Scottish Open: What a difference a day makes for rejuvenated Mickelson
THE cynics in the Media Centre reckoned he wouldn’t have minded slipping away from Castle Stuart quietly and heading down to Royal Lytham early to start his preparations for the Open Championship.
And, after an opening 73 - he started the second day tied for 123rd - Phil Mickelson could easily have found himself south-bound before overnight leader Francesco Molinari even set out again in the Highlands.
To the delight of the organisers, however, ‘Lefty’ is around for the weekend. Even better, he’s in contention after catapulting himself up the leaderboard after a flawless eight-under 64.
It was an effort ignited by an eagle-2 at the tenth (his first), where the three-time Masters champion holed with a lob wedge from 60 yards. “That was a nice way to start,” he admitted afterwards.
Maintaining the momentum, six birdies followed, including four in a row from the 18th.
“I didn’t make any big mistakes and took advantage of birdie holes,” he added, explaining that in recent events eagles or birdies had been wiped out almost straight away by dropped shots.
“I don’t know if you can say I’m back, but to get the chance to play again over the weekend is great. The more I play, the better it gets.”
Mickelson wouldn’t have been here if he hadn’t missed the cut in last week’s Greenbrier Classic. “I’m really glad now I entered the tournament (he was actually handed a late invitation) and that I have a couple of more days to work on my game, which is not to the level I would like but it’s getting there.”
With an eye on Lytham, he’s been working on a low ball flight but hasn’t needed that too often so far this week due to the lack of any wind whatsoever on the banks of the Moray Firth.
“I really would like it to get rough and nasty because I’ve been working on getting the ball down on the ground and that’s not necessary today,” he said.
“I still hit a couple of 2-irons that were head high and got on the ground quick. But it would be easier for me to move up the leaderboard if the weather comes in.”
No matter what happens here over the weekend, Mickelson is relishing his latest bid to claim the Claret Jug, especially after finishing joint runner-up to Darren Clarke at Royal St George’s last year.
He especially enjoyed playing in the bad weather then and admitted the juices were flowing as he launched a last-day charge to earn a share of the lead before stumbling a bit towards the end.
“I don’t know where it happened along the way, whether it was last year or five, ten years ago. But I started to really enjoy the tough weather conditions and I hope it’s that way next week,” admitted Mickelson.
“It’s also exciting when you go on a charge like I did last year. That’s why we play the game, to challenge for major championships and to make the run like I did on Sunday was certainly fun.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West