Last Updated: 12/07/13 12:21pm
Phil Mickelson: Just two shots back after opening day at Castle Stuart
Phil Mickelson finished the first day of the Scottish Open two shots off the pace - and hailed his round of 66 as perfect preparation for next week's Open Championship.
England's John Parry carded a flawless eight-under-par 64 to claim a one-shot lead over compatriot Simon Khan at Castle Stuart, with Mickelson a shot further back in a tie for third.
Defending champion Jeev Milkha Singh was another stroke back after a 67, but Open champion Ernie Els could only manage a level-par 72.
"It was a good start," said Mickelson, who missed the cut in the Greenbrier Classic last week on his first appearance since the US Open.
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-8 J Parry
-7 S Khan
-6 P Mickelson (USA)
-6 S Lowry
-6 Five others
Click here for collated scores
"We had perfect conditions the first 14 or 15 holes and there are opportunities on this course to make birdies and eagles.
"It's an above-average round but there were opportunities to pick up three or four shots that I let go so I have to get a little sharper.
"There was a good chance to go low but it's great for me to get off to a decent start because historically I have gotten off to poor starts the last couple of years here and I've been fighting just to make the cut and get into reasonable contention.
"Now getting off to good start I'm not having to battle uphill. I'm able to move up the leaderboard if I play well.
"I think the best way to get ready for next week is to get into contention and to feel that nervousness and those butterflies and try to win."
Early starter Khan had set the initial target on seven under after completing a 65 with an eagle on the 18th, but Parry birdied the same hole in the next group to return a flawless 64.
The 26-year-old from Harrogate, who regained his European Tour card by winning the qualifying school last November, finished 28th in the US Open at Merion after coming through qualifying.
"The US Open has been the catalyst for playing better," he said.
"It's renowned as the toughest event you can play and if you can compete in that you can compete in any event. It's good for your confidence.
"I also played with some top players like Padraig Harrington and Matt Kuchar and you realise you are not that far away from them."
Phil Mickelson admits he is now looking to add the Open Championship to his Scottish Open victory next week.
Phil Mickelson regrouped from a dramatic final-hole blunder to win the Scottish Open after a play-off at Castle Stuart.
Henrik Stenson fired a 66 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.