Mickelson in form ahead of exciting summer
Summer has finally arrived and the countdown is on until The 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie.
But there is a lot of golf to be played before we reach the Angus links and there is plenty to keep an eye on this weekend on both sides of the pond.
Champion Golfers Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and John Daly are all in action, while the first ever Shot Clock Masters takes place in Austria.
Here’s all you need to know:
Mickelson seeks to end Southwind curse
After a fast start, Phil Mickelson’s season has quietened since The Masters but he enters a key period of the season rejuvenated and ready to break a pair of ducks.
The first comes at the St. Jude Classic this week where he is one of the heavy favourites to finally get a win in a tournament where, since 2013, he has secured five straight top-five finishes including two second-place finishes and a third.
Mickelson will turn 48 during next week’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills, another event he is yet to win, but age is reinvigorating him rather than slowing him down and the 2013 Champion Golfer will be one of the favourites ahead of Carnoustie.
At the Memorial last week, he produced a tired 74 first up but rebounded with a key 66 in the second round which will no doubt fill him with confidence.
Mickelson knows how to peak for the summer and the St. Jude’s will play a major part.
“The ability to practice longer each day, the ability to stay sharper for more holes throughout the round and more shots throughout the round is building, and that’s kind of the goal,’’ he said.
“I was declining a while ago. So now it’s starting to go back up.’’
Dustin enters the fray
The four-way fight for world number one captured the imagination at the Memorial last week but, with Spieth, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose all skipping the St. Jude’s, it leaves only Dustin Johnson remaining.
The heavy-hitting world number two was top of the pile for over a year but has not commanded the headlines this season like he once did.
But Johnson is still putting together a quietly impressive campaign, with victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January.
The 33-year-old has not finished outside the top 20 this season in strokeplay events, while he leads the tour in strokes gained from tee-to-green. A winner in 2012, this course is suited to his game too.
Daly’s last hurrah
John Daly has been suffering with a knee injury for much of the last month but the 1995 Champion Golfer was never going to miss the St. Jude’s.
A Memphis resident for 19 years, the course and the city feels like home to the 52-year-old but this is likely to be the last time he gets to play.
From next season, TPC Southwind will host the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and it is unlikely Daly, who mostly plays on the PGA’s Champions Tour, will qualify.
“I feel like this is going to be the last hurrah," he said.
"Unless something miraculous happens and I go out and do something stupid and win a major or something, which in this body, I don’t think is going to be happening.
"It’s just going to be sad that this might be my last time ever playing here.”
Shot Clock Masters set to thrill
Over on the European Tour, the Shot Clock Masters makes his highly-anticipated debut with many fans across the globe expected to tune in.
Players have just 50 seconds to hit an approach shot and 40 seconds for a chip and putt, in what will be the first ever professional tournament to use a shot clock on every shot.
The field in Atzenbrugg, Austria is certainly intriguing with the likes of Nicolas Colsaerts, Soren Kjeldsen, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Chase Koepla, brother of Brooks, all teeing it up.
Be part of forever and witness history as The Open returns to Carnoustie from 15 - 22 July. Tickets available here.