Phil Mickelson, the Open champion, has delivered a ringing endorsement of Royal Aberdeen, host course for this year's Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open, which starts on July 10, writes Bernie McGuire.

"Everything I've heard about Royal Aberdeen has been positive, in that it is one of the greatest links golf experiences you could have and that it's a very challenging, demanding test of golf," said the American.

"It's going to be a great place to play prior to a British Open championship. I know it's about 50 miles from Castle Stuart and I'll probably try to go play a round there because Castle Stuart, to me, is one of the best modern-day golf course designs that I've seen in that the course is playable under any conditions."

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Rory McIlroy, who will be contesting his first Scottish Open since he finished tied for 46th place at Loch Lomond in 2009, echoed Mickelson's comments.

"The one thing I am going to do is play the week before the Open and get some competitive links golf," said the Northern Irishman whose missed cut at Muirfield last year was his first at the Open since winning the low amateur medal on his debut in 2007. "It's all well and good, practising on links and hitting those shots, but once you play competitively on a links it's a little different. Playing at Royal Aberdeen is going to be a great way to lead into the Open."

Mickelson and McIlroy will play the opening two rounds together at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with the five-time major winner confident his double-major winning rival will get back to winning ways in 2014.

"I think Rory's going to have a great year," said Mickelson. "He's too talented to have another year like last year. You saw glimpses of his game being sharp with his win in Australia last December so I think he'll have a great year."