It’s at least been a good year for the jug.
He has taken it to golf clubs and corporate outings, shared it with friends and people he had never met. He has let his caddie, Jim Mackay, take it to pose for pictures.
Mickelson had only one rule.
“One of the things I stressed is that we have to treat the claret jug with reverence and respect that it deserves, and only put good stuff in it,” he said. “No bad stuff was allowed. And each person that I brought it to had a different definition of what the good stuff was.”
One definition was a bottle of 1990 Romanee Conti, which can range in price from $16,000 to about $35,000.
“Now, I didn’t know what this was when I drank it,” Mickelson said. “I just knew that it was really good. And that was the best bottle that was ever put in there.”
Like fine wine, Mickelson can only hope he gets better with age.
Even though he had to overcome arthritis in the middle of the 2010 season, and only eight players older than he is right now have won majors, Mickelson doesn’t see that as an obstacle. Sure, he has to work a little harder, train a little better, stretch a little more.
“But I feel better than I have in a long time,” he said.
Padraig Harrington is the last player to repeat as Open champion. Tiger Woods repeated at Royal Liverpool in 2006. Tom Watson won back-to-back some 30 years ago. Winning majors is difficult enough. Winning the same one two years in a row is even harder.
Monday was the first full day of practice for most players, while some took the day off. Woods didn’t show up at the course after practicing both days on the weekend. Some players from the Scottish Open weren’t at Hoylake. Others, like Spieth, arrived Monday morning on a charter from the John Deere Classic and went on to play.
Mickelson closed with a 65 at Royal Aberdeen to tie for 11th in the Scottish Open. He won the Scottish Open a year ago, and believes the lag putting into a crossing wind, along with seeing the ball react on links courses is a big benefit.
Plus, he’s never been so enthusiast about golf’s oldest championship, mainly because his name is on the trophy.