Phil on Charlie Rose Show: “There’s nobody in the game who has benefited more from Tiger than myself.”
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Charlie: "A friend said, 'Please ask him about a 3-foot putt.'"

Phil Mickelson appeared on the Charlie Rose Show last night. Rose and Phil covered a wide range of topics, from the school system to his rivalry with Tiger Woods.

They kicked off the interview chatting about Phil’s obsession with math and science and his foundation’s partnership with Exxon Mobil to implement an initiative in American grade schools to improve kids’ math and science skills (and test scores — the US is ranked 48th among countries — not sure if that’s in the world, but regardless, it isn’t good). “Space is my big fascination,” said Phil. “I talk about it with my kids every night.”

Charlie brought up that Phil’s wife Amy says, “He’s an astronaut in a golfer’s body.”

They also discussed Mickelson’s recent runner-up finish at the British Open (sorry, Open Championship). Charlie’s friend requested that he ask Phil about a three-foot putt. Yep, that three-foot putt.

“I missed just under a 3-foot putt on 11, which I think ultimately cost me the tournament because it derailed me from the mental focus I had,” said Phil. “I just let my mind slip. I started thinking ahead instead of focusing on the putt…I started thinking about the 12th hole when I was playing 11.

“I’ve got to work on my focus. Missing a 3-foot putt isn’t a technical thing, it’s a mental thing.”

Well, you know what they say about pro golfers and 3-footers when they hit their 40s. As a colleague of mine explained to me at Royal St. George’s, a number of great players, with Tom Watson and Johnny Miller being prime examples, start having problems with short putts at that age.

Meanwhile, Mickelson’s accuracy and distance with his driver have improved, which started in 2007 when he began working with Butch Harmon.

“My misses have gone from way out of the fairway to just slightly out of the fairway,” Phil told Charlie. “They’ve been much more refined. I’m not playing from the trees as much, I may play from the rough.”

If only there was rough these days (at least like there was before the powers-that-be realized they needed to shorten it so Phil and Tiger could win)!

“There’s nobody in the game who has benefited more from Tiger than myself,” said Phil when asked what his expectations were for Tiger. “He drove the purses up. He drove up the TV ratings. He increased the marketing expectations. He raised endorsement values.

“Nobody has been able to capitalize from that as much as I have so I will always be appreciative for what he has done for me, my family, the game of golf.”

In regards to competition on the golf course?

“Tiger brought out my best game. He drove me to practice harder and work harder…Having that opponent driving and pushing you to get better is what helps people achieve higher levels of performance.

“I believe that today  I’ve been playing better golf than I ever have. These coming four, five, six years will give me my best opportunities to win majors so I will contend in a lot of them. I want to contend and give myself opportunities on Sunday.”

Watch the interview here. (The Tiger talk starts around the 14-minute mark.)