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Preview: Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open


Mickelson looking to finally conquer links golf

INVERNESS, Scotland (AP) Just when he thought he'd finally understood the unique nature of links golf, Phil Mickelson arrived at last year's British Open and missed the cut for the first time at a major in five years.

``I don't know what to say,'' Mickelson repeated as he prepared to leave Lytham two days earlier than expected.

Fresh off another disappointment - a sixth second-place finish at the U.S. Open last month - the American is back for another go on a links course as he plays the Scottish Open starting Thursday, a week before the British Open at Muirfield.

``It's still a challenge for me, still not something I grew up doing, still something I'm trying to learn as I continue through my career,'' Mickelson said Wednesday. ``So I'm always cautiously optimistic.''

Any self-belief must be in short supply whenever he flies to Europe - he hasn't won here in 20 years, since a victory in a second-tier Challenge Tour event in Paris in which he narrowly beat Steve Elkington.

But links golf is something that continues to appeal to Mickelson. And while Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the rest of the world's top seven have headed to courses across Britain to prepare for the British Open in non-competitive conditions, the eighth-ranked Mickelson will be at Castle Stuart this week practicing his bump-and-runs and low drives into the wind with a title and prize money at stake.

Mickelson is a regular at the Scottish Open and came closest to winning it in 2007 when he lost a playoff to Gregory Havret.

``I think everybody has to find out what works for them to get ready for the big events,'' said Mickelson, one of only four Americans in the Scottish Open field. ``When we moved the tournament from Loch Lomond to a links-style course here at Castle Stuart, I thought it ... enhanced the opportunity for players to play the week before and to get their games sharp for the British Open.''

Mickelson has reasons to be optimistic. He says his driving and putting - what he claims have been the ``weaknesses'' in his game for the past five years - are now his strong points.

His decision to put five putting greens in his garden back home, all with different surfaces, appears to be paying off.

``Because I've been putting so well, I'm really looking forward to the challenge,'' he said. ``I mean, I think that I'm optimistic it could be a little different.''

Mickelson has had a difficult past month. Still coming to terms with the ``heartbreak'' of losing out to Justin Rose at the U.S. Open, he missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic last week in his first outing since Merion.

Maybe a trip to Scotland, with his wife and kids in tow, will do him some good.

``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,'' Mickelson said.

``They all kind of hurt for a while but then you kind of move on,'' he added. ``I think it's one of those things where maybe at the end of my career and I stop playing, I'll look back on it a little bit more.''

Mickelson plans to visit the local battlefields from the middle of the 18th century during his time in northern Scotland.

``I think it would be, for me, one of my greatest accomplishments to be able to conquer links golf and to win an Open Championship over here,'' said Mickelson, a winner of four majors but never the British Open.

``It's time to play now. It's time to shoot the scores and hit the shots that I've spent 20 years now trying to work on.''

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

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Scottish Open field
Felipe AguilarThomas AikenBjorn Akesson
Fredrik Andersson HedKiradech AphibarnratScott Arnold
Matthew BaldwinSeve BensonThomas Bjorn
Richard BlandGregory BourdyKristoffer Broberg
Daniel BrooksJames ByrneRafael Cabrera-Bello
Jorge CampilloAlejandro CanizaresMagnus A. Carlsson
Paul CaseyChristian CevaerS.S.P. Chowrasia
Darren ClarkeRobert ColesNicolas Colsaerts
Eduardo De La RivaMatteo DelpodioRobert-Jan Derksen
Chris DoakAndrew DodtDavid Drysdale
Victor DubuissonSimon DysonJohan Edfors
Ernie ElsNiclas FasthDarren Fichardt
Richard FinchOliver FisherRoss Fisher
Tommy FleetwoodOscar FlorenAlastair Forsyth
Mark FosterMarcus FraserLorenzo Gagli
Stephen GallacherIgnacio GarridoJean-Baptiste Gonnet
Ricardo GonzalezEstanislao GoyaBranden Grace
Richard GreenEmiliano GrilloJB Hansen
Soren HansenPadraig HarringtonAndreas Hartoe
Gregory HavretScott HendersonScott Henry
David HigginsMichael HoeyKeith Horne
David HorseyDavid HowellGreig Hutcheon
Mikko IlonenRaphael JacquelinThongchai Jaidee
Scott JamiesonLasse JensenMiguel Angel Jimenez
Alexandre KalekaKyung-nam KangSimon Khan
Maximilian KiefferSoren KjeldsenBrooks Koepka
Espen KofstadJbe' KrugerMaarten Lafeber
Joakim LagergrenMartin LairdMoritz Lampert
Jose Manuel LaraPablo LarrazabalPaul Lawrie
Peter LawrieCraig LeeThomas Levet
Alexander LevyTom LewisWen-Chong Liang
Sam LittleChris LloydGary Lockerbie
Shane LowryMikael LundbergSandy Lyle
David LynnCallum MacaulayMorten Madsen
Matteo ManasseroGareth MaybinRichard McEvoy
Paul McGinleyDamien McGranePhil Mickelson
Francesco MolinariJames MorrisonGarth Mulroy
George MurrayMatthew NixonAlexander Noren
Jose Maria OlazabalThorbjorn OlesenGary Orr
Hennie OttoChris PaisleyJohn Parry
Eddie PepperellThomas PietersPhillip Price
Alvaro QuirosRichie RamsayRobert Rock
Ricardo SantosMarcel SiemJeev Milkha Singh
Joel SjoholmLee SlatteryAnthony Snobeck
Matthew SouthgateHenrik StensonRichard Sterne
Graeme StormAndy SullivanAlessandro Tadini
Michael ThompsonSimon ThorntonMark Tullo
Peter UihleinJaco Van ZylSimon Wakefield
Richard WallisJustin WaltersPaul Waring
Marc WarrenRomain WattelSteve Webster
Peter WhitefordMartin WiegeleBernd Wiesberger
Danny WillettChris WoodFabrizio Zanotti
Strength of field
World RankPlayersNo. in Field
TOP 10Henrik Stenson (3),Phil Mickelson (4)2
TOP 25Ernie Els (24)1
TOP 50Matteo Manassero (37),Victor Dubuisson (39),Francesco Molinari (40),David Lynn (41),Thomas Bjorn (46),Thongchai Jaidee (49),Richard Sterne (50)7
TOP 100Branden Grace (52),Miguel Angel Jimenez (53),Bernd Wiesberger (54),Thorbjorn Olesen (57),Nicolas Colsaerts (61),Stephen Gallacher (61),Peter Uihlein (64),Michael Thompson (65),Kiradech Aphibarnrat (70),Chris Wood (71),Shane Lowry (75),Martin Laird (76),Marcel Siem (81),Ross Fisher (82),Mikko Ilonen (83),Paul Lawrie (87),Paul Casey (88),Alexander Noren (90),Brooks Koepka (92),David Howell (98),Pablo Larrazabal (99)21