Humana Challenge interview: Phil Mickelsontext sizeJanuary 20, 2013
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PHIL MICKELSON: I was rusty starting the year, and I had a great four days here where I can work on my game with perfect weather and wonderful golf courses, where I could build some momentum. Heading into San Diego, I feel a lot more confident in my game. I feel like I'm starting to play well, hit some putts on line.
I love the West Coast and that's some of my favorite tournaments coming up. I feel like I'm starting to play some pretty good golf. So hopefully I'll be able to make a run on the weekend here next week, because that's what's exciting, is having a chance to win.
Although I played well, I played better as the week wore on, not having an opportunity on Sunday, that's not fun.
PHIL MICKELSON: I've always enjoyed playing that tournament. It brings back great memories from when I was a kid with my dad watching the golf and dreaming of being inside the ropes. And here I am 30 years later playing out on TOUR for 20 years.
But it brings back the childhood memories. It's a great tournament and I'm excited to get back to San Diego and play there.
Q. What was different today? I know you've been building day by day. So what went well today?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a pretty easy round of 6‑under. I hit the ball well and didn't have too many big misses. I feel like I had pretty good control of my ball off the tee, distance control with the irons. Hit a lot of good, solid putts, but left a lot of shots out there still. And I'll have to work on that heading into the next two weeks.
Q. Can you assess the new ball and putter this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Phenomenal. The best ball I've ever hit. I can't even get over it. It spins around the greens like I haven't ever seen since the old balata days, and it's actually taking some adjustment chipping because the ball is spinning so much off the phase. In fact, on the last hole there, ball out of the rough, I was expecting to kind of come out and release and it spun. And that's a great problem to have, especially given with these grooves issues.
I can't get over how much my wedges are spinning around the greens. My short game hasn't been this good in a long time. And as far as the putter, it feels good. Hit a lot of good solid putts. What I really like is my putts are not limping up to the hole anymore, they're tracking. They're rolling aggressively to the hole. And I expect to make a lot of putts this year.
I had a decent putting year last year. I'm going to have an even better one this year.
Q. What do you think you need to sharpen up the most?
PHIL MICKELSON: Just getting the score what it should be. Just getting the score. I don't know what that exactly means. It's just that I can't be leaving shots out there. I can't be 3‑putting putts for eagle, which I did three or four times this week. I can't be not getting up‑and‑down shots that are pretty easy to get up‑and‑down. Little strokes here and there I can't be throwing those away if I want to be in contention.
But the game itself feels really good.
Q. When you're asked about Stricker's semi‑retirement, with the political situation the last couple months, blah, blah, blah, what did you mean by that? Do you find it an unsettling time in a way?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's been an interesting offseason. And I'm going to have to make some drastic changes. I'm not going to jump the gun and do it right away, but I will be making some drastic changes.
Q. Meaning leaving from California?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure.
Q. Moving to Canada?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure what exactly, you know, I'm going to do yet. I'll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I'm not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now. So I'm going to have to make some changes.
Q. Is that a correlation between that and what happened to the Padres?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.
Q. With you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely.
Q. So why do you say next week? What is going to happen so drastic next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, but I'll probably be in the media center and I'll probably be a little more open to it because San Diego is where a lot more things, it's where I live, it's where the Padre thing was a possibility, and it's where my family is. And it just seems like a better fit than right here off of 18 on Palm Springs.
Q. Is it a stance that you are taking because on the one hand, you've made a lot of money, and no matter how much they take out, you are left with a lot of money?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. I'll probably go into it more next year or next week. But if you add up, if you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63 percent. So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do.
Q. How do you balance that against the TOUR's retirement plan which by all standards is the best retirement plan in sports?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't understand. What do you mean?
Q. Well, I mean I understand the 60 percent part of the equation, but in the TOUR's plan, you guys put about as much money aside as you want. It's treated differently under tax laws than most anybody else's tax plans. Where most people can only put away $45,000 or $50,000, you guys can put as much away as you want. And so at the end you guys end up with a much larger pot of gold than most people can.
PHIL MICKELSON: But when it comes out, it's still taxed at the same 62 percent rate.
Q. Well, you're still making that kind of money. That's if you're still in that bracket.
PHIL MICKELSON: (No response.)