Mickelson three-putted to card a bogey on the 18th hole of the Castle Stuart Golf Links on Sunday, dropping to -17 and into a tie with South African Branden Grace. As such, it came down to a play-off to determine which of the two rivals would lift the coveted trophy.
At first glance, the statistics spoke in favour of a win for the 25-year-old South African, who was yet to lose a play-off on the European Tour. However, he had only ever gone to ‘extra-time’ on one occasion, when he defeated his more illustrious compatriots Retief Goosen and Ernie Els at the Golf Champions event in his native South Africa last January.
Mickelson, on the other hand, had already suffered one play-off defeat at the 2007 Scottish Open in Loch Lomond, when the left-handed Californian finished runner-up behind France’s Gregory Havret. Despite all the statistics, it was simply not meant to be for Grace in the play-off.
Returning to play the 18th for the second time on Sunday, Mickelson made short work of the par 5. The number eight in the world played his approach shot with a wedge to within birdie distance, and promptly holed his putt to clinch his first title in Europe since 1993, and his first ever on British turf. Denmark’s JB Hansen and overnight leader Henrik Stenson of Sweden finished tied in third (both -15) behind the American and Grace.
What may at first glance be a good omen for Mickelson going into this week’s Open Championship in Muirfield (Scotland), might not offer quite as much encouragement as expected: Mickelson has failed to follow any of his previous top-20 finishes at the Scottish Open with a top-ten result at the Open Championship the following week.