Mickelson Enjoying Greenbrier's Family Atmosphere


Phil Mickelson brought his family along with him for this week's PGA Tour stop, the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia. The $6 million event tees off Thursday on the Old White course, which now has a TPC (Tournament Players Course) designation.

Mickelson didn't play in the inaugural Greenbrier Classic last year, which Stuart Appleby won in dramatic fashion, closing with a 59 to become only the fifth player in history to post such a low score. The Aussie finished at 22-under 258 in what was a birdiefest.

Mickelson watched the tournament on television last year and was impressed. "I saw it on TV last year and it looked terrific," he said Wednesday from Greenbrier. "I loved how there were some low scores last year, how the course was - there was some birdies there if you played well, and I though it looked like a fun golf course to play."

Over the past year the course has been toughened up. Originally designed by two of America's "Golden Age" architects, Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor, and opened in 1914, the layout was recently restored to its original design by Lester George. In the past year all 18 greens have been reconstructed, and new tees have extended the par-70 venue to over 7,200 yards.

Because of the changes, many players don't believe Old White will be quite so benign this year. "It's going to be tough," promised Greenbrier's pro emeritus, Tom Watson, who'll be paired with Appleby and Mickelson in the first round. "There's not going to be any 59s shot this year."

Regardless of the outcome, Mickelson is enjoying his time in White Sulphur Springs. Lefty brought his whole family to what's billed as "America's Resort."

"It's an amazing place," Mickelson said. "I can't get over all the fun things that they have to do. My daughters are excited about the falconry. I don't know where in the world you can do that. We'll do some white water rafting, too. It just really is a fun place. The golf is a bonus."

Mickelson will be playing Wednesday's pro-am with Jim Justice, who a few years ago bought the Greenbrier - which opened in 1778 and is a National Historic Landmark - and has spent millions in renovations and on new amenities.

During his session with reporters before the pro-am, Mickelson talked about his decision to come to West Virginia for the tournament and all the activities that have entertained his family since they've arrived. Here's what Mickelson had to tell the media.

Q. Phil, welcome to West Virginia. Talk about being here at the Greenbrier Classic.

PHIL MICKELSON: We got in on Monday, and kids had a great day yesterday doing all the things here: bungy swinging, laser tag, pools. It's really special place, and we're excited to be here. I heard so many good things about last year's tournament, and I'm glad to finally be here and be able to play.

Q. (Question regarding Greenbrier's family atmosphere.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I think that to have an environment here that's so a family it makes it easy, especially when they've been able to travel with me this summer. And the fact that this place is so fun for them, it's an easy fit.

Q. Have you been able to see the course before the this Pro-Am today?

PHIL MICKELSON: I haven't, no. This will be my first time. I saw it on TV last year and it looked terrific. I loved how there were some low scores last year, how the course was -- there was some birdies there if you played well, and I though it looked like a fun golf course to play.

Q. The family's impression so far?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's an amazing place. I can't get over all the fun things that they have to do. My daughters are excited about the falconry. I don't know where in the world you can do that. We'll do some white water rafting, too. It just really is a fun place. The golf is a bonus.

Q. You had a nice run in the British Open; you played well on Sunday. You hope to keep that motivation going?

PHIL MICKELSON: I had a good tournament there at the British, and I felt like I kind of turned a corner for me and I'm starting to put things together slowly, be a little bit more patient and enjoy my time on the course and be more creative hitting shots again. It was a good week for me for that, and I'm excited about the next three-week stretch here. We've got one of the best Tour events here right now here in the Greenbrier, and I am looking forward also to the World Golf Championship and PGA following.

Q. (Question regarding the course.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Bones walked the course yesterday and really liked it. Thought that it was going to fit well. I like old-style golf course. I like courses that are fun to play, courses you can make birdies, you can be aggressive on, you can recover if you make a mistake. This course seems to suit that. It looks like it's a fun, enjoyable golf course to play, but still be challenging.

Q. (Question regarding Tom Watson.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I love playing with Tom. I met him when I first came out on tour over 20 years ago. Did an outing for one of his charities in Kansas City. We have had a good relationship since. We spent time over in Japan. I got to know Bruce Edwards for a number of years, and it's meant a lot to me and Bones to be able to look up to Tom, to Tom and Bruce, as player/caddie duo for so many years. To be able to play with them is pretty cool. And the fact that he's so competitive. The fact that he was competitive at the British Open. He got the wrong end of the tee times and he got unfortunate weather relative to the leaders, otherwise I think he would have been right in there on Sunday.

Q. (No microphone.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, (indiscernible) with a guy that shot 59, and then to be in the final round, that's pretty cool. So I'll probably watch a little bit how he plays this course.

Q. (No microphone.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.

Q. Talk about the course changes.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I don't know what it was like before or what the changes have been since, but I don't think there's anything wrong with guys scoring low. We're supposed to be the best at what we do, so I don't think it's an issue. But it is supposed to be a little bit more difficult, so we'll see.

Q. (Question regarding Jim Justice and the Pro-Am.)

PHIL MICKELSON: I am excited. I've heard so many great things about what a nice man and all that he's done for the community here. It's an honor to be able to play with him.

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


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