The Open 2013: Phil Mickelson fancies double Scotch

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


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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own