Phil Mickleson British Open: Recent Play Gives Lefty Hope at Open Championship

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2012

INVERNESS, SCOTLAND - JULY 14:  Phil Mickelson of the USA looks on during the third round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links on July 14, 2012 in Inverness, Scotland.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson has been awful in the United States lately, but his fortunes may have turned around recently at an event in Scotland.

With a week to go before the British Open at Royal Lytham, his wife convinced him to try something different.

While vacationing, Mickelson’s wife Amy persuaded him to play in the Scottish Open on the European Tour (via Steve DiMeglio of USA Today). After shooting a disappointing two-over 74 in the opening round, he followed that up with a 64 and a 65 to find himself within striking distance of a win heading into Sunday.

While he may have finished in a tie for 16th, it was the sort of confidence building weekend that Mickelson needed heading into the third Major of the season (via USA Today):

"I wasn't really playing as well as I wanted to in some tournaments, and it was a really great week. I felt like I got a lot of good work done. I had a couple of good rounds there to give me direction on where I want my game to go.”

Golf has always been a mental game, and there is no doubt Mickelson has succumbed to the pressures that come with a prolonged slump.

At a time when the PGA Tour has never seen more parity, getting to play one last tournament before the Open Championship was just what the doctor ordered for Lefty’s mental state (via USA Today):

“I just wasn't in a good, competitive frame of mind. And adding (the Scottish Open) has really helped get me in a much better frame now. Certainly to take on a challenge like the British Open right here at Royal Lytham is a whole different test. But at least I feel a little bit better about where I'm headed.”

Mickelson started off the 2012 season red-hot. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, lost a playoff at the Northern Trust Open, and then finished tied for third at the Masters.

Since then he has missed a cut, been forced to withdraw from the Memorial and finished a disappointing 65th at the U.S. Open. He hasn’t broken par in seven rounds over the last three tournaments on American soil.

Mickelson has never fared particularly well at the only Major in Europe. He didn’t crack the top-10 until his 12th start, although he did register his best finish to date in 2011 when he finished tied for second. Finally he had a grasp of how to tackle the bad weather, strong winds and brutal roughs that come with the British Open. 

With the good vibes of last week and the promising finish of last year filling Mickelson’s thoughts, there is no doubt he is entering the third major tournament of 2012 in the right mind frame.

Mickelson has a lot to prove this week and there is no doubt the pressure is going to be high, but a relaxing and productive weekend just before this week’s festivities may have been just what Mickelson needed.