Golf Course WebsitesGolfRevText Golfer

Mickelson Comes Close


Phil Mickelson came oh so close to gathering up his fourth title in the Farmers Insurance Open. The event at Torrey Pines was in his hometown of San Diego and the gallery was on his side.

But victory was not to be for the 40-year-old left-hander, as a younger port-sider, 32-year-old Bubba Watson, came through on the 72nd hole with a clutch downhill birdie putt to win the tournament by a stroke.

Instead of opening his 2011 season on the PGA Tour with his 39th career win and a $1.044 million payday, Mickelson settled for solo second and $626,400.

Despite the near-miss Mickelson enjoyed his time back on home turf at Torrey Pines' South course, as noted in his post-round interview below.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Phil Mickelson into the interview room. Phil, just a little short, but what a Sunday it was out there. If we can just get your comments on the day.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was a fun day. And I thought it was much more challenging conditions today, yet there were some incredibly low scores with (Nick) Watney going deep and (Dustin Johnson) having a great round again. But Bubba played some terrific golf. I really felt like starting out with the wind and the difficult conditions that if I shot something in the 60s, I thought that would be enough. I did what I thought would be enough, and it just wasn't. Bubba played too good. Made some great shot after great shot I saw and made putt after putt. It was a wonderful round for him. And I thought Jhonattan Vegas played some great golf too. I kept seeing him making putts, and I was just trying to keep pace. Birdied the last two, but it just wasn't enough.

Q. So close on that eagle on 13, Phil, just comment there.

PHIL MICKELSON: The 13th hole I thought, I really thought I made the putt. I was surprised. It didn't go in on the lip, it looked like it was going in on the center and it didn't drop. But that stuff happens. It maybe didn't give me the momentum boost that I thought an eagle would have. But still there were plenty of holes left to catch up.

Q. Why did you lay up on 18 and why not wait for Bubba to putt to see exactly what you need?

PHIL MICKELSON: On 18, the grain to the grass was in. I had 227 to carry. If I hit a hybrid, the ball would have come out dead and there was hurt, so I couldn't have made it over the water. But the way my 3-wood is, the ball would have come out hot and it would have went screaming over. So I didn't really have a shot to get it on the green. I felt like I had a better chance to make a three from the fairway trying to use that bank and bringing the ball back or flying it in.

Q. Your approach on 14 after the lip-out on 13 looked like it was within maybe an inch or two of being really good. Is that the case?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was on the right line. I hit the shot I wanted to hit which was kind of a rounding hook into that pin, but it came up short. It just wasn't enough club. But I didn't have another option, because over the green if I go four yards too far, I make six. So I had to play from underneath the hole and hit the 8-iron that I hit, but it just didn't quite carry. It needed about another three, four yards to be good.

Q. Could you put into perspective the whole week and just how much fun you had playing this golf course that you've played so many times and having Amy out here for most of it as well?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a fun week. I love playing here in San Diego, and I've really missed being in contention. So for me to have an opportunity today was really exciting, especially on the back nine. Trying to match those two guys shot for shot and trying to catch them, it was just a lot of fun. I'm excited because I can tell that my game's coming around. I can tell that I'm starting to hit more shots that I'm starting to see them a little bit easier. My putting feels great. My short game has been sharp, so I'm excited about the prospects for this year and the rest of the West Coast. I think it's important to try to get a W sometime here in the next few weeks, because I need a little bit of momentum heading into Augusta. But this would have done it had I been able to close it out today. But, again, I just got outplayed by Bubba who shot really a wonderful round of golf. A lot of pressure being in the second to last group, and tough conditions. He played an incredible round to shoot 67.

Q. Can you talk about having Bones tend the flag on 18. Once you hit it, did you think it had a shot?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's going to have a chance -- I felt like it would have a chance. About 10, 12, 14 times a year I ended up hitting the pin with a wedge, and it ricochets all over the place and I didn't want that to happen. I also wanted to give it two chances. I wanted to fly it in, possibly, or I wanted it to skip past it and maybe bring it back and give it a second chance to go in and the pin would only get in the way of that. So I didn't want to have the pin in if I was going to try to make it.

Q. Do you remember the last time you would have had the pin tended on that kind of a shot? And in your mind, was that 1 in a thousand, 1 in a million? What were the odds?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. Obviously you need to hit a great shot and you need to get some luck to hole one from the fairway. I'm not naive on that. I get it. But I also didn't want to have something in the way. I didn't want to have something in the hole that I'm trying to knock it in just for the same reason that I like to take the pin out when I'm chipping around the green or putting from off the green. I just don't like having something in the hole.

Q. Would you remember the last time you had the pin tended in that circumstance?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't. I mean, it's not like I do it every week. But the last hole of the tournament, I've got to make it, so, anyway.

Q. Can you give us the yardage, the exact yardage you had, and the wedge that you hit?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was 72 yards to the hole, and it was a 64 -degree wedge.

Q. A lot of the water is under the bridge at home. Do you feel a little more clearheaded and ready to sort of be the old free-wheeling Phil this year and maybe, I don't want to say baggage, but personal issues and things on your back that might have fed towards your second half last year?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think the way I would want to phrase it is Amy and I are in a much better place. I mean, we feel we're in a much better place. We're excited about 2011. We just have a lot of things have been going our way, and we're in a better place. I think that 2011 has the potential to be what I expected 2010 to be. So I'm going to continue to work on my game and see if I can have a great year. Again, the great thing or the thing I'm most excited about is I'm not making any changes. I'm kind of done making changes in my game and I'm trying to hit shots now. I'm trying to hit draws, hit hooks, hit slices, hit fades, maneuver the ball and see if I can get it close. I'm excited because of that.

Q. You said yesterday you talked about conservative approaches you had been taking around the South course. As you chase Bubba and some of the other guys ahead of you, did you have to abandon that at all on the back nine or were you able to keep that course?

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought the course set-up allowed for us to go after a number of pins today. But there were some that you still couldn't get to, I mean, like 12, even 11 was tough. And I thought that 16, I had to make birdie on 16. There's just no way to get the ball close to that pin. It's just not feasible. I had to make a 30-footer. I hit a really good shot, and gave myself a 30-foot opportunity. I just didn't make the putt.

Q. You mentioned the other day that you feel like you got the right medication and everything working for you with the arthritis. Is there any point where it limits you at all? Do you have to be careful of not overdoing it, whether it be working out, practice, what have you?

PHIL MICKELSON: As of now, there were two things that were really good, and one was that I got diagnosed quickly before there was any permanent damage. So, consequently, I've responded really well to treatment. I feel as though I'm able to go about my daily routine just as I always have. I've been able to manage my symptoms, which has allowed me to continue to work out, get my strength back. It's allowed me to do the things I normally do at home as well as practice hard and work on my game without having to cut any sessions short.

Q. Just the particulars on 17, yardage?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I went up to check out the green because it's a very funky moving green, and I wanted to see where I wanted the ball to land and how I wanted it to spin. I had 113 yards to the hole, and I saw Hunter's ball take a huge bounce, so I tried to fly it. 103 was kind of my number. I needed it to come in high, and I needed it to have a little bit of spin. So I hit an L-wedge and was able to do that.

Q. On the par-5s on the back nine, did you like that or was there ever a chance that they he could be a par-4?

PHIL MICKELSON: I really think the tournament staff does a great job setting the course up. And it has for the last few years. They've really tried to mix up some tee boxes to certain pins and make it longer when there is an easier pin. I mean, they've really done a great job of mixing it up. I think the Tour really has a good grasp on how to set up the course and give players an opportunity to maybe do some fun stuff on Sunday. I really expected the pins to be a lot more difficult on the final nine. I expected just about every hole to be like 12 was, to be like 14, to be like 16. I expected almost every hole to be like that. But they gave us some chances to try to make birdies.

Q. Does it sting not to win, or do you just take the positives out of this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Little bit of both. You want me to elaborate (laughing).

Q. Ideally, yes.

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm disappointed because I wanted to start the year off with a win, obviously. I wanted to get some moment you will here on the west coast early, and I feel like I really need to get a W and perform and come through on Sunday heading into Augusta in a couple of months. But on the other hand, I played really good golf and gave myself an opportunity. Played well on Sunday and had a good tournament. Hopefully, I'll use this as a springboard for next week.

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