Scottish Open 2013: Phil Mickelson's Win Is Promising Sign for Open Championship
For the first time in 20 years, Phil Mickelson is a victor on European soil.
That's a little difficult to comprehend—the guy who has 48 career professional wins, five majors and is easily one of the best golfers of his generation hasn't won a tournament in Europe since Jurassic Park was dominating Mrs. Doubtfire and Sleepless in Seattle at the box office.
And even then, it was simply a Challenge Tour event in '93, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Phil Mickelson: 1st win in Europe in 20 years (won the Tournoi Perrier de Paris - a Challenge Tour event in 1993)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 14, 2013
But the length of the drought no longer matters. Lefty is finally off of the schneid.
On Sunday, he shot a three-under 69 to finish the Scottish Open in a tie with South Africa's Branden Grace at 17 under.
On the first playoff hole at Castle Stuart, Mickelson stuck a beautiful 45-yard pitch shot a foot away from the cup, where he would tap in for birdie in a replay of the par-five 18th. As Grace's tying putt rolled past the hole, the 43-year-old was finally able to celebrate across the pond with the sudden-death playoff victory. Via CBS Sports' Kyle Porter on Vine:
"I was so mad at myself for mentally losing my focus that I came out on the playoff hole really focused," Mickelson said, per Alistair Tait and Golfweek. Mickelson blew the chance to win in regulation when he three-putted from 18 feet on the No. 18 hole, handing Grace a reprieve.
"It really was valuable. Today was a great day, to have this type of wind. We had three days of benign weather but it had some teeth today. I’m anticipating this type of wind next week and if we do then this will be great preparation.”
The question now becomes simple: What does this mean for Mickelson at next week's Open Championship at Muirfield?
According to ESPN's Justin Ray, not much:
Phil Mickelson opens with 66 at Scottish. Not harbinger though for @The_Open - 3 top-20's at Scottish, didn't follow any w/ top-10 at Open.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 11, 2013
Although Scottish Open success hasn't translated into Open Championship success recently, the magnitude of this victory can't be overstated.
For a guy who has struggled so immensely at the year's third major in the past—zero wins, four top-20 finishes and four cuts in 19 tries—coming in with confidence is vital.
Where will Mickelson finish at the Open Championship?
Coming in with confidence that is created by winning a previously vaunted tournament at a course that is about four miles east of Muirfield?
Well, that's invaluable. I'm not going to sit here and say that Mickelson's win this week makes him the favorite at the British Open later this week.
His career struggles there suggest that would be a fool's statement.
Nevertheless, Phil has never been moving in the right direction before the monumental major. This year is different.
Time will only tell if it will yield different results.
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