T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair .
Admittedly, Phil Mickelson struggled for years to figure out how best to play the demanding links-style golf that's required to contend in the Open Championship.
This past summer, Mickelson traveled to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean a week early to play in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart -- a true lins test, unlike recent Scottish Open's at the beautiful, but inland and tree-lined, Loch Lomond.
During this particular tournament, something clicked for Mickelson. He won a playoff that week over Branden Grace and then went on to win his fifth major overall -- and first Open -- the following week at Muirfield.
Mickelson birdied four of the last six holes in an incredible final round of 66 to win the Open by three strokes.
"I played arguably the best round of my career, and shot the round of my life," he said then. "The range of emotions I feel are as far apart as possible after losing the U.S. Open. But you have to be resilient in this game."
Late in 2013, Mickelson announced that he'd be cutting back his competitive schedule in an effort to be ready for the majors. One tournament that won't be cut, however, is the Scottish Open.
The 2014 Scottish Open will be held at Royal Aberdeen one week before the Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.
"Winning the Scottish Open was a huge factor in my success the next week at the Open Championship," Mickelson said in a release. "I was able to acclimate myself to the time change, the weather, the wind, the links conditions and all in the heat of serious competition, which itself was a big added plus."
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair .