What We Learned: Does win help or hurt Phil's Open chances?


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on what Phil Mickelson's triumph at the Scottish Open means as he heads into season's third major at Muirfield, and a possible new addition to the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

No one has ever won the Scottish Open and then gone on to win the next week. But as we were reminded on Sunday (and every day we watch Phil Mickelson), anything goes when Lefty tees it up.

If you watched any of his golf this week at Castle Stuart, you'd have never been able to tell his affection for links courses has only recently blossomed. He played beautiful, masterfully struck shots that more often than not found their way onto the greens and near the pins. His 23 birdies in regulation (24 if you count the first extra hole) should give Phil fans everywhere confidence that he might finally get that elusive first Claret Jug.

I know Lefty's always a wildcard as maddening as he is mesmerizing but his strong play at the Scottish Open should insure that he's one of the favorites heading into next week. – Bailey Mosier

Phil Mickelson is going to be a factor at Muirfield. Anyone who's been listening to Lefty over the past few months knows he's been optimistic – even after a few results that should have left him anything but. With a victory at Castle Stuart on Sunday, that optimism has finally been validated. It is one of the game's great recent mysteries that its most creative player hasn't found success until now on its grounds which require the most creativity, but Mickelson seems to have embraced links golf more in the last few years. At the Open, that optimism will be transformed into overflowing confidence. Don't be so naïve to think that a win will easily translate into another seven days later – after all, nobody has ever parlayed a Scottish title into one the next week – but it's also difficult to imagine he won't at least be in the mix. Maybe all those years of links futility will be fatefully erased. As we saw in his final-hole bogey and playoff-hole birdie Sunday, it's just Mickelson's third law of motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. – Jason Sobel

I’ve learned that I need to stop trying to predict what Phil Mickelson will do in any given week. Days after missing the cut in West Virginia, Lefty displayed a mastery of links golf en route to winning the Scottish Open – splitting fairways, controlling wedges and holing putts (except on the 72nd green).

This, of course, is not the first time that Mickelson has kept fans and media alike on the edge of their proverbial seats; while greatness is certainly synonymous with his game, consistency is not. Consider the fact that the last time he made a playoff at the Scottish Open (2007), Mickelson went on to miss the cut the following week at Carnoustie.

All this is to say that trying to predict Mickelson’s outcome this week at Muirfield is largely an exercise in futility. Just this year, he has played extremely well – winning now twice, with near-misses on three other occasions – while also struggling to missed cuts at Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass and Greenbrier. I’m willing to accept any range of outcomes from Lefty next week – while another early exit wouldn’t surprise me, neither would seeing Mickelson hoist the Claret Jug at week’s end. – Will Gray

Gerina Piller is a serious threat to add another new face to the next U.S. Solheim Cup team.

With Piller’s tie for sixth Sunday at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, she will leap four spots in the U.S. Solheim Cup points standings into a tie for ninth with Lizette Salas. The top eight automatically make the team. Piller also is knocking on the door to qualifying for the team off the world rankings list.

The pressure’s ratcheting up now with just two events remaining before the American team is announced. There’s the Marathon Classic outside Toledo, Ohio, this week and then double points at the Ricoh Women’s British Open Aug. 1-4. The Solheim Cup is scheduled Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver.

If the American team were settled today, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson and Lizette Salas would make their first U.S. Solheim Cup team. Piller and Jennifer Johnson are in good position to make their first team with strong finishes. – Randall Mell