Phil Mickelson opened the defence of his Open Championship with a two-over-par 74, then declared: “This is the best I’ve hit it in over a year.”
The five-time major winner had three bogeys in his final six holes to end the first day eight shots behind leader Rory McIlroy. Even so, he was still able to glean some positives from the round.
“I had as much control over the golf ball as I’ve had in a long time, whether it was working cuts into the wind, draws into the wind, shots off the tee," said the American.
“Certainly the score sucks but my game is as good as it has been in a long time. I’ve been saying it’s a fraction off for a while and I feel now I’ve found that last fraction and it’s starting to click.”
"This is as encouraged as I’ve been since last year’s Open Championship." - Phil Mickelson
Mickelson lifted the Claret Jug last year on his 20th Open Championship appearance and admitted that it was a different experience turning up this year as the defending champion.
“Coming in as a past champion, the questions were totally different than they’ve been before,” he said. “Are you going to be able to come out on top in links golf and overcome the challenge and things like that.
“And to be able to have have already won this tournament, that question has already been answered. It’s can I do it again? Can I get in position again? I know this wasn’t a great score, a great start, but this is as encouraged as I’ve been since last year’s Open Championship. I hit a lot of tremendous shots today and, even though the score is not reflective of it, I can feel it’s about to turn. Maybe tomorrow, it could be a week, it could be a month, but it’s going to happen soon.”
Follow Phil Mickelson & Co. with bunkered
Keep up-to-date with all the latest goings on with Phil Mickelson and he rest of the field from the 2014 Open Championship direct from the bunkered team. Follow us on Twitter (@BunkeredOnline) and Facebook (facebook.com/BunkeredMagazine).