SI: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN SUCH A ZONE?
PM: "I DON'T WANT TO SAY THE GAME IS EASIER, BUT IT FEELS A LITTLE BIT EASIER."
SI: Two weeks, two sub-63 rounds. Can you keep this up?
PM: That's not a given, but I've been playing well and it's been a lot of fun. You have to understand, [playing golf] is something I've done my whole life, but putting everything together for two straight weeks--it feels terrific.
SI: Suddenly that 59 in Hawaii at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf last November doesn't look like such an anomaly.
PM: I felt as if I had made some changes in the off-season that would allow me to shoot some pretty low scores. I really spent a lot of time working on my wedge play. When I picked up that extra 20 yards off the tee, I knew I'd be hitting more wedges. I also knew I'd be able to carry bunkers that I was having to thread the ball between. Now, all of a sudden, I'm hitting all these short irons and wedges, and I'm making those surges. At Spyglass Hill, I hit a lot of short irons in and made birdies. I don't have to hit mid-irons in. They were all wedges or eight- or nine-irons.
SI: Is a 62 at Spyglass, a notoriously difficult course, as good as the 59 at Poipu Bay?
PM: That's hard to say, but it's pretty close.
SI: Did it cross your mind that the last time someone had as big a third-round lead at Pebble Beach it was Tiger Woods in the 2000 U.S. Open?
PM: I didn't realize that, no. I was thinking, This is not an easy course to protect a lead, because there are hazards on about every hole. To hold on to the lead you have to keep hitting aggressive shots, especially into the greens.