What they said: Phil Mickelson

July 04, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE: The Greenbrier Classic transcripts archive

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Phil Mickelson here to the interview room at The Greenbrier Classic.

Phil, just got done with your pro-am. Maybe just talk about the course, it's your second trip to this event, and what you saw out there today.

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I came here last year and really loved the golf course and did not play as well as I would have liked to and I'm excited about having a chance to see if I can get that turned around. It's one of the great courses that we have. It's got such unique character to it that I study and watch -- watch a lot of these holes, these green complexes, and try to implement some of it in my own design. It's really something to model after. It's a fun golf course to play, great resort and really a wonderful event, one of the best events we have on Tour, and it's only in its third year, pretty amazing what's been done.

MODERATOR: Raise your hand, we'll get some questions for Phil here.

Q. Phil, describe � � did the greens start firming up as the day went on? Of course, you had a morning tee time. Did they firm up as the day went on?

PHIL MICKELSON: They were somewhat receptive. They're not stopping quickly, but they received shots very well, they putt extremely true. They're really in good shape. The condition of the golf course is in incredible shape. It's amazing that just a few days ago there was so much storm damage that you never would know if you just showed up. It's pretty spectacular what the people here in the community have done to pitch in and to get the course to tournament� ready condition.

Q. Yeah, Phil, how different is it when you come to a place like this to separate your work from your pleasure, because as soon as your day's done, there's so many things you can do and then the next morning you have to turn it back on??

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's a challenge, but I'm pretty motivated. After my performance last year, I really wanted to improve on that. I really do enjoy competing on this golf course, I think it's a wonderful test of golf, and I also think it's very well suited to my game. I'll try to put a little bit more time into my physical preparation and mental preparation to get ready for this tournament because I was � � I wasn't happy with the way I competed last year.

Q. (inaudible) off a little bit last year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I could say possibly, but I should be able to separate the two. It was still one of the best trips that we've had. It's a place that my family loves and this is one of the coolest is places to bring your family to.

Q. Phil, just talk about obviously the Kentucky governor, also the president of this fine place, and then Frank Beamer, who seemed to really have his crooked stick going today, just talk about your pro� am partners.

PHIL MICKELSON: We had a fun day and it was really interesting to have such range of conversations, talking sports, talking football with Coach Beamer and then being able to talk politics and hear what's going on in the world and in the state of Kentucky as well as here at The Greenbrier. It was really a wide range of conversations. It was a fun day, a very insightful day.

Q. Any football tips??

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I heard a little bit of what to expect this coming season and I know the coach is really high on his players and team, and it's great to hear his excitement level to compete and to coach.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's going to be tough.

Q. Having played The Old White a couple times now, are you developing favorite holes or holes that you really don't look forward to??

PHIL MICKELSON: There's really not a hole that I don't look forward to. I think that all the holes here have such special character to them that, again, I try to learn from them, from the 8th hole, that Redan par 3, really a great hole, all the way to the 3rd hole which is a totally different par 3 but every bit as great. I love the character and the nuances and the differences of each hole.

Q. How do you like finishing on a par 3??

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's different, I think it's cool. There's a few tournaments that we've done that in the past, not many. I remember playing in Boston or New England area, there was a tournament that finished on a par 3. Actually, that was � � that's not the case. I don't remember, we started on a par 3. I guess No. 9 Tour Championship at Eastlake. Very rare, though, and it's pretty cool.

Q. Phil, what's different this year for you as opposed to last year? You mentioned the motivation you have. What else is there that's different for you?

PHIL MICKELSON: Just a desire to improve on last year's performance. This is my last tournament before the British Open. I'm going to go to Europe next week and play a practice at the Open site, but I won't compete this coming week so it's my last competitive week before the British and I want to be sharp, I want to see if I can get my game sharp.

Q. Phil, kind of a British Open question for you. There's been this run of first� time major winners in the last nine events, whatever it's been. You've obviously won a major, sort of experienced in your career. I'm just wondering your take on how much experience counts when winning major championship, just sort of your take on that, and obviously the British tournament you almost won as well.

PHIL MICKELSON: You're talking about first� time major winners, the experience it takes? I think experience in major championships is overrated. It's not anywhere near as important as playing golf at a high level, no matter what your age or experience level. Whoever's playing the best golf is typically going to compete and win the majors regardless of experience. I found that to be the case in the Ryder Cup as well. I would much rather have a young, eager motivated player who's playing well than a player that's, you know, been on a number of teams just for that experience factor. I would rather have somebody that's shooting low scores.

Q. Does the British maybe lend itself to that more than any other major, and if so, why??

PHIL MICKELSON: You mean the experience factor?

Q. Yeah.

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that the British could be unique in that oftentimes, not all the time but oftentimes will require the ball to be played along the ground a lot more than through the air because of the strong winds, and that can be � � take some getting used to. I know it took guys like Tom Watson who won there like five or six times, it took him a while to adapt to links golf and keeping the ball low enough without spin and getting it running so that can be a challenge. But guys that are playing well are going to compete and be in contention.

Q. Phil, you have a relationship with Barclays, you've partnered with Bob Diamond in some team events before. Just wanted to get some thoughts on his resignation and will that affect your relationship going forward??

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it won't affect my relationship with Barclays from a business side but certainly personally I'm crushed because I have really enjoyed my time with Bob. I think the world of him as a person, as a CEO, and I think that these last five, six years that I've been associated with the bank, the time I've spent with him, I've really enjoyed and I've cherished and it's been one of the most interesting parts of my career.

Q. You don't think it will affect that relationship that you have with the company??

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, not contractually, but business relationships are all about personal relationships as well, especially in that industry. So over the course of the next four, five years, which is where contractually we're together, we'll have different personal relationships being made.

Q. Yesterday the PGA TOUR and Jim Justice announced continuation of this tournament through 2021. Based on that, is this an event that you will pencil in each year


Q. � � or does it just depend??

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, for a couple of reasons. I think the golf course is incredible and I think the resort is one of the best that we have on Tour. Logistically, it's right here on site. It's easy for families to get to, it's easy for players to get to the course and back, and there's so many things to do off the course that it's a great place to take your family. So I would expect that � � plus it's a good date, so time� wise it works out really well also and I'm looking forward to competing here more, yeah, absolutely.

Q. You mentioned things to do off the course. What do you have planned to do off the course this week??

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, right now it's just practice. Like I say, I'm going to have to let everything else take a backseat. We had a great time last year doing the whitewater rafting and doing the falconry, doing laser tag and going to the pool and just hanging out. But I want to make sure my game is sharp this week because I really did not � � I don't feel good about how I played last year and I want to improve on that.

Q. Phil, I just want to kind of get your take on Sam Snead's record. Obviously he's the only guy in front of Tiger now, and you and Tiger have obviously had a great rivalry over the years. Just want to get your thoughts really on, one, maybe why Sam's record doesn't get the publicity that maybe Jack's record does, and then just what that kind of says about Sam's career, 82 wins and that sort of thing.

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know � � I'm not as knowledgeable about Sam's career and I don't know exactly how many wins he actually has. I know what the Tour gives him credit for, but he's had numerous wins that have and have not counted. There have been major championships that some players have or have not been counted like Hogan's national championship there during the war.

I love looking at the pictures and seeing the old clubs that Snead used to use. I think that he's such a big part of the history of the game of golf. His relationship here with the Greenbrier is one that should be modeled after for professional golfers and it's just a longstanding relationship and the people that came here to play, that interaction with Sam really added to the experience. As far as his wins, I mean, he won a lot of tournaments, I don't know even know how many, and he's just a really cool sports figure. I never really had a chance to meet him, maybe early in my first years at the Masters, but I met him just briefly but I really didn't have a chance to spend much time with him.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I mean, I think that those in the game, he gets equal attention. Everybody knows he has the most Tour wins. Everybody knows of his Masters victories and his hat, how limber he was and how flexible and he's kicking the ceilings. There's stories about him. He's got steakhouses in Florida that have been well known. I don't know if those are still around or not. Everybody knows about Sam Snead and the game of golf.

Q. I believe you're playing Thursday with Scott Stallings and Stuart Appleby, who have been successful here. How is that going to help you out??

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't normally like to watch my playing partners, but this might be a good week for me to do that given that they've both won here the last two years. They're obviously very solid players and we'll have a good time playing. I know Stuart very well, I've gotten to know Scott a little bit and we should have a good couple of days.

MODERATOR: As we finish up � � one more??

Q. You're not playing with Tiger the first two days, but for those of us who are new to this experience, talk about what it's like to play, to be paired with Tiger and play 18 with him.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's � � I think it's a really fun challenge that every player really enjoys and certainly there are a lot of people when you're in his group. And second, when you do play with him though, it's more about shooting a low number, it's not really about yucking it up and chitchatting. So it's more about trying to post a low score, so it's a pretty competitive environment.

MODERATOR: I just wanted to bring everybody's attention, it was announced earlier this year at the PLAYERS Championship that Phil and Amy are going to host a military appreciation gala for Birdies for the Brave, and both Jim and Kathy Justice showed a great deal of support for this event as well in sponsoring it.

So with it being the 4th of July, I believe you started Birdies for the Brave six years ago on the 4th of July maybe, just talk about your appreciation for what Mr. Justice did for this event and kind of give us an update on how things are going.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we're trying to put together � � well, we are putting together a one� time deal; this is not an annual thing, but a one� time deal at TPC Sawgrass where we're going to raise a bunch of money for a bunch of military charities, and to have somebody like Jim Justice step up the way he has in this community, the way he's saved the Greenbrier and the way he's saved and been such a big part of the communities here in West Virginia, and he's helping us do the same thing for a lot of military families, I have a lot of respect to him, for what he's done and look up to him for the way he helps people. He takes advantage of the opportunities he has to help others and he's just a great man and he's helping us get this Birdies for the Brave gala going here November 30th� December 1st. Again, it's just a one� time deal, but to have that kind of commitment sure means a lot and has made it much easier to get this done.

MODERATOR: Any questions from you folks on the gala itself or what Birdies for the Brave has done over the last six years? Look like we're all set. Thanks, Phil. Good luck this week.