Mickelson claims Scottish Open after play-off success

American claims first title in Britain on first extra hole against Branden Grace

 Phil Mickelson  hits his second shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the  Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links  in Inverness. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson hits his second shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 20:16

Phil Mickelson today won the Scottish Open after beating South African Branden Grace on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off at Castle Stuart.

The pair had finished tied on 17 under par after Mickelson three-putted the 18th for a bogey six, charging his birdie putt four feet past the hole and missing the return.

But the world number eight made amends when he returned to the 18th in the play-off, pitching to within inches of the hole for a birdie that Grace could not match.

“This is really cool,” said Mickelson, who claimed his first individual victory in Britain just four days before the start of the British Open Championship at Muirfield.

“I have been coming here for some time and had some opportunities and I almost let it slip away today. To come out on top was terrific.

“I was so mad at myself for mentally losing my focus that I came out on that 18th pretty focused to make a four.”

Mickelson began his round with a double-bogey six on the first after topping his second shot and three-putting, but birdied four of his next five holes and also picked up three more shots at the start of the back nine.

A birdie on the 14th gave him the lead for the first time and three straight pars, including an excellent save on the 17th, had seemingly secured the title.

However, the four-time Major winner’s closing bogey meant a round of 69 to match that of Grace in the group ahead and a second Scottish Open play-off, the left-hander having lost out to France’s Gregory Havret at Loch Lomond in 2007.

Overnight leader Henrik Stenson and Denmark’s JB Hansen shared third place on 15 under, Hansen having threatened to pull off one of the most remarkable victories ever seen.

The 22-year-old began the final round just two shots off the lead but his chances of a maiden European Tour title looked to have disappeared with a quadruple-bogey nine on the par-five second.

However, Hansen bounced back with five birdies in succession, picked up another shot on the ninth to be out in 34 and when he birdied the 10th as well was suddenly in the outright lead.

The Challenge Tour graduate also got back into a share of the lead after Stenson had overhauled him with birdies on the 10th and 11th, only to drop three shots in his last four holes.

A place in the Open was on offer to the winner of the tournament if not already exempt, but with Mickelson taking the title first reserve Scott Stallings gets the Muirfield berth.

Gareth Maybin finished in a tie for fifth place on 14 under alongside American-based Scotsman Martin Laird and England’s John Parry.

The Ulster golfer carded a final round of 71 having failed to find the form that saw him equal to low score of the week on Saturday with a 64.

Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley also closed with a 71 to finish on eight under, with Shane Lowry a shot further back after a 72. A closing 75 dropped Damien McGrane back to five under.