Mickelson secures playoff win at British Open tuneup|
Inverness, Scotland (Sports Network) - As only he can, Phil Mickelson produced
a wild finish Sunday at the Scottish Open, eventually defeating Branden Grace
with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Mickelson could have locked up the victory in regulation, but he missed a 5-
foot par putt at the last and dropped into a tie with Grace at 17-under-par
Back at the scene of that potentially costly bogey, Mickelson dropped his
third shot from the sand within inches of the cup and tapped in for a birdie
When Grace missed his 25-foot downhill birdie attempt, Mickelson had his first
official European Tour victory at this final tuneup before the British Open
in dramatic and opportune fashion.
"This is really cool," he said. "I have been coming here for some time and had
some opportunities and I almost let it slip away today. To come out on top was
Mickelson and Grace carded matching 3-under 69s at Castle Stuart Golf Links to
overcome a 2-stroke overnight deficit. The left-hander grabbed sole possession
of the lead for the first time with a birdie at the 14th and he maintained
that advantage until the last, which Grace parred a group ahead.
Mickelson was on the fringe at the par-5 18th in three, but his unlikely 3-
putt kept hope alive for the South African, who recorded four victories on the
European Tour a season ago.
"I was so mad at myself for mentally losing my focus that I came out on that
18th pretty focused to make a four," continued Mickelson.
Overnight leader Henrik Stenson remained in contention for much of the day
before stumbling to bogeys on three of his final six holes. The 37-year-old
Swede carded a 1-over 73 and ended in a tie for third with JB Hansen (71) at
Martin Laird (68), John Parry (72) and Gareth Maybin (71) tied for fifth at
14-under, while Nicolas Colsaerts (69) and Raphael Jacquelin (72) shared
eighth at minus-13.
Mickelson was a runner-up here in 2007 and it appeared he was headed for
another finish outside the winner's circle after a double bogey at the first
and another bogey at the third after a gain at the second.
The slow start had Mickelson four off Stenson's pace, as the two-time European
Ryder Cup performer opened with a pair of pars around a birdie at the second.
Mickelson righted himself with three straight birdies from the fourth, and
Grace remained in the mix with eight straight pars to start, but it was the
22-year-old Hansen who charged to the top spot near the midway point.
A quadruple-bogey 9 at the second appeared to dash Hansen's hopes of a maiden
European Tour title, but the young Dane bounced back with five straight
birdies and added another gain at the ninth for an outward 34.
Around the turn, Hansen grabbed the outright lead with his fourth birdie in
four rounds at the par-4 10th.
Stenson briefly moved back on top with consecutive birdies from the 10th, but
his bogey at the 13th allowed Hansen to reclaim the lead with a birdie at the
Both Hansen and Stenson faded down the stretch, as the former bogeyed three of
his last four holes and the latter dropped consecutive shots from the 16th.
Their slide opened the door for Mickelson, who birdied Nos. 11 and 12 to pull
even, then grabbed the outright lead, his first of the tournament, with a
birdie at the 14th.
He kept that 1-stroke advantage with three straight pars before delaying his
eventual victory with his short par miss at the 72nd hole.
"It's important to me, and it's probably the biggest challenge of my career
hitting the shots that are required here. And so to win here and to play well
here, finally win on a links golf course, it really means a lot to me, and it
also builds my confidence heading into future Scottish and British Opens," he
NOTES: Mickelson was making his 11th Scottish Open appearance. He lost in a
playoff to Gregory Havret at this tournament in 2007 ... Mickelson became the
first American to win the Scottish Open since Tom Lehman in 1997 ... This was
Mickelson's 48th professional victory worldwide ... The last Scotsman to win
this tournament was Colin Montgomerie in 1999.
07/14 16:40:32 ET