Phil Mickelson defends Scottish Open champion’s no-show

Phil Mickelson says he was initially surprised that Rickie Fowler had decided not to defend his Scottish Open title but understood why when his friend explained his schedule. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
Phil Mickelson says he was initially surprised that Rickie Fowler had decided not to defend his Scottish Open title but understood why when his friend explained his schedule. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
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Phil Mickelson has said he understands Rickie Fowler’s decision to break golf’s unwritten rule by not defending his Scottish Open title at Castle Stuart this week.

”I was surprised,” admitted Mickelson, the 2013 winner at the Inverness venue, of Fowler, one of his closest friends on the PGA Tour, having opted to miss out on the chance to try to retain the title he won after producing a wonder shot to the 72nd hole at Gullane 12 months ago.

“So I asked him, and then it made sense. He was required to play Quicken Loans and the Canadian Open. It would be five weeks in a row with two or three majors in there, plus going to the Olympics, plus the FedExCup. He needed a week off somewhere. It’s unfortunate that the defending champion wasn’t able to play, but he had other obligations. So, when he explained it to me, I understood.”

There was no danger of Mickelson missing out on this week’s return to Castle Stuart, having fallen head over heels in love with the place before he claimed the title three years ago before adding the Open Championship at Muirfield seven days later. As he reflected on that dream double, the five-time major winner revealed that love had also been in the air the morning before he beat South African Branden Grace in a play-off to claim his victory here. “That was a very special two-week stretch for me,” confessed Mickelson, pictured, who has been struggling to find any real consistency this season but believes his game is close to clicking with new coach Andrew Getson.

“But there were two things that really stood out about that two-week stretch that I still cherish to this day. The first is how my kids looked at me. They were old enough to appreciate what had actually happened those two weeks, and they had a weird look at me, like I was cool. That was really one of the first times that I remember that.

“Also, on the Sunday of the final round here, my daughter, who was ten at the time, went into town and bought two rings for my wife (Amy). Unknowing to us, she had gone online and become an ordained minister and she ended up having a wedding vow renewal for us.”