PHIL Mickelson will return to the tournament which he firmly believes provided the launch pad for his 2013 Open Championship glory, when the five-time major winner defends his Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open title at Royal Aberdeen from 10-13 July.
The World No 4 sealed a Scottish double on his last visit to the birthplace of the game, beginning with a dramatic victory at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and culminating in his stunning Open success seven days later.
Mickelson, who beat South African Branden Grace in a play-off in Inverness, credits that victory as one of the crucial factors in his claiming a fifth major victory and his first Open title, the latter claimed when he finished three shots clear of Sweden’s Henrik Stenson after a stunning final-day display at Muirfield.
His victory was the third in succession by a golfer who had played in the Scottish Open the week previously, following in the footsteps of Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke (2011) and South African Ernie Els (2012).
The Scottish Open once again takes place in the week before The Open, providing the perfect links platform for anyone competing for the famous Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.
Confirming his decision to defend the title at its new venue – Royal Aberdeen’s links in, the 43-year-old said he could not wait to return to a tournament he has always held close to his heart since making his debut in the event when it was staged at Gleneagles in 1992.
“Winning the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open was a huge factor in my success the next week at The Open Championship,” said Mickelson.
“I was able to acclimate myself to the time change, the weather, the wind, the links conditions and all in the heat of serious competition, which itself was a big added plus.
“That helped sharpen my focus on hitting the proper shots and coming to grips with the results, good or bad,” added Mickelson.
“On top of that, winning gave me tremendous confidence going into The Open and confirmed my beliefs about what I was trying to do.”