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Mickelson ends 20-year drought in Europe

updated 6:54 PM EDT, Sun July 14, 2013
Phil Mickelson hugs his three children after winning the Scottish Open in a playoff at Castle Stuart.
Phil Mickelson hugs his three children after winning the Scottish Open in a playoff at Castle Stuart.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Phil Mickelson wins the Scottish Open in a playoff over South African Branden Grace
  • Mickelson wins his first individual event in Europe in 20 years
  • Scandinavians JB Hansen and Henrik Stenson finish two shots behind Mickelson and Grace

(CNN) -- Phil Mickelson did it the hard way. But the bottom line was that he came away victorious from the Scottish Open to end a 20-year individual drought in Europe.

Mickelson beat South Africa's Branden Grace in a playoff on the links course at Castle Stuart in the Scottish Highlands on Sunday for his first win in Europe since claiming a Challenge Tour event in Paris in 1993.

It was the perfect preparation for Mickelson ahead of the British Open that starts Thursday at Muirfield in Scotland. It must have also eased the pain of finishing second again at the U.S. Open last month.

"This is really cool," Mickelson, in his ninth appearance at the Scottish Open, was quoted as saying by the European Tour's website. "It's important to me, and it's probably the biggest challenge of my career hitting the shots that are required here.

"To win here and to play well here, finally win on a links golf course, it really means a lot to me and it also builds my confidence heading into future Scottish and British Opens."

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The highest ranked golfer in the field at No. 8, Mickelson blew a chance to win the title in regulation when he erred on the 18th hole.

Needing only a par five -- he didn't drop a shot at the 18th in the first three rounds -- Mickelson struck a bogey to complete his round at three-under 69 and was 17 under through four rounds, like Grace.

But in the playoff at the same hole he recovered, edging Grace by hitting a birdie.

"I was so mad at myself for mentally losing my focus that I came out on that 18th (in the playoff) pretty focused to make a four," said the American. "I started coming here around 2000 or so and spent a lot of years here enjoying my time in Scotland and enjoying this competition.

"And to finally win, that feels great."

Mickelson and Grace were tied for second behind Sweden's Henrik Stenson heading into the final round.

Stenson's two-shot lead evaporated when he fired a one-over 73 and he finished tied for second with Denmark's JB Hansen.

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