INVERNESS, Scotland – Phil Mickelson is banking on a change in strategy on and around the greens to break his tournament drought in Britain over the next two weeks.
The American left-hander has finished in the top 10 at the British Open just once – at Troon in 2004 – and is using this week’s Scottish Open, on a links course at Castle Stuart, as preparation for the year’s third major.
Mickelson acknowledged on Wednesday that his failure to master British greens is the root of his problem, and will attempt to rectify that over the coming fortnight.
“The biggest reason is the greens,” the sixth-ranked Mickelson said, when asked what has been holding him back on these shores. “I have not putted well. The grass is a little bit more coarse, a little thicker, has a little bit more effect, and you need to putt with less break and more aggression is what I’ve come to find.
“I’m going to try to do that this week and next week and see if that doesn’t combat some of the issues that I’ve had putting here.”
With the British Open starting at Royal St. George’s in southeast England next week, Mickelson will also use the warmup event in Scotland to try out new strategies in his famed short game.
“Having a week now to be able to see the way the ball reacts, get my mind adjusted to the short-game shots, as well as the full shots, how the ball reacts, I think is going to play a big effect – a big positive effect – in my performances,” he said.
Mickelson has won four major titles – three at the Masters and one at the PGA Championship – and is widely considered one of the greats of modern golf despite never having held the No. 1 spot. That is chiefly down to playing in the Tiger Woods era.
His aim is still to seal the Grand Slam of the four majors – “I look at those players in a different light, that would be a great goal for me” – but he also said improving his record in Britain and in links conditions will help him to become a more “complete player.”
“It’s something that I am really starting to enjoy the challenge of succeeding over here,” the 41-year-old Mickelson said. “The Scottish Open and the British Open mean a lot to me because it’s a real challenge for me to overcome the obstacles. I always play high through the air; to be able to play along the ground, keep the ball under control, drive it well through crosswinds, those challenges I’ve embraced these last few years.
“There’s only one year that I played well, in 2004, where I was a shot out of the playoff. I’ve not performed to the level that I have week in, week out in the States. I want to change that and I’m planning on doing that.”