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Americans confirmed for Scottish Open

Phil Mickelson, ranked world No.4, has confirmed he will play in the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond in July, joining fellow-Americans Tom Lehman and Fred Funk whose participation was also announced yesterday.

The presence of left-hander Mickelson is a big attraction for the £2.2m event which has steadfastly refused to pay appearance money over the years and has taken this stance with the full support of the European Tour.

The tournament will be staged on July 10 to 13, which gives the Americans the chance to warm up before the Open Championship, even if it is at the rather distant venue of Royal St George's in Kent the following week.

Mickelson, third in last month's Masters at Augusta National, will be visiting Loch Lomond for the second time, having finished seventh in 2000. "It is a fantastic golf course and a very enjoyable week for the players and their families," he said.

Lehman is the Scottish Open champion of 1997, the year after he won the Open at Royal Lytham. He was also sixth last year after a closing 67.

Funk, the world No.33 with two top-10 finishes to his credit this season, is making his second visit in a row to Loch Lomond. He was 41st last year.

Already confirmed in the field is Ricky Barnes, who was low amateur at Augusta last month. As US Amateur champion he, too, has a place in the field at Royal St George's.

The defending champion is Argentinian Eduardo Romero, who gave the forty-somethings a boost when winning last year at the age of 47. He birdied the first extra hole in a play-off against Swede Fredrick Jacobson to claim his eighth European triumph and become the third oldest winner on the tour.

Savings of more than 50% are available on tickets booked before May 31, and all spectators will get free parking for the first time.

Meanwhile, Darren Clarke beat 17 other former winner of the Benson and Hedges International Open yesterday at The Belfry in a special five-hole challenge over the 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, and 18th holes.

Clarke, the winner in 1998, was the only player to score two under par, and received a gold medal. Runner-up was the 1979 champion, Maurice Bembridge.

The tournament, in which 10 of the 12 members of the victorious Ryder Cup team plus captain Sam Torrance are returning to the scene of last September's triumph, begins tomorrow. The missing pair are the wild cards, Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik.


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