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July 16, 2013

Mickelson wants to make it easy

GULLANE, Scotland — Fresh off a Scottish Open victory, Phil Mickelson showed up at Muirfield for the first time in 11 years and didn’t take long to figure out his strategy for the British Open. He wants to keep it as simple as possible and try to make easy pars.

He didn’t take the easy route on the par-5 17th, however.

Mickelson couldn’t resist the temptation of the dunes right of the green. He placed the ball on the upward slope, even with the flag, and attempted his favorite trick shot — hitting a lob wedge that goes backward. With a full swing, the ball went up and over his head, landed on the green and stopped about 6 feet away.

But it was only Monday, a day of practice.

“It is fun to come in with a win, but now it’s time to focus on Muirfield and try to learn the nuances,” Mickelson said. “What I’m looking for is how to make easy pars, how to get the ball in the fairway easily, how to get it up and around the greens without a lot of stress, without having to hit perfect shots. Because imperfect shots will be magnified by the wind.”

Mickelson has not had much success in the Open. He finished one shot out of a playoff in 2004 at Royal Troon in what he considers his best week in the British Open. Two years ago, he made a Sunday charge that came up three shots short at Royal St. George’s.

He is trying to understand how to play the game on the ground, so typical of links golf, but he said Muirfield is a course that sometimes requires the ball to travel more in the air to cover some of the pot bunkers short of the green.

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