Mickelson draws up battle plan

7/10/2013 3:51:00 PM
Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond chats to Phil Mickelson  (Getty Images)
Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond chats to Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson plans to visit the site of the Battle of Culloden as he attempts to conquer links golf at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

Mickelson, who posted a record sixth runner-up finish in the US Open last month, is finalising his preparations for The Open Championship at Muirfield next week by playing Castle Stuart Golf Links.

The venue is just five miles away from Culloden, which in April 1746 saw the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rebellion where British troops defeated those of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

"There are some plans to check out the battlefields of the war back in 1746 between the Hanoverians and the Jacobites," said Mickelson, whose wife and children are with him in Scotland. "I'm not sure, I've got to read up on it."

Mickelson is certainly not just interested in seeing the sights however, the five-time Major winner still aiming to perfect the shots he will need at Muirfield next week after 20 years of trying.

And the 43 year old is determined to turn the heartache of Merion - where he took a one shot lead into the final round but finished two strokes behind winner Justin Rose - into a positive second half of the season.

"I don't want to diminish it, because it takes a while, and it hurt," Mickelson said of his US Open experience. "But part of professional golf is dealing with losing and dealing with disappointment and being resilient and using it as a stepping stone.

"One of the things that came about for me the week before at Memphis and at the US Open is that I started to play really well. My putting feels better than it has in years.

"And so rather than look at it as a failure, I want to use it as an opportunity to take advantage of where my game has got in these last few months and try to have a great second half of the year, starting here in the Scottish Open and the Open as well as the US PGA Championship and our FedEx Cup back in the US."

Asked if the US Open had increased his desire to lift The Claret Jug next week, Mickelson added: "I don't know if that's possible. I really want to play well and try to get an Open Championship.

"I think it would be one of my greatest accomplishments to be able to conquer links golf and to win an Open Championship over here. Although I've come close maybe twice (he was third in 2004 and second in 2011), I have not really played my best golf.

"I think I've identified a couple of reasons why but it's time to play now. It's time to shoot the scores and hit the shots that I've spent 20 years working on."

Mickelson famously replaced his driver with a fifth wedge at Merion and, although he feels that is unlikely at Muirfield, he does think the challenge of Major Championships has changed.

"One of the things the USGA and R&A have done is taken the driver out of your hand and made it a long-iron challenge," he added. "If you are effective with your long irons, getting them in play off the tee and getting them on the green or not in too much trouble, you're going to play well in Majors.

"As players, we have to adapt to that and make that a strength of our game. The last eight or nine years I've started to play better golf on links courses, better golf in bad weather, better golf along the ground.

"But it is still a challenge for me. It's not something I grew up doing and it's still something that I'm trying to learn as I continue through my career. I'm always cautiously optimistic."