JULIUS MASON: Phil Mickelson, Ladies and Gentlemen, is approaching the interview table. Phil shoots a 68, -4 today.
Phil, if you wouldn't mind some general thoughts on the day and playing in your first PGA Grand Slam of golf, please.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a nice day for us to play. There wasn't any wind, so the course didn't have its normal defense. I knew we were going to have to shoot some pretty low scores to keep pace. I was lucky to shoot 4-under and be only 3 back. I didn't make many birdies like Retief and Vijay did. Hung in there. Only 3 back isn't an unsurmountable lead by any means.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.
Q. Let's start with the obvious. 18 is a hole that people tend to eagle to win this tournament. You must feel pretty good about your prospects after that confidence builder.
PHIL MICKELSON: I was 4 back. After seeing Vijay and Retief knock it on the green, I knew they were going to make birdies, even though Vijay ended up making par. I felt like I needed to make a 3 to make up ground. I was 4 back. I think there's a mental hurdle. 4 back behind two players is a lot more than 3 back the way I feel. So being only 3 back of one player now, I feel like it's not a lead that can't be surpassed.
So I'll be certainly making a good run at it tomorrow. I've got to make a lot more birdies, though, the way Retief did on the Front 9, the way Vijay did on the Front 9.
Q. You heard you were here on Kauai last year, but didn't walk across the street to the golf course because you said if you are going to go to the golf course, you need to earn your way to play in the Grand Slam Of Golf. Any truth to that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I may have said that, it was probably joking though. It was earlier this year, February or March, that I came here, and spent some time with our family. It's really a nice resort. We really enjoyed coming here.
I certainly wanted to come back, and this was a great way to do it, winning The Masters. So there was a little bit of truth to that, yes. I wanted to get back here the right way.
Q. You came here with your family and a lot of your friends. I think the weather report may have scared a lot of people, thinking there was going to be a lot of wind, maybe a lot of rain. How are you going to prepare tomorrow if there is unfortunate wind and rain?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't mind the wind or rain one bit, not just for golf but for vacation, too. I don't need it to be perfectly sunny to have a great time. There's a lot of fun things that we can do out here.
Last time we were here, it rained a little bit. We still hung out at the pool, had a great time. We plan on doing a little bit of scuba diving, maybe helicopter riding. That may infringe on that is the only thing. There's a lot of fun things to do here.
It's a very tropical environment so I expect it to rain. If it rains occurring the competition tomorrow, maybe it will help me out because it might give me a chance to make up some ground.
Q. Talk a little bit about the experience. One of the things I love about this tournament is you got this gallery that's so personal, intimate, they get to watch every shot. Completely the opposite of most big golf tournaments.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it is. I don't think that we've played in front of such an intimate size gallery. I think that's probably a good way of putting it.
It's very enjoyable. People are very courteous and very easygoing here in Hawaii. It's just got a great feel to it, a great relaxing feel. Everybody's been a lot of fun to play in front of. We've had a good time.
Q. Can you talk about how rewarding it is to finally be here? I don't know if you even watched earlier years.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, to be here means that you've won a major championship, and obviously that's something I've been trying to do for quite some time and just haven't been able to. Had so many close calls. When I finally did win at Augusta this year, it made for a very exciting moment, a very exciting year.
And what I wanted to do was have a chance to spend time, to thank the people that have gone through the highs and the lows throughout my career, and have had so many tough close calls in majors. And I wanted to share the victory with them.
So Dave Pells and his wife JP, Rick and Trisha Smith are here, all of my family and friends that have made it here. We're really having a good time.
Q. For you, can you describe how competitive it is - I know you're a competitive guy - but how competitive it is compared to how fun and relaxing it is, an event like this?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't really feel competitive. I haven't touched a club in two weeks, and I don't intend on touching a club for six more after this. So it's not as competitive an event for me because it's the off-season.
I'm enjoying playing. I'm enjoying playing a couple rounds of golf on a good golf course with three great players. They're paying us nicely, too, so there's a nice little bonus there.
Q. You were very aggressive on 13 today. Everybody went with an iron, you took out the driver. On 18, your second shot. Was that part of your game plan coming into the Grand Slam?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not really. The reason it isn't is I don't feel very sharp. I don't feel like I have great control over with the ball's going. Although I drove it I thought great on the Front 9, got a little sloppy the back.
I didn't intend on taking too many aggressive plays, except that it was a very easy drive on 13. It was only 290 to the front. I fly my driver 305 typically. So it was just a very comfortable driver to fly on the green. Because I pulled the drive the hole before, I really held onto that and missed it a little bit left. But it was a very easy chip, a chip I should have gotten a lot closer than I did.
The last hole, I hit a very good drive on the last hole. I hit a draw. I had been holding onto the club the previous few holes. So after I hit that draw, I felt like I could hit a 6-iron, which is what I hit, and be able to turn it over, hit a little draw out over the lake. Had I not hit a draw that well or had I kind of held onto it, even if it would have gone on a fairway, I would have played a whole different shot. Because I started to get a good rhythm with the swing with that drive, I went after the pin on the last hole. I'm glad I did.
Q. Going into tomorrow's round three shots back, what is the mother-in-law pick for tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's going to be very difficult to catch Retief. Vijay's playing great golf. He has a good run.
I really haven't been playing. It's going to be tough for me. I need to get in the groove. I need to get off to a good start, make a couple of putts, then I might be able to carry some momentum over and make up some ground.
I'm not to the point where I feel like I'm going to come out and stripe it. I'm going to need to get it hot on the greens.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks for coming down, Phil.
Let's bring the other players on up, the other three. Vijay, let's talk about your round today.
VIJAY SINGH: It was all right (laughter). I'm pretty pleased with the way I played. Not the way I played, but the way I scored. Didn't drive the ball like I normally do. I mean, I started out driving it well on 1 and 2, but then I don't know what happened to the driver. But it was a brand-new driver today, so that's kind of something new that I tried out.
Tomorrow I'm going to go back to using the driver that brought me here. So we'll see what happens.
JULIUS MASON: Todd, your first experience out here. Some thoughts on your round today, please.
TODD HAMILTON: I had a blast. Obviously, I was in some tough company with these guys, especially with the starts they got off to. But I enjoyed the day. I didn't play very well, especially on the greens. I didn't have a very good feel for the greens. But, as I said, I had a good time.
JULIUS MASON: Retief, your 65 is atop the leaderboard. I guess you didn't need much time on the island for preparation, did you?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No. I got off to a great start. So, you know, when you get off to a start like that, the momentum sort of carries you on. It was nice to do that. Obviously, I'm very happy with the round. I made a few bad mistakes out there today, but overall I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.
Q. Vijay, probably not the question to start with, Robert Trent Jones Jr. told me he always wanted to build a tee on 18 that's on top of the hill above the 17 green, which would elevate that tee and move the hole 50 yards longer. You've been here before. What do you think about that idea?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I think it's a great hole from there. It's already a pretty nice hole. You'd probably have a better view from the tee box, not really looking down the fairway. I hiked up there the other day, and it's a pretty nice place.
I think he should just leave it alone because it's a pretty good place to just walk around there. It's a good hiking area for a lot of people, so...
Q. Retief, what is it like being the two-time US Open champion and being from South Africa?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Nice (laughter). No, obviously winning any major's great. Obviously, to win another one, it's even better.
You know, two-time US Opener, I never dreamed of that really. Obviously, I enjoy their tough golf courses. It's great to slowly get my name up there where Gary Player has walked and Ernie Els has walked and Bobby Locke. It's nice to have my name also as a South African as a major winner.
Q. Retief, is your wife and new daughter with you on the trip?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No. They're back in London.
Q. Did you contemplate on whether you wanted to cancel out on that event?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I was very close to. By Friday lunchtime, if the baby wasn't there, then I was going to pull out. So the baby came on, luckily, very early Friday morning.
That was hard to leave. Tracy wasn't too happy. She was still a little bit emotional and everything else that goes with it.
But I'm here now. I'm going to try and make the trip worth my while coming over here.
JULIUS MASON: She might not be that disappointed at this particular stage of the game.
Q. Retief or Vijay, do you think having played this event before, having played this course before, gave you an advantage over your opponents today?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it probably gave us a bit more of an idea what can go on out there on the course. But I'm sure Todd and Phil played a couple of practice rounds to sort of get used to it.
Maybe it does give you a little bit more extra feel how the course will play.
Q. Todd, I chatted with you yesterday. Today there may have been some concerns about wind, some concerns about rain. Unfortunately, we may have that weather tomorrow. If it has a little wind or rain, do you think you can become a player that can maybe catch up and make some ground, being a very good wind player?
TODD HAMILTON: I would think so. If the weather does get bad and a guy happens to play well and the other guys don't play well, he can make up quite a bit of ground. Five shots is an awful lot to make up in 18 holes, though.
You never know. I didn't think I would win the British Open Championship either.
Q. For all of you guys, you were out there yesterday and today, fewer people yesterday, ProAm, lots of kids, autographs. It's a pretty rare opportunity to get the winners of the four majors to sign your hat. What is that experience like playing for the smaller, more intimate gallery as opposed to the hundreds of thousands in Phoenix?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I mean, there's quite a lot of crowd out there. They all fall into one group, so it feels like there's a lot of people. Normally when we play in a normal golf tournament, 18, the finishing holes, there's a lot of people around it.
But there's enough people out there to keep us.
RETIEF GOOSEN: I think it would probably be a bit different if it was on a weekend.
Q. I'm not necessarily saying from the point of view it's not enough people for the tournament. For the people there, it's a very special situation because they get to watch all 18 holes. Normally when you go and there is a crowd, but this is a better spectator experience for them.
TODD HAMILTON: I think it's very rare, unless it's your wife or a friend, do people actually go out and are able to follow all 18 holes of a player's round. So this is really special that everyone gets to see probably all the shots that we've hit.
Q. Vijay, incredible year, a year that many, many will even dream about. You got $10 million plus. What's that like having?
VIJAY SINGH: Pretty good (laughter). I don't know. What do you want me to say?
Yeah, pretty good.
Q. I was watching the TV channel, The Golf Channel, and I understand in your past you were a bouncer. You told people you were a pretty good bouncer. Were you a pretty good bouncer?
VIJAY SINGH: Why don't you try me (laughter)? Keep asking these questions, I'll probably have to bounce you out of here (laughter).
Q. Todd, you've played golf for a number of years in Asia, Canada. I was wondering, in this tournament, have you watched or learned anything from your competitors?
TODD HAMILTON: Well, I think this year as a rookie, I learned quite a bit, being thrust in amongst these guys every week. Obviously, the fields on the PGA TOUR are quite a bit different, quite a bit better than what I saw in the Asian Tour and the Japanese Tour. To be involved with players like this week in and week out, it's almost as if it frightens you or it makes you play better every week or else you're going to get lapped.
It's good to be in that position, as long as you can handle the pressure.
Q. Retief, you had 5-under for six holes. At any time during those holes were you thinking "course record"?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I thought it was probably on, yes. I made a few bad mistakes out there today on 8 and 13. All the short par 4s today I seemed to make bogey or par.
The chance was there. Probably had to shoot about 11-under. But overall I'm happy with the round. Hopefully tomorrow we get a chance at that.
Q. Have you played any other courses on the island? Vijay, have you played elsewhere on the island, Prince?
VIJAY SINGH: No. I thought this was the only golf course on the island. There is another one down the road.
Q. There's several on the island. Prince is rated No. 1 on Hawaii, 45 minutes north of here. Not a tournament course. Down in the deep stuff.
VIJAY SINGH: I'll probably make my way there one of these days.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you.
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