A day before he’s scheduled to make his 2010 debut in the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Phil Mickelson spoke publicly for the first time since he won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China last November.
There were plenty of notable statements from the media center at Torrey Pines, including his decision not to publicly speak about the current Tiger Woods situation after the conference and his decision to skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in order to have a family vacation.
Here are highlights from Mickelson’s press conference:
On Tiger Woods:
“The game of golf needs him to come back … But right now he’s got a lot more important things going on in his life. Amy and I are good friends with both Tiger and [his wife] Elin [Nordegren], and we care deeply about how this turns out. But I’m going to choose not to talk about it publicly anymore.”
On the health of his wife and mother:
“Amy and my mom are doing great, and things have gone very well. But even in the best-case scenario, dealing with cancer is never easy, and so it’s not easy for them. We were just back in Houston Monday and Tuesday for some treatments. My mom had surgery just recently, and things are going very well. But again, it’s never easy.”
On skipping WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship:
“We had a couple of procedures scheduled for this offseason that got postponed for various reasons, and we had to move [them] into March, and this affected some of our family trips … The week of the Tucson Match Play is a week that my kids are out of school and that I’m going to end up skipping this year, not because I want to. I think it’s a wonderful tournament, I love the Match Play, I love Tucson. But it was the best week for us to have a family vacation that we had to reschedule because, again, of our procedures. I expect this to kind of happen a little bit throughout the year, maybe missing tournaments I would like to play or normally would play. But later on in the year I’ll probably add a tournament that I hadn’t originally planned on playing to kind of offset it.”
“In the last three years I’ve taken what has always been a weakness in my game, which is driving, and I feel like I’ve turned it into a strength and a real weapon and an opportunity to shoot some lower scores, and I’m excited to showcase that this week.”
On if he’s being counted on to fill the void left by Tiger Woods:
“I haven’t thought about it like that. I’m just excited to play golf … Last week’s event at the [Bob Hope Classic] I thought had an incredible finish, and I’m hoping to get in contention on Sunday and maybe provide some excitement of my own.”
On trying to be the world’s No. 1 golfer:
“My whole career I’ve been trying to get to No. 1, I just haven’t had much success. But this year, whether or not Tiger is in the field, I still believe that this is an opportunity for me to compete in majors, to challenge him. I’ve had some great head-to-head success in the last year or two, and I expect this year with or without him to be one of the best years of my career.”
On the new grooves rule:
“I think it’s a ridiculous change. I think that it costs each manufacturer millions of dollars. I think it’s confusing, and I don’t agree with it one bit. But it’s a big change for the game of golf, and we’ve got to adapt.”
On the responsibility of PGA Tour members in the current economic climate:
“I think it’s important for us as a Tour to prove to the corporations that are involved in the game that this is the best vehicle for them to spend their marketing dollars. It’s up to us to show that in every way, whether it’s personal relationships with their clients, whether it’s interaction on the golf course, making for a great day. We’ve got to provide a vehicle that exposes their company to the public in a positive light, that the monies they spend, whether it’s $5 to $8 million an event, they can spend that anywhere.”
Read the full transcript here.
Check back throughout the week for more coverage of the Farmers Insurance Open.
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