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An Interview With: Phil Mickelson

Q. After your start today are you satisfied with where you finished?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would have taken 3-under par before the day started because it puts you in good position starting out, but I had a great start birdieing the first three holes.

The golf course was very susceptible to birdies and low scoring, but I didn't play the way I need to play if I'm going to win this championship. I didn't drive the ball in the fairway frequently enough. I didn't hit enough solid iron shots close to the holes where I could have. There were three times I had very easy up-and-downs and hit poor chips to outside six or seven feet and missed all three of them.

I let a lot of shots slide away today, but fortunately I finished 3-under par. I'm not displeased with that, but if I'm going to get on top of the lead and have a chance on Sunday, I have to play a lot better.

Although I don't want to be too hard on myself. I haven't played a tournament in a month. I was a little rusty; I could feel it. Normally I would play the week before and didn't this time, so I certainly felt a little rusty starting out.

Q. After all the talk about how difficult this course could be, how did it end up?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, we didn't have the wind. We had a lot of up tees today. The greens were soft and receptive and didn't have overly difficult pin placements throughout the day. So, I think that with a great number of players, or before the cut, you want to be real careful because we could easily have six-and-a-half-hour rounds if it played the way this golf course could.

But when guys are hitting the ball in the fairway, and players of this caliber are, all of those bunkers you see, all of that rough you see, it's not really in play. All we see are these fairways and then we have these soft greens to fire at pins, and without the wind, its main defense, everybody was able to make a lot of birdies.

Q. Coming back after the first round, is there any fatigue --

PHIL MICKELSON: Fatigue was not a factor, but I felt a little rusty. I didn't feel some confidence on some tee shots, on firing at the pins. 17 was a great example; perfect little 5-iron, I yanked it into trouble left. When I don't play in tournaments, it takes me a round or two to get confident on some of those shots, and consequently, I let a few shots fly throughout the day.

Again, I'm not displeased. I hit some shots that ended up very close. I made some good putts the first few holes, so I certainly had my share of breaks. But I need to play a different type of golf or a more solid type of golf to be in the lead or in contention on Sunday.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's a good question, probably a little bit of both. If they are catching the lip and lipping out hard like they were, then my speed was off. But I had to change my read a little bit, too, if I'm going to alter my speed. It was probably a little bit of both.

Greens are pretty easy to read. They roll pretty true. They are rolling perfect. I feel confident after getting this round under my belt that I'll be able to improve as the tournament goes on.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I do.

Q. Is there a reason --

PHIL MICKELSON: It was the only chance that I had to get out here to Whistling Straits to see the course and prepare, So I spent three days last week.

Also, with this style of golf here, it's more of a defensive golf. Even though we are seeing a lot of aggressive play today, it's a more defensive style when we have the wind, when the greens firm up. And The International is the exact opposite; it's no holds barred, it's birdies on every hole and so forth. So I didn't want to go from a totally aggressive style of play to a much more defensive style of play and change. But I normally do like to play the week before. It just didn't work out this year.

Q. What do you expect --

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't expect much difference tomorrow to be honest. I think, again, with the number of players that we have, I don't think that we're going to have it play overly difficult.

But I expect it to change drastically on Saturday. I think the pins will be a lot more tucked, the tees will be back, the greens might even get a touch firmer, and I think when we come to the weekend, I think 1- or 2-under would be a great score, whereas right now a great score is really 6- or 7-under.

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