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Mickelson 'not discouraged' ahead of Open title defence

Bob Harig
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Phil Mickelson returns the Claret Jug to R&A chief executive Peter Dawson at Royal Liverpool © Getty Images
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Phil Mickelson had to return the Claret Jug on Monday morning at Royal Liverpool, but he still has the memories of his Open Championship victory a year ago.

And he's got a tape of his final-round 66 just in case.

"[I have] the exact same feelings as what took place during the event," Mickelson said at Royal Liverpool today, where the 143rd Open Championship begins on Thursday. "Those emotions get brought out when I watch it. ... I watch it when I have a chance and need a little confidence boost."

Mickelson, 44, is in need of some this week as he attempts to defend his title, having not posted a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in 2014 and only one overall, at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January.

In fact, since winning the Open last year, Mickelson has played 23 worldwide events with just two top-10s, the other coming at the Barclays in August.

But he shot a final-round 66 on Sunday at the Scottish Open to tie for 11th and remains optimistic that he will turn things around.

"Normally I would be discouraged or frustrated, but I'm just not," Mickelson said. "I'm not frustrated and I'm not discouraged. I feel like I've had some good breakthroughs in some areas. I haven't had the results, I know I haven't played well.

"But the parts feel a lot better than the whole right now. I don't know when it will all click together. I don't know if it will be this week, in three weeks, but I feel like it's really close to being good."

Mickelson said he enjoyed his time with the Claret Jug, one of sports' oldest trophies and even let friends sip a £23,000 bottle of 1990 Romanee-Conti wine from the trophy.

"One of the things that I stressed is that we have to treat the Claret Jug with the reverence and respect it deserves and only put good stuff in it," Mickelson said to laughter. "No bad stuff was allowed. And each person that I brought it to had a different definition of what the good stuff was.

"But one of my friends, their definition of the good stuff was a bottle of 1990 Romanee-Conti wine. Now, I didn't know what this was when I drank. I just knew it was really good. And that was the best bottle that was ever put it in there."

Mickelson, who has 42 PGA Tour titles, begins play at 2:05pm on Thursday with Ernie Els and Bubba Watson.

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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