It wasn't exactly easy, but Phil Mickelson is officially headed to next week's Open Championship with some momentum.
After victory appeared within his grasp before a three-putt bogey on the 72nd hole, Mickelson survived a sudden-death playoff with Branden Grace to claim the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, winning with a birdie on the first extra hole.
It marks Mickelson's first career win in the United Kingdom and just his second ever in Europe, having claimed a Challenge Tour event in Paris in 1993. An annual participant at the Scottish Open, the southpaw's best prior finish in the event came in 2007, when he lost another playoff to Gregory Havret at Loch Lomond.
Mickelson fired a 3-under 69 Sunday, finishing alongside Grace at 17-under 271. The result appeared to be no longer in doubt on the 72nd hole, as the four-time major champion, equipped with a one-shot lead, hit his approach shot to the final green within 20 feet of the hole. His first putt raced six feet past, though, and a playoff resulted when the come-backer for par would not drop.
Playing the par-5 18th in the playoff, Mickelson came up just short of the green in two and spun a wedge from below the green to within a foot. Grace was on the green in three shots, but was unable to hole his 25-foot birdie attempt to force the playoff to a second extra hole.
Mickelson entered the final round in a tie for second, two shots behind leader Henrik Stenson, but got off to a rocky start with an opening double bogey and another bogey on the third hole, falling as many as four shots off the pace. He was able to bounce back, though, with three straight birdies on holes 4-6 and took the lead for good with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 11-14.
Around the lead for much of the afternoon, Stenson ultimately fell into a tie for third after three bogeys across the final six holes. He finished two shots behind Mickelson and Grace, tied at 15 under alongside JB Hansen, who surprisingly held a share of the lead down the stretch despite a quadruple-bogey 9 on the second hole Sunday. Hansen recovered with birdies on seven of his next eight holes, but like Stenson, the Dane faltered coming home, bogeying three of his final four holes.
With trophy in hand, Mickelson will now join several from this week's field in heading to nearby Muirfield Golf Club, which will host the season's third major beginning Thursday.