Mickelson raring to go
Phil Mickelson is relishing the prospect of defending his Scottish Open title at Royal Aberdeen Golf Course this week.
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The 44-year-old used last year's Scottish success as a springboard for his Open Championship victory at Muirfield just seven days later.
While Mickelson is anticipating a tough challenge against both the field and adverse conditions, the American confirmed he has embraced links golf in the past 10 years.
"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.
"And 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.
"I have actually started to play pretty well in this weather over the years. So, it's fun and it's a great opportunity."
And, as he targets his own 'double double', Mickelson concedes links golf no longer holds any fears for him as he becomes more familiar with the 'unique challenges' it poses.
"The key to playing links golf from tee to green is not just being able to get the ball low, but low without spin, and that is what I was struggling with and why I was always fighting it," he said.
"I would swing hard, I would put more spin on it, and the wind would have a greater effect. 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.
"It's much easier if you're hitting to a 100-yard pin to hit a little five-iron at that pin than it is a full wedge. And I find that was really the turning point that I look back to."
Meanwhile Mickelson admits he will be sad to return the Claret Jug ahead of his defence of the Open Championship at Hoylake, although he might be lucky to still have it in his possession.
"It has been a fun year with the Claret Jug and it's been really interesting to see the emotional response of people that get to hold it or drink out of it and how much they appreciate what a great trophy it is," Mickelson said.
"I've taken it to some of the courses that I'm a member of back in San Diego and left it there in the locker room while I go play and guys will take pictures of it and take sips out of it. People that really appreciate the game of golf understand and know what a privilege it is to be able to hold it.
"I'm sad to give it back but I'm also hopeful that I'll have a chance to have a it for another year sometime soon, if not this one."