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The Open 2010: Phil Mickelson banks on Faldo wisdom

Phil Mickelson, Sir Nick Faldo
Faldo casts an eye over Mickelson's swing during practice on Tuesday

Phil Mickelson hopes some advice from three-time Open champion Sir Nick Faldo will increase his chances of a first Claret Jug at St Andrews this week.

Faldo won by five strokes at the Old Course in 1990 and world number two Mickelson sought out his experience during a practice round on Tuesday.

"He played some of the best golf you've ever seen there," Mickelson, 40, said.

"Nick has a lot of great thoughts on St Andrews, on avoiding bunkers and what allowed him to win and be so dominant."

Mickelson, who has three Masters titles and has also won the USPGA Championship, has played in 16 Opens with a best finish of third at Royal Troon in 2004.

He was joint 11th at the Millennium Open at St Andrews but finished in a share of 60th, 15 shots behind winner Tiger Woods, when the event was last staged there in 2005.

Despite that left-hander Mickelson believes the Old Course represents his best chance of a title.

"There's no question this one best suits my game because there's so much more room off the tee than other Open venues," he stated.

"There's plenty of room out there. I don't feel restrained on the tee at all. I feel like there's plenty of room to hit it, and it's more of a second shot golf course.

"It also allows short game to be a factor. It wasn't until 2004 that I started to play the wind effectively.

"Even when I would hit low shots, I would have way too much spin on it. It wasn't until 2004 that I had kind of an epiphany of how to do that by taking more club and swinging easier and so forth."

Ernie Els
Els at the Old Course displaying the smooth swing that is his trademark

Mickelson, who will play alongside European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie and former US Open champion Retief Goosen in the first two rounds, has reserved his best form for the majors this year.

After completing a third Masters title at Augusta in April, Mickelson finished fourth in the US Open at Pebble Beach in June.

He missed the cut at the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond last week, taking nine on the 18th, but victory on Sunday would see him depose Woods as world number one.

However, Mickelson has played that down, reflecting: "It would be very special to win at St Andrews. That to me is the biggest thing.

"I think that if it were up to me, I would play this Championship here every year. As much as I love all of the other golf courses, there's something so special about St Andrews."

South Africa's Ernie Els is another leading name confident of his chances this week, despite also missing the cut at Loch Lomond.

The 40-year-old 'Big Easy', who won the 2002 Open in a play-off at Muirfield, is now fully fit after injury trouble in recent seasons.

"I feel like I've got a good chance this week," reflected Els, who was third at Pebble Beach.

"I've got a lot of experience and I think it'll help me. I guess I've just been looking forward to this week since the US Open and now that I'm here, I'm preparing well.

"Physically I feel really good, I'm hitting my driver good, so I feel my game is really there.

"It's just for me to really concentrate and be 100% focused on what I'm going to do this week. I feel I can do that.

"Even with Tiger playing well and Phil playing well, I think I still have a decent chance of playing well here this week and maybe having a chance. If I can get into position like I was at the US Open, I'd like to finish it off for a change."

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see also
Woods selects new putter for Open
13 Jul 10 |  Golf
Injured Westwood to play at Open
13 Jul 10 |  Golf
Rose partners Woods at St Andrews
12 Jul 10 |  Golf
Mickelson seals third Masters win
11 Apr 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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