Q. Talk about your round.
PHIL MICKELSON Again, without much wind, the defense of the golf course wasn't quite there, but we had some difficult pin placements. It wasn't a pushover, but we still had a lot of low scores.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, it was a good round. I would have taken 5-under. I was hoping for 7 starting the day. I would have thought if I could get to 10, that would be a great spot. I thought the leaders would get between 11 and 13, and that seems like it's going to be an accurate assessment. I just didn't get to the score I wanted. But, I got off to a great start. I was 5-under and felt like the back side, I could shoot 2-, 3-under par no problem. But the holes to birdie are the first four or five holes; they are downwind and they are the easy holes. Coming in, 15 is back into the wind, 17 and 18 are not birdie holes with the wind being in playing so long. So, I needed to make birdies going out. Instead I played them 1-over. I was able to birdie 16 coming in and that got me to even par the back side, and a good par on 18 kept my round at 5-under. Certainly I would have liked a better back side, but I still have a much better chance at it tomorrow for the final round than I did starting today.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, you want to be in the lead. The only time I've led after 54 holes, I was able to win the tournament; that was this year's Masters Tournament. It's much easier having a couple of shots in hand than it is trying to chase because you don't have room for error. If you make a bogey or two, coming from behind, you have to press and make more birdies. But, at least I have a chance. I could go play a solid round tomorrow. I know could I shoot quite a few under par on this golf course, and if I do that, I should have a good opportunity.
Q. Did the putt on 5 get you going?
PHIL MICKELSON The putt on 5 was a big putt for me because I got off to a great start. I hit some really good shots and was 3-under through four holes. 5 I'm looking at making birdie, tried to lay up there with a 7-iron out of the bunker and thinned it and had this mishap where I'm struggling for bogey, even. Yesterday I had the same thing where I have a 50-footer for par, 3-putt it and today that 50-footer went in. I came back the next hole with birdie. I think the most critical shot today was the putt on 5.
PHIL MICKELSON Am I trying to make those? Yes, I'm trying to make those. Now, you have to understand when we get to greens like we had at the U.S. Open where they are baked out and they are lightning fast and big pitches, you're just trying to get it close. But here, the greens are soft, it's very flat around the hole. You feel like you can be aggressive with 20-, 30-footers. Mine was a little longer, but you feel like you can make them, yes.
PHIL MICKELSON You say it like it's a bad thing. It's been a lot of fun. I can't believe how nice the people have been here, to everyone. It's just been really impressive, really impressive.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, the first two rounds, I felt like I had a 64 or 65 in me, and ended up 69-72, so I felt like I let a lot of shots fly. Today I felt like I took advantage of a lot of the holes and shot a pretty good score. It wasn't playing as easy as it did the first two days. The pin placements were not quite as accessible. You had to play for par on some holes. But I got a lot more round of my round today than I did the first two rounds, and I'll need to do the same tomorrow.
PHIL MICKELSON I think so. I think today's round was really close. I think the back side, I had a couple of chances to really make a special round, and just came up one or two shots shy of where I wanted to be.
PHIL MICKELSON I don't know. It's just been flattering. It's been really cool and fun. It's exciting for me to come and play golf and it's very flattering to get that type of reception.
Q. Does it give you an advantage?
PHIL MICKELSON I don't think that it's an advantage, but it's just sure makes me feel good.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, you're going to make bogeys out here. Doing it on a par 5 was not a good thing. I actually had a very easy third shot. I hit a poor second shot and was in a great spot to make birdie, and I landed it about five yards short of where I needed to and I would have had about a 20-footer and instead I made a 3-putt error. I had so many long putts go in today, I am not going to reminisce about that.
Q. You talked about your putting yesterday and how you were struggling with it. Did you do anything different since you came out?
PHIL MICKELSON The biggest difference was I made a lot of them today. That was the biggest turnaround. I spent a lot of time before the round today. Every putt out here outside of 15 feet seems to have a bit of a double break to it, and so I spent a lot of time on the putting green from about that distance because that's really where a realistic birdie chance is going to be. The two putts I made on 1 and 4 were about that range, and those were nice to see go in because they had a little bit of a different break to it. I think that coming out early and practicing them certainly helped.
Q. If the wind doesn't blow harder tomorrow, does that hurt your chances tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON If the wind blows tomorrow, I think it will be more difficult for the guys to catch the leaders. Not that it's not possible, but I'll have to shoot 6-, 7-, 8-under par, and that may not even be good enough. If the wind picks up, it will make catching the leaders a lot easier.
Q. When you were in the middle of a sub-standard year -- (inaudible)?
PHIL MICKELSON No, I think that -- I didn't think like that. I really thought this year was going to be a special year, and boy, has it been something fun and special. The effort or the tough things about last year, Amy and I tried to put behind us and work on the right things, and so I had great direction. I sat down with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz in the off-season, developed a game plan, implemented it, and lo and behold, the first week out, I ended up winning. So that gave me a lot of confidence that I was working on the right things. I just felt like the preparation that I've done now for these major championships, I really believe that I know how to play the golf course. I'm not surprised by certain bounces or what have you when I do get here, and I expect to play well.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, it would be cool. I guess I really shouldn't think that far ahead. Let's just put that off 24 more hours (laughter).
Q. What's been the process for your approach for the majors this year?
PHIL MICKELSON The process has been to come in and see the golf course, spend three days and take thorough notes on certain pin placements, where to go, where not to go, what the penalty, what the likelihood of an up-and-down is, tee shots, where to go for certain pin placements and so forth, wind possibilities, and really try to break down the course so that when I do get here I'm not surprised by anything that the PGA or USGA throws at us.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, I don't know, I haven't really been open-minded enough to listen to the ideas of Rick Smith and Dave Pelz until this year, and now I really feel like I'm on the right direction. I don't know if I would have worked as hard and been as disciplined on these drills and fundamentals and so forth this year, as opposed to say, eight or nine years ago. It's just a lot of work. It's a lot of work. But it's paying off and it's worth it.
PHIL MICKELSON Well, the last four or five holes, the last four holes are a lot tougher. 15 is still a birdie hole, but 16, 17 and 18 are very difficult pars, very unlikely birdies because it's back into the wind.  So just as 7 and 8 were tough, but you can make birdies going out, it seems to be the same on the back.
PHIL MICKELSON Yes, but you have to play this course aggressive anyway, because even as difficult as the pin placements have been, you can short-side yourself. You can attack the pins and still get up-and-down.
PHIL MICKELSON No 14, no, I hit a good putt but I just misread it. I committed to the line I wanted, I hit it where I wanted to and just overread it. 17 was frustrating because I was so dialed into the line, I just forgot to get the speed, and it was right online, right in the heart, easy uphill left-to-righter that I could have made, but the last hole kind of made up for it because of the similar putt. Thanks.
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