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October 30 2013

12:03 PM

Mickelson talks Claret Jug, major prep

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Phil Mickelson is a former winner of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

A day after putting on a red cloak, picking up traditional weapons and posing for photos with performers of the Shanghai Jingju (opera) Company, Phil Mickelson met with the media prior to the start of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

"I thought I made it look good," Mickelson said of his costume. "Part of my enjoyment for participating in this tournament is some of the cultural experiences we've had, from Tai Chi two years ago to Chinese checkers where I beat Tiger that game to table tennis and many of the cultural experiences that China has to offer, we get to get a glimpse, a small amount."

The popular American, who added the third leg of the career Grand Slam to his resume when he won The Open Championship last summer, addressed a wide-range of topics in the interview. Here are some of Mickelson's more interesting comments.

On his close calls in six U.S. Open runner-up finishes: "To use an analogy, when I am putting well, not every putt goes in, but I catch lots of lips; the ball comes close. And the when it's close, I know that eventually they are going to fall in. And I use the same analogy for the U.S. Open. I've come close so many times; I've played well so many times in that tournament, that I believe it will happen soon."

On his 2013-14 schedule: "I think it will be proper spacing. It really took a lot out of me these last couple of months where we played nine out of 12 weeks and it was difficult for me to get the proper practice session and preparation for each tournament. I don't want to enter a tournament where I feel unprepared, and that's kind of the baseline that I'm going to use as I build my schedule next year."

On his preparation for the majors, specifically the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he finished second in 1999
: "I enjoyed and felt like playing Memphis the week before was very helpful for me to be ready. They are very similar grasses at Memphis as we have at Pinehurst, with the exception of the greens being bent at Pinehurst, but the grass, the rough, the fairways.
   
"So I plan to play Memphis. I plan to play Memorial the week before. I like having a three-week stretch heading into the majors, although this year that will be the only three-week stretch."

On taking the Claret Jug with him to tournaments and outings: "A lot of the corporate clients have really enjoyed drinking from the Claret Jug and it's been very fun having it with me and joining everyone in a sip. ,,, I've had a wide range of reactions, and people who really understand golf and appreciate The Open Championship, the Claret Jug, they are shaking when they hold it."

On the state of his game after last week's tie for 19th at the CIMB Classic: "This is my last tournament this year, and I would love to finish strong. I would love to finish with some momentum. And I felt like last week, I was not playing well. I was not swinging well in Malaysia. The last two days, my game started to come around and as I enter this tournament, I enter with a lot more confidence than I've had in a while."

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