Title: Phil Mickelson warms up for Muirfield with opening 66 at Scottish Open • American targets victory as 'perfect Open preparation' • Parry storms into first-round lead with eight-under 64
Description: It may be a general assumption that Phil Mickelson's latest Scottish Open appearance is with a bigger stage, at Muirfield, in mind but the man himself has bristled at the suggestion he is not chasing victory at Castle Stuart. As others spend time in East Lothian, preparing for next week's Open Championship, Mickelson is the most high-profile name in the Scottish Open field. In going against a growing trend Mickelson has a preference to play competitively the week before a major if at all possible. On a benign and therefore low-scoring morning in the Highlands he signed for the 66 which leaves him within touching distance of the lead, the Englishman John Parry having set the pace with an eight-under-par 64. When pressed on whether Open fine- tuning, rather than victory, was on his mind Mickelson offered a firm response. "I think the best way to get ready for next week is to get into contention and to feel that nervousness, those butterflies, and try to win," he said. "When I won the Masters in 2006 I won the week before by 13 shots in Atlanta. I thought that there couldn't have been a better way to get ready. "So, absolutely; if you can play well, get into contention and hopefully win, then that's the best preparation possible for next week. The reason I think this is a perfect set-up for next week is that it gives us a chance to hit all the shots we will play next week. You can only handle so much punishment the week of the Open where the rough is so thick and the penalty for a miss is so great, so it's nice to have a week where you don't get punished and you are still hitting the same shots."