Waste Management Phoenix interview: Phil Mickelsontext sizeFebruary 03, 2013
MORE INTERVIEWS: WM Phoenix Open transcripts archive
DOUG MILNE: I'd like to welcome the 2013 winner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Phil Mickelson, your 41st PGA TOUR win, third win here, from start to finish, just an incredible week. With that, I will turn it over to you for some comments.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a fun and special week and a challenging day, knowing I was going to have to make some birdies to keep pace with a charging Brandt Snedeker, and I was fortunate to hit some good shots on the back 9 and do what I had to do to win the tournament.
Q. We know you're a magician on the greens, but on No. 7, was it really your intention to bank the putt off the collar of the fringe and into the hole?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. (Laughter.)
I had to putt 20 feet through the fringe. That was the challenge of that was to judge the speed where half the putt is through fringe and half is on the green.
I got lucky to have made it, obviously. I was just trying to 2 putt it. It was doing fairly quickly when it got to the hole, probably would have been six, eight feet by. I was very fortunate to make a 2 there. With Brandt in there close, that was a big momentum change for us.
Q. Seemed like you two had fun, little mono e mono going. At 16 I think he looked back at you.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, we did have a fun day. We have played a lot of golf with each other. We have been on the Ryder Cup team last year and some team events where we have really had a lot of fun with each other.
He's a good friend, a great individual, and a heck of a player. We had some good banter going on today. It was really fun.
Q. The last two years you have won this tournament you finished the season with four wins. How big is a win this early in the year for the rest of your season?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's an important one for me, because it's been a while since I won, been a while since I've been in contention. I was certainly nervous heading into today's final round. I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for and come back and hit a number of good shots on the back 9 to do what I needed to do to win.
I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year, because I really started to play well, but for me, the rest of the year took a turn on Tuesday when I got my new driver. It just changed my whole deal. When I stood up here at TPC Scottsdale, water is down the left on a lot of holes, down left on 10, on 15, on 17, and being able to hit those fairways and make birdies and play those holes aggressively, that's a big thing for me.
The fact that this club is so easy to hit now, I think it's going to change the rest of the year for me. I really do. My iron play has always been the strength of my game, and it was certainly good this week, but to drive it as easily as I did in play and to have the misses be so much less is going to set up for a very good year, I believe.
Q. It's so difficult to go wire to wire, and just look at the past year how many guys struggled to close on Sunday. What was the critical moment for you today?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was really, I thought, the back 9 on 13 where I need to birdie 13, 15, 17, the holes that you've got to birdie, because I'm planning on Brandt birdieing those.
If I can do that and not give those shots away, I should be able to maintain the lead. Hitting a good tee shot on 13 and on 15 and one on 17 that was marginal but got lucky, those were important birdies.
I thought on 13 was where it started, because I ended up picking up a shot there where all I was trying to do was make birdie so I didn't lose one.
Q. Anything from the session with Butch on Wednesday that really came into mind today?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was just a fraction off on a small little thing on the takeaway, and it's fine now. I started to hit it really good.
Q. I know it's difficult to rank your wins, especially just after you had one, but if someone was to say to you, This is the most blank win of your career, where would you go with that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know where to go. You're right; it is tough after you've just won.
Q. Stricker and Vijay both had great runs in their 40s. Now you have this hot new driver. Do you think you're maybe set to do something like they did?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not really...
Q. Do you feel the best is yet to come?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not really comparing what I feel like I can do relative to runs that they have made, but I feel like the areas of my game that have always been the strongest for me has been the iron play.
This has been a driver in the works for months now. We have identified what we needed to do, what direction we needed to do to be able to get me to make the same swing with my driver as the irons and hit it well, and I think we have accomplished that.
I want to thank the technicians at Callaway for doing that, because it's not easy. To be able to make a driver that spins this low with this much loft for me has never been done.
I just think that you know, I don't know if that's why they call it Xtreme because it's such an extremely low spinning driver or not, but it's been months in the works. And when I hit it Tuesday, I saw an immediate difference. I think that if you came out and watched, too, you saw how easy it was to get in the air, saw me make the same swing, and what you didn't see was some of this tilty stuff you have seen in the past.
Q. Do you feel you're still in the prime time, this is just extending it, or where do you feel you are in your career?
PHIL MICKELSON: I feel like in 2004 I made a really big step in some of the areas of practice and work on my game as far as controlling iron flight, spin, all that stuff. And now that I have been doing it for nine years, I feel I'm doing it better than I ever have.
And now that I'm able to make the same swing with my irons as the driver and not to have two different ones, I feel like that's going to make a monumental difference in my game and that I could potentially play some the best golf I have ever played.
Q. How have you changed as a player and as a person since you once won the tournament back in 2005?
PHIL MICKELSON: Eight years? You know, I don't know. I don't know. It was a good year in '05. I don't know the differences, though.
Q. You tied Calc's record, tied Johnny Miller for most wins in Arizona, and I think you got a couple other things in there. Do those milestones mean anything to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm sure later on I will think about it, but all I cared about was getting a win because I was nervous. I hadn't won in a while, I hadn't been in contention, and I know how guys look what happened last year when guys are in the lead. It's very easy to see to start seeing what you don't want the ball to do and hitting it there.
Early on I hit a couple shots like that. So to be able to regain control of my thoughts to see where I want the ball to go and direct it there and to hit the shots that I hit on the back side, which was enough to win the golf tournament, that's what I take away from this tournament more than any of those records.
Q. The Super Bowl, where are you watching it?
PHIL MICKELSON: I am going to Bones' house for a little bit. They have a few people coming over. It will be fun.
Q. What's he serving?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I don't know. His wife Jen is in charge of it. If you've noticed, he's put on 50 pounds the last 10 years. He used to be called Bones because he was so skinny. (Laughter.)
Q. Super Bowl pick?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the 49ers are going to have a good day.
DOUG MILNE: If you could just run us through one bogey and five birdies.
PHIL MICKELSON: Second hole I made bogey after a good tee shot with a 3 wood to leave it far enough back where I could hit a full shot to get to that pin. I made a very poor swing with a gap wedge and hit it into the bunker and made bogey after a poor bunker shot. It wasn't that hard, and I hit it 15 feet by.
Birdied No. 4. After an 8 iron to 35 feet, I ended up making a great putt with a lot of breaks. That was a good turnaround. And I birdied 7. You saw that crazy putt. I tried to hit less club off the tee to not put myself in that spot if I did go right. And to not be pin high, I wanted to be short so I had an angle to get to it from that mound. I put it in a tough spot and made it. It was crazy good. It was lucky.
And I hit a lot of good shots. Missed a 4 footer on 8 for birdie, a 15 footer on 9 for birdie, 20 footer on 10, 10 footer on 11, 10 footer on 12, and finally got a birdie on 13 because I only had to 2 putt it and hit a good 3 wood off the tee and a 4 wood on the green to 40 feet and made that, or I 2 putted that.
15, I hit a good drive and a 6 iron in the left bunker and hit a good bunker shot to four feet and made that for birdie. 17 I flailed the 3 wood, but the good thing about 17 for me is if I flail a 3 wood, there is a good chance it will come up short of the water because I don't hit it as hot, obviously, and the ball kind of goes high with a lot of spin and a lot of times will stop short.
It stopped only a foot short, but I will take it. I got a little bit lucky there. I hit a good lob shot to 15 feet and made that. And then made par on 18.
Q. What did you hit off the tee at 7?
PHIL MICKELSON: 7, I hit 5 iron. It was quite a long hole today. I think it was 228 to the hole, and it was a little bit of her and a little colder than it has been in the past. I did not think I could get 5 iron past or to pin high.
DOUG MILNE: Congratulations.