Open 2014: Phil Mickelson eyes successful five years

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport at Hoylake
Phil Mickelson
Mickelson finished tied for 11th at last week's Scottish Open
The Open Championship 2014
Venue:Royal Liverpool Golf ClubDate:17-20 July
Coverage:Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website, mobile & app, and Connected TVs

Open champion Phil Mickelson says he expects the next five years to be "some of the best of my career".

The American, a five-time major winner, has had just one top-10 finish this season as he prepares to defend his Open crown at Hoylake.

"The parts feel a lot better than the whole right now," said the 44-year-old left-hander, who triumphed at Muirfield 12 months ago.

"I don't know when it will all click together, but it should be soon."

Mickelson wins at Muirfield

Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion and 2005 US PGA winner, clinched his first Open title at the 20th attempt last year after finally mastering the nuances of links golf, an unnatural environment for a player brought up in San Diego.

"The memories and emotions that took place last year I will have for a lifetime, but I'd like to do again," said Mickelson, who is only missing the US Open from his major CV.

"It almost motivates me to work harder and play even more, practice even more because I know there's a finite amount of time."

He admitted it was a wrench to hand back the Claret Jug after a "fun and emotional" year in which he shared the trophy with family and friends.

"One of the things I stressed is we have to treat it with reverence and the respect it deserves and only put good stuff in it," he said.

"Each person I brought it to had a different definition of what the good stuff was."

A bottle of highly prized 1990 Romanee Conti red wine, that can sell for more than £10,000, was the highlight.

In April, Mickelson missed the cut at the Masters for the first time in 16 years, blaming rustiness after a side strain forced him out of the Texas Open two weeks earlier.

But he said on Monday that he feels better than he has in years and puts his "off year" down to misfiring short irons and putter.

"I'm not frustrated, I'm not discouraged," he said. "I'm driving the ball with more confidence and better than I ever have."