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Player Interview

Phil Mickelson

Quick Quotes - Thursday, January 21, 2016

Q. What an electric opening nine for Phil Mickelson. 31. You didn't quite have the same momentum on the back nine. But still, a good solid number. You satisfied with your performance today?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a fun start to the year. I've had a lot of time off, it was fun to get back into the swing of it. We had a beautiful day here. Weather's spectacular. Golf course was great. I had a good solid round. It was a good way it start.

Q. You said just a couple of weeks ago that you are nervous yet excited about this year. A lot of that is because you've been working on your swing with your new instructor, Andrew Getson. What exactly have you solidified about your swing that gives you the confidence right now?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, my swing is back on plane and so that means that all the feel and the touch and the release and the draws and the fades and all that touch will eventually come back. But because I've been a little bit off plane, my release and all those intricate feelings that I need to have to create shots have been, they have not been creating those shots. So, now the swing is back on plane and I'm just working on touch. I'm just trying to get the front nine tuning of feeling the subtleties and nuances of hitting those little shots. Which I have been struggling with these last couple years because, again, I've been a little bit off plane.

Q. The work your continuing to do with your swing, and it's the first event for you of the year, is the only measure of success for you here this week whether or not you're in contention on the back nine Sunday?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I think that today was a good example where I felt like I drove the ball easy, it didn't feel hard. I didn't feel like I was struggling or fighting to get it in play, I could just swing. And because, again, I'm back on plane, the parameters are a lot tighter and I'm looking forward to page the two PGA West courses where it's a little bit more open and I feel like I can let it go a little bit more. So, today, although the score was okay, a lot of the little subtleties of irons and wedges were just a fraction off. The amount of draw, the amount of fade and so forth. But distance control was okay. So I'm going to go work on that again and just keep trying to match up the release with the swing plane now. And I feel like I have the right direction and it's starting to feel a lot easier.

Q. Your first round of 2016, your thoughts on that.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a fun start. We had great weather on a beautiful golf course. I had a good solid round and it was a fun way to get started. I felt good with my game. I didn't feel like I was fighting it. I was able to kind of let it go. I didn't hit a lot of shots really close, I just hit it kind of okay. Didn't putt great. But I had a couple shots that I holed out. So, it led to a good start, a 4-under, and I'm looking forward to getting over to PGA West. I feel like I'm on the right track and each round should get progressively better.

Q. Speak to the hole outs on 8, the second shot to the par-4. What was more impressive was you drove the ball around some very tight quarters a bunch and hit it to the correct sides of the fairways.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I feel like I'm driving the ball, I feel like driving the ball is very easy for me right now. Even though it's never been in the past. But my swing is on plane and so the club is being delivered into the ball from a much shallower angle of attack and on plane, I'm able to release it and hit the ball fairly straight. So it doesn't feel like it's hard work to hit the ball straight or get it in those fairways. And that allows me to play the way I like to play, which is aggressive.

Q. Your thoughts the rest of the event?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited about it. I think this is a great way to start the year, a great way to build a foundation for your game. I've got wonderful practice facilities and some hours of sunlight that I'm going to go work on, again, the subtle nuances of hitting draws and fades and matching up the release and all the feels that I have had in the past to a swing that's now back on plane, but has been off, so the feels have been off.

Q. You talk a lot about being on plane. What did you have to do to get back on plane?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was actually a lot of work for the last three months of video drills and what I was feeling and what I was doing were so far apart that it took a real effort and so what's happened is, as I've changed the shaft angle by about 12 inches throughout the swing, being more vertical back and shallower going through, it's also made the face awareness a little bit distorted at the moment. But it's coming back quickly and the more I practice and the more I match it up the subtleties and nuances are starting to come together. But I hit a draw on the 12th hole the par three and I just hit a little draw 7-iron, but I over drew it and I ended up having 25 feet. That should have been a 6 to 12 foot putt if I hit it, if my feel was back on. So that's the subtlety and nuance that I feel like I'm working on now. I don't feel like I'm going to the range trying to find something, I feel like the swing is on plane fairly easy and now I'm just trying to work on the subtleties of fine tuning a little fade, a little draw, all the touch is starting to come back.

Q. What made you want to do it now?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well I was frustrated with the way I've been playing. I knew that I had a lot higher level of golf in me but I was not doing it. And I just, I've always been very good with irons, very good on par-4s, very good with little touch shots, and all my touch and feel and stuff was not being effective because, again, it wasn't matching up to my swing plane.

Q. Is it getting your swing back to a time earlier in your career or does this feel new to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, it's getting it back to where it was, I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel, my swing's my swing. And when I played my best golf in the 2000s I was on plane. Sure, my swing's a little long, but as the club, from waist high to waist high, it's always been on plane and it's been a little bit steep with the driver, which has made it very difficult for me to hit the driver effectively. Steep on the down swing, flat on the back swing. And I'm trying to reverse that.

Q. How do you feel about the results you got out of that today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it was, I thought it was a really good round, because it felt easy. It didn't feel like I was working, like I was fighting, I just felt like I could just swing and the ball was within these tight parameters. La Quinta is a tight golf course and I didn't feel like I was claustrophobic playing these holes, I felt like there was plenty of room. Like I said, I think it's going to get better and better as the week goes on and as the year goes on, because the more I work on touch and feel now, it's actually, it's actually having those results with the shot, whereas, before, I would feel a little fade and the ball would hook and then I didn't understand why and now it's starting to match up.

Q. First time out in a new season, do you get nerves the first couples holes anymore?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely I do. Sure. It's exciting. Here we are, 25 years later from when I started roughly and I'm excited to play, I get nervous and look forward to it. It was a fun start.

Q. Charlie was saying that when you guys are playing at home, the last couple months, you're grinding just as much as you do out here. Are you still loving being out here as much?
PHIL MICKELSON: I love playing golf. I just -- I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of trying to compete and win. And because I physically feel as strong and as good a shape as I've been in and because my game feels like a lot of the areas I've actually learned a lot and should be able to perform at a higher level than I have in the past. All the shots that I've hit over the years, over the 40 plus years that I've played golf, those are still there for me to look back on and try to pull out. And so I don't have to hit a shot that I know that I've never hit before, for the most part. I've hit these shots before and it should be easier to pull out the second time and duplicate. So, the game should be easier. But again, when you're off plane, all the feel and touch that I've worked on for some decades doesn't work if the plane is bad. So, like I say, it's going to be a repeated theme, because now that I -- Andrew's just making sure that my swing's on plane and then it's up to me to work on the touch.

Q. When did you first see the video where you saw that you were different than how it felt?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I've known for awhile and I've just had a hard time being able to get it back. It's been a lot more drastic process than I thought it would be.

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