Phil Mickelson is feeling healthier and is ready for his 2008 debut at the Buick Invitational. Phil Mickelson talks about health, Tiger Woods, and his return to PGA Tour for Buick Invitational

With lingering questions about his return to action after a bout with bronchitis, Phil Mickelson is making his 2008 debut on the PGA Tour at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Before the tournament, Mickelson sat down with the press and answered questions about his health, Torrey Pines, his rivalry with Tiger Woods and more.

Phil Mickelson

Q. How are you feeling?

PHIL MICKELSON: I feel a lot better. I've been struggling with my health here in the off-season with this respiratory thing, almost three months now. But I had some blood work and some lung X-rays, and I think that it's just a case of bronchitis, and I should be fine here shortly.

Q. Talk about the return to Torrey Pines.

PHIL MICKELSON: I am looking forward to playing here. I think it's exciting that we have the chance to host the U.S. Open. I think San Diego is going to be a great venue for the U.S. Open. I think the USGA is going to be very pleased with the way that the golf course and the way that the city of San Diego treats everyone, and I think it's going to be - this is kind of a start, I think, to that because so many guys are here to get ready and know the golf course, learn some of the tricks on the greens and where to play it, where you can hit it, where you can't, and try to get ready for the U.S. Open here.

Q. Following that, what do you think the guys that are playing overseas are going to miss by not being here this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they'll miss out on some of the nuances of the course that they might have seen had they played, but they'll have to make up for that. They'll come out early before the U.S. Open and get a number of practice rounds so that they find out or know what to expect on the greens especially.

Q. About your health, you mentioned that you had an issue when you were overseas in Asia?

PHIL MICKELSON: It got better. I don't think it had anything to do with Asia, it just happened to be around that time, just before I left or around that time when I got this stuff in my lungs. It's lingered the entire off-season. I've had my voice kind of scratchy like this the past couple months, and finally we're getting a diagnosis what it is.

Q. Will your schedule change much this year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm going to play Houston this year before The Masters. The tournament director came up to me last year and said, "You know, I just wanted you to know we're really making an effort to have the golf course match up to the Masters. We're going to have the rough the same height, green speed the same, practice facilities to accommodate." And I thought that was really cool, and it provides a great spot to get ready for The Masters, so I'll end up playing there, which I haven't done in the past.

But I will miss the week before the U.S. Open. I think having the course closed and being able to come out here when I'm living at home is too good of an opportunity to pass up to fly somewhere else.

Q. Were you able to go to the anti-doping meetings yesterday? And if so, I'm curious about your thoughts on how that went, what the tone of the meetings was.

PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't go to the anti-doping meetings. I was a little doped up myself (laughter) on prescription stuff. But no, I'll have to get caught up on some of the stuff.

Q. What are your thoughts about that program, though?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's good for the sport because I think it'll show that golfers hold not just the rules and etiquette on the golf course in high esteem and in self-policing but I think off the course, as well. We're a major sport, a big-time sport and play for a lot of money like you say. And it's a very lucrative sport and it's important we have rules in play to cover it. But I don't think there's going to be anything there.

But better to have it in place, you know?

Q. Tiger comes out on his website and says he thinks a season Grand Slam is within reason. If you came out with a statement like that on your website, all hell would break loose. ...

PHIL MICKELSON: Why is that? Why would all hell break loose? Go ahead, sorry.

Q. Do you appreciate his confidence and admire the fact that he can come out and say that, that that seems to put more pressure on him?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, he's obviously a very confident player and he should be. He's won countless events and double-digit majors. 13, there you go. So he should be confident.

I think that this year I should be able to put myself in contention, as well, and I look forward to the opportunity to compete against him.

Q. You did a lot of work, lower body stuff, to get comfortable with the things you were working on with Butch. Could you talk just a little bit about what that was and how it fits in with the whole Harmon philosophy?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah. As we shortened the golf swing a little bit, I needed to have a little bit more explosiveness, a little bit more speed to keep up with the same distance and hopefully have more accuracy. I've had to strengthen my lower body to be a little bit more stable and then I've had to strengthen upper body to be able to accelerate and have the rotation through impact. So the off-season was dedicated mainly to accommodate the changes we've made.

Transcript provided by ASAP Sports.

January 24, 2008

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