Phil Mickelson Interview - 2004 US Open
BY iseekgolf.com | US PGA Tour | 2004 US Open | Final Round | 21 Jun 2004
Rand Jerris: We’re now joined by Phil Mickelson with a 1-over par round of 71 and a four-round total of 278 for the championship. We’ll just start with some questions from the floor, please.
Q: Can you describe what you felt out there from the fans? And have you ever seen anything quite like what they were giving you today as far as the adulation and cheering you on, almost willing you on to win today?
Phil Mickelson: Well, it was certainly a fun week, and it was very flattering. I don’t know what to say. People have been terrific to me, my family, and it was just very flattering.
Q: Given the momentum that I guess began at The Masters in April and just how well everything has been good going for you this year, when you walked off that green on 16, can you just talk about how confident you felt about the final two holes and winning this tournament?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I certainly didn’t really think about winning, but I did feel like I had some momentum, was hitting some good shots and just needed to play the last two holes smart. You know, the one place that I have in my notes that was a good spot to be on 17 to the win that’s front right is the left bunker, and it was not a hard shot. It was actually a pretty good spot to be if I were to miss it because right of that pin, if it went in the right bunker, I wouldn’t have had a shot.
So I was just thinking not about winning the tournament, but I certainly felt like after the birdie at 16 that I had a little bit of momentum, just put the ball in the right spot the last two holes and see if I could make pars.
Q: Along the lines of the fan, at any point does that become a distraction that maybe Retief does not have to deal with because there wasn’t nearly the entourage following him between holes even?
Phil Mickelson: Not at all. I think it was tremendous. I really enjoyed it.
Q: Can you go through your birdies and bogeys, please?
Phil Mickelson: Sure. I bogeyed the 3rd hole. I hit a drive way right, hit a 9-iron 50 yards short of the green, chipped up just short of the green and then two-putted from just off the edge.
I birdied No. 4, hit 3-wood off the tee, hit a gap wedge to 15 feet, made it for birdie.
I bogeyed 10, hit a 4-wood down there to 70 yards. I bumped a sand wedge into the hill, went over the green, putted it back about ten feet long and missed it.
I bogeyed 12, I hit a driver left in the rough. I hit kind of a chop, a 4-wood out of the rough that went just off the back edge, chipped up to seven feet, missed it.
I birdied 13 with a with a 4-iron off the tee and a pitching wedge to 18 feet and made it for birdie.
And 15, I made birdie there, I hit a 3-wood off the tee, a pitching wedge to ten feet and made it for birdie.
I birdied 16, driver in the left rough, 4-iron just short of the green, chipped up to six feet, made it for birdie.
17, I made a 5, a double. I hit a 6-iron in the left bunker, chipped out to eight feet, knocked that six feet by, missed that and tapped in for double.
Q: After you made the birdie on 16, particularly what you said going into the week, what happened at 16 nine years ago, you conquered that one. You must have been feeling pretty good. I mean, can you describe your emotions through there, through the play of the 17th, including when he made the birdie on 16?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I saw him make birdie on 16, so I knew that he was at 4-under.
Q: When was that?
Phil Mickelson: It was right around when I was putting, right before I hit my first putt. I knew that I needed to make the first one to stay tied, but I still felt like the last — I didn’t want to do anything crazy. I played a little bit more break on that first putt, hit it a little bit easier so it wouldn’t go too far by, but the wind got it and prevented it from breaking. It was opposite of the break. It just took the ball and took it six feet by.
Q: When you walk off 17 over here, what is going through your mind? Are you thinking I’ve just lost the U.S. Open?
Phil Mickelson: No, I thought with two holes to go that it was very possible that Retief might make one or two bogeys coming in and that if I could birdie 18, I might have a realistic shot. So I wanted to get that tee shot in the fairway, which I did, and I hit a really good cut 6-iron to get back to the pin, to cut it around the bunker, and it just hit a little too hard and went over the green.
Q: We know that you came in and you worked three days here early. Was the course that you saw then anything like the course you saw today?
Phil Mickelson: Well, no, it wasn’t. I had to revise my notes a lot because areas that I had said were okay to be for certain pins just weren’t, given the course conditions.
Q: The stroke average for the field was 78.7, and there’s been even more criticism than usual of the conditions. Do conditions like this make a mockery of the game or does it bring out a different kind of greatness in guys like you and Retief, or something else?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I don’t know what to say. I felt like I played some of the best golf of my life. I hit some of the best shots, I putted better than I probably ever have putted, and I still couldn’t shoot par. So you tell me.
Q: Given that you putted better than you’ve ever putted, what would you say about a guy who had 24 putts today?
Phil Mickelson: He must have missed a lot of greens (laughter).
Q: Do you know who did that?
Phil Mickelson: I’m guessing Retief. He’s the only — 24 putts is a good score. He shot a pretty good score.
Q: Does this 2nd feel different than others in the past because of what happened in April or maybe because of the way you played today?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I know that it’s my third 2nd in this championship and that it’s a championship I really wanted to win, and it’s disappointing. But I also feel like I have been able to play well in some very difficult conditions and to play with confidence in some very difficult conditions. So I was very pleased with the way I played the four days with some of the shots that I hit in the four days and certainly the way I’ve been putting on some very difficult greens.
So I feel like I have made a lot of strides. Even though I wasn’t able to beat every single person in the field, I was able to beat all but one.
Q: Are you cognizant of what Retief is doing every hole or are there times on the round where you just kind of tune him out for a few holes and do your own thing? How aware are you of what he’s doing every hole?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I didn’t really know, but I did have somebody yell every single hole, “Retief is in the rough” or “Retief is in the bunker.” But I would look on the scoreboard and he would make par, so I don’t know if that was good information or not.
Q: You played such a clever shot on 16 your third shot there, and I’m just curious, when you came in earlier with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz if you had examined that pin position in that little bank the left of the hole. I’m guessing that’s where you played it.
Phil Mickelson: Yeah, unless I shanked it over there, yeah, it was where I was playing it. I did not expect to see the pin there. They did not use the back right there. I thought they would have three pins along the right side and then the back left, and they didn’t use the back right, they used front middle, where it was on Sunday in ’86 when Floyd made birdie to win.
I knew that the ball would funnel back down to the hole, so when I approached that second shot, I knew that I could hit it to the right and it would be okay.
Q: The way you played the last two majors and the way you conducted yourself, do you feel like you’re pretty comfortable in your own skin right now?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I’ve enjoyed the last two majors. I mean, it’s disappointing not to win, but I certainly have enjoyed the event. The people here have been tremendous, and I’ve played some of what I think was very good golf for me. I think that — I feel like I’m onto good things. I feel like my preparation has been better, I feel like my overall game is much more an accommodator or a better fit for this very tough test of golf.
Q: You talked about making strides. Can you just briefly talk about how you felt after 99 with Payne Stewart and then after Bethpage and how you made those strides to get to this point?
Phil Mickelson: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, not many strides, they’re pretty level, and all three of them feel the same. They’re all pretty disappointing.
Q: I’m wondering when you look back on this, what will nag at you more, what happened at 17 today or what happened at 7 yesterday? And I’m wondering what advice you’ll have for the USGA if they come back here.
Phil Mickelson: Well, that’s not my area to get involved in, how they set it up or what have you. There wasn’t much I could do about 17 — I’m sorry, about 7 yesterday, but I thought 17 I could have hit a little different bunker shot. I misjudged — I had such a good lie on an upslope into the wind that I thought I needed to fly the ball closer to the hole to get it there, and I’m certainly look back on that shot because I had a good lie and could have done what I wanted as far as put spin on it, not put spin, and I just chose given the conditions to fly it a little too far, so I’ll look back on the bunker shot.
Now, when you approached the tee shot, that’s the miss. Obviously I wanted to try to get on the green, but I had to keep it left of the hole, and if I went in the bunker, it was okay. If I went in the right bunker it was not okay. If I was too short of the green, it wasn’t going to be okay, either, so I put it in the one spot I felt I could miss it, and I just didn’t quite judge accurately how the ball would react on that green.
Q: I’m curious, on the par 5 early where you were putting from off the green, you pushed it about six or seven feet past the hole. It looked like you were aggressive on that putt, or did it just get away from you?
Phil Mickelson: Well, I felt that if I left it six feet short, it was going to come right back to me just as my approach shot did. I thought my approach shot was far enough to stay on the green, but it wasn’t, it came back, and I needed to get the ball up. I hadn’t putted too much from off the green, so I had to be careful of that, to not hit it too easy, and I hit a pretty good chip and it went 12 feet by. It went more than six feet, went 12 feet by. I had a very tough putt coming back — if I knock it three or four feet by it could have easily gone off the green.
You have to be careful on all those pins because it was just like that throughout the day.
Q: I know you mentioned how disappointed you are to finish 2nd. Will this disappointment you think be a little less or a little easier to deal with because you already have a major instead of having that hanging over you?
Phil Mickelson: Well, no question, having now won a major and not have to answer questions about, oh, yeah, 2nd again, as opposed to 2nd this week being a negative, I look at it as a positive because I played such difficult conditions well and came so close and was able to shoot a good round on a very difficult Sunday.
Now, what’s interesting to me is I look at the strides that I’ve made in my game, and the hardest rounds, some of the hardest scoring rounds we had in the U.S. Open happened to be the three events that I finished 2nd, in ’99, ’04 and ’02, and I think that I take a lot away from that. That tells me I can play under some very adverse and difficult conditions, and I’ll enter these tournaments now with a lot of confidence.
Rand Jerris: Phil, thank you very much.
Source – USGA