GULLANE, Scotland – Phil Mickelson swapped his golf clubs for a bottle of wine and took three of the closest people in his life with him to Muirfield to relive one of the most special victories of his career.
The American has been playing the Scottish Open in Gullane this week but many of his thoughts have been fixed on a course about a kilometer up the road. It was at Muirfield in 2013 that he won the British Open, a feat he thought for so long he might never accomplish. After his third round of the Scottish Open on Saturday, he made the short trip up Gullane's high street to Muirfield with his wife Amy, his caddie Jim Mackay and his manager Steve Loy. The membership closed off the course to the public, and the four of them retraced Mickelson's golfing journey of a lifetime.
No clubs. Just the wine for the trip.
''We spent an hour and a half on a golf course where there wasn't a soul, and reminisced about what took place there,'' Mickelson said Sunday after shooting a closing 2-under 68 at the Scottish Open.
''Two years removed from that win, I still can't believe how much it means to me.''
Much of the time was spent around the 18th green, where he completed that 6-under 66 for what he described as the ''round of my life.'' The 45-year-old Mickelson hasn't won a tournament since, and remains a five-time major winner.
''It even rained a little bit, which is even better,'' Mickelson said, smiling.
So what about his chances of lifting the claret jug for a second time, at St. Andrews next Sunday? On current form, it looks unlikely.
Two years ago, Mickelson won the Scottish Open the week before the British Open, but there will be no repeat of that particular double.
Mickelson only scraped into the weekend after disappointing displays on the Gullane greens on Thursday and Friday. He finished this week on 5-under 275 and was never on the leaderboard. He will need to find some form somewhere before he arrives at the ''Home of Golf.''
''I think it is more fine-tuning rather than finding something,'' Mickelson said. ''I'm pretty pleased with ball-striking, but I have to fine-tune it. I'm pretty pleased with the way the last two days was on the greens, but I have to fine-tune it and be sharp.''
''I would have liked to have played better, but I got better as the week went through.''
Mickelson has played four British Opens at St. Andrews and the best he has placed is tied for 11th. He believes his best chance could come if the weather turns nasty next week.
''When it gets brown and the weather's nice, the pin placements get too iffy,'' Mickelson said. ''So I would prefer the weather to be bad and the pin placements fair, and have the weather and conditions be the defense of the golf course rather than trick it up because the weather is nice.''