GULLANE, Scotland – Phil Mickelson opened his links season with an Even-par 70 and then spoke frankly on a range of topics.
Addressing a mostly-British press contingent eager to relive Mickelson’s 2018 U.S. Open mess, the veteran covered everything from his practice sessions at Carnoustie and Le Golf National, to the status of his made-for-TV match with Tiger Woods.
Mickelson was grilled on any possible anxiety over how the golf fans here would receive him.
“When I was over at Carnoustie, people were great, I wasn’t nervous,” he said. “I didn’t know that I should be. I think most people realize, you know, we all make mistakes and that wasn’t – that was certainly one of them.”
Self-deprecating and repeatedly apologetic, Mickelson reiterated that he’s “had a rough month” and that he’s sorry for mistakes he’s made. The 48-year-old champion of the Scottish Open in 2013 said it took him time to realize his ball-in-motion putt at Shinnecock Hills was less than his best moment.
“Throughout my career, 25 years, there have been a lot of times where I have had to be accountable for decisions I did not make,” he said. “And the reason why this has actually been easier, it was my own fault. Like this was my own fault. So the articles and the backlash is my own fault.”
Mickelson calls these his “cloud” moments and made clear he is not proud of them.
“I’ve picked up the ball and marked it and cleaned it, probably four or five times after – the first couple days was lift, clean and place and I kept doing it,” he said. “I keep doing stuff like that. That’s the way my mind works.”
Looking rested and ready for a strong British Open run, Mickelson had a good-natured post-round swing discussion with instructor Andrew Getson outside Gullane’s scoring trailer before joking with writers in a Scottish accent and saying he would only take questions about the last month instead of the opening round.
He freely opined on a host of other topics.
On Any Update About the Tiger Woods made-for-TV match:
“No, but hopefully in the next week or two. I think we’re close to having some stuff finalized.”
On saying post-round that he’d long been waiting to use the rules to his advantage:
“Not only was I not great on the course, I was not great after the round, either. So it was just not a great day, and it was my birthday. So I tend to do dumb stuff on my birthday, too.”
“It was incredible. I was really excited with my time there because I think I got to see Carnoustie for its greatness, and it’s firm and fast, and the bunkers were in play and very hard to avoid. The first time I ever played it was ’99, and it was a rough week. The course wasn’t setup its best, and this week it is. I think it will be one of the best Opens.”
On Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National:
“I think it’s phenomenal because it’s got the best viewing of any golf course I’ve seen, as well as the risk/reward, the last four holes are spectacular, 15, 16, 17, 18, I think is going to be some of the best viewing and best environment for the end of Ryder Cup matches. I think it’s going to be wonderful.”
On the Ryder Cup course favoring a team:
“I’m sure it could, and I would expect that the European side would try to set it up in a way that they thought was advantageous to them. What’s nice for me there is, again, like links golf, not a lot of drivers there, and that helps me.”