Phil Mickelson believes he is warming up nicely as he prepares to make his defence of the Open championship at Hoylake this week.
The American ended his time at Royal Aberdeen with his best round of the tournament as he finished with a six-under-par 65 to end the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open eight-under 276.
The benign conditions suited the 44-year-old perfectly and he is in confident mood for the week ahead.
He said: “I feel a lot sharper than I did a week ago. This is a great way to get ready for the Open championship, now that we’re playing some great links courses like Royal Aberdeen, like Castle Stuart in the past.
“It gave me an opportunity to work on my game, get sharper as the week went on and also to identify what I needed to improve in the days leading up to the Open.
“I feel a lot better than I did a week ago. I feel like I have direction in my ball striking, short game and putting. But I don’t feel as good as last year when I won. I would have loved to have had a higher finish here. But it was still a really good week for me.”
Having won his first Open at Muirfield last year Mickelson is a contented man. The pressure of chasing the elusive Claret Jug has gone and the weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders.
He said: “There is a fraction of the pressure that I felt before at Open championships. I don’t feel like I have to fight it and have to force it.
“It’s the same as Augusta. Everybody wants to win the Masters and don the green jacket, go back every year. But once you’ve done it once, it just takes a lot of pressure off coming down the back nine. I’m going there tomorrow and returning the Claret Jug to the R&A. It’s a great feeling.”
“That win last year is something I’ll always cherish.”
Having used Castle Stuart previously and Royal Aberdeen this year as preparation for the Open Mickelson plans on continuing his tactic of playing in the Scottish Open next year when the event moves to Gullane.
He said: “I’m excited to go back to Gullane next year, also to spend some time at Muirfield and reminisce about my win there last year, and to play another great links course.”