The Open - Mickelson glad of links preparation for Open
World number six Phil Mickelson is delighted to be playing links golf at the Scottish Open before taking on Royal St George's in next week's Open Championship.
"I think playing links-style golf will be a great way to go forward to next week," Mickelson said on the eve of the Scottish Open at the Castle Stuart course. "It's conducive to next week's golf."
The four-times Major winner, looking for his first win in Britain, is one of four players in the world top 10 taking part in Scotland.
A switch from Loch Lomond to a course close to the Moray Firth suits the American left-hander who is making a concerted effort to master links golf - he came close to doing so when he finished third in the 2004 Open at Royal Troon.
"I'm starting to enjoy the challenge of succeeding over here, overcoming obstacles," the 41-year-old Californian said. "I always play high through the air, so the challenge is to play along the ground, keep the ball under control, drive it well through cross-winds. I feel if I can overcome these obstacles I'll become a complete player and win at this style of golf."
Mickelson has already had a good look at next week's Major venue at Sandwich in south-east England, as have English duo Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, the world number one and two, who will bid for their maiden Major titles next week.
Both are also happy to be playing links before the challenge of Royal St George's.
"It could make quite a big difference playing here this week," Westwood said. "It's 1995 since I played links golf right before the Open championship, so we'll see what effect it has.
"It's nice to go out there and shape shots, hold them into the wind, and (use) knock-down shots. You can get used to the ball releasing when it lands, rather than the usual pitch-it-and-it-stops-dead type of golf we normally play. You can get used to chipping and running rather than having to flop it high, putting from 20 yards off the green, having 30-yard putts. This will all help for next week."
Donald is playing his first Scottish Open for several years because it is at a links venue.
"I always felt playing links golf leading into the British Open is very important," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting that spirit of links golf this week."
Mickelson was so impressed with the value of this week's venue that he predicted that the winner of next week's Major would come from the Scottish Open. Then he was told that US Open champion Rory McIlroy was not playing this week.
"I must have thought he was in the field here," Mickelson mused.