TODAY   |  July 26, 2013

It’s Phil Mickelson vs. Matt Lauer…at ping pong

Golfer Phil Mickelson talks about coming back from behind to win the British Open, saying he “had to change a lot of his game.” He takes on TODAY’s Matt Lauer in a game of ping pong.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> thank you. if you're a fan of golf the man with us needs no introduction. phil mickelson . his latest over the weekend, an incredible come from behind victory at the british open .

>> raise your hand if you've had a pretty good couple of weeks.

>> it's been an incredible couple of weeks. the two weeks in scotland having amy and the kid there is made it so special but actually this week, the week after the british is one of my favorite weeks of the year because amy and i for the 9th year now partnered with exxon mobil to create a teacher's academy and we're passionate about math and science and math and science played a huge role in winning this cup. i had to work with the engineers to get spin off of my tee shots in this win and that three wood i hit on 17, the two shots were the two best of my life i couldn't hit a year ago.

>> talk to me about the fact that -- there was a time in your career where you were known as a guy that come down to the final round , had a chance to win, you'd hit one wacky shot or take one risk that people didn't think you should take and it would slip away. you're not that guy anymore. what's the biggest difference?

>> well, first, just saying that it was only one shot is very nice of you, thank you.

>> you're my guest.

>> you know, i am trying to go out and win tournaments and if i fail i fail. if i succeed, that's great. my worst, hardest loss of my career was the u.s. open just a month ago and for days i didn't get out of bed. i was tired. it was a trip we had to montana that got me out of my funk and i realized that i'm playing great golf. i can't let one loss affect the rest of the year and i was able to turn it around and make one of the greatest high of my career.

>> you're going to the hall of fame in golf. no question about that. i watched you hugging amy and the kids after the win at the british open and i want to ask you a different sided question. if your kids get asked in five years about you, and they're not allowed to talk about golf, what do you want them to say?

>> well, i love what they said when they were asked about me, they said he's just always been dad to me and now they're actually seeing me play well and win big championships at an age they can understand what's going on. and so it's a unique dynamic because they have always just seen me as dad and that's what i hope in five years they continue saying.

>> so many emotion moments. i love watching your long-term caddie break downs in tears. are you as proud of the win or the way you won?

>> this is the greatest accomplishment of my career. the one tournament that i had to change a lot of my game and practice hard to develop the skills to win this british open and to play the best round of my life and the greatest last eight holes to capture this is what is so rewarding.

>> you talk about skills, i want to walk with you because you also mention the mickelson exxon mobil teacher's academy and in a strange way you're telling nme that the game of ping-pong plays into it.

>> we're teaching action and reaction and motion in forces.

>> i need a lefty paddle. go ahead. so we're using all of these motions that we talk about in our academy. right now we're using angle, we're using spin, and if i put back spin like that it rolls off the paddle into the net. if i put top spin like this, you have to watch it. so it might go long. so you have to adjust the face angle of your pattern based on what i'm doing.

>> teaching kids and teachers with things they can identify with, that comes into their every day lives.

>> that's it. so we're trying to give them new innovative techniques to inspire their students and use abilities so that they're involved in the learn progress rather than just telling them from a textbook.

>> nice shot .

>> i saw that back spin.

>> most importantly continued success with the teachers academy and keep lighting it upton golf course , phil, we're proud of you.

>> thanks matt.

>> we're back with a concert from train after your local news.