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Mickelson & Bradley Discuss Northern Trust Open
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley tried their best to win the Northern Trust Open Sunday. Both players had to make spectacular birdies on the tough closing hole at Riviera Country Club to tie Bill Haas after 72 holes.
Mickelson's 27-footer on the par-4 somehow found its way into the cup, eliciting a raucous celebration around the 18th green. Though Bradley's was about half the distance, the 25-year-old still had to make it, and he did to join Mickelson and Haas in a sudden-death playoff.
After all three players parred the first overtime hole, the 18th, they moved to the tricky par-4 10th, a mere 315-yarder with danger galore around its tiny green. No one found the fairway or green with their tee shots, with Mickelson's in deep grass in front of a bunker right of the green, Bradley's in that bunker, and Haas's ball left and past the putting surface.
Hitting first, Haas pitched safely out to the front of the green, 45 feet from the hole. Mickelson's second landed in front of the pin but rolled through the green and into a bunker at the back-left. Bradley's bunker shot stopped just on the fringe behind the green, 14 feet out.
Going first, Haas sank his long birdie try to put the pressure on the other two, who weren't able to match him. It was all dandy theater, with two youngsters going hard at the 41-year-old Mickelson, who was seeking his second straight victory following his win in last week's A&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Afterward, Bradley and Mickelson met separately with reporters and talked about the goings-on Sunday. Here's what they had to say. First off, here's Bradley's interview.
MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Keegan Bradley. Keegan, you made a great run at it. It was an exciting playoff. If you want to talk about your initial thoughts.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. First time I've been on the other side of one of these playoff losses. It doesn't feel as good. I felt like I played really well. I mean, I hit three really good shots in the first playoff hole. I hit a putt good enough to go in, just it didn't today. Obviously I'm very happy with the way I played. You know, playing with Phil in the final group and kind of holding my own and making one on top of him on 18 was something I'll never forget.
Q. Can you describe your thoughts as you saw Phil's putt go in on 18 and also yours? What was that few minutes like up there?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I knew Phil was going to make that putt. Phil is too much of a gamer to not make that putt. I was honestly ready for him to make it, and I knew that having to putt second would be difficult because the crowd is so behind him. But credit to the crowd; they really quieted down for me. After Phil made that putt, I gave him a fist pump, and he looked at me and said, "Join me." He really meant it. Even though I didn't win the tournament, to make that putt on the last hole, one of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour, is really awesome.
Q. How much fun is it to play with Phil in the final few holes like this in a playoff and then the great history of this tournament, to be involved in a playoff?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it was awesome. You know, I was really proud of the way I drove the ball on 18 both rounds. I mean, I absolutely smashed two drives on the 18th hole and in the first playoff hole. I didn't hit a bad shot. And the bunker shot I hit on 10 was probably the best shot I hit all week. I hit a good putt there, too, but you know, Bill Haas, you've got to give him a lot of credit. It's good to see a fellow belly putter make a putt like that. I'm happy for him.
Q. I was going to ask you about the bunker shot, your options there. Did you think that was about your only play was go right at it as opposed to coming out sideways like Bill kind of did? And too, I know you guys always anticipate the other guy making the putt, but did you think he was going to hole his putt from where he was?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: My only play was right at it. Any other shot would have been even more difficult. I couldn't have hit a better shot. I don't know how - I'd say I had about a 15 percent chance of keeping that on grass where I could putt it. It was just really one of the best shots I've ever hit. And what was your second question?
Q. Did you think Bill would make -
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I didn't think he was going to make that one. I should have known, though, because he's a great putter and a great player. But I still had a really good look at mine, and I hit a perfect - for me, I'm happy with it because it went right down my line, and it just didn't go in. But hopefully I learned a lot from today, and I'll be able to take that into the next one.
Q. Just before you forced the playoff or forced yourself into the playoff, it looked like Phil celebrating his putt almost stepped in your line and was maybe even self conscious of it at the last minute. Did that disrupt anything, and how long was the putt?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: No, it didn't disrupt me. I actually did the same thing in the PGA on 15 when I made triple. I chipped it in the water, I was so frazzled, I walked straight across Scott Verplank's line. Sometimes when you're out there and something really good like that happens or really bad happens, you kind of lose it for a second, you're so excited. But he didn't step in my line, didn't even come close. It didn't faze me at all. I didn't even really notice it. And my putt was probably about 12, 15 feet, just a - I hit just such a good shot in there to get it that close. That green is so firm. I'm surprised my shot in the playoff hole went that far by because it was another good one. But it was fun.
Q. 10 is a wicked hole on Thursday. What's it like to play that in a playoff, and what options are running through your head?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It's brutal. I mean, I think that hole can be a little unfair at times. You know, there's not a really good place you can hit it to that pin unless you hit it on the green. Bill hit a great shot to get to where he was. You know, it's just a hole that you kind of have to - you have to hit really good shots. You've got to get a little lucky, too. My ball could have trickled over and then into the bunker and I didn't have a putt. It's a good hole for a playoff, that's for sure. For a second I thought par could have won that playoff hole when we were walking up, just because of where everybody was, and the shot Bill hit was amazing. He could have hit it in the bunker or done something. It's a challenging hole.
Q. Where are you trying to hit it on 10 there? What's your hoped for location?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'm trying to hit it anywhere left of that bunker. I played that hole 2 under this week, including the playoff, which I said to my caddie in the practice round, I said, "Would you take four pars right now?" He said, "Absolutely." I played that hole pretty well. That was the worst drive I had hit on that hole to be honest with you. I had hit four perfect ones. And you know, I'm just - the bunker shot I hit was on a little down-slope. It was seriously a 15 percent chance of keeping it on the surface, and it was a good shot.
Q. You may have just lost in a playoff, but am I right in assuming you won't be sulking in your car this time like you were a year ago at Riviera?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I've got a lot of really good things to take away from this tournament. I hung tough with Phil Mickelson, one of the best golfers ever to play, in the final group, and when I got off to a pretty bad start, you see a lot of guys kind of crumble away, and I kind of fought back. I've got a lot to take away, but I'm also very disappointed. I would have loved to have won this tournament. Riviera is a special place, and I look forward to coming back in years to come.
MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, Keegan. Good luck down the road.
Here's Mickelson's interview:
PHIL MICKELSON: I was very tentative on the greens today. I wasn't trying to be. I was trying to knock them in, but they just weren't as fast as I was perceiving them to be. That last putt was one I just gave it a good aggressive roll and it went right in the middle.
Q. Are you surprised that the putt at 17 didn't go in?
PHIL MICKELSON: It was sure right in the middle. It needed a little bit more roll. I missed the 3 wood to the right of the green. I shouldn't have done that. I had to be left and I could have chipped across it, so I just put that ball in the wrong spot.
Q. Can you talk about the West Coast, started poorly but finished great?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, these last two weeks have been good. I'll have two weeks off here. I've got some work I've got to do and see if I can get my game sharp. I'll start at Doral and I'll play Doral, and the week after I'll talk off, but I'll still be practicing getting ready for the run up to Augusta.
Q. On 16 you said something to Steve Rintoul about the scoreboards. You didn't see any on the back nine?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't see one for four holes, and then when I did, it never had the lead. It was a bunch of other stuff going on. It's just frustrating. But it's no big deal. It didn't affect the tournament. I was just pointing that out so maybe he could say something for next time.
Q. This was a day that you seemed to be fighting all day long. Tell me about the emotion of that putt on the 72nd hole and then also the playoff, as well.
PHIL MICKELSON: I kept fighting, and I was giving away shots and was trying to let it go and move on and see if I could capture one, and I finally got one to go on 18. It felt great. I kind of let out some emotion because it had been going on for so long. 14, 15, three putting those holes and not birdieing 16, and should have birdied 17. If I miss it left of the pin, I'm all right. I made some I put the ball in the wrong spot sometimes.
Q. What was the challenge of this golf course today and how do you feel you handled it?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was very U.S. Open esque. You could see by 10 where you're having to play defense, Bill wins it, but he had to play 60 feet away from 30 yards. It was very defensive because the greens were so firm, the pins were tough, and although there was no rough, it had kind of a U.S. Open feel.
Q. When will we see you next and what will you work on?
PHIL MICKELSON: I have two weeks off. I'll get back at Doral and I'll take the week off and then play a couple heading up to Augusta, and that's when I'll start back up is at Doral working with Butch getting ready for Augusta.
Q. One more about the atmosphere on the last and what this tournament meant as far as the electricity there.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it's a really cool feel here at this tournament. It's been fun for me playing and playing well in this event. The last five years I've really enjoyed my time here and the people have be terrific. That amphitheater effect on 18 is really cool that not many courses provide, and it's special to be here.
Q. And the playoff hole on 10, just kind of go through that if you could.
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, Bill hit a tremendous putt. We're thinking it's a very difficult 3, it's a defensive hole. You're just trying to make four believe it or not. It's only 290 yards, 280 yards, but you're trying to make par. He ended up making a 50 , 60 footer and that's going to do it.
The transcripts for the above interviews are courtesy of ASAP Sports.