Lefty confident about Open chances

Phil MickelsonPhil Mickelson (22/1 Open Championship outright) says the confidence he gained from winning last year’s Open Championship will give him an edge when he begins his defence on Thursday.

Despite a tie for second in 2011 and a third place finish after crashing out early in a play-off in 2004, the American has traditionally struggled to adapt to links golf but was brilliant 12 months ago as he carried on his form from winning the previous week’s Scottish Open to claim the Claret Jug at Muirfield.

Although he failed to repeat the trick at Royal Aberdeen, he appeared to get sharper as the event went on, closing with a superb six-under 65 on Sunday to finish eight shots behind eventual winner Justin Rose (14/1 Open Championship outright).

Mickelson will now head south to Hoylake to prepare for the third major of the year where he will be looking to become only the third man in 30 years to defend the title.

‘Lefty’ has had a largely indifferent 2014, failing to record a top 10 finish on the PGA Tour but the 44-year-old appears in confident mood and says he is feeling good about his chances at Royal Liverpool.

“I’m able to go there as a past champion, as opposed to a foreign player who has never been able to conquer links golf,” Mickelson said. “I just go there with a whole different confidence level.

“There’s a fraction of the pressure that I felt before Open Championships from years prior, because once you’ve already won it, once you have held the claret jug and have won, it just feels different. You don’t feel like you have to fight it. You don’t have to force it.”

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