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Parry Fires 64 at Scottish Open; Mickelson Two Back
England's John Parry carded an 8-under 64 to take the opening-round lead in the Scottish Open. The European Tour event began Thursday at Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness.
Parry, a 26-year-old with one victory on the European Tour - the 2010 Vivendi Cup, had five birdies on the front nine and added three more on the back for a one-shot lead over fellow Brit Simon Khan.
Four players had 66s. The group includes Ireland's Shane Lowry, Finland's Mikko Ilonen, England's James Harrison, Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and American Phil Mickelson.
Starting on the 10th tee, Mickelson - the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 8 - posted six birdies, an eagle on the par-5 12th (his third hole of the day) and two bogeys, including one on his first hole. The 43-year-old four-time major champion is looking to rebound from a missed-cut last week in the Greenbrier Classic in advance of next week's British Open at Muirfield.
"It's great for me to get off to a decent start because I have gotten off to poor starts the last couple of years here, and I have been fighting just to make the cut and get into reasonable contention," Mickelson said. "Many of my great rounds in the past have started with a bogey, so I wasn't too worried."
He also likes the variety presented by the Castle Stuart course, a 2009-opened layout developed and designed by American Mark Parsinen. "It gives you a chance to hit all the shots we'll play next week - to have bump-and-run iron shots into the green, to run shots up, putt off the green . . . but not get beat up the week before," Mickelson added.
"You can only handle so much punishment the week before the Open when the rough is so thick and the penalty for a miss is so great."
The course came under criticism two weeks ago by Graeme McDowell, who said the move to Castle Stuart caused the Scottish Open to "lose its identity and its prestige" by going to a newer venue. "Castle Stuart probably has not been a strong enough golf course," noted the Northern Irishman, who won last week's French Open and is not playing this week. "It is a beautiful venue - but probably a little too wide open off the tee and a little one-dimensional."
McDowell later called Martin Gilbert, the CEO of the tournament's sponsor, Aberdeen Asset Management, and apologized for his remarks. "Graeme contacted me to apologize," Gilbert told Sky Sports on Thursday. "He's not the first person to say something they regret, so we've got no problems whatsoever with him."
For all of the first-round scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013054/leaderboard/index.html.