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'Lefty' the Story of 2010 Masters
Though they certainly had important roles in this drama, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Tom Watson and Lee Westwood weren't the stories of the 2010 Masters. Phil Mickelson, and his spectacular final-round 67, was.
The popular player known as "Lefty" added a third green jacket to his collection on Sunday, finishing at 16-under 272 and beating Westwood by three shots and the rest of the field - including the other protagonists - by more.
The media-friendly 39-year-old met with reporters after notching his fourth career major title for a lengthy Q&A session. Here's what Mickelson said about the meaning of the win and what it took for him to come through when it mattered the most on Sunday at the Masters.
MODERATOR: Phil, congratulations, 2010 Masters champion. Your third green jacket. Have you ever had a more emotional or meaningful victory than today, Phil.
PHIL MICKELSON: This has been a very special day and a very special week. And to have Amy and my kids here to share it with, I can't put into words. It just feels incredible, especially given what we've been through in the last year, to be able to share this kind of joy means a lot to us.
Q. Can you talk about the second shot on 13?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was a 6-iron, 207 to the hole. I knocked it four feet. (Laughter).
Q. That's what it looked like on TV.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes. I had a good lie in the pine needles. I was going to have to go through that gap if I laid up or went for the green. I was going to have to hit a decent shot. The gap was a little bit wider -- it wasn't huge, but it was big enough, you know, for a ball to fit through. (Laughter). I just felt like at that time, I needed to trust my swing and hit a shot, and it came off perfect.
Q. How much did Bones try to talk you out of that shot, and could you have tried to even take that shot if you didn't already have two green jackets?
PHIL MICKELSON: He didn't try to talk me out of it, we were in between 6 or 5, because sometimes out of the pine needles, the ball will come out a little slow. I just felt like it was clean enough that it was going to come out fine and I wanted to hit something hard, so I hit 6.
Q. How big was the gap is this?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, it wasn't as tight -- you can go out there and see. There was a good four or five feet I thought between them, and it was close, it's not like it had to stay in that area for a long time. It was right in front of me. I just needed to make a decent swing and it's going to start off in that gap.
Q. Can you explain to us what went through your mind seeing your wife, Amy, at the 18th green?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was just really glad she was there. I wasn't sure if she was going to be there today. I knew she would be watching. I didn't know if she would be behind 18. To walk off the green and share that with her is very emotional for us.
Q. How much were you energized by the pars on 9 and 10? They looked pretty unlikely on television.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's disappointing to hear. (Laughter). One of the things I've been saying this week is that I am very relaxed here at Augusta National because you don't have to be perfect. I've hit a lot of great shots and driven the ball very well, but I've made some bad swings on 9, 10 and 11 and I was able to salvage par. I was able to get the ball, advance it far enough down by the green where my short game could take over and salvage par. That's why I feel so comfortable here and I'm relaxed when I drive down Magnolia Lane because I know that I don't have to play perfect golf. And 9, 10,11 was a great example of that, in that I was able to salvage par there.
Q. You were I think double-digits under par on the back nine this week. Can you contrast the comfort level you have playing this golf course on the back nine and the front nine in terms of success?
PHIL MICKELSON: There's a lot more birdie holes on the back nine than there are the front. The front, they are a lot tougher pin positions and more severe greens and you have to be careful. I just tried to get through the first five or six holes; anything at par or under par is a great score and then try to birdie 7,8 or 9. If I can make the turn at under par, I feel like there's a 3- or 4-under par round on the back, and that's where the round really happens is the back nine.
Q. Did something come together this week that was missing earlier in the year that you could point to or put a finger on?
PHIL MICKELSON: I felt like I was playing this well starting the year. I just haven't had the results, whatever it was. Maybe I didn't putt well. Maybe I made some mistakes and couldn't recover, hitting it in the water and whatnot. I wasn't discouraged. I felt actually very confident heading in here but certainly I wanted to have some confidence and wins and getting into contention and so forth. But when I get here to Augusta, like I say, I get very relaxed and feel very comfortable here and I'm in love with this place and it brings out the best in me.
Q. A couple of guys were making moves, Lee was going to 11, 12; were you biding your time or just kind of waiting for things to occur for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Westwood and I were walking up 8 green marking our balls and looked up on the leaderboard and we both said, "Let's join this party." Everybody is having fun, making birdies, making eagles, let's get in it. Let's do it, too. And right in front of us, K.J. Choi was playing some great golf. He was 12-under through ten holes, and I knew that this was going to be a real battle and that I was going to have to play a good back nine. The goal is to get through 10,11, 12 even, and when I hit that shot on 12 to a very similar spot to where I was at in '04, I knew this putt, as soon as that ball went in, that's where I felt like this could be my week; that I could shoot the number the back side to get it done. That putt was what I had been waiting for, a 20-footer to go in, that got the round going.
Q. I was going to ask, in the situation you found yourself with Lee today, are you wondering whether he's going to crack, or are you simply concentrating on your own game?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I wasn't wondering if he would crack. He's been in this position and he's played some great golf in this position, and as well as he has been playing, I didn't expect him to shoot anything but par or better, which I believe he did. Yeah, he shot under par. When the groups in front of us were making birdies and eagles, Tiger holed shot on 7, birdies 8 and 9, K.J. Choi turns in 4-under or 3-under and birdies 10, guys in front of us are lighting it up and the last thing I'm worried about is any one particular player. I have to get my round going. I have to make some birdies. During that stretch, I was fighting for pars, and they were big pars, 9, 10 and 11.
Q. Lee said that you had some kind words for him at the end of the round today. As a guy who had to win their major title yourself, do you think Lee has the ability to get more than one once he breaks through?
PHIL MICKELSON: As I said to him, there's nothing I can say -- there's nothing I can say. I've been in that position, and it sucks. But, I also told him he is playing some of the best golf of anybody in the world, he's an incredible player and I pull for him and I want him to win his first major soon, because he is that kind of talent, that type of player and a quality guy.
Q. How comfortable was the walk on the last three holes with a three-shot lead on Sunday at Augusta, and I ask that because I think when you won the last time, you had a similar margin like that, and I would assume maybe the walks are similar?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, comfortable isn't really the word I would use. (Laughter). The last three holes we saw last year when Kenny Perry knocked it close on 16 and the tournament slipped away; when Tiger chipped in in '05 and made birdie and had a two-shot lead and had to go into a playoff; the last couple of holes, you've got to play well, or else they are very tough pars. I hit some of my best shots there the last three holes. I hit an 8-iron on 16. 16 is the hardest shot for me on the golf course. It's easy for most other of the players, but being left-handed if I come out of it, it's short left in the water or if I pull it, it's long right up on top of that shelf, and I can't 2-putt that thing. There's no miss for me there. I had to hit a perfect shot. So I wasn't comfortable at all on any of that walk.
Q. Can you share, Bones and you had a nice hug there and looks like you said some words to him.
PHIL MICKELSON: Bones has been through this thing with us the past year, and Bones has been as good a friend as you can possibly imagine through this. He's been there, he has been there in Houston in our surgeries and has been there as a support, and you couldn't have a better friend in the world. Certainly couldn't have a better caddie, either, but couldn't have a better friend. And you know, this has been an emotional year for us, and to go through the highs and lows and to be able to share this joy and share this moment, that means a lot to us.
Q. How hard was it for Amy to come here?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been tough. It's been tough, because like I've said in the past, you know, we are fortunate long term, but the meds that she's been taking has been very difficult and she didn't feel well and she doesn't have energy and she's just not up for a lot this tournament can provide, and to have her here and share this moment and share the joy of winning on 18 and to share this with my kids is something that we'll look back on the rest of our lives. This means so much to us to be able to share this type of jubilation; I don't know what word to describe how excited I am, we are.
Q. You basically just answered my question; was there anybody back there who wasn't crying? Butch Harmon was crying?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don't normally shed tears over wins, and when Amy and I hugged off 18, that was a very emotional moment for us and something that I'll look back on and just cherish. I mean, I'll cherish every moment of this week. This has been a very special week.
Q. What did you say to each other?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not much was said.
Q. When did you get here this week and was the family with you when you did get here and have you spent a full week at the tournament this year with the amount of time you've been spending home?
PHIL MICKELSON: I spent -- I got in Sunday night. They came in Tuesday, and so we have been together since Tuesday. And I didn't understand the last part.
Q. Have you spent a full week at a tournament, or have you been spending so much time at home you've been getting to tournaments late and missing practice rounds?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I have missed practice rounds and I haven't been getting in until Tuesday or Wednesday night. It's been a little bit challenging, but no excuses. When you get inside the ropes, you need to put everything aside and be able to focus on golf and hit the shots, so there's no excuses.
Q. When that statement came down when you landed your putt on the second green; what goes through your mind? Do you think somebody up there doesn't like you and today is not your day?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the first thing is where does that come through. I look down my line and it's not there and as I stroke it, it fell, and you have to wonder, is somebody out to get you. (Laughter).
Q. What did you do last night?
PHIL MICKELSON: Last night I stayed up until one o'clock watching movies. My oldest daughter went to get an X-ray on her wrist because she was roller skating and has a hairline fracture now so fortunately one of the doctors here was so nice to open the X-ray machine late at night around ten o'clock and read the X-ray and get a splint for her.
Q. She did that here this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, yesterday.
Q. Scheduling question more than anything else, last year you were missed at The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond; wonder if we can expect to see you back there and how much the place means to you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely I intend to be there. I intended to be there last year. I expect to be there as well as the British Open.
Q. Did you take a different line on 16, given that you had a three-shot lead, than you might have otherwise?
PHIL MICKELSON: I took a different line than I have in years past because I keep running them six, eight feet by and I didn't want that coming back. That putt is one of the fastest on the course, and every time I play here I throw a hole down where that pin is and putt to it, and I can't believe how much break I have to play. I had to feather that thing up there and just let it float down it is so quick.
Q. I meant on the tee shot.
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I thought you were talking about the putt. What about the tee shot?
Q. Did you take a different line on the tee shot given that you had the lead, than you would?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I can't miss it right because it goes up the hill and I can't miss it left, it goes in the water. So I had to take dead aim at the pin and just hit a shot.
MODERATOR: Can you go through the clubs and yardages?
PHIL MICKELSON: Birdies, I birdied 8. I hit a good drive and I had 264 to the hole, only 230 to the front and I tried to carve a 3-wood and I sliced it into the trees and this is where my good break came. It hit the tree and went back into the fairway, had 84 yards which was just a perfect 64-degree wedge and hit it to three feet and made birdie. I birdied 12. I hit 9-iron, I think it was 152 or 153 to that pin today, and I was going to hit wedge, but I felt like if the wind came up a full wedge high up in the air was going to come up short, so I took a little something off the 9 and hit the back edge 20 feet and made that for birdie.
I hit driver through the fairway on 13, 6-iron from 207 to three feet and missed it. That was the one time I kind of slacked off. I've been putting so well and had a good thought and I don't know what happened there. It just slipped. Birdied 15. I hit a good drive there. I had 196 to the -- sorry. It was about 205 or 210 down the hill but it was playing 196 with the downhill factored in. Normally that's a nice, stock 7-iron like I would have hit yesterday but I had adrenaline going a little bit and I ripped an 8-iron and ended up 15 feet from the hole just to the right and just trickled that thing down and 2-putted. Then birdied 18. I hit 3-wood off the tee there, 7-iron from the first cut to about ten feet and made that.
Q. How far?
PHIL MICKELSON: 7-iron, it was -- well, with the uphill it was playing 187, so the actual was probably 75.
Q. You clocked a guy on 11, too, right?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I had an assist there. Ball came right back almost into the grass and had a pretty open shot. Hooked an 8-iron around the trees on to the green and 2-putted from 35 feet.
Q. Did the guy say anything?
PHIL MICKELSON: "Ouch." (Laughter).
Q. 13, second shot, take us through it.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I had to hit a shot between those two trees, whether I laid up or went for the green, and I just decided to hit it 90 yards farther than a lay-up. I hit 6-iron from 197 -- 207 to the hole, only 187 to the front, and I just felt like a good 6-iron was going to be plenty. It was a shot where I kept saying if I just trust my swing, I'll pull it off. And I made a good swing, went right at the pin.
Q. What's the difference between a great shot and a smart shot?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I mean, a great shot is when you pull it off. A smart shot is when you don't have the guts to try it.
Q. If you could just talk about this accomplishment in light of what you've been through the last year for you and your family. Will you savor it in a different way?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a special and a very emotional week. This is the first time my family has traveled with me since The Players last year, and it made for really a fun week. And to win, man, this feels incredible.
Q. Talk about this being your third Masters victory.
PHIL MICKELSON: I love this place. I love coming here. I love Sunday at Augusta. Back in the '90s it was the most nerve-wracking day. Still is, but I've just come to love and cherish it, and to play some of my best golf this week as well as today just feels incredible.
Q. What did you say to Amy behind the 18th green?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if we said anything, we just hugged. We just hugged.
Q. You said you feel at peace here. During the practice rounds when you did your press conference, you said something about this course just settles you down. If you can talk about that how that helped you this tournament.
PHIL MICKELSON: I played really well and hit a lot of good shots, but I made a few loose swings, like I tend to do, and on 9, 10 and 11 I made three things that weren't great, and I was able to salvage par; made great up-and-downs on 9 and 10, and I let my short game make par. Not every course gives you the opportunity to recover like that, and I feel when I play here I don't have to play perfect. I hit a lot of good shots, I hit a lot of perfect shots, but I hit some that weren't, and to be able to recover on those holes and salvage par and not give anything back helps me relax. It's why I feel so at ease here.
Q. Lee Westwood said that you said some beautiful things to him in scoring about the way he's playing.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I said that there's nothing I can say because I've been there, I know the feeling, but that he is one of the best players in the world and has been playing such, and I pull for him and hope that his major championship comes soon, because he's a quality individual, an incredible talent, and I hope that his major comes very soon.
Q. At what point did you feel that you had this, and can you feel comfortable coming up that stretch with a lead like that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I walked off 18 tee, and 100 yards off the tee I recalled the story of my first practice round that I played here with Arnold Palmer when he pulled me over to a spot where Mr. Cook congratulated him in 1961 when he had a one-shot lead, and he shook his hand, and he hit it in the bunker, and he made double bogey and lost by a shot. And as I was 100 yards off the tee, I said, "It is not over," and I remembered that story of playing with Arnold and tried to really focus in, because Lee was in a perfect spot to make birdie. If I mess up, if I don't hit a great second shot to have an easy par, we could be going into a playoff, and I wanted to finish it on 18.
Q. The second shot at 13, where does your rank on your list of all-time career shots?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, certainly it was critical and it was clutch and it came through at a great time, but it wasn't anywhere near as hard as some other shots. It may have looked hard, but there was a pretty good-sized gap between those trees and a pretty good lie. It was just a 6-iron, a lot of green left. So it was -- yeah, it was good and it was clutch, but there have been some more challenging ones.
Q. When that putt on 2 hit -
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, when that happens on 2 you have to question, is somebody out to get me today, because I didn't see -- it wasn't there when I last looked at the putt, and right as I started it back is when it blew on line. And obviously it really affected the putt. Greens this speed, that's going to have a massive effect, and I had to wonder then. But fortunately things turned around.
MODERATOR: Phil, you are a great champion, we are proud of your performance today. Congratulations.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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