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Mickelson ends Euro drought

By Agence France-Presse in Castle Stuart, Britain | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-16 07:15

 Mickelson ends Euro drought

Phil Mickelson from the US gestures as he walks down to the 18th hole during the fourth round of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart golf course, in Inverness, Scotland, on Sunday. Mickelson birdied the first playoff hole to beat Branden Grace and win the Scottish Open on Sunday, ending his 20-year wait for a victory in Europe. Kenny Smith / Associated Press

Mickelson ends Euro drought

Playoff victory puts US veteran in good frame of mind for Open

Phil Mickelson heads to the British Open in the best form possible after ending a 20-year European winless drought with a playoff victory in the Scottish Open on Sunday.

Mickelson, and the highest ranked player in the field, captured his 50th pro career success after defeating South African Branden Grace with a birdie at the first extra hole.

Both players had ended regulation play tied at 17-under par with Grace posting a 69 and finding his way into the playoff when Mickelson horribly three-putted the last hole for bogey in a round of 68.

However, Mickelson then brilliantly played one of his trademark wedge shots landing his 45-yard third shot a few feet past the hole before the ball spun back to about six inches from the cup for the easiest of birdies, while Grace missed his birdie putt from 25 feet.

Mickelson had lost the event in a playoff six years ago at Loch Lomond but has finally captured the event in his ninth Scottish Open appearance.

"I've been coming to Scotland now for quite some time and I've enjoyed my stay every year. I've had some opportunities before and I almost let it slide away today," he said.

"So to come out on top feels terrific and this Castle Stuart golf course is just wonderful and I've had so much fun here the last three years, so to win means a lot to me.

"I was so mad at myself for losing my focus and three-putting the last hole in regulation play so I went back to the 18th hole for the playoff pretty focused to make a four."

Mickelson, who collected a first prize cheque for $742,800, now will stand firm as a favorite at the 142nd British Open starting on Thursday at Muirfield to the east of Edinburgh.

The American was third in the 2004 British Open at Royal Troon and joint runner-up two years ago at Royal St. George's.

"This week has been very valuable as I did a lot of things well and also there are a few things I still need to work on," he said.

"But then today was a great day for us to have this type of windy weather as the first three days were very benign and it didn't have the teeth this golf course can have on a day like today.

"So I am anticipating this kind of weather at Muirfield, and if we (do) have it (then) today was very important for me getting ready."

Mickelson's only victory in Europe before the Scottish Open was in 1993 when he captured a secondary Challenge Tour event near Euro Disney in Paris.

"Mickelson is a great player and he's not going to mess it up on the last," said Grace.

"I'm still pleased, played well, put myself in contention and it's a good week heading into next week."

(China Daily 07/16/2013 page23)

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