Mickelson could claim No 1 ranking in Scotland


European Tour

LUSS, Scotland – Phil Mickelson is choosing competition over course conditions as he prepares for the next major.

In a year when several players are skipping the Scottish Open, Mickelson tops the field at Loch Lomond, which also features U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. A victory by the left-handed American would put him at No. 1 in the world.

The Masters winner is the only player from the top 10 entered for the $4 million event which starts Thursday.

“I always look forward to these two weeks,” Mickelson said. “I really enjoy this tournament and obviously really enjoy next week’s event, too.

“I think the best way to get in playing condition for the Open is to play well, get into contention and compete on Sunday for the title here. Having lost a couple of times in close matches here, I would like to win this tournament. It would mean a lot for me to win here.”

Mickelson insists reaching No. 1 is not his priority this week.

“It would be cool to go to the home of golf as No. 1 but it’s not something I’m thinking about yet,” he said. “I’m just trying to get my game sharp. I always felt like if I play well enough, the results would happen. It would mean a lot to me to break through and finally win.”

A lack of topflight players can be traced to a two-day pro-am in Ireland as well as others deciding the tournament didn’t fit their plans.

Woods and many top European players took part in the two-day JP McManus pro-am in Limerick, Ireland, an event that raises millions for charity.

McDowell of Northern Ireland, who had not played since his win at Pebble Beach, felt rested enough to take on both.

Meanwhile, world No. 3 Lee Westwood is resting while attempting to recover from the calf and ankle injury which severely impeded him at last weekend’s French Open.

Paul Casey of England said the condition of the greens for the Scottish Open would not suit his preparations for St. Andrews.

“The last thing you want to do in the week before the Open is to lose any confidence with your putting stroke,” Casey said.