The Open 2013: Phil Mickelson fancies double Scotch

American believes he’s found secret that will  enable him to back up Castle Stuart victory

Muirfield

For someone who plays with the flair and flamboyance of Seve Ballesteros, it is a mystery why Phil Mickelson has failed to win the Open Championship. This is his 20th tilt at getting his hands on the Claret Jug since his first appearance in 1991 and only three times has he finished inside the top 20. His best years were when he finished runner-up to Darren Clarke at Royal St George’s in 2011 and third in 2004 after missing by one shot the play-off in which Todd Hamilton defeated Ernie Els.

But maybe all that bad luck is about to change for the 43-year-old Californian. He won the Scottish Open last week on the links at Castle Stuart in Inverness and has never felt so good coming into an Open Championship. “Certainly you need a bit of luck to come out on top here,” he said. “It’s part of the tournament. But you also need to play some great golf. These last few months I’v e played well enough to get in contention here. But I do need some luck.”

Perhaps it is the roll-the-dice-and-see-what-you-get element of links golf that explains Mickelson’s turbulent career battling to understand this ancient art form of the game. How would he describe his relationship with links golf? “It’s a hate/love one,” he said. “ I used to hate it and now I love it.”

The hate turned to love in 2004 when he and his coach Dave Pelz spent time in Scotland developing how to hit the ball low under the wind and how to avoid those big misses when the ball gets caught in crosswinds and is tossed 50 yards off the fairway into deep heather. “It’s a low little scooting shot,” he said. Why does he love links golf now? “Because it’s much easier to get the ball in play off the tee,” he said. Yep, that would do it. “What I’ve enjoyed most about links golf is the importance of the short game,” he said. “In America, we just fly the ball over the trouble to the hole and stop it. Here, angle off the tee, angle into the green is every bit as important as the execution of the shot.” As such he’s ditching his driver this week and adding a 64-degree wedge instead.

There were two other factors that Mickelson identified as vital to his success this week. The first was the rough. “The key to the rough is staying out of it,” he said. That was Phil being funny. The second was his putting. “I’ve kind of keyed in on something and I don’t really want to share it,” he said. “I’m not going to discuss it.” That was Phil being spiky. But he did at least reveal that he blames his putting for his Open misfortunes. “I’ve not putted these greens well with little subtle nuances and rolls with the crosswinds that come into play as well as the strong blades of fescue grass,” he said. “But I’m starting to putt as well as I ever have. Finally I believe I have found the secret.”

It would be typical of Mickelson’s luck if winning the Scottish Open last week prevented him from winning this week. “It’s difficult to win the week before a major and then follow it up winning the major,” he said. “But then again, the last person to do it? You’re looking at him.” Mickelson won the BellSouth Classic in 2006 then won the Masters the following Sunday. If the four-times major champion can win his first Open and complete a Scottish double, perhaps he could celebrate in time-honoured local fashion.

 



Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York