Phil Mickelson preps for Open
GULLANE, Scotland -- A day after his first victory in Europe in 20 years, Phil Mickelson was ready to move on to preparations for the Open Championship, saying he didn't want to dwell too much on his win Sunday at the Scottish Open.
Mickelson, 43, arrived after noon and played a practice round at Muirfield with Scott Piercy. And while there was some good-natured ribbing and some clear wagering going on, there was also a good bit of work being done.
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"I was just kind of taking it in today; it was a tiring day," Mickelson said after the round that ended near 7 p.m. local time. "I hit three times as many balls as I would hit in a normal round. I'm trying to see where I want to go and what clubs I'll be comfortable with off the tee, where the ball wants to go and where the bunkers are.
"Tee to green, it's a great challenge. Some holes you have to go through the air and can't go on the ground."
Mickelson's playoff victory over Branden Grace on Sunday was his first in Europe since a 1993 victory in France at a tournament called Tournoi Perrier de Paris. He is credited with eight European Tour victories, which includes four major championships and three World Golf Championships. The French victory was a Challenge Tour win.
Nonetheless, the victory gives him a nice boost coming to the Open, where he has traditionally not fared very well. Mickelson has just two top-10s at the Open, a tie for second two years ago at Royal St. George's and a third in 2004 at Royal Troon. Eleven years ago, Mickelson finished tied for 66th at Muirfield and had not been back until Monday.
"It's very different," he said. "Much firmer and browner than in '02. Then it was lush, green and thick. And not anywhere as fast."
Mickelson's family traveled to Europe with him and has taken a trip to Barcelona for a few days while he prepares for the Open.
Last month, when he tied for second at the U.S. Open, finishing runner-up for a record sixth time, Mickelson left Philadelphia to attend his daughter Amanda's eighth-grade graduation in San Diego before returning just before the start of the tournament.
The preparation ought to be a bit smoother this week.
"I'm trying to figure out how to make easy pars, how to get the ball in the fairway easily, how to get it up, on or around the green easily without a lot of stressing. Without having to hit perfect shots," he said. "Because imperfect shots will be magnified by the wind. We talk about playing (the ball) on the ground. Sometimes what I've noticed here at Muirfield is you can't. Sometimes the bunkers are blocking the fronts of the greens. It's not a smart play. You actually want to try and fly it on the front to avoid some of the hazards.
"It's a wonderful golf course where I'm trying to find a way to make easy pars and let birdie holes kind of present themselves later. I'm not seeing many birdie holes out there."
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