MORE INTERVIEWS: FedEx St. Jude Classic transcripts
Q. We're used to seeing Phil Mickelson's short game mastery. Certain periods of time it failed you today. How did this golf course challenge you in that regard?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, my short game wasn't sharp today, but this -- I made a mistake in some of my shot selection trying to hit some of the shots. They're very tight lies, very grainy and very sandy, and so you just have to putt it. That's what I should do and will do, but I tried a few shots and I struggled with them.
Q. Overall, though, it was a really good fast back around the turn. What allowed you to make the comeback at 1, 2 and 3?
PHIL MICKELSON: Scott, I really feel like I'm striking the ball well. The score obviously isn't very good, but for how -- especially for how I feel I'm playing. So this is the first competitive round in a little while and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's round because I know that ball striking-wise, it's about as good as I've been striking it and I feel like there's a good round in me.
Q. You really made a turn. Kind of not a great day, but you turned it around right there.
PHIL MICKELSON: Usually after not playing for a few week like this, I usually struggle the front-9. I made some mistakes. I hit a couple terrible shots. I played 3-over. Nobody is going low here. It's a very difficult golf course. Greens are tough and I feel like I'm ball striking it as well as I have in a long time, and I feel tomorrow there should be hopefully a good round in me.
Q. Lot of the greens, the pin placement one reason, what did you see with the greens
PHIL MICKELSON: They're small greens and very quick and they don't hold very well. So, you have to be very precise. This is great because it's a great test. The guy that strikes it well is going to have a big advantage, but when do you miss greens, you've got to be pretty sharp with your short game because the lies around the greens are some of the most difficult that we get. Very tight lies, grainy bermuda and sandy. If you catch it fat, there's no margin of error. I hit some pathetic chips out there, then I kind of learned that you just have to putt it. I putted it from off the green and got those up and down no problem. I'll do that tomorrow.
Q. For a guy known for his short game, Phil, was it was disappointing to let some of those shots get away?
PHIL MICKELSON: Certainly. It happens and ball striking-wise, I probably spent so much time on swing and getting sharp tee to green because of the U.S. Open and the difficulty there that I'm hitting it as well as I have in quite along time. Short game today, it hasn't been bad, but today it was not good.
Q. In terms of positioning, no one is going to go low because of how tough the course is playing. To be able to get it within striking distance, that's got to feel good going into tomorrow.
PHIL MICKELSON: That's exactly it after the front-9 when I got away from me, could have, from 3-over par. To birdie 1, 2 and 3 and get back to even, finish the round at 1-over. Certainly it's not what I wanted to start off. It's right there. If I play well tomorrow, shoot a good solid round, 3, 4, 5-under par, will be right there for the weekend.
Q. The size of the galleries?
PHIL MICKELSON: We teed off pretty early today. We didn't get too many people up this morning. But there's a lot of people have come out to support the tournament. It's nice.
Q. Phil, kind of got started pretty good. Had a tough stretch. Got all the way back into it. Kind of a tough day out there.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. Well, I haven't played in three weeks and I usually am a little rusty when I get back out. I made a couple mental mistakes and poor shots on the front-9, 3-over. I birdied 1, 2 and 3 and finish at 1-over, nobody is running away on this golf course. It's very difficult course. The greens are small, they're difficult to hold. You've got to be very precise with your ball striking. When do you miss a green, some of the most difficult lies I've ever seen. I look back to the 2005 U.S Open at Pinehurst where the ground was very tight. Bermuda rough and grainy and sandy, sand everywhere. If you don't catch it perfect, you fat it. It's kind of what we have here. When I started putting it from off the green, there was no problem. I tried some shots that were very tight and I -- you look foolish out here trying to hit some of the shots.
Q. That's what I was looking at. Everybody is pulling putter. Doesn't look like that hard of a shot. It's all dealing with the lie, how it's sitting in the grass around the greens.
PHIL MICKELSON: It is, Dennis. The superintendents lately in the last four, five years have gotten this kick in shaving it so tight. I saw the U.S. Open last year at the Olympic Club, a putting green roller rolling the fairways the last 50 yards.
You can't get the leading edge of a wedge under the ball when it's sitting that tight. You only have the option of putting it. Because it's so tight it putts very easily through it. That's why we're seeing so many guys putt through it. Deciding to get around the greens so tight that you don't have the option to hit a wedge.
Q. Talk about the shot you hit at the last hole, the 9th. How tough was that lie to judge? That ball flew 30 yards more than your number, maybe
PHIL MICKELSON: I had 191 to the hole so I have to carry it 85, slight wind. I'm in between 6, 7 probably out of the fairway. So I go with 7 because I think it's going to jump, and it jumped but I can't hit 8, 9-iron from there when there's water short, you know. I'm trying to get it over the green in the back bunker and see if I can get up and down for par. It certainly went further, jumped