Shell Houston Open interview: Phil Mickelson

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March 28, 2013

Q. Thanks so much. Phil, 4-under through your first 13 holes, 4-over the last 5. How would you assess this roller coaster today?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a disappointing finish. I kind of lost it there in the end, but the good thing for me, Steve, I know what it is I want to do, I'll just have to practice a little bit harder to get it ingrained here, because as I get on the golf course and see trouble and have to trust it, it's a little bit harder. I know what I want to do in the golf swing and I hit some good shots earlier in the round. I feel really good with the putter, and I believe that as the tournament goes on, I'll get better.

Q. What are some of the things you worked on after missing the cut at Bay Hill

PHIL MICKELSON: Kind of a timing, swinging the club up. It wasn't as far off as it felt at the time, because at Bay Hill it felt really fell off. I saw Stockton and worked with the putter. Getting a little bit softer touch on the greens. I'm looking forward to the next few rounds. The more I play, the more I practice, I'll come out tomorrow early and get a good practice session in. I think I'll get better as the week goes on.

Q. With the Masters right around the corner, how critical is this to figure it out this week

PHIL MICKELSON: I want to get a little bit of momentum. We have all of next week. A lot can happen over the course of the week. It's a very unusual situation here for me. I usually like the play the week before. I haven't taken a week off before the Masters in, I don't know, couple decades, I think, and the same thing with the U.S. Open. I'm going to have to learn how to do that, now that we're not really having tournaments conducive to getting ready for those events. This is a good opportunity for me to work on getting prepared properly in another spot outside of a tournament.

Q. Your thoughts about your first round, the first half, the way it went on the back

PHIL MICKELSON: I played pretty well the first 13 holes and hit some good shots, made some good par saves, was 4-under, and gave the four shots back coming in. It was disappointing finish, obviously. There's a lot of golf left, and I feel as though each day I'm getting better.
Now what it is, is I'm working on my golf swing, and the more practice I get in, the more confident I get and hopefully it will carry out to the golf course, but there's so much water, there's so much trouble everywhere on this course that you've got to trust your swing, you've got make good golf shots, because there's just hazards everywhere.

Q. You talked about last year about how this golf course can help you get ready for the Masters, try to stimulate some of that. How do you view that so far?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I like the course and I like playing here in Houston. I love the conditions. It's one of the best conditioned golf courses that we play. It's not really a course like Augusta, though. Augusta you hit drivers. Here you hit 3-woods off the tee. Augusta has bermuda, has a lot of chipping areas around the green. Here you have either sand or water around the greens. It's not as though it's a great preparation for Augusta. It's just that anyplace that doesn't have rough I love and it's one of the best conditioned courses. The greens are just immaculate year in and year out.

Q. What about 5 there, that water, when you went in the water the first time and that long shot over the water into the wind, that's a hard hole

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. That water, I know there's a red stake there, but in reality it's out of bounds because you only get to move up 30 to 40 yards. You've got to stay right. The problem is, if you stay too far right, there's another hazard over there with a mound that kicks it over into the hazard. It's a shot you just have to man up and hit. I unfortunately didn't hit a very good one there.

Q. You mind playing a week before the Masters, which is when this tournament has been last four, five years for whatever reason they changed it, how disappointing was that?

PHIL MICKELSON: We all were disappointed because this is -- this tournament has really done a great job of making it fun for the players, trying to get the fairways without any rough, which is nice, and it's just been a fun, fun tournament to play before the Masters. Unfortunately the next week where it's windy and tight it's just not conducive to getting ready for Augusta.

Q. In San Antonio.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.

Q. What are you going to do next week

PHIL MICKELSON: It's unusual, but now that we have this set up this year and next -- for the Masters and then at the U.S. Open, we've got a place that's not so grainy to also get ready. I'm going to have to take this opportunity to prepare off-site or with a week off. If I can do that, it will give me another option to maybe not play the week before Majors and prepare.

Q. What does it mean to be back in Houston

PHIL MICKELSON: It's a special place for me because, you know, it's really helped my family through some tough times. This is a wonderful city that's got such a great medical center all throughout. A lot of -- not just Anderson but, a lot of great medical centers. People from all over the world come here to get treated. We were so fortunate there's a place like MD Anderson to take care of us because it sure meant a lot to us.

Q. What about the claw grip

PHIL MICKELSON: It gets rid of two of my bad habits. I get too big of a forward press. I get my hands dropped down too low, is the other one. The claw gets me out of that. It feels awkward to forward press and it feels awkward to drop your hands low. So, the way I have the putter set-up, it's much more upright and much less loft, which doesn't allow me to get -- have a forward press, and with the upright, it doesn't allow me to drop my hands.

With this set-up in the putter, I should be able to go to either grip, and I thought that I would go back to a regular grip to get a little bit softer touch on some fast greens. I'm not opposed to going back to either grip. The principles of putt, the stroke, everything is the same, it's just a different way of putting my bottom hand.

Q. Why do you have a big bandage on your finger?
PHIL MICKELSON:
Just had a cut that keeps cracking in the dry weather. As I hit balls, it just gets bigger and bigger. Same thing on my -- another finger, yeah.

Q. This is your practice round?
PHIL MICKELSON:
We had a wake for a friend that passed away. My Pro-Am obligation is at dinner tonight.

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