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Mickelson Playing Himself Into Open Shape

LUSS, Scotland -- Phil Mickelson is preparing for next week's British Open the best way he knows how -- playing a entirely different course requiring an entirely different approach.
The world No. 8, down from his long-held spot as No. 2, intends to hone his competitive sharpness in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond starting Thursday in time for the British Open title next week at Royal St George's.
The courses could hardly be more different. Royal St George's is a classic British links course with hard, narrow fairways and undulating greens. Loch Lomond is a classic inland course -- ``the best in Britain'', according to Colin Montgomerie, with wide fairways and inviting greens.
``I don't think a links preparation is better. I am just trying to get ready for the Open and getting competitive the week before the Open is the best way to do that,'' Mickelson said Wednesday.
He decided to do so again after last playing this event three years ago.
``I really enjoyed it. The place is beautiful. I played well here in 2000 and had my best finish in the Open the following week at St. Andrews so I decided to follow that path and come back and do it again,'' he said.
``I find that playing the week before a major prepares me better for it.''
Mickelson finished in a tie for 11th in 2000 after tying for 7th place at Loch Lomond.
Mickelson, joint 66th at last year's British Open at Muirfield after second and third rounds of 76, is counting on new technology to help him make the adjustment between courses -- a ball that spins lower.
``I've found that to hit the shots needed, to hit the ball low, to control it in the wind, the new lower spinning golf balls require less adjustment and make playing in the wind much easier,'' Mickelson said.
``I am hoping that not having to adjust my swing to control the ball flight will be an added benefit.''
Mickelson is joined in the field by several other Americans including John Daly, the former Open champion.
Daly has played 13 times on the U.S. Tour, withdrawing from one after the first round and missing seven cuts, with a best finish of joint 7th place in the Houston Open. He is currently 141st on the U.S. money list.
``It hasn't been great but I haven't been able to play as much this year as I would have liked,'' Daly said.
Daly said the death of his mother late last year had meant he was tied up with matters to do with her estate for several weeks. He said he normally would have played 18 events by July.
Ernie Els said he wasn't viewing this week as British Open preparation.
``It's a tournament on its own, an independent tournament. You take this week for what it is and try to do as well as you can,'' said Els, who won in 2000.
``Any kind of competitive golf before next week will definitely help you.''
He tied 50th last year and was worried heading into the Muirfield Open, but went on to win there after a four-man, four-hole playoff.
Montgomerie, the 1999 winner here, has had a run of poor results but is optimistic now.
``It is coming back. I feel comfortable over the ball and comfortable with my putting. I honestly feel I can win now,'' he said.
Related Links: Bio: Phil Mickelson
  • Full Coverage - Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond
  • More European Tour Preview Information

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