Phil Mickelson looking forward to Scottish Open test at Castle Stuart
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 11/02/16 3:21pm
Phil Mickelson is relishing his return to Castle Stuart in July after confirming his entry for this year's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Mickelson will make his 14th appearance in the tournament, while world No 5 Henrik Stenson and former champion Graeme McDowell will also be teeing up at the picturesque Inverness links.
Stenson led after 54 holes at Castle Stuart in 2013, but it was Mickelson who emerged victorious on a dramatic final day as he produced a stunning pitch to seal the title in a play-off against Branden Grace.
The following week, Mickelson completed an historic double when he collected his maiden Open Championship title, his fifth major overall, with one of the greatest final rounds in Open history at Muirfield.
"I'm always excited about returning to Scotland, and particularly to Castle Stuart. I believe winning there in 2013 was key to my success the next week at The Open Championship," said Mickelson.
"Beyond that, the nation is the home of golf and I really appreciate the fans' golfing knowledge and their respect for the game. It's always one of the highlights of my year when I compete in Scotland."
Stenson, who was runner-up to the left-hander at Muirfield, has missed the last two Scottish Opens and is determined to atone for his near-miss at the same venue three years ago.
The Swede said: "It didn't quite work out for me on the final day in 2013, I had a great chance but Phil recovered well from a bad start and deserved to win. And even though I didn't quite manage to get the job done, it was still the start of a great run for me and maybe I used those near-misses at Castle Stuart and Muirfield as motivation.
"For me, playing the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is the perfect preparation for The Open. We'll be expecting a tougher test at Troon the week after, but although Castle Stuart doesn't beat you up as much as an Open Championship venue does, it's still great to get into the mind-set of playing links golf.
"So I'm looking forward to going back, and hopefully I can get the better of Phil this time. He proved that winning the Scottish Open was the recipe for success in The Open in 2013, so I'll be going all out for the win in July."
McDowell, who lifted the title at Loch Lomond in 2008, added: "I'm looking forward to making my return to Castle Stuart this year. It's going to be a great little period for me, with the French Open, the Scottish Open and hopefully The Open, so I'm very excited about that little stretch over the summer.
"I always love playing in Scotland, and after missing the Scottish Open for a few years it was great to go back there last year. I played very well for the first two days at Gullane, and hopefully I can keep that sort of form going over all four rounds at Castle Stuart."
Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: "With a condensed summer golfing calendar, having these star names playing is testament to the strength of this tournament and its enviable position of being contested the week before The Open Championship."