Mickelson relishing ‘double double’ challenge of repeat Open success
Scottish event perfect start for British Major, says reigning champion
Phil Mickelson of the USA: champion keen to get out in wet and windy weather to defend title “as I never get a chance to back home”. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson is hoping for the wind to blow and the rain to fall this week as he aims for his personal “double double” of Scottish Open and British Open success which the American achieved last year.
“For me each round presents a great opportunity to work on my game,” he said. “It gives me the chance to get sharp as well as to compete and attempt to defend the championship I’m very proud to have won last year.
“I’m looking forward to it. Tomorrow’s supposed to be terrible weather, I hope it is because I would love to get out in that stuff and be able to play in it as I never get a chance to back home.”
Mickelson, a five-time Major winner, revealed he used to struggle with links golf because he fought the conditions.
“I would swing hard . . . put more spin on it, and the wind would have a greater effect,” said the 44-year-old left-hander. “Now after learning how to take more clubs, swing it easier, and let it feel like you are hitting little half-shots, I’m not fighting it because I’m not having to make full hard aggressive swings.”
The Scottish Open has produced the last four British Open champions: Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen as well as the American. And all four are in a formidable field at Royal Aberdeen. Mickelson’s success last year prompted Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy to turn up.
‘Tough test’ “Seeing what Phil Mickelson did last year really hit home with me,” said two-time Major winner McIlroy
. “I thought it might not be a bad idea to come back and play. The course here looks like it is going to be a really tough test . . . which should prepare us well for next week.”
Justin Rose, another Major winner inspired by Mickelson’s performances, said Royal Aberdeen was a legitimate test of golf.
“It is no warm-up. This is a tough test before next week. This will get us into the mode of playing links golf at its toughest,” he said.
Rose, the US Open winner in 2013, said he felt no pressure to play well at Royal Liverpool next week.
“I feel calm and ready to play. My game is in good shape,” he concluded.
Course: Royal Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland
Prize money: €3.78m (€627,020 to the winner)
Length: 6,867 yards Par: 71
Where to watch: Live on Sky Sports from 10.30am
Course overview: Royal Aberdeen’s tight fairways, juicy rough and nasty bunkers should keep scoring under control, though, on a course which has never hosted a European Tour event.
The three toughest holes are on the front nine: the 240-yard par-three third, the 446-yard par-four fourth in addition to the 465-yard par-four ninth, but the rest of the track is full of birdies.
The par-fives (second, sixth and 12th) are there for the taking, while three short par-fours (fifth, tenth, 15th) and three short par-threes (eighth, 11th and 17th) also represent great opportunities for top professionals.