Lefty Happy to be Back in Hometown


After flying earlier this week to the West Coast from Abu Dhabi, Phil Mickelson is very happy to be back playing in front of a hometown crowd in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

The native of San Diego didn't disappoint at Torrey Pines, firing a 5-under 67 to tie John Daly and Argentina's Fabian Gomez for the low score on the more difficult South course.

The trio sits three shots back of South Korean Sunghoon Kang, who posted his 64 on the adjoining North course at the 36-hole municipal facility.

After signing his scorecard, Mickelson sat down with reporters and discussed his day.

Q. A 67 for Phil Mickelson today, a 5-under par to tie the best round ever on this course. You've been such a quick starter. You've won five times in your debut on the PGA Tour. Why does that happen?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited. I'm excited to get back to playing golf. I'm excited about playing on the west coast, because these are the tournaments that I grew up playing and dreaming of playing. I've always enjoyed playing here. It's similar grass to what I've grown up on. So the fact that I've been practicing hard, I've been working hard, and my excitement level is very high.

Q. You said since 2001, the course has changed over here since then that you needed to pick up on the nuances of this course. Has that set in now?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think so. Over the years, I've been able to spend some time around this golf course and learn some of the breaks and so forth. There used to be a standing motto where balls would break toward the ocean on every green, and the North course is still that way. But when Rees Jones comes in, he has every break go away from the bunker. It's just a trait he puts into all his golf courses. So as soon as I started to pick up on that and see how every putt breaks away from the bunkers here, I started to read the greens much better and putt them better.

Q. With traveling all those hours from the Middle East to get back here and the 12-hour time change, are you exhausted?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, because I'm so excited to play. I had a great week last week. It was a great week for me to get ready for the season because I had great weather, with wonderful practice facilities. And Butch Harmon came over and spent the week which gave me the foundation for good fundamentals for the rest of the west coast and hopefully the rest of the year. It was a great place for me to start and work on my game. So we got back Sunday night, so I've had a few days to get adjusted. Always fun to get off to a good start. I played well on the South course. With the firm greens the course wasn't playing easy, but we had such wonderful weather, and the course is in such great shape. If you hit good shots, you're going to be rewarded. I hit some good shots there on the back nine to shoot 4-under coming in, and it was a nice way to finish the round.

Q. So the playing conditions along with playing well is what got you the 67?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, it's nice to get off to a good start. You really don't know how you stand in the field until you play both courses. There is a fairly good discrepancy between the scores on the South and the North. But I'm looking forward to tomorrow's round, and it will be fun to finish this round off.

Q. Have you played the North course since they tightened up the fairways and everything like that?

PHIL MICKELSON: I did play a practice round there Tuesday. They tightened the fairways trying to make it more difficult, and it is. But it's still a fun golf course to play. I think the locals here in San Diego probably prefer to play the North course when they have a chance because it is such a fun course.

Q. I chatted with your mom. She said she's doing great. How nice is it to have her walk and follow you and feeling that well?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's fun to see them out. Then Amy was out here today too, which was cool. I forget how much I missed having her out here. It's been a good day.

Q. Was that as comfortable as you've felt on the South since '01?

PHIL MICKELSON: Maybe. I played, again, I felt like I played well, and I hit some good shots. I played it strategic. For example, 13, I've got a 6-iron in my hands, but I know that I can't get to that pin. So I played where I need to and end up making my birdie. Little things like that I've picked up over the years, rather than fighting it trying to do a little too much. So it was a fun day.

Q. Is having Amy out here a spiritual thing, seeing her walking a long time outside the ropes? Were you aware of her being out there?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, yeah. I was excited that she was here. I forget how much I've missed having her here because it's been a while. But she looks terrific, and it's just really fun having her back.

Q. In many, many years you've had to kind of try to come back after a slow start to get back into the tournament on the weekends. Does it change anything now that you don't have to put up a huge low score?

PHIL MICKELSON: No, but I need to come out ready to play tomorrow because the opportunity on the North course is there to take advantage of it if you play well. But now with the difficulty of the longer holes and rough, if you don't play well, you won't shoot as low a score. But if I can come out ready to play, I can hopefully take advantage of the golf course.

Q. Because of last week, did you feel more ready to play this week than you maybe have in year's past here?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that last week gave me a good foundation where I was able to work on my game in good weather with good practice facilities with Butch Harmon. And work throughout the week that allowed me to get my fundamentals down and the golf swing right where I wanted it. So heading into this week, I was talking yesterday about how I felt it was refinement rather than swing changes or anything. I felt like today I was hitting shots, hitting little fades, hitting draws and that was fun.

Q. (Indiscernible)?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't like setting a number, but there are some holes you can take advantage of. And the par-5s are fairly reachable, and I should hopefully take advantage of those.

Q. What do you feel about John Daly being on the leaderboard here again?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's great to see him back out and playing well. I'm hoping he can play all four rounds; that would be really good for the tournament.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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