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Mickelson relishing his 'double double' challenge

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Mickelson of the U.S. looks on after hitting an errant drive on the 14th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Pinehurst
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Phil Mickelson of the U.S. looks on after hitting an errant drive on the 14th hole during the third round …

(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson is hoping for the wind to blow and the rain to fall this week as he aims for his personal "double double" of Scottish Open and British Open success which the American achieved last year.

The Scottish event, which starts on Thursday at Royal Aberdeen, is the perfect preparation for the major challenge at Royal Liverpool on July 17, Mickelson told reporters on Wednesday.

"For me each round presents a great opportunity to work on my game," he said. "It gives me the chance to get sharp as well as to compete and attempt to defend the championship I’m very proud to have won last year.

"I’m looking forward to it. Tomorrow’s supposed to be terrible weather, I hope it is because I would love to get out in that stuff and be able to play in it as I never get a chance to back home."

Mickelson, a five-time major winner, revealed he used to struggle with links golf because he always fought the conditions.

"I would swing hard, I would put more spin on it, and the wind would have a greater effect," said the 44-year-old left-hander.

"Now after learning how to take more clubs, swing it easier, and let it feel like you are hitting little half-shots, I’m not fighting it because I’m not having to make full hard aggressive swings."

The Scottish Open has produced the last four British Open champions - Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen as well as the American - and all four are in a formidable field at Royal Aberdeen.

Mickelson's success last year prompted Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy to turn up.

"Seeing what Phil Mickelson did last year really hit home with me," two-time major winner McIlroy said.

"I thought it might not be a bad idea to come back and play. The course here looks like it is going to be a really tough test this week which should prepare us well for next week."

Justin Rose, another major winner inspired by Mickelson's performances, said Royal Aberdeen was a legitimate test of golf.

"It is no warm-up. This is a tough test before next week. This will get us into the mode of playing links golf at his toughest," he said.

Rose, the U.S. Open winner in 2013, said he felt no pressure to play well at Royal Liverpool next week.

"I feel calm and ready to play. My game is in good shape."

(Reporting By Tony Goodson; editing by Josh Reich)

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