Rory McIlroy believes Phil Mickelson’s back-to-back victories on links courses last July has encouraged many of the game’s leading players to enter this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Twelve months ago, Mickelson followed his win at Castle Stuart by claiming a three-shot triumph in The Open Championship at Muirfield.
The event has been moved to Royal Aberdeen this year, and the field is possibly the strongest in tournament history which may be testimony to what Mickelson achieved in 2013.
And McIlroy, the world No 8, agrees that his decision to play in Scotland this week is largely because of what the 44-year-old left-handed American pulled off last year.
He told Sky Sports News: “I think it has influenced a lot of people and it definitely influenced me.
“I played with Phil the first two rounds at Muirfield last year and you could see his links game was very sharp.
“And Phil’s double has put it into many guys heads to do the same and for the Scottish Open to go back to a proper links is probably why the strength of this week’s field is great.”
As for this week’s lucrative event, the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland added: “I haven’t played the Scottish Open for a few years.
“Have heard some great things about the golf course and it’s good that the Scottish Open has gone back to a true links course.
“Not just because it is good for The Open Championship the following week (at Royal Liverpool). I think the likes of the Irish Open and Scottish Open should be on links courses because that’s what this part of the world is known for.”
Regarding his own current form, McIlroy says his game is in a fairly decent state.
“Just limiting the mistakes would be good. The win at Wentworth was probably the only week for some time that I didn’t have a bad stretch of holes," he said.
“If I can keep the bad runs of holes off my card, that’s all I need to do because the good golf is there. I’m playing good quality stuff.”
Watch the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on Sky Sports 4, Thursday through Sunday.