LIV Golf Tucson

Wednesday, 15 March, 2023

Tucson, Arizona, USA

The Gallery Golf Club

Phil Mickelson

Press Conference

Q. How does it feel to be back in Arizona? You have a lot of history in this state, winning your first amateur event here in Tucson in 1991 and having gone to ASU.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I really do enjoy the State of Arizona, but also Tucson has been a great place for me. It's where I won my first professional event in 1991 as an amateur, and I have fond memories of coming back here. To participate and bring live golf to Tucson is exciting for me and everybody else involved with LIV.

Q. So the HyFlyers has a new look and feel this year, you have new team members. Talk about the rebranding of your team and what it's like to have Brendan and James now?

PHIL MICKELSON: I could not be happier with our team; and it's the chemistry and the way we have worked together, and I think that there's an aspect of team golf that we are starting to see a little bit here that helps each other elevate and get the best out of each other.

The best example I can use is that in the last two weeks since México, James and Cameron, who live in Florida, have been playing together and working and playing little short game competitions.

And Steeley and I have been working back in San Diego, and he's been helping me a little bit with the driver and I've been helping him a little bit with short irons. We are starting to get -- help each other get the best out of each other. That's an aspect that we haven't really seen in professional golf because it's such an individual sport that either you don't feel comfortable asking or you don't want it share.

With the team dynamic, I think we are going to help each other elevate our games.

Q. I know you take your captaincy very seriously which is evident across the board. If you can tell us what you're doing as a captain: Are you guys doing team meetings? Are you doing get-togethers during the week?

PHIL MICKELSON: We had a big meeting last night, a big dinner last night with everybody involved with the HyFlyers. Because to be our best as a professional golfer, it takes a lot of support, you have to have a lot of support from a lot of different areas. You can't be your best without help from others, and so you have to humble yourself and ask for help.

And we tried to have everybody associated with the HyFlyers from our fitness, our physical therapy, our coaching, our caddies, our family support systems, wives, as well as the executives who are running the team and doing all the day-to-day stuff who we are.

So we had everybody there so that we all develop a close relationship and help each other accomplish some common goals.

Q. So you said you had your first professional win in 1991. I think, if I do the math, that's nine years before James Piot was even born.

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I was 11 (laughter).

Q. Are you mentoring him? What's it like having such a young gun on your team and what's that dynamic and relationship like?

PHIL MICKELSON: Having someone with much that excitement, energy, motivation and work ethic has been a great thing for our team. He brings a very youthful energy; and his willingness to put in the work, as well as his curiosity to learn and get better makes him a great addition. He's going to be an incredible player and accomplish a lot of things in this game and he's going to be lifting up the HyFlyers as he does it.

Q. By my count, you've won seven pro events in this state. What is it about Arizona that brings out the best in you?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think going to college up the road and playing and practicing in the conditions here play a big part of that.

I think there's an elevation challenge, although it's 3,000 feet, it's not like going to Mile High in Denver. But there's still a challenge of learning how to hit certain shots, distance control with the irons, that when you spend years here, like I did in college, it's a lot easier to figure out. I think that's a big part of it. But also, just being comfortable here in the way that people have supported me over the years helps me play my best, too.

Q. What's your best memory of '91 and do you still have that (helmet trophy)?

PHIL MICKELSON: I do still have it. It's a very special tournament for me because it opened so many doors and created so many opportunities before I even turned professional and allowed me to go back to college and have a vehicle right on to professional golf when I got out. It's one of my most fond accomplishments in the game.

As I look back, I think the thing that I recall or I like to look back on was that I actually made a triple-bogey on the 14th hole of the final round and overcame that with the birdies on 16 and 18 coming down the stretch.

Because you're not going to play perfect golf all the time, and sometimes over to overcome some obstacles and having that be an obstacle to overcome in my first win, it was a big obstacle. It was a big challenge. I look back at that as a reminder to never give up and keep fighting, you just never know what's going to happen.

Q. What are your thoughts on the proposal to roll back the golf ball?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I was actually surprised to hear this. So I have not read up on it. I haven't looked into it. I haven't really liked looked at the data, so I don't really have an opinion on it right now. I just don't have enough knowledge to really -- on the subject to formulate an opinion yet.

Q. The new structure on the PGA TOUR, what was your reaction listening to that, how much is that because of LIV Golf's influence?

PHIL MICKELSON: You asked that as a question. It should be more of a statement about the fingerprints and so forth.

I think that it's really a good thing. I'm happy to see it. I'm happy to see it for the Tour. I think there will always be a need and a want for traditional golf. And there's always an opportunity to innovate and to allow LIV to be additive and create something new and different for the going.

I also think the changes bring the best players about more often. I think that's what fans want and what the sponsors want. They want to know what they are buying, and those are all things that LIV have provided for their sponsors and television and so forth. I think it's a good model to follow, and I'm glad that they are.

Q. There have been people who have said that if this happened a year ago, you might not have LIV Golf?

PHIL MICKELSON: Then I'm thankful it didn't happen a year ago. I'm really happy with the way LIV has brought about new change to the game. Because this team aspect is something that we really never saw as a possibility in golf until LIV came along. It brought about a new energy for me and a new dynamic, and my teammates and myself are helping each other be our best. That's been a lot of fun, playing practice rounds with them and going to dinner, hanging out.

It's brought a lot more joy to the professional golf experience, and I'm really appreciative that it's come about, so I'm glad that those changes didn't happen a year ago.

Q. Most players on the PGA TOUR talk about majors, and you used to talk about that all the time as well. So how getting prepared for majors is LIV going to be an impediment because you're focusing on your team so much that you won't be able to prepare for majors the same way?

PHIL MICKELSON: To bring the most value to your team, you have to play your best, and so you still have to put in the work and shoot low scores. That's how you bring the value to your team as a player. And so that's not going to change. That will be the same whether it's in team golf or individual golf, but the support system to help be your best is certainly a nice benefit.

We're all grateful that we're able to participate in the Masters and all the majors because there was a lot of talk that that might not happen. But here we are, able to do that, and we are all grateful for that as well.

Q. Do you also feel that LIV -- it's not even a year. So how do you feel the progress has gone, and what do you see are the things that you still need to be working on?

PHIL MICKELSON: It has all happened so fast and everything got moved up a year because we had so much demand with so many top players coming over that we ended up moving the league and the team aspect up a year.

So there's a lot happening. There's a lot of transition. There's a lot of kind of figuring things out as we go. But to think that we are where we are today in less than a year, it's beyond amazing.

Q. What are you missing? What do you think needs to happen over the next year or two?

PHIL MICKELSON: Evolution. We'll just simply evolve, and when we -- when we see something that can be better, we have the fluidity to make the change and make it better.

I don't know, I mean, there's a lot of specifics that we could look at and say, gosh, do we need to go to 72 holes to get World (Golf) Ranking points or what do we need to do to be the best product but really it comes down to we provide the he best product to fans, to sponsors.

And also, this is a question that LIV has been asking that I haven't been asked in the last 32 years: How can we make this the best experience for the professionals, as well, and that's what's exciting for us as players to be a part of this league.

Q. Do you think you'll need to go to 72 holes to get World Ranking points?

PHIL MICKELSON: Those are things we can talk about and again we have the fluidity to make changes if it's in the best interests of the players or the league or for the fans or for the sponsors. But I don't feel that that's a pressing need right now, otherwise it would have been changed.

But again, great thing about this league is its fluidity and its ability to adapt and make changes and do things quickly to make things better.

Q. My question is about your physical being. You talked about working with the team on the physical aspect and your mental aspect, the whole nine yards. Can you share for the guys that are 50 or getting close and over what your secret is, because you look great?

PHIL MICKELSON: I appreciate you saying that. Everything that I've tried to do in the last few years, but specifically in this off-season and recently, I've tried to really put wellness at the forefront. I even have a company around it. So all of the products I've put into my body, I try to allow myself to recover and get in better shape and to eat less, curb my appetite.

We added a physical therapist to our team. I haven't really had a physical therapist. I've had a trainer for a number of years. Sean Cochran has been with me for 20 years and he's helped elongate my career, and it's been a huge thing for me to be at 52 years old and without battling any physical injuries and able to play. And we added Geno Senko (ph) as our physical therapist, and this is a new additive to get my body functioning right and so forth and recover faster.

And then my job and responsibility is to make sure the things that I put inside my body allow me to do that. As I've gotten older, I've had to take a lot more accountability for that, much more so than I did in my 20s and 30s. I wish I had looked back and had the knowledge and had the education to implement those changes back then because you know, I don't like looking back and saying, what if I had done that.

But here I am today and taking a lot more accountability and allowing myself to play and compete at a much higher level than a lot of people could at this age.

Q. Well, keep it up. You look great. Good luck this week.


Q. With the TV contract, the ratings were fantastic. What are your expectations with that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Again, it's one of those things that we are all grateful for because we were old, oh, well, we're not going to have a TV deal. Well we have a TV deal with 120 million homes and that's just in the US. Internationally we have a lot more exposure as well. Those relationships are really strong. It will take some doing on our part, on CW's part to get the word out that LIV Golf is on CW but that will slowly evolve.

Q. Did you have any influence on bringing LIV to Arizona?

PHIL MICKELSON: I would like to say that I had a direct impact on it. It really wasn't. We've tried to nail down some markets that have always wanted and supported professional golf, and Tucson has supported professional golf, and then it got taken away a few decades ago.

Granted, I participated in a champions event. We were here, the Champions Tour was here a couple weeks ago. I played a couple years ago. But world-class golf, like the best players in the world, the Dustin Johnsons and the Cam Smiths and Brysons and Brooks and so forth. To bring that back to Tucson, I'm really proud to be a part of that, even though it wasn't me just saying, we've got to do this. It was looking at it in general and saying this is really a good spot for us to be; it would be great for the tour, for the league. It would be great for the area as well.

Q. You mentioned the fans and the relationship that you have with the people in this state. Have you thought about what that might be like for you this weekend?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's fun for me to see a lot of familiar faces that I haven't seen in a little while. It's fun for me to get back here. It's fun to feel the support. It's a hard going to walk and you have to be a little careful walking in the desert with some of the wildlife going on but it's nice to feel support here.

Q. So talking about the Sun Devils and everything, there's a lot of former Sun Devils here playing. Talking about David Puig, the youngest out of all the Sun Devils. Have you talked to him and what do you think about his game?

PHIL MICKELSON: I actually played with him about a month ago in San Diego. We went out to the Grand and played a round and he made 11 birdies in that round. It was very impressive. He's a very talented golfer.

He's on a great team for him, as well, because that Spanish-speaking, fiery connection, like it's really a good thing for International Team. He has Joaquín Niemann on his team and he's a good guy, very young as well, talented and I think he's going to help him get the best out but David has a lot of talent. I've seen it firsthand.

Q. When the Masters come up, what are your expectations when the LIV golfers go to Augusta to compete with the PGA?

PHIL MICKELSON: No expectations. We are grateful to just be able to play and compete and be a part of it. A lot of the people there that are playing and competing in the Masters are friend for decades, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Q. What is the significance of getting Bryson and Cam Smith and those guys to join LIV?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's massive. It's another thing that I think everybody is grateful for because again, we were told, LIV won't ever get the top players, and gosh, we have so many top players in the world that it's a quality product, and it's something that we are all grateful for. Just another thing we are all grateful for.

Q. The Match Play is going to be gone after next week on the PGA TOUR. Could you see a scenario where you would fill the void here?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's a perfect format and opportunity to fill the Match Play void because the negative of the Match Play is that the most exciting days are earlier in the week, and then the fans and sponsors only have one or two matches to follow on the weekend, and the team aspect could make the Match Play much more exciting. Because you would always have three matches in the finals, even if there were only two teams playing, you could have six matches if you had the third and fourth team playing for third place.

And even if you have a blowout match, you still would have to win two-out-of-three matches, and those other two matches would be coming down to the wire and create a lot of excitement. So there's an opportunity with the team dynamic that LIV Golf could have a match play scenario. It's certainly something that we are discussing as a possibility for the season-ending event. But we also want to make sure that we have enough golfers on the golf course, which has been the knock on the Match Play.

Q. Why do you think LIV came to Tucson instead of Phoenix?

PHIL MICKELSON: I think it's a great opportunity. It's an opportunity to be in a market that is a golf market, supportive of professional golf, and hasn't had the highest level of golf in the world in a while, and bring that back to, to a community that deserves it. So that's a big part of it. Plus the quality of golf courses; the quality of the experience. There's a lot of great reasons to be here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
130347-3-2529 2023-03-15 18:18:00 GMT

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