Quick Quotes - Sunday, January 22, 2017
Q. Obviously, two surgeries at the end of last year, you didn't play your first round of golf until last Saturday. With all that considered, how do you feel about your 11-under par?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think this was a good start for me for the year. The only way to find out where your game is at is to play in competition. And so this is a great place for me to start and see where I'm at. I'm much further along than I thought I would be. I understand that, when you enter a tournament, you want to try to win and certainly that's the goal. But I knew that my game wasn't sharp, I didn't feel like I was ready to win, per se, but now I feel like my game's come a long ways in the last week. I feel like a couple more good practice days, working on the areas where I was deficient, should lead to a good week next week. I'm playing the next four, planning on playing the next four, and I am hopeful that I'll continue to play better as it goes on.
Q. One highlight from the round, third shot into the par-5 11th here.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, this is a lot better shot than it looks, because the green is so repellant. Meaning short of the green spins back and just behind the pin goes away. So you had to fly it right on your number and get rid of the spin. Danny Lee played right in front of me, flew it behind the hole, spun back all the way off the green. It's a very difficult pin placement. Ideally, you would play fractionally left of the hole, about 8, 10 feet, and then you would eliminate that roll off effect, where it goes away behind and comes back at you short. You'd have a little bit more margin of error. But I was trying to get something going. I hit a really good shot there.
Q. A stat we assembled from your performances last year. This is strokes gained statistics. This is your ranking. Obviously, a fifth place there in approaches on the TOUR. 9th in putting. 8th overall. If you can tidy up that driving you can do some real damage, can't you?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's certainly the game plan, but I had to make a number of changes and when you put them all together it takes a little bit of time. It got progressively better through the week. But I had to change my foot work and then, conversely, I've been altering the driver to accommodate my inefficiency in my swing. And now that my swing is getting better with the driver, I've got to change the driver makeup and setup. So, that's developing a whole another set of things to get used to.
Q. I'm sure you won't mind if we just reflect on America's Ryder Cup win. We haven't had a chance to talk to you since then. Just how valuable was the work the task force did in this victory? How much did it change things?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm going to be biased, because I've been inside the team rooms and I see the difference. And the difference is that, when you say to the guys, "well, you just need to play better," that is the most uninformed statement and ludicrous statement I've ever heard. Obviously, you need to play better. But what allows you to play better? Would you ever show up at the Masters and try a new golf ball for the week? On Tuesday? You would be an idiot to do that. Would you try a new driver, would you try a new club, would you not know what holes you're going to tee off on and where the tees are. You would have all of that set aside. That's why you go in before, you study the pin placements, you putt to the pin placements, so that the week of the Major, the Masters or whatever, all you're working on is touch. Getting the putting touch down, the chipping touch down, your golf game. But if you're worried about all these ancillary things, it will detract from your play and you're not going to play well. It's very simple. And I think that we had some great leadership with Davis and our vice captains, who put us in a position to succeed. It didn't mean that we still didn't have to execute and still had to play well, but we were given those opportunities because all we had to do was focus on our game. All those variables were eliminated the week of the Ryder Cup. They were decided weeks in advance and it made for a much better opportunity for us to play well.
Q. First start of 2017. Overall, how would you assess your week?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a really good week. I really enjoyed being a part of this tournament. I enjoyed being the ambassador to working with CareerBuilder and all the sponsors that came in with KPMG and Rolex being a part of this event, some friends of mine, Bob Diamond, from a few years ago, bringing everybody together made for a really special week for me. But more than that, I felt my game was much further along than I thought it was going to be. It was further along because I didn't have to make any major changes to my swing plane and my iron game and so forth. I hit a lot of good shots, still some poor ones, but a lot of good ones. And I'm working on my driver. I haven't had the time to really adjust to some of the changes, so, as I change my foot work and start fixing the swing, I had to alter the driver makeup, because I had been setting up the driver in a way to accommodate my swing problems. And that means, if I made a good swing, I'm not going to hit a good shot. So, it's taken a few -- it's going to take a little bit of time. But as this week wore on, I started to drive it a little bit better, started to hit it a little bit better and I'm optimistic that my game will continue to improve.
Q. From a physical standpoint, how was it with the week of prep work and getting through 72 holes for not just you, but for Bones also?
PHIL MICKELSON: We're both a little sore and tired. I was surprised. I hadn't walked a golf course in months and certainly my feet and so forth are sore, but it's nothing major, you recover overnight. But I was surprised how, having not done it for a few months, how tired I ended up getting.
Q. Given the starting point that you said is higher than you would have expected, what are your expectations for, not just Torrey, but the West Coast Swing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think my expectations are going to increase each week because I got off to a good start this week, in the sense that my game feels much closer. And as the week wore on, I hit more and more good shots and fewer really bad shots. And that was a good sign. So, I'm looking forward to the next three, four tournaments.
Q. Lastly, your biggest takeaway going forward?
PHIL MICKELSON: Takeaway is just that my game is closer, that it's not far off from where I want it to be and I'll just continue working on fine tuning and touch, distance control, driving, and all these things that will, hopefully, help me play my best.