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Subscribe to RSS feed for News Phil Mickelson met the media to discuss the PGA Championship for the first time since his victory at Baltusrol. (Photo: Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson met the media to discuss the PGA Championship for the first time since his victory at Baltusrol. (Photo: Getty Images)

PGA Media Day

Phil Mickelson detailed how he's putting together his strategy for his PGA Championship title defense in a special news conference on Tuesday at Medinah Country Club. Officials from The PGA, Medinah, CBS and TNT also discussed their preparations.

JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Julius Mason, the Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations for the PGA of America. Welcome to the 88th PGA Championship Media Day.

I'd like to introduce you to a few members of our head table right now, beginning with Rob Correa, Senior Vice President of Programming for CBS Sports; Art Frigo, General Chairman of the 88th PGA Championship; Roger Warren, the president of the PGA of America; and Greg Hughes, Senior Vice President, Public Relations and Communications for Turner Sports.

We also have a number of special guests in our audience, and I'd like you to meet some of them right now. From your region, the PGA of America's District No. 6 director, Tim Marks; representing the Illinois PGA Section, Dennis Johnsen; and Vice President Terry Russell; from Medinah Country Club, President John Fennell.

Some of you may have recognized this gentleman from our 1999 PGA Championship, a very good friend of the PGA of America, Mr. Chicago himself, Mr. Don Larson, front row; by way of the University of Illinois, the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs, PGA Head Professional Mike Scully; grounds manager, Tom Lively; a host of PGA of America staff members led by the PGA of America's CEO Mr. Joe Steranka; and PGA Championship tournament director for this event, Michael Belot.

Now it's my pleasure to introduce, once again, the president of the PGA of America, from Kiawah Island, Mr. Roger Warren.

ROGER WARREN: Thank you, Julius, and good afternoon, everyone. It's certainly a pleasure to be back home for me in the Chicago area, to be here today for this media day, looking forward very excitedly to the PGA Championship in August.

Chicago and golf in Chicago is very special, and the quality of the golf courses, the quality and enthusiasm people have for the game of golf in this area is what makes this such a special location to come to for a major championship, and we look forward to the opportunity to share this great championship with members of Medinah Country Club who have been great in support, to the people in Chicago who love golf and will support it, and we want to thank you for being here today as we talk about this PGA Championship.

This is the 90th anniversary of the PGA of America. In April of 1916 in New York at the Martinique Hotel, PGA of America was formed, and it was formed with two goals; to raise the professional standards of golf professionals and to grow participation in the game.

Today, 90 years later, 28,000 men and women golf professionals of this country work every day to make sure that we raise our standards and continue to grow participation in the game.

PGA members around the country are leading the growth of the game through our program Play Golf America, and we're excited about where the game is going, we're excited about the future of golf, and we're pleased it is the PGA member who is leading that growth of the game as they've done since 1916.

In three months, the PGA Championship will come to Medinah again, and we're so proud to be here because this is a special place. The PGA of America has committed to take the PGA Championship to great sites, and Medinah obviously fits that criteria. We were here in 1999, we're coming back in 2006, and frankly after seeing the golf course today, I know the players are going to be thrilled to be here. They're going to be challenged, but they're going to be thrilled to be here.

In August, this golf course will play at 7,561 yards. It will be the longest major championship golf course ever played by these players. I know that they will look forward to that challenge. My personal opinion is the 11th hole, the changes on the 11th hole will make that hole one of the ones that will be noteworthy because of the necessity to get the ball down by the turn. It was basically in '99 one of the easier golf holes on the golf course. I think this year it's going to be one of the more challenging ones frankly.

History has proven that the PGA Championship has the strongest field in major golf. We had 93 of the top 100 players last year; we expect, again, to have the strongest field in major golf this year.

Last year we featured 28 players who had won a combined 45 major championships. The PGA Championship had a record 61 international players last year representing 24 countries.

The PGA Championship is also the only true all-professional major championship in major golf. This year we're proud that we'll also have 20 of our club professionals who will qualify at the PGA National Professional Championship in June to play in this event at Medinah in August, and we're excited about those 20 golf professionals who will represent all of us as they play in the PGA Championship.

The excitement of the PGA Championship commands a global audience. This year there will be 27 hours of live championship coverage by CBS and TNT; there will be over 400 million households worldwide that will be exposed to this great game and this great event, to Chicago, to Medinah and to the great players who will be here. This worldwide audience is what makes this event so special, and we're looking forward to that.

Again, we are extremely pleased to be bringing the PGA Championship to this community, to Medinah Country Club in August in the Chicago area. We know that the people in the Chicago area will support this event; they're great golf fans. This is a great venue; it will challenge these players. They'll be challenged with a fair setup by our tournament director Kerry Haigh, and at the end of the event, what seems to be the past history of the PGA Championship, something great will happen, and we're happy to be here.

Thank you, Julius.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much. I'd also like to introduce the general manager at this great facility, a man who on No. 15 today, standing out on the tee in coat and tie, borrowed somebody's driver and popped one 260 down the middle of the fairway, slippery, slippery greens, didn't slip at all, so if the board of directors are in here for Medinah, I think your general manager is playing a little too much golf. Michael Wheeler, ladies and gentlemen.

Now let's hear from one of the key partners who is responsible for bringing the PGA Championship to the world through the magic of television, Mr. Rob Correa.

ROB CORREA: Thank you. This will be the 16th consecutive year since 1991 that CBS will have televised the PGA Championship. It's a relationship that we value greatly. It's something that we've built. I think the fact that we've built a relationship along with the PGA Championship, a major factor in that has been Joe Steranka. Thank you for all your help over the years. Turner has been with us and we've been with them since 1991, and they've been a terrific partner, as well. Thank you, Greg.

This year we'll be doing 30-minute highlight shows Thursday and Friday, and we'll be on the air at 2:00 o'clock to conclusion Saturday and Sunday.

Last year our PGA Championship at Baltusrol, even with two rain delays, was the highest-rated PGA since 2002. Over 25 million people watched all or part of the PGA Championship. We look forward to Medinah; we have a good track record here.

1999 still remains the third-highest PGA Championship Sunday since 1980, which is no small feat these days. Again, we expect more of the same. Our announcing crew remains basically unchanged. It will consist of David Feherty, Peter Kostis, Gary McCord, Peter Oosterhuis, Bobby Clampett, Bill Macatee, Vern Lundquist, and of course Lanny Wadkins, former PGA champion, and Jim Nantz. Lance Barrow will again produce the PGA Championship for us and Steve Milton will direct.

Just one note that I did not mention, we renewed the PGA last year through 2011, which we're very happy about. Hopefully the PGA of America is happy about it, as well. So that will bring us up to 21 years and counting by the year 2011. We are in a visual media, so enough talk, let's roll the tape.

(PGA Championship highlight video played.)

JULIUS MASON: Rob, thank you very, very much for those goose bumps. And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Greg Hughes.

GREG HUGHES: Thanks, Julius. I want to say thank you to the members here at Medinah Country Club for hosting us today. It's a great day, despite the weather challenges. What a terrific golf course.

I also want to say thank you to Joe Steranka and echo Rob's comments about our pride in the relationship with the PGA of America. I am fortunate enough to be a part of all 16 of these on TBS first and then TNT. This year we're adding an hour of coverage. We'll be on the air from 2:00 until 8:00 Eastern time on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday we will bridge right up with CBS's coverage from 11:00 until 2:00.

Last year our weekend coverage was up 50 percent from the year prior, and overall our four-day coverage was up 13 percent. So this event continues to build and rise. It's a very important part of our TNT sports calendar.

Our talent for this year is a little bit in flux. As some of you are aware, Ernie Johnson, our normal host for our golf coverage, is suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He's doing very well. I spoke with him yesterday. He hopes to be here. He begins treatment at the end of June after our NBA playoff coverage concludes, and he wanted me to wish everyone well here and say that he plans on being here as of now.

If that can't be the case, we will make adjustments. Our great partnership with our friends at CBS, we will be using, again, their talent as part of our coverage through our telecasts, and we'll work that out.

As some of you also are aware, TNT airs more coverage of major championship golf than any network in television with our 28 hours of the British Open, too.

On the interactive side, PGA.com, for the first time ever, we are streaming this press conference live. This summer for the PGA Championship, look for live and highlight coverage available on multiple platforms, including VOD, broadband, wireless and Podcasting. Thank you.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you, Greg. Now, ladies and gentlemen, the man from Chicago steering this great big ship, let's hear from the 88th PGA Championship general chairman, Mr. Art Frigo.

ART FRIGO: Thanks, Julius. It, of course, is an exciting day for Medinah to see everyone be here to experience our course. I do want to say upon reflection when we look back at the '99 tournament, there's no doubt that all of us at Medinah were quite proud of the results, quite proud of our partnership with the PGA. But as always, when you have something as significant as this tournament, it's always good to step back and take a few reflections on what could we do to do it better.

We've always taken pride to do the best that we can at this club, and when we looked at our golf course, it was obvious that there were certain challenges that we had in '99, mainly related to our greens. It turns out that the great tradition of this course involving our beautiful oak trees over time created a shade problem, which in turn created inconsistent greens, which caused drainage problems, and had our greens in a less than satisfactory condition.

So with this and with the awarding of '06 and the Ryder Cup in '12 by the PGA, the Medinah membership took this quite seriously, and of course wanted to present the best possible tournament that we could when the '06 tournament returned.

Upon looking at all this, we are faced with, of course, the challenge of technology, what it's doing to the game of golf, what the players, their fitness and their excellent shape and conditioning does for their ability to hit the ball at exceptional levels.

But combined with that, we had a tradition to preserve; we've always been proud of our authenticity, the legitimate nature of this golf course. There are no tricks. What you see is what you get. It's a real, sincere, serious challenge. We did not want to violate that, so it took a lot of thinking before we decided how are we going to approach this.

We hired Rees Jones because of his emphasis of preserving courses, his great reputation, and often when he finished a course, people would say, well, where are the changes. We were very impressed with that because we wanted a great course, but we wanted tradition preserved, and Rees was the man.

So I hope today you saw out there every bunker is now strategically placed, and they're all new. I think that they will provide a new edge to the players. Our greens, we have seven new contoured greens. We've regrassed all of our greens, so they will not only be consistent, but we believe they will provide the highest quality that the players deserve for this type of tournament.

Our tee boxes, we have ten new tee boxes, some strategically located, some moved back to add the extra distance in order to match the technological requirements that we've all been faced with, but still not disturbed the basic competitive nature that this course was meant to be.

But I think in the end, one of the biggest changes will come about that they will notice, they will love the greens, they will love the tees, they will love the layout, they will love the traditional look, the classic sculptured appearance of the bunkers.

But in the end they will be surprised because for years in Medinah growing rough in August has not been easy. But with our new renovation, we now have irrigated rough. We expect not only for our rough, we expect to grow it, it's going to grow vertically, we're going to nurture it, we're going to prepare it so when the ball goes in the rough, our goal is to have the ball fall to the bottom of the rough, not sit on top.

In addition, there are misters that are installed on top of the bunkers, so I think that the appearance of the golf course and the feel of it will be at the very high level that the players will appreciate.

I do not want to forget some tweaking that took place. On hole No. 5, the tee was, just recently last year, expanded in the back and moved over to the right to provide an angle which will make the bunkers come more into play.

Roger, I'm glad that you liked No. 11 so well because you are an excellent golf player, if I can slip that in here, and I think we're kind of proud of that, because you're right, in '99 it was a rather benign hole. But with that tee back, not only do you feel that way, but our pro, Mike Scully, has played it, and he is certainly one of our long ball hitters at the club, he thinks it could be one of the hardest par 4s on the golf course.

Surely adding the tee back on No. 14, so that will play about 610 to get to the top of the hill. That was a relatively easy par 5 in '99; it will not be in '06.

And of course the biggest news is 17 back down on the water. If that doesn't provide a lot of excitement in the finishes, I will really be surprised. That hole we are very proud of, and we look to see some exciting finishes.

That takes care of the players. In terms of the commitment of our membership, we wanted to give the members a great course, but we also were concerned about the fans. As all of you know, when you go to some of the major tournaments, the fans take a long bus ride in a school bus, and it's a hot day, and they end up having to walk a mile or two to see the first golfer. Well, that's not going to happen at Medinah because of the commitment of our members.

If you can believe this, it's true, we are taking the 13th hole of our No. 1 course, which sits at the gate, and our No. 1 course, by the way, is No. 13 in the state of Illinois in terms of its rating, and we are going to blacktop that fairway to accommodate the 75 to 100 buses that will be arriving.

But the experience of the fans will be something they've never seen at a major. They will literally be arriving at our front gate. They will not have any 18th hole, by the way. Also, when they arrive they will be on motor coaches that will be air-conditioned, and the bus ride will be no longer than 15 minutes from our satellite parking.

When they arrive, they're going to arrive at a Market Village, and the Market Village is going to have concessions, tables, a Jumbotron TV; they're going to be allowed to relax when they're tired, go out on the course, see golf, come back, relax, and truly enjoy a very special day. We want them to enjoy it. We want Medinah to be a special memory, as does the PGA.

With that, I want to close by saying, we tried to accommodate the fans by creating 19 different ways to buy tickets. But we need, also, to tell you that there still are tickets available. They can be purchased at www.PGA2006.com. That's where you get tickets; they're available.

I want to finish by saying the commitment of this club is real serious, as evidenced by when you're out there today. You see what members have to do to put up with the growing of this amazing rough that we're getting ready for this tournament.

But with the commitment of Medinah and the PGA, with a course that we believe will be one of the best in the world, with the fan-friendly atmosphere that will occur, we believe that we're headed for the best tournament major that's ever been done. Thank you.

JULIUS MASON: Art, I'm glad you're on our side. That's nice. Quite honestly, on behalf of everybody from the PGA of America, a thousand thank yous for your leadership and your passion dedicated to this event. We really appreciate it.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, one more time with Roger Warren.

ROGER WARREN: The PGA Championship has been fortunate to create a special moment in which our champion had something very special happen before we give the Wanamaker Trophy, and last year at Baltusrol we had another special moment. The Championship had to be moved for only the third time to move because of inclement weather, so we created a very special moment on Monday in determining the winner of the PGA Championship.

If you remember, Phil Mickelson hit it in the fairway, went and touched a plaque that represented a shot that Jack Nicklaus had hit back in 1967, hit the ball up close to the green, hit one of his patented flop shots out of the rough close and made birdie to win the PGA Championship. That's what makes the PGA Championship special, having great players doing great things at the right time to win the Championship.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to introduce to you today, live from San Diego, California, the reigning champion of the PGA Championship and the No. 2 player in the world, Mr. Phil Mickelson.

PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you, Roger. Art, I want to thank you very much for allowing us to come to your great golf course, and I've been listening to all the wonderful things that you've been doing for the spectators. I think that's terrific. Our golf fan base is such a loyal fan base, they can't just buy a ticket and sit down and watch the show; they've got to walk miles to watch the players, and even then they don't get to see all the action. Any step that you're making sounds terrific on making it a very enjoyable experience for the fans.

However, I also listened to the things you did for the professional, and I'm not so excited about those (laughter), making the rough so thick and the ball falling to the ground, and the length on all those holes, 7,560 yards, I'm thinking about coming to the PGA Championship as a spectator instead of a player.

I have a lot of fond memories of Medinah. It was my first major championship that I've ever played in, the U.S. Open in 1990, and it started an incredible run of 0 for 46 in the majors (laughter). Hopefully we'll have a little bit more luck this year.

But after last year's success at Baltusrol, it has really given me a special feeling for the PGA Championship, and the thing that I loved so much about winning this great championship was there were six months in between majors, and I was able to really enjoy this off-season. I had so much fun being able to look at that Wanamaker Trophy, to look at the highlights of the tournament and enjoy the fact that I've won such a prestigious event with so much great history behind it.

I'm looking forward to coming back in August, although I haven't really been able to look too far ahead to the PGA Championship, as we still have two majors in between. It's been a fun start to the year, and I want to continue that play over into the U.S. Open and British before we get to the PGA Championship.

I'd love to open it up for questions if anybody has any. I hope that it went well for everybody out there on the golf course. I'm sure that everyone played from 7,560 yards and made par on 16 and 17 (laughter). That's a struggle for all of us, and I know what a challenge that is. So I hope it went well for you this morning, and I'd love to open it up if you have any questions.

JULIUS MASON: Phil, thank you for joining us. You're looking mighty fine 3,000 miles away. We are going to open it up now for questions. There are two wireless mikes on either side of the room. In order for Phil to hear your question, we'd ask that you use that microphone.

Q. Obviously Medinah is renovated, and I assume you haven't seen it yet. In general what are you expecting to see when you walk in the gates?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've been able to read some of the notes of the changes in the past, and I have some good memories of the golf course in '90 and '99, but I think it's going to play very different than it played those two previous events. My anticipation will be after the British Open I'll come into Chicago and spend three, four, five days out at Medinah to see the intricacies of the golf course and better understand all the challenges that the course presents, not just the length off the tee, but the challenges that the greens present and how tough some of the pin placements are, to work on the shots that I'll need to be successful at Medinah.

Q. What are your memories as far as the two tournaments that you did play here and your assessment as far as how the scores played as far as the characteristics of the scores and the areas where you have to avoid in order to be successful?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I've always loved coming to play golf in your hometown. Chicago has got some incredible golf courses. The thing I love so much about playing my first major championship at Medinah was how straightforward and difficult a test of golf it was. It's like that -- it was like that in '99, and I anticipate it will be even more difficult and challenging in '06. But it's still a fair, straightforward test of golf.

I also remember that I shot even par in the U.S. Open in '90, and usually that's good enough to win. However, I believe I finished about 19th or so, wasn't as high as I wanted. I know that in '99 and 2006, the goal was to make the golf course more difficult.

Fortunately in '99 we had some rain, and it kept the greens soft enough to where we could make some birdies. When the greens there get firm, the golf course is one of the toughest in the world, and I know that that's what the goal will be in August. But it's not necessarily something the players all want to see (laughter).

Q. You had a lot of success at Augusta with two drivers. Is that something you might consider here at Medinah?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's something I'll certainly look at, but after looking at the setup for the U.S. Open and hearing Art's comments about how difficult the rough is going to be, I don't anticipate having that second driver of added length that moved it out there another 20 yards. I think it's going to be much more imperative to keep the ball between the thick grass and be able to attack pins from the fairway, maybe a club or two more into the greens but in the short grass. So my immediate response is that I'll probably use only one driver, and it would be the shorter driver.

Q. You mentioned the 0-for-46 streak, but since then you've picked up three of them. What is your confidence level like now when you enter a major championship, knowing that you've got three of them now and that that streak is over?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, obviously I feel a lot better entering major championships now, but I think the biggest thing was on an individual level, we as players all need to find out what allows us to play our best golf, and it's different for each person.

For me, it took me a while to realize that I like to play the week before a tournament, that I like to come in a couple weeks prior to scout the golf course and plan out my strategy. It takes me a little while to understand what shots I'll need to hit, and by playing the week before, I stay in a competitive frame of mind and am able to carry that over to Thursday's opening round.

A lot of guys bring out their best game by taking the week off before a major, or maybe spending three or four practice rounds just prior to the tournament. It's different for everybody, and you have to find out what works best for you. It took me over a decade to figure that out for myself, but now it's been a lot of fun and exciting for me because I've been able to play some of my best golf in the biggest championships.

Q. You spoke of your strategy of coming in and playing Medinah four or five days. When did you go to that set-up in your mind for major championships, and how quickly did it pay off? Did you do that before you won your first Masters?

PHIL MICKELSON: I did. It was really an idea from [short game coach] Dave Pelz, and Dave Pelz brought me and [swing coach] Rick Smith in, and we mapped out kind of a game plan for the golf course. We did that at Augusta, and it was actually the first major that I won. So the first time I did it, I had a lot of success, and then carried that over into the U.S. Open at Shinnecock and the British Open at Troon, and I had two really good performances there, missing a shot at the U.S. Open narrowly behind Retief Goosen and missing a playoff at the British Open by a shot. So it started just prior to the Masters, and I've been able to carry it on into '05 without as much success in the early few majors but with a lot of success at Baltusrol.

Doug Steffen, the head pro at Baltusrol, and I played a round of golf together and he gave me a lot of little insights that certainly paid off. In fact, I remember the birdie putt that I made on the fourth hole, the par 3, he was telling me how the putt looks like it's straight but it actually goes four or five inches to the left. And sure enough, the putt was so fast downhill that I couldn't take the break out with speed; I had to feed it in from four or five inches out, and looking at it, I would have thought that it was a straight putt. So sometimes little tidbits like that can equate to saving a shot here or there.

Q. I didn't realize T.R. had such a nice view from his house. It looks pretty nice there.

PHIL MICKELSON: He's living the good life, no question.

Q. When you hear 7,561 for the yardage, in this day and age, does it seem daunting, or are the conditions still -- is it still the weather that's really going to determine how the course plays as opposed to the conditions?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, 7,561 would not be that daunting at Castle Pines in Denver [venue of the International], where the altitude is so high. But at Medinah where the ball doesn't necessarily travel that far, and when the fairways are not necessarily wide open and you need distance, it's a little intimidating.

It's going to be important to get the ball in play, but you can't do it with irons. You've got to drive your golf ball well, and driving it 300 yards and keeping it between a 25-yard fairway is a very small miss; you just don't have much margin for error there. It is intimidating, especially with the recovery shot, and the greens are so tough.

It's probably why we see such high scores in those championships, because we can't take iron out and just put it in play; we have to use driver, and a lot of guys who don't have the driver working that week shoot some high numbers.

Q. Do you feel like regardless of the rankings, you're the No. 1 player in the world right now? And do you feel like you're the guy to beat in majors?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would never say that, and certainly I think the career -- the 10-year career that Tiger [Woods] has had deserves the respect of all players, and he is the No. 1 player in the world, I would never question that.

But I've had a lot of fun the last couple of majors being able to win those, being able to compete in some prior tournaments and compete head-to-head against guys like Tiger, as well as some other big names in golf, not just necessarily Retief [Goosen] or Vijay [Singh] or Ernie [Els], but we've got some great young talent on the Tour, whether it's Jim Furyk who's played tremendous or Trevor Immelman who almost won the last couple weeks, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia, and tough veterans like Chris DiMarco and David Toms. There's a lot of strong talent on Tour. Even though Tiger is unquestionably the best player in the world, it's still fun for us to compete against him and all the other great players head-to-head.

Q. I was wondering if you could talk about what does it feel like coming in having won a couple majors in a row and people asking about that rather than the 0-for-46 streak?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's just a lot nicer. It's so much better answering these questions than the ten years I was answering the other ones. It's been a lot of fun. I also feel a lot more confident heading into big tournaments now that I've won a couple.

The conditions and challenges that a major championship provides a lot of times would be intimidating, and now I look at them as a plus, as though I hope the course is hard and fast. I say it jokingly that 7,561 is going to be so tough and the rough is going to be thick and the greens are going to be hard, but I'm actually enjoying those difficult conditions because the penalty for a mishit is now so great, and I feel much more confident because of recent success that I'm able to handle those tough and difficult conditions.

Q. You talked about your preparation changing going into majors. What about your mental, your course strategy when you're playing the tournament? Has that changed, also? I'm thinking about the way you played the final round at Augusta, where you basically did not have a bogey until the last hole after the tournament was wrapped up. In your mind did you have a point where par became a decent score, an acceptable score for you in a major as opposed to maybe a few years ago when you had a much more aggressive approach?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's interesting because a lot has been said that I've been playing more conservatively, and actually what I have tried to do is to stay consistent with my aggressive nature, but the difference is I might play the immediate shot more conservative so that I can play my next shot more aggressive.

Dave Pelz made a good point when he told me that to be aggressive on a par 5, I've got to be in the fairway so I can hit a 3-wood to the green. If I try to add 20 yards off the tee with the driver and put it in the rough, I now have to hit an iron short of the green and I'm playing conservative again. So I might take a small step back, and we might call that a conservative play, but it's with the idea that my next shot will be much more aggressive.

I'll give you a good example: The eighth hole at The Masters this year. The second shot was a more conservative shot than I could have played. I could have gotten the ball onto the green there. However, it was a very difficult putt from the front of the green up over the ridge down to the hole, one that is easily misjudged on break and speed. In fact, my playing partner Fred Couples three-putted. But I played short right of the green so I could still use my L-wedge and fly it over the ridge and get my third shot closer to the hole.

So I played a more conservative second shot so that my third shot could be more aggressive. And that is how I feel I've been able to still stay consistent with my aggressive nature but just make some smarter decisions so that I can play future shots more aggressively, rather than always playing the immediate shot the most aggressive.

Q. That seems to be a concept maybe the media has a hard time grasping. How about you? Was it hard for you in the beginning to realize that, playing more conservative so you could play more aggressive with the next one?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's when it really made sense to me when Dave Pelz put it in that light because I had a conversation with everyone a while ago that I'm an aggressive player by nature, that I need to play aggressive and that's how I play my best golf; that's true and I need to be consistent with that. When Dave Pelz made me understand that sometimes a more conservative play on an immediate shot allows me to be more aggressive with the next one, that's when it clicked and when I started to make smarter choices in the majors and I maybe made more pars, but I also had more birdie opportunities.

Q. You mentioned 7,560 a few times during this press conference, and I know some of us who played from the white tees looked back at where you're going to be teeing off from and were amazed at the length of these courses. How much more can we go, and do you think we'd like to see maybe even a shorter course with more penal rough, narrower fairways, more difficult greens? Is that something we might go to, or are we just going to keep getting longer and longer?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know the answer to that. I don't have a crystal ball. It's my understanding now that the USGA has two different testing methods for golf ball, whereas in 1975 when the initial velocity test was implemented, that has allowed some areas where manufacturers could get a golf ball that goes a lot farther. But with the new ODS, or overall distance standard, that really capped how far a golf ball will be able to travel under Tour-like conditions. So I don't anticipate a huge difference in distance in the next couple of years or in the future at all, and I don't think that we will be needing to lengthen golf courses past the point of where we're at today, which is about 7,400 or 7,500 yards.

Q. Who does this course favor? I know it's playing so long, but can we see some of the shorter guys be in contention here?

PHIL MICKELSON: No question. We saw Mike Weir as one of the leaders in '99, and it played very long in '99 because of the rain. I think is that this is a golf course that shows its greatness in the fact that it is not a one-dimensional course. It's open for great play from any style of player. You have a huge advantage if you hit the ball short but in play, and you have a big advantage if you're able to drive the ball long and have shorter shots into the greens, provided, again, you're in play.

So it doesn't favor any one style of player. You will have to be very sharp on these big and fast, undulating greens. You'll have to be smart in your approach shot, keep the ball under the hole because they are severely pitched from back to front. Those requirements don't favor one style of player; I think it opens itself up to every golfer who's playing well.

JULIUS MASON: Phil, thank you very much. And if you wouldn't mind I'd like to ask you to remain seated while we get ready for our one-on-ones, and I'd like to ask that everybody from our head table and everybody in our audience quickly exit the doors on my right over here as we get ready for our one-on-ones. What you'll find on your way outside are media kits, media guides to the Championship; please help yourself to those. Thank you for joining us today, and remember, like Art said, tickets are still available.

Greater Woodfield Convention and Visitors Bureau Dupage Convention and Visitors Bureau Illinois PGA Section

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