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Mickelson aims to end British Open drought

It doesn’t matter to Phil Mickleson that he will be teeing off his 18th British Open at Royal St. George’s today, mentally he’s gone back to his debut at this tournament in 1991.

Despite being incredibly successful on American soil, the four-time major champion has had to take an eraser to his past performances at the British Open to boost his chances of winning his first title at the venerable championship.

Compared to his overflowing trophy cabinet boasting the spoils of victory from 39 PGA Tour events, his history in the United Kingdom isn’t too hot: one top-10 in 16 starts as a professional in the Open, three missed cuts and eight finishes of 40th or above tell their own story.

So with a new direction Mickelson is putting his past behind him and getting ready for today’s first round in Sandwich, south-east of London.

“I’m trying to go in like it’s my first time here . . . I don’t want to look back on my past performances that haven’t been what I expect,” he explained on his official website.  "I’m trying to pretend I’ve never played here before and I’m just trying to learn it all from the start, from scratch."

“So I don’t think I can say I’m going in confidently; I’m going in with an open mind on some of the new ideas to play the course and hopefully play it effectively.”

Despite winning the Shell Houston Open in April, the omens aren’t good for the 41-year-old. In his last four majors his best finish was 12th in last year’s PGA Championship.

And he is in fact the last American to capture a major title, more than a year ago at the Masters. Since then the U.S. has been stuck in its longest dry spell since the Masters first took place in 1934, five straight majors without a victory. The current champions hail from South Africa, Northern Ireland and Germany.

For Mickelson the drought, like his previous performances across the pond, is history.

“I’m going to try to learn and enjoy the challenge of playing links golf. I feel excited and kind of reinvigorated to come over here and try to learn this style of golf and play it effectively.”

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