Mickelson still shooting with the young guns

The 140th Open Championship brings to mind the great names in golf from Bobby Jones to Jack Nicklaus. It may be the oldest golf tournament but it has changed and has become a young man’s game.

The last five major winners had an average age of 27 with recent US Open Champion Rory Mcllroy the youngest at 22. World number six, 41-year old Phil Mickelson does not however resent his elevation to the old guard’s ranks.

“I love to see it because the game of golf needs to have good young players come up and win big tournaments,” he told CNN.

“We have our young players in America coming up, Dustin Johnson being one of our stronger players as well as Rickie Fowler who’s right on the brink of winning.”

While Mickelson was in the best position to take over the world’s best golfer tag after Tiger Woods considering his stunning victory in the 2010 Masters, it was followed by only one victory. Mickelson however feels confident about facing the Royal St. George course during this year’s Open.

“I spent the last few days at Royal St. George getting ready for the British Open. I was so impressed. After 2003, I went in with very low expectations … I didn’t really care for it,” he said, referring to the infamous 2003 Open, also held at Royal St. George, where he fired a final round 78.

“But after spending two days [here], I love Royal St. George … I didn’t get to see the subtleties last time. I started to see the beauty and the nuances of the golf course and I thought it was terrific.”

“Royal St George is going to be a really great site for the British Open next week.”

Mickelson played at the Scottish Open in Castle Stuart as a warm-up for this weekend’s major. He was however eight shots behind Less Westwood of England and Mark Tullo of Chile who were the first round leaders.

America has been experiencing a drought in the course and many are hoping that Mickelson would end it at the Open. Only one American won one of the seven majors after the 2009 U.S. Open victory of Lucas Glover and this was Mickelson.

Mickelson however considers the game’s globalization a good thing as he believes that American golf is still strong.

“I think American golf is still in pretty good shape, but it’s become such a global sport…I enjoy seeing that,” he said.

“I enjoy seeing Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa winning the Open, bringing exposure to that part of the world. And seeing Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy from Ireland [sic] win the U.S. Open.”

“I think that’s brought a lot of recognition into Europe … as a promoter, appreciation, believer in the great game of golf, I love to see things like that happen.”