What they said: Phil Mickelson

March 22, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

Courtesy ASAP Sports.

Arnold Palmer Invitational transcript archive Q. Just talk about your round.

PHIL MICKELSON: I shot 1-over today and it wasn't the greatest round. I had a middle stretch there of four holes where I played 5-over. So I fought back hard to get it back to 1-over. It was important to get a few birdies to get it back to close to par, because if I can come out tomorrow and get a hot round, I can get right back in it for the weekend.

I putted really well today and I just made some very poor swings. I drove it out-of-bounds on 18, into the water on 3, and doubled both of those holes. And so just I've got to work on my ball-striking a little bit.

Q. How much are you thinking about Augusta right now??

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I'm certainly thinking about it. I mean, this is our stretch, my stretch, starting here into Augusta. What is good about that is regardless of how I play, I'm going to fight hard on every shot and I'm going to be working on my game because I have something to keep striving for, even if I don't play well. And if I can get hot, I can hopefully contend and get back in it to compete here at Bay Hill.

Q. Do you like where your game is right now, not only this week but getting ready for a couple weeks from now??

PHIL MICKELSON: Heading into today, I had had a really good week ball-striking, one of the best weeks I've had. I felt so good with my game, and to shoot 1-over, I was disappointed. It felt like something out of earlier this year, where I was playing very well and not shooting the number; to shoot a number that didn't make sense.

And I'm going to try not to put too much into this first round because I'm putting phenomenal, and I'm really starting to strike the ball well. I just didn't show that today. I made a couple loose swings.

Q. Get the ball rolling on these greens right now, you can go low.

PHIL MICKELSON: The greens are in great shape. They are very true; they are beautiful; they are quick, but they are very true.

I made a lot of putts today. Even to shoot just 1-over par, I putted very well, and I just didn't strike it the way I have been, and hopefully I'll get that turned around for tomorrow because I had a great week heading into this week.

Q. Winning the week before, you've won the Masters, and not having played the week before -- does it matter how well you play before the Masters going in??

PHIL MICKELSON: Not really in the sense that when I drive down Magnolia Lane, I just have this ease going to Augusta, because you don't have to be perfect there. You can make mistakes. You can make some loose swings and still have a shot to get close to the green and let my short game make par.

And so I feel very relaxed that I can play that golf course with a far less than perfect swing. But, if I can get some good ball striking and some good momentum from these first couple of tournaments, like I did in say 2006 where I won Atlanta the week before by a number of strokes and built some momentum heading into the tournament, I think it would be a much easier route and a better route to try to capture a fourth green jacket.

Q. The way you just described it --

PHIL MICKELSON: What's great about Augusta is it's playable for the average guy. The average guy can go out there and play it, and he always has a shot. He's never situation where he has to pick up and he can't find his ball. He's always playing. And yet, for the good player, it's extremely challenging to score well.

Q. You've talked a lot about your relationship with Keegan, can you put in perspective how incredible that is to win a major in your first try? It's only happened like two or three times in a hundred years.

PHIL MICKELSON: It's a really impressive feat for him to do that, especially the way he played the last three holes after tripling 15. That type of mental focus is something that you can't really teach. He just kind of has it. He has that ability to perform under the clutch, just like he did when he birdied 18 at Riviera. He just knows how to do what he has to do to get a win or to get up there.

I just have a lot of respect for his game. I think he's going to do very well and compete strongly this year at Augusta.

Q. I know the circumstances were different, but do you remember your first major, how you were in awe of the situation you might have been??

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, but I also had not won a major at that point, either, heading into my first Masters -- major in general? Yeah, it was an interesting difference in course setup and difference in environment, playing a Major Championship.

I think that Augusta is even greater. A U.S. Open was my first event and the Masters just has that special feel.