x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Scottish Open win has Phil Mickelson right on course for Muirfield

Winning for the first time on the European Tour in 19 years, Phil Mickelson claimed the Scottish Open in sudden death over South Africa's Branden Grace.

Phil Mickelson started slow but heated up quick to win the Scottish Open, his first victory in Europe in 19 years. Up next: The British Open at Muirfield.
Phil Mickelson started slow but heated up quick to win the Scottish Open, his first victory in Europe in 19 years. Up next: The British Open at Muirfield.

These might be words that have never before been written: Phil Mickelson has emerged as a huge favourite heading into this week's British Open.

It has nothing to do with sentimentality, either.

Winning for the first time in Europe in 19 years, the ever-unpredictable American on Sunday claimed the Scottish Open in sudden death over South Africa's Branden Grace at testy Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland.

After starting the day with a derailing double-bogey on the first hole, Mickelson made birdies on seven of his next 12 holes to eventually surge past Grace and 54-hole leader Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

Mickelson finished 17 under after closing with a 69 on a breezy, blustery day on the modern seaside links course, though a sloppy, three-putt bogey from 20 feet on the 72nd hole nearly marred the week.

Mickelson, who last won in Europe in 1993, heads to Muirfield and this week's British Open, a tournament in which he has only twice contended, as a compelling top contender for the first time in years.

Two years ago, after a blistering front nine, Mickelson surged up the board in the final round at the British Open before faltering in the wind and rain to finish behind longshot Darren Clarke.

Otherwise, it has been years since he was remotely involved in the weekend plot at the game's oldest major.

Last month, Mickelson finished second at the US Open, his sixth runner-up finish at that event.

Mickelson, 42, has never won the US or British opens, though he has four major titles in all.

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