is available to everybody.

And I just also want to mention that not only does it bring prestige to our state park and to our courses, but this tournament is a huge economic engine and a catalyst and will bring great positive economic benefits and impact to all of the localities in Long Island, and they appreciate it and we appreciate that, as well.

And we are ultimately looking to following Phil and all of his great competitors, looking for record-setting crowds, and I can assure you that New York fans, they are the best, right, in the world, or certainly the most enthusiastic.

And welcoming millions of television viewers from around the world, and we are hoping and praying for good weather. But I know the PGA TOUR, they are really efficient and they will take care of that, no problem.

I guess the closing remark is what's really wonderful about this tournament is also the way the PGA TOUR works in embracing the course as it is, is that when it's all over, all of the public, the next day, or maybe the next day, can come and play on the same course at very, very affordable prices where golf's greatest have played. And maybe they will aspire to be a Phil Mickelson. Maybe they will practice the same strokes, the same approaches, the same putts. But it's very, very exciting that it's going to be there as it was for everybody after this fabulous tournament.

So thanks to all our partners and also four years later, if all goes well as all will go well here, we will be looking forward to The Barclays in 2016. So, thank you.

PETER MELE: As Rose mentioned, one of the biggest things we do, and really the best part of our jobs with working with the PGA TOUR, with all of the events, is the charitable endeavors that we do and the money we raise for local charities.

One of the big initiatives that we have been doing for a number of years now has been our military initiatives. We are going to once allow active retired military members and their families, men and women, to come to the event for free and provide them with a hospitality venue right there on 18th hole. Really, it's a great spot. Not sure if you can recognize which tent it was on 18 today, but it was right there.

We are also having complimentary tickets to the areas veterans through the Veterans Tickets Foundation. These are great initiatives. The least we can do to thank the men and women that allow us to run a golf tournament.

Some of the activities that we have, we are going to have honorary caddies for the Pro-Am. They carry the bag for the pros on one hole and the 18th hole. We'll have military tee announcers Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on No. 1 and No. 10 tees. And then on 17, we'll have an honorary pin flag attendant Thursday through Sunday, an American flag for a pin flag, very neat. As you saw on 17, we are building out a stadium effect which is going to be louder than it was in 2009 where we are building it out.

We have a complimentary Patriot Outpost, hospitality. We'll have soft drinks and food for everybody to go in and mingle with each other. Great views of the 18th hole. It's open Wednesday through Sunday for all to come and enjoy. We'll have player appearances there on Wednesday. It's air-conditioned. It will be some games. Just an area for people to get together and hang out a little bit and talk to each other. We have Appleby's, Whole Foods, Chick-Fil-A, Coca-Cola as providers of the food and beverage for the week, which we are very appreciative of their efforts.

A couple of unique opportunities that we will have. Thanks to Callaway, we will have a Wounded Warrior Club Fitting on Tuesday for the three Wounded Warriors from the Long Island area, Kevin Vaughn from Merrick, James Byler from Huntington, and Christopher Levy from Holbrook. It's a pretty cool thing, and hats go off to Callaway for helping us out with that.

A new event for us this year, it's called Operation Shower. I got to see one of these shower events down in Atlanta at THE TOUR Championship last year and basically it's a baby shower for 40 girls that are expecting whose husband's are deployed. And they come in and they get great gifts, each one will get a car seat and a stroller in addition to a couple of boxes of baby -- various baby paraphernalia, diapers, wipes; you name it, they are going to get it.

So the generosity of Carousel Designs and Barclays hosting this day makes it possible. We are also going to have Melissa Joan Hart as our celebrity host that day. She is expecting around the same time; we are hoping she won't go early because then she won't make it. If you want anymore information about Operation Shower, it's operationshower.org.

On Wednesday, just to keep the day going, after the shower we will have Air Force, Color Guard and Drill Team here to do an exhibition at the Patriot Outpost, and a special guest is going to be General McKinley; a member of the Joint Chiefs, is going to present Commissioner Finchem with an award for the gratitude for all of the work the PGA TOUR has done around the country to recognize the military.

On Thursday outside the Patriot Outpost we have a care package station which allows fans to come in, fill up care package bags with items provided from Whole Foods, and they can write a little note. And all of that is sent overseas and in the note, you put down your e-mail address and then you get an e-mail back from the service man or woman who got your gift. It's pretty cool. I've done it, myself personally. It's pretty neat to get a note back. We expect to have 300 packages delivered overseas.

So it's a pretty busy week, as you can see. Been a lot of things planned. And at this time if you have any questions for me, as Chuck mentioned, we are going to play the golf course at a par 71 from the back tees. It's just under 7,500 yards.

As our rule staff says, they are going to play it the same way that the guy that comes up tomorrow morning and pays the $70 dollars plays it. Green speeds will be somewhere between 11 and 12, so as not to stress the golf course; the third week of Augusta.

As you can see, we have not done any construction that impedes the other golf courses so they will play those right up until advance weekend and hopefully when we finish and they open back up a few days after we done, the Black will be in great shape and everybody can go out and enjoy it.

We are excited to be here. This is a very special place, like I've said before. I can't say that enough. We have really enjoyed our first time here. And if you have any questions for me.

Q. For fans that want to come out, where will parking lots be??

PETER MELE: The golf course, obviously, as you've seen, is set up totally different from what the U.S. Open set it up. But as far as everything outside the gates, we copied the blueprint. It worked for two Opens very, very well, so we are not changing anything. We have spectator parking at Jones Beach with shuttles up and back to the golf course. We have a great partnership with Long Island Railroad. They have been terrific. Just doing a lot of things to help promote the event and to help create -- try to grow ridership really, and we'll have trains, shuttle buses going to and from the Farmingdale train station.

We will be doing -- also, there's the fire academy dropoff where car services, hotel shuttles, people who just want to get cropped off can get dropped off by 15 and walk down the street and enter the gate at 15.

So from the outside looking in, it's going to be pretty much the same as what the USGA did, because really there's no sense in changing; it worked great. When you get on site is when things look different, with 17, with 18 obviously, The Barclays Pavilion. We try to balance between our corporate clients and our corporate sponsors and spectators. With what we have at 17, with the corporate area, with the spectator seating on the hill behind the green into the short right, somewhere around 4,500 people being able to get around the green plus people filling in in front ofthe structures, it will be pretty cool.

Q. Wondering what the fairway widths were going to be for the tournament relative to the U.S. Open setup??

PETER MELE: What you play today is the U.S. Open setup. They did their contour mowing back in 2008, they re-contoured the fairways and they have not changed since.

So they kept the fairway width exactly the same as they did for The Open. We are not changing it. So basically the way you played them today is the way they are going to be played in three weeks.

Thanks again for coming today and look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

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