February 3, 2018
Q. Terrific round today of 66 for a total of 12-under. No bogeys on the card. What pleased you most about your play today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well if you look at it looks like a very simple, solid bogey-free round, 5-under. It was anything but that. I was in a few spots there I made some really nice up-and-downs to keep the round going and when I did hit some good tee shots and hit some good shots into the fairway I was able to get aggressive and make some birdies. Like on 18, I hit it close. So it's been a fun week, iron play has been really good, that's been kind of the strength. I've driven it very average, which is great for me. It's above average for me but average for the field, that's all I'm striving for. I haven't given too many shots away off the tee and that's been helpful.
Q. Couple of birdies there at 12 and 13. How important was the up-and-down you made for the par at 15?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I think this was a really good kind of momentum saving up-and-down. It wasn't a hard shot, it's 75 yards. I sit there and practice those over and over, but you still have to execute when it matters and I was able to pull it off and have a tap-in par. So there was really no stress on greens which was nice earlier in the rounds I made some stressful par, some good putts to keep the round going. And then when I was able to make some birdies on the back I was able to get back into contention.
Q. Amazing support here, we see it here on 18. How much do you feed off the energy of these crowds?
PHIL MICKELSON: It means a lot to me, it's very helpful and very important to my success. I think it's been a big instrument in allowing me to get into the round and play and have fun and get out of the technical side, which is what I've been doing the first two weeks. My game feels like it's been this sharp the first couple of weeks but I haven't gotten into the round, hit shots and had fun; and I think the environment here has really helped me get out of that technical element.
Q. We had a stat made up of your record here, 29 times you played this tournament, three wins, 10 top-10s, this is your 103rd round, two rounds of 61 and we call it a 59 and a half because the putt should have gone in. 475 birdies or eagles, more than anyone else, more than you've made at any other tournament. How would you sum up your history at this tournament, how special it's been to you.
PHIL MICKELSON: It's been a big part of my career, this tournament, because having gone to Arizona State, starting out being able to play in this tournament as an amateur and play with the professionals, see what I need to do and play on the biggest stage meant a lot to me at a young age. And I think my most memorable win, one of my most memorable wins, outside of the Majors, was in '96 when I ended up winning in a playoff there, having that field and that environment coming down the stretch and hitting some shots and hearing those roars, it's been a lot of fun. So it's been very meaningful for me throughout my career.
Q. How excited about the possibilities tomorrow of a fourth win?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I'm having fun getting back in contention. I had a lot of fun the first tournament of this wrap around schedule at Napa, finishing third to Brendan Steele. Getting in contention has been very important for me because that's why I play, that's why I'm working hard. So when I get in to those opportunities on Sunday, it's motivation for me to work hard on the range, to work hard in the gym, and so having these moments is important.
Q. The par you made on 10 we'll remember that for awhile.
PHIL MICKELSON: That was a unique situation because the people were great, the police officers and the Thunderbirds did a great job, but that was one of the most uncomfortable moments that I can remember with that many people and being swarmed like that. But I thought everybody was terrific. So it turned out just fine. Then to be able to hit that shot and make the putt, that was nice.
Q. To finish the round with a birdie like you did at 17 and 18, puts you in contention to win out here again.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, it does and it's fun. It's really fun for me to have an opportunity here in Phoenix. This is an environment unlike anything we have on the TOUR and to be able to come down the stretch on a golf course that has great birdie opportunities, eagle opportunities, and an amphitheater affect like we have on 16, on all the last five, six holes creates environment that you can't duplicate. And to be able to be in contention, if I can get a good front nine going and have a good opportunity, that's really a fun moment.
Q. I don't know how Sunday turns out, but I know that the gallery would be behind you forever.
PHIL MICKELSON: Thank you.
Q. Jon said this is the best he's ever seen you drive the ball. Would you agree with that?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well he's only 23 years old, so it's not like he can remember 15 years ago when I drove it -- no, I have worked hard in the off-season and I'll never be a great driver of the ball but if I can be average that would be awesome. And I've been driving it probably average to TOUR standards, which is way above my normalcy it's allowed me to make a lot of birdie opportunities and have a lot easier pars.
Q. How does your confidence rate going into tomorrow?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that for a, to give me the best chance for my first win in a long time this would be the place to do it, because I really do feel the energy of the crowd and the support coming down the stretch. And if I can just play a good solid front nine and get up there in contention, those last five, six holes, I seem to play some of my best golf, hit some of my best shots in that environment with the people here the way they have been so supportive. So this is as good an opportunity.
Q. What do you think about those guys to the left of the tee box on 16?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't really notice. I don't know, it just becomes a big blur there's so many people there I didn't even notice.
Q. How does the crowd support help you? Hearing all the ASU chants and Phil chants and just this environment in general?
PHIL MICKELSON: I love it. You don't see this everywhere, this is such a unique environment on TOUR and to have gone to school here and to have the support from the fellow alumni at ASU is an awesome feeling to be able to do this every year, it's incredible.
Q. It's rare that you have a threesome for the first two rounds all three play again on Saturday. Can you talk about just the play overall for the group and how you guys have been able it feed off each other.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think we have all played well, we have all putted well, we have all hit some good shots and we have all been supportive of each other. We're having a lot of fun and I think you play your best golf when you're having fun. I love the way Jon interacts with the gallery here, I love how well he represents Arizona State. And Xander being a fellow San Diegan and having won the TOUR Championship, is a fun guy to be around and play with. So it was really a good first few days. Obviously if Jon wanted to continue this and play well, he didn't need to make that last putt on 18, but he didn't care about that, he was trying to, I guess he's trying to win.
Q. Was there a moment today where experience maybe trumped youth that the other guys had against you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know where that would be. I don't know where that would be, no.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports