The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

The Greenbrier Classic

July 5, 2012

Mickelson ‘motivated’ for classic

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Phil Mickelson played in his first Greenbrier Classic in 2011 and did not make the cut.

Today and Friday, he’s paired with the 2010 and 2011 tournament champions — Stuart Appleby and Scott Stallings in the first two rounds.

They tee off from No. 1 at 1:20 p.m. today and No. 10 at 8:10 a.m. Friday.

Looking for a little luck to rub off?

Or compare notes on The Old White TPC?

The two guys that raised the glass and crystal Springhouse trophy might be the guys to look to.

“I don’t normally like to watch my playing partners, but this might be a good week for me to do that given that they’ve both won here the last two years,” Mickelson said. “They’re obviously very solid players and we’ll have a good time playing. I know Stuart very well, I’ve gotten to know Scott a little bit and we should have a good couple of days.”

Having played the course a few times, including Wednesday’s pro-am, Mickelson has had an opportunity to get to know the course better.

“There’s really not a hole that I don’t look forward to,” he said. “I think that all the holes here have such special character to them that, again, I try to learn from them, from the 8th hole, that Redan par-3, really a great hole, all the way to the 3rd hole which is a totally different par 3 but every bit as great. I love the character and the nuances and the differences of each hole.”

Finishing at the 18 “Home” hole, a par 3, is a rarity on the PGA TOUR. But it suits “Lefty” just fine.

“I think it’s different, I think it’s cool,” Mickelson said. “There’s a few tournaments that we’ve done that in the past, not many. Very rare, though, and it’s pretty cool.

Mickelson took in a lot of activities last year in his first trip to “America’s Resort” but admitted that he didn’t play well.

“I came here last year and really loved the golf course and did not play as well as I would have liked to and I’m excited about having a chance to see if I can get that turned around. It’s one of the great courses that we have. It’s got such unique character to it that I study and watch — watch a lot of these holes, these green complexes, and try to implement some of it in my own design. It’s really something to model after. It’s a fun golf course to play, great resort and really a wonderful event, one of the best events we have on Tour, and it’s only in its third year, pretty amazing what’s been done.

“I’m pretty motivated,” he added. “After my performance last year, I really wanted to improve on that. I really do enjoy competing on this golf course, I think it’s a wonderful test of golf, and I also think it’s very well suited to my game. I’ll try to put a little bit more time into my physical preparation and mental preparation to get ready for this tournament because I was — I wasn’t happy with the way I competed last year.”

Too many distractions off the course won’t be a problem this year, Mickelson promised.

“Right now it’s just practice,” he said. “I’m going to have to let everything else take a backseat. We had a great time last year doing the whitewater rafting and doing the falconry, doing laser tag and going to the pool and just hanging out. But I want to make sure my game is sharp this week because I really did not — I don’t feel good about how I played last year and I want to improve on that.”

A day after the PGA extended The Greenbrier Classic to 2021, Mickelson unequivocally made a commitment to be back often.

“I think the golf course is incredible and I think the resort is one of the best that we have on Tour,” he explained. “Logistically, it’s right here on site. It’s easy for families to get to, it’s easy for players to get to the course and back, and there’s so many things to do off the course that it’s a great place to take your family. So I would expect that — plus it’s a good date, so time-wise it works out really well also and I’m looking forward to competing here more, yeah, absolutely.

- - -

Mickelson spoke about his Birdies for the Brave charity gala.

“We are putting together a one-time deal; this is not an annual thing, but a one-time deal at TPC Sawgrass where we’re going to raise a bunch of money for a bunch of military charities, and to have somebody like Jim Justice step up the way he has in this community, the way he’s saved the Greenbrier and the way he’s saved and been such a big part of the communities here in West Virginia, and he’s helping us do the same thing for a lot of military families, I have a lot of respect for him, for what he’s done and look up to him for the way he helps people. He takes advantage of the opportunities he has to help others and he’s just a great man and he’s helping us get this Birdies for the Brave gala going here November 30 through December 1. Again, it’s just a one-time deal, but to have that kind of commitment sure means a lot and has made it much easier to get this done.”

— E-mail: jworkman@register-herald.com

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