Both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods will be at the Tour Championship this year, and both have a chance of winning the FedEx Cup title. Here, Mickelson and Woods talked with the media about what they were expecting from this grand battle.
Q. Phil, perhaps a comment about coming back to East Lake, a place where you've had some success, and how you're looking forward to the week.
PHIL MICKELSON: I've always liked this golf course. I think it's a fun, straightforward test, although I've missed the last couple years here because of scheduling. It's fun for me to have a chance to come back here. I have some good, positive memories after having won in 2000, and I'm looking forward to trying to make a final tournament push to win the FedExCup.
Q. It's quite possible that if you or Steve or Rory or Vijay wins, they'll win the Cup, and yet Tiger will likely be named Player of the Year. Does that in any way validate the playoff system if there's two different winners there?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that it will take a while for the playoff to have the same type of stature, and winning the FedExCup to have the same type of stature as winning a major or having a year where you win five or six tournaments like Tiger has this year. So I don't think that that diminishes it in any way so far. I think that the first -- it'll take a few years for that to have more weight on the Player of the Year outcome.
Q. To the average sports fan they see a lot of athletes in different sports grinding pretty much week after week. Could you explain to that fan what is the difficulty of playing a lot of golf in a concentrated period of time? What are the things that you face in that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Challenges? Well, first of all, it's not four in a row that's a problem. It's not the four FedExCup tournaments in a row that's an issue. For me it's 10 out of 13 weeks in a row that start back at the AT & T National in D.C., played AT & T, played the Scottish Open, played the British Open, I'm in Europe for a couple weeks, I come home, got to do a couple of outing days in D.C. before I have a couple days off before I start the push for the PGA Championship, go to Akron and play there, go to Tulsa and play the PGA. I have another couple outings so I have four days off before I have a four-week stretch with the FedExCup, and then we have the Presidents Cup a week later.
So it's not just the four weeks that's the problem. I'm playing 10 events in 13 weeks, which is half of my schedule last year, in a three-month span. So it puts stress on your family. It makes it difficult -- it's very difficult to travel with three kids, as you know, but to go to 10 different cities in three months is challenging.
You have school now that's starting, you have all their summer stuff that they want to do, camps and sports and so forth, and so it just puts a real stress on your family environment.
Q. As far as physically and mentally for the player, what are the challenges there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, look, I mean, we play golf for a living. I'm not going to try to tell you that it's tough. I mean, I get to play golf for a living. It's a wonderful deal.
The greatest thing about it is that we get to make our own schedule. We're not tied to a team.
But what requires a balance is that to play your best golf, you have to be fresh mentally and physically, and when you play four competitive rounds along with a Pro-Am, that's five rounds, and you are doing obligations in association with the event, and you're trying to practice and you're trying to work out and trying to have family time, it takes energy that doesn't allow you to necessarily play your best every single week for months on end.
And that's why most of the guys try to pace themselves where we go at it for two or three weeks we play, and then we try to take a week or two off and get refreshed and then go at it again for two or three weeks and then take a week off.
Q. You could obviously be Player of the Year and yet you could have a different winner of the FedExCup. Is there any problem with a playoff system in which that kind of scenario happens?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you've got to look at it as how other sports look at it. It can be the best team of the season and still not win the championship. That's kind of how this playoff was kind of instituted. You can win 30 tournaments throughout the year and be Player of the Year but you just don't get the FedExCup, you just didn't play well at the right time. That's the nature of how most sports are. I think we tried to emulate that in our sport.
Q. Put your designer hat on, rookie designer hat on, if you could. Your thoughts on the 18th hole, like it, dislike it? They are all but extinct in this country, for whatever reason, because there's a contemporary standard that's been accepted that no one seemed to violate.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've never been a big fan of the last hole being a par 3. I think you should have to hit more shots to determine a champion than just one shot. I think you should have to play two or three shots to get to a flag, not sort of just one shot.
Granted, that was out the door in '97 at Congressional. We've played major championships, I think Lytham St. Annes start off on a par 3, Westchester as we all know starts off on a par 3. I think that's different than having to determine -- the last hole being basically one shot.
Q. There's been a lot of discussion amongst players and some articles that say it looks like you're standing a little more upright to the ball. Do you find that to be the case?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say more upright, I'm standing a little bit closer to it, so I think that gives the appearance of it. I've always had a tendency -- my mistake being -- my weight being set too much on my heels and not necessarily on the balls of my feet, and if I get my weight more towards the balls of my feet, it looks like I'm more upright when I'm actually not.
Q. A follow-up, a couple guys were saying yesterday they felt like your swing looked a lot more like it did in 2000.
TIGER WOODS: As far as my swing looking like it did in 2000, no, I don't think it does. I've made a bunch of changes since then, and I think the pieces were starting to come together last year. My six tournaments in a row last year and this year, I think the pieces of it were starting to come together, and that's what it looks like. As far as tinkering, we're all tinkering. We're all trying to get better. You have to believe in your heart of hearts that what you're doing is right. Sometimes people do make changes and they go the wrong way and they don't come back. The changes I've made when I first started working with Butch and I first started working with Hank, I usually take a step back before I take two or three steps forward.
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September 13, 2007
Coming off his thrilling British Open victory over Sergio Garcia in 2007, Padraig Harrington sat down to discuss his game and his chances at the 2008 U.S. Open. "I have spent my last 10 years trying to adapt my swing to play U.S. Open golf," Harrington said. "I'd say the last two years, that and the Masters have attracted my attention more than anything else."
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