Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson talks about his win at the PGA Tour's 2007 Players Championship

Three weeks after starting with a new coach, Phil Mickelson has a new title to his name. Mickelson shot a 3-under-par 69 at TPC Sawgrass yesterday for a commanding victory at The Players Championship. Sergio Garcia was second, while Tiger Woods finished out of the top 10.

It was Mickelson's first Players title. He spoke to reporters after his round about the victory.

Phil Mickelson

Q. You said yesterday you had won a lot of tournaments with your short game, more than with your ball-striking. Didn't you win it with both really this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, what I'd like to do is have four days of ball-striking like today's final round and then it takes a lot of pressure off my short game. It was a very mediocre day for me putting. I could have run it high if I would have made some reasonable putts. I will gladly take the way the round went because it was a stress-free type round.

Q. Have you ever had a win when you've actually -- your swing has been a work in progress through the tournament like this, when you've been working on major changes?

PHIL MICKELSON: Probably. I mean, I look back in the past when I won some of the first couple tournaments of the year in La Costa at '94 and '98, and I remember I was working on things then to start the year and so forth. But it does mean a lot to have the results that I've had immediately with the third, the third and the win because it tells me that I'm on the right path and things that I'm doing are correct. I'm excited about the way my ball-striking seemed to get better as the week went on. It seemed to get better from Dallas to Wachovia, it seemed to get better from Wachovia to here, and so I believe that if I keep working at these things and progressing, I should be ready to take on the ultimate tough challenge at Oakmont.

Q. Butch said you took away one side of the fairway today. Could you talk about that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, that's our goal is to eliminate half the trouble, absolutely. So then I only have to worry about half of the golf course. That makes it a lot easier.

Q. In hindsight the shot on 10 yesterday, does that take on even greater importance because people remember that shot?

PHIL MICKELSON: Maybe, but the nice thing is I didn't have to have any of those today. That's what I liked (laughter). Sometimes you've got to take risks to win the golf tournament, and a lot of times people will wedge that out and play safe, and they don't put themselves in position to win. If you want to win tournaments against the best players in the world you've got to take some chances like that. The weeks I'm able to pull them off I have a chance at winning and the weeks that I don't, I get ridiculed. But you have to take chances to win.

Q. Was there a sense almost of the last round at Augusta last year? I think you had a little bit of a cushion? I think the only bogey really didn't matter at the end.

PHIL MICKELSON: It looked kind of early similar in that they were both 69, shot 69, was 4-under through 17, ended up bogeying the last hole when I had the tournament in hand, three-shot lead walking up 18. And they both felt great.

Q. Was it any risk at all hitting the hybrid out of the rough on 11, scooting it to the other side of the fairway?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no. It wasn't a risk of -- carrying the water, is that what you're thinking?

Q. No, that club out of the rough, trying to control it to where you wanted it to go on the other side of the fairway.

PHIL MICKELSON: I wasn't worried about it, no. I mean, the lie was fine. I thought that I was just trying to hit it to the left side so I had an easy chip up the slope.

Q. That seemed like somewhat of a turning point, at least before 17, where he was off the tee, where you were, momentum. I wonder if you could talk about that, your shot in and him not getting up-and-down.

PHIL MICKELSON: I hit two bad shots, the tee shots on 11 and 12. 11, it was important to miss the fairway right. I couldn't go left and hit it over those trees out of the rough because I needed to be in the left fairway to have that easy chip up the green. So by missing in the right rough, it was okay. He was in a good spot off the tee and hit a good shot that hit the bank and came back a little bit. I still thought he could get that up-and-down, but it was a little fluffier lie than it looked, and he left it a little short. I don't know if that was really a turning point. Certainly I had a two-shot lead there, but on this golf course it's not like I was thinking, great. I thought I still needed to make some birdies.

Q. And as much as you've talked about aiming for the middle of the green on 17, if you were in his shoes, two shots behind, are you going at that flag?

PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely, yeah. This was a very tricky shot because when we were walking off 16, 17 was playing straight downwind. When we got to the tee, the wind felt like in the tee box the wind was right in our face and maybe hurting. When he hit the shot, I think he was playing for a little hit of hurt, and halfway up you could see the wind push it and go long. It was a very tricky wind to judge because he hit it right at the pin. If the wind did what it felt like on the tee, he would have been very close to the hole. It would have been a whole different deal.

Q. With what's happened the last ten months, obviously you won three majors. I just wonder how this tournament ranks amongst all of your victories, and if it gives us and you some answers to all those questions we've been asking you.

PHIL MICKELSON: I've tried to answer most of your questions in the past (laughter). What this tells me is I'm on the right path. The things that I'm working on are correct because I've seen progression. It wasn't a hit or miss. It's steadily gotten better the more time I've put into it. This was a great week to have the chance to spend each day with Butch, six days straight, to work on my game, to work on these changes, and consequently as the week wore on, I started to hit it better and better.

Q. You won at Pebble, of course, and almost won at L.A., so weren't you playing very well in that February stretch?

PHIL MICKELSON: Kind of. You know, it wasn't -- I knew even though I won I wasn't hitting it the way I wanted to. I wasn't able to take out half the trouble, I wasn't hitting the iron shots with the trajectory that I wanted, but I was able to get away with it.

Q. Obviously this is a significant victory for you. Can you talk about how excited you are to be able to take this game and the new swing and all the changes into the majors next month?

PHIL MICKELSON: That's what's most exciting is I feel like we're just getting started. This is only week No. 3. I feel like in three months how much am I going to progress? In three years where am I going to be? I've seen an immediate difference in three weeks, and I can't wait for another three weeks to go by and start getting ready for the U.S. Open. And another three or four weeks to go by and get ready for the British. I'm really excited about the direction I'm headed.

Q. Just to follow it up, how much better can you get?

PHIL MICKELSON: You are a cute little man, aren't you (laughter)? I don't know. That's such a good question from a brilliant individual. I don't know (laughter).

Q. You play exciting golf, that last shot to 18 was maybe a little more exciting than you wanted. Can you talk about that? What were you thinking when that ball was in the air? Were you a little nervous about that?

PHIL MICKELSON: I had a three-shot lead. I wasn't too worried about the water. I felt like I could hit one at the green and not blow it way to the right. I just held onto it a little bit. But I wasn't overly disappointed because I tried to eliminate the hook today. I didn't hit one hook. In the second round where I was struggling, I hooked it on 5 in the water, hooked it on 4 in the bunker, I hooked it on 6 in the trees, hooked it on 7 in the bunker, and today I didn't have any. I eliminated that right side, which is the key. What I didn't want to do is step up and hook it to the right. I wanted to stay with my swing.

Q. Forgive me if this has been asked. Can you recall a more airtight round of golf in your career? That was about as efficient as we've ever seen you play.

PHIL MICKELSON: You know, I haven't had a chance to reminisce back on the past 15 years of my career, but it was a good round (laughter). I'd like to get the putter hot. I'd like to imagine what the round would be if the putter was hot.

Q. Two questions. You talked about hitting no hooks today. Are you still drawing the ball on the range in practice? You're not just only hitting fades.

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm work it both ways, but for the most part you have to eliminate half the course and today I tried to eliminate the right side.

Q. Do you think you can get to No. 1 in the world and how long do you think it'll take you?

PHIL MICKELSON:I don't know, there's such a big lead in the way the points are that it's a two-year process from whenever somebody starts. But I haven't thought about that yet. I still have a lot of work to get my ball-striking to where I would give myself a chance to try to contend.

Q. I believe it's like four weeks between now and the U.S. Open. How much time will you spend with Butch? And then secondly, at Oakmont, what will you do to prepare from now until that Monday at Oakmont?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we'll start preparation for the Open very soon. I'll make a couple of trips up to the course to map out game plan and so forth. And in the meantime I plan on spending some more time with Butch to make sure that in the coming weeks I continue to progress in the changes and the direction we want. There were some swings out there that I could feel get sloppy, I could feel not be what I wanted, and I want to try to correct those.

Q. Do you feel like because of where your game is right now and how you played that if the Open was next week that you would be the favorite?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I'm not ready for that yet. I do need those three or four weeks to continue to progress and get sharper. I mean, this was -- I struck it today the way I need to, but I didn't do it all four days, and that's what I need to do. I need to be able to hit it like I did today for all four rounds.

Q. At what point, or what was the determining factor where you said, okay, it's time for me to get in great physical shape and Butch Harmon is the missing piece to the puzzle?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if there was a specific time to answer that, but certainly looking forward to '07 and wanting to make '07 a good year, I spent most of the time in the off season getting physically in shape. And then when I started the year the first couple of months and I wasn't striking it the way I wanted to, I felt like I hadn't hit it well since The Masters in '06, it had been about ten months, and I felt like when I got to Augusta and wasn't able to hit it again well after a year, I felt I needed to try something different.

Q. Two hours yesterday and then 90 minutes, an hour this morning before the round. That's a lot, isn't it, to be working on full swing, by normal standards? That's grinding pretty good before a round.

PHIL MICKELSON: I can only imagine the great articles that would come out if you would put that much time into the articles instead of just kicking them out (laughter). I'm just kidding (laughter). No, it's not. I mean, it takes work to hit the ball well and to make changes. It takes time and effort.

Q. I assume --

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm just kidding. You've been kind of a good little -- I guess my pigeon the last couple weeks. I've taken a couple shots at you (laughter).

Q. I assume you're playing Memorial. What's your schedule coming up from the Open?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'll play Memorial, I'm debating on Memphis. I was not planning on playing, but I wasn't happy with the way I played in the Masters not playing the week before, so I'm debating on that tournament still. I'm not sure what I'm going to do there. I'll play the U.S. Open. I'm going to play the week after at Hartford. I'm excited to see the date change at Hartford, move up right behind the U.S. Open.

Q. As a three-time major champion, where do you put the significance of this victory?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know exactly today, but I think as I look back on my career after I stop playing, I think I'll look back on this tournament victory in the same light as the majors.

Q. Why can't you do that today?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's hard -- as you're going through your career, I don't really reminisce or look at events like that. I just keep trying to win more and trying to get better, and I think that I won't really look back on this championship until after I stop playing.

Q: Take us through your card real quick. Birdies at 1 and 2?

PHIL MICKELSON: I birdied 1 and 2, hit a good drive on 1 -- well, okay, drive, in the fairway, hit a 9-iron to 25, 30 feet and made that.

Q. I apologize. I wanted to ask you if you've ever felt better about where you are than you do right now, competitively?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not where I want to be yet, but I feel like I'm on the right path and so I'm excited about that.

Q. No. 2?

PHIL MICKELSON: No. 2 was a good drive in the fairway, and then a 5-iron that landed in the middle of the green and just went over the fringe, 45 feet, and I two-putted that.
I birdied 7 after a good drive in the fairway there and hit a little 8-iron to about 15 feet, made that. On 11 and 12, my two bad drives. I pulled one in the right rough, chopped a hybrid over there to the left, had 44 yards to the hole and hit a little pitch up the hill to three feet, made that. And then bogeyed 18. I hit a hybrid off the tee, I hit 6-iron just left of the green, not much room there left of the green, but it stayed up, and ended up chipping 15 feet by and missed it.

Q. Aren't you afraid you keep hitting 16 greens you're going to get bored? This is you we're talking about out there.

PHIL MICKELSON: Aren't you afraid to keep asking questions that I'm going to rough you up more?

Q. It's going to give me nothing to write.

PHIL MICKELSON: It was fun. It was a more enjoyable day. I'm actually looking forward to reading your article.

Transcripts provided by ASAP Sports

May 14, 2007

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