Mickelson Playing Himself Into Open Shape

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 9, 2003, 4:00 pm
LUSS, Scotland -- Phil Mickelson is preparing for next week's British Open the best way he knows how -- playing a entirely different course requiring an entirely different approach.
The world No. 8, down from his long-held spot as No. 2, intends to hone his competitive sharpness in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond starting Thursday in time for the British Open title next week at Royal St George's.
The courses could hardly be more different. Royal St George's is a classic British links course with hard, narrow fairways and undulating greens. Loch Lomond is a classic inland course -- ``the best in Britain'', according to Colin Montgomerie, with wide fairways and inviting greens.
``I don't think a links preparation is better. I am just trying to get ready for the Open and getting competitive the week before the Open is the best way to do that,'' Mickelson said Wednesday.
He decided to do so again after last playing this event three years ago.
``I really enjoyed it. The place is beautiful. I played well here in 2000 and had my best finish in the Open the following week at St. Andrews so I decided to follow that path and come back and do it again,'' he said.
``I find that playing the week before a major prepares me better for it.''
Mickelson finished in a tie for 11th in 2000 after tying for 7th place at Loch Lomond.
Mickelson, joint 66th at last year's British Open at Muirfield after second and third rounds of 76, is counting on new technology to help him make the adjustment between courses -- a ball that spins lower.
``I've found that to hit the shots needed, to hit the ball low, to control it in the wind, the new lower spinning golf balls require less adjustment and make playing in the wind much easier,'' Mickelson said.
``I am hoping that not having to adjust my swing to control the ball flight will be an added benefit.''
Mickelson is joined in the field by several other Americans including John Daly, the former Open champion.
Daly has played 13 times on the U.S. Tour, withdrawing from one after the first round and missing seven cuts, with a best finish of joint 7th place in the Houston Open. He is currently 141st on the U.S. money list.
``It hasn't been great but I haven't been able to play as much this year as I would have liked,'' Daly said.
Daly said the death of his mother late last year had meant he was tied up with matters to do with her estate for several weeks. He said he normally would have played 18 events by July.
Ernie Els said he wasn't viewing this week as British Open preparation.
``It's a tournament on its own, an independent tournament. You take this week for what it is and try to do as well as you can,'' said Els, who won in 2000.
``Any kind of competitive golf before next week will definitely help you.''
He tied 50th last year and was worried heading into the Muirfield Open, but went on to win there after a four-man, four-hole playoff.
Montgomerie, the 1999 winner here, has had a run of poor results but is optimistic now.
``It is coming back. I feel comfortable over the ball and comfortable with my putting. I honestly feel I can win now,'' he said.
Related Links:
TheGolfChannel.com Bio: Phil Mickelson
  • Full Coverage - Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond
  • More European Tour Preview Information

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.