Mickelson: Troon love and winning experience count in my favour


Phil Mickelson believes his love of Royal Troon and the fact he has lifted the Claret Jug before puts him in prime position to win The Open.

The five-time major winner followed his opening-round 63 with a 69 on Friday, seeing his lead cut from three strokes overnight to one by the time nearest rival Henrik Stenson finished.

Having won the tournament in 2013 and finished in a tie for third when it was last hosted at Troon in 2004, Mickelson feels those factors weigh in his favour.

He explained: "I think two things: One, I don't feel the pressure like probably a lot of players do to try to win the Claret Jug because I've already won it, and that takes a lot of pressure off me.

"The desire to capture that Claret Jug puts a lot of pressure on. The fact I've done it relieves some of that. I would love to add to it, but having already done that was big.

"[Secondly] This was the first course that I really played effective links golf in 2004. That's where it really kind of turned for me. This is where it kind of happened. This is where I stopped trying to overpower the golf course, where I kind of accepted playing it as it's designed, if you will, and not trying to find a new, better way to beat the course other than just straightforward golf.

"That's probably why I love it so much."

Mickelson's 132 is the lowest 36-hole score in Open history at Troon, but Stenson's superb 65 means the 46-year-old has little breathing room at the summit.

On Thursday, Mickelson had come within millimetres of carding the first 62 in major history, when his putt at 18 skirted the cup.