July 10, 2005

Driving the key at St Andrews – Mickelson

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOCH LOMOND, Scotland (Reuters) - World number four Phil
Mickelson was in upbeat mood for the British Open after closing
with a two-under-par 69 at the Scottish Open Sunday.

The 35-year-old American, winner of last year's U.S.
Masters, was delighted with his driving at Loch Lomond and
believes this will be a telling factor at St Andrews from

"It was a fun and enjoyable week, although I didn't play as
well as I wanted to," the left-hander told reporters after
finishing at five-under 279.

"But today was a much better day for me with regard to
ball-striking and I do feel more comfortable for next week.

"I drove the ball well here and driving is going to be key
at St Andrews with a lot of bunkers you want to carry, or try
to carry.

"I don't anticipate a lot of low drives at St Andrews. If
the weather is similar to what we've had here this week there
will be a lot of similar shots played at the British Open."

The Old Course at St Andrews, renowned for its wide
fairways and multiple humps and bumps, has been lengthened by
164 yards since Tiger Woods won the 2000 championship with a
record 19-under-par total of 269.


The par-72 layout now measures 7,279 yards, with many of
its infamous bunkers brought back into play.

Mickelson, who ended a 12-year wait for his first major
title with a dramatic one-shot victory over Ernie Els at last
year's U.S. Masters, believes he came of age as a British Open
player at Royal Troon 12 months ago.

Known for his high-ball game, the American finished just a
stroke outside a four-hole playoff for last year's title,
eventually won by compatriot Todd Hamilton over Els.

"I've always been a player who plays through the air and it
would say much to be able to overcome the challenge of playing
over the ground," said Mickelson.

"Last year was the first time I did it effectively at a
British Open. Going into Troon was the first time I felt I had
the requisite skills to play those bump-and-run shots

"It would be a big personal triumph if I came out on top
next week."

Mickelson added he would get in some putting practice at St
Andrews later in the day.

"That's where you score and, with all the double greens at
St Andrews, I will be practising long-range putts as well as
those from between five and six feet."