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Golf | European Tour

Phil Mickelson © Gallo Images

Mickelson shoots into contention

Four-time Major winning Phil Mickelson warmed-up for a hopeful double Scotland victory celebration with a sizzling six under par 66 on the opening day of the Scottish Open on Thursday.

Mickelson started with a bogey but then eagled the third hole of his round along with adding six birdies and one bogey. It left the current world No 8, who is contesting the Scottish Open for a ninth occasion ahead of next week's British Open at Muirfield, sharing third place and just two shots behind England's John Parry who enjoys the lead after signing for an eight under par 64.

England's Simon Khan is in second place with a 65 while Mickelson shares third spot with six others and on a day when there was 33 eagles and 648 birdies.

"The challenge today for me was to remain patient on this course because the great thing about Castle Stuart is there is a number of easy birdie holes and a number of hard par four holes, so if you are patient on those more difficult holes you will have birdies as the round progresses," said Mickelson.

"Castle Stuart is also just a perfect set-up for next week because it gives you a chance to hit all the shots we will have to hit next week, and play those bump-and-run shots into the green but not get beat up the week before the Open.

"You can only handle so much punishment the week of The Open where the rough is so thick and the penalty for missing the fairways is so severe that it's nice to have a week where you don't get punished but then you are still hitting the same shots.

"Now getting off to a good start I am not having to battle uphill and I can move up the leaderboard if I play well.

"And also the best way for me to get ready for next week is to get into contention and experience the nervousness and the butterflies and to try to win. "When I won the Masters in '06 I ended-up winning the week before in Atlanta by 13 shots and I thought that could not have been a better way to get ready for a Major Championship."

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Mickelson is looking to win for only a second time in Europe after capturing a secondary Challenge Tour event 20 years ago in France.

Parry played in the same 2007 Walker Cup side as Rory McIlroy but unlike the Northern Irishman the 26-year-old is looking to win for a second time after a maiden victory two years ago in France.

Last year Parry lost his Tour card but returned to the Tour School to finish first among the graduates.

His round is just one shot shy of his career best score and comes just a handful of weeks after making his Major debut in the US Open.

"Playing in the US Open was the catalyst for me to start playing better, and start making cuts again," he said.

Defending champion, Jeev Milka Singh put aside a nagging right index finger injury to shoot a five under par 67.

And Singh expressed his disappointment in having to miss the premiere in India of the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag on the life of his father and legendary athlete, Milka Singh.

"It is a very emotional thing for the family, because the movie is made about a man who is still living, and it's an inspirational movie, and I wanted to be there for my father," said Singh.

"I've seen the movie three times and I think it's going to be one of the best movies of the year. I cried three times, so I can say it's a good movie."


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